Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Continuity Notes: the Waid-Kitson Threeboot

This is actually nice and straightforward. I'm including it here pretty much just for the sake of completeness.

There was no necessary reason to re-reboot the Legion. Abnett and Lanning had rejuvenated the reboot Legion and had been telling some excellent stories with them. Sales weren't as high as DC wanted them, maybe, but they were an improvement over what had gone before. And the Legion hadn't gotten as awkward as it was just before Zero Hour, with the unappealing Legion on the Run characters, unwieldy SW6 duplicates, a destroyed Earth and a Wildfire wrapped around Sun Boy's skeleton. There were good reasons to make a big change at Zero Hour; those reasons were mostly not present in 2004. As far as I can tell, DC threebooted the Legion for two reasons:

1. Sales were low.
2. Mark Waid had an idea.

Neither of which justifies rebooting the franchise. Maybe Waid's concept, to make the Legion a 1960s-style youth movement, couldn't have been introduced into reboot reality as is, but that's the breaks. Rebooting is almost never the best option, and I certainly don't think it was the best option here. (Distinction: I don't have a problem with the threeboot Legion--I quite like it, actually--only with the decision that led to it.)

(Results of the threeboot have been mixed. Sales did improve, and are still higher than they were for a long time before the threeboot, but aren't as high as DC was hoping for. Mark Waid's premise didn't really catch on and has been mostly phased out anyway. And a bunch of internet loudmouths have said, obnoxiously and repeatedly, that the threeboot Legion isn’t really the Legion, but, as Bill James put it, there you go, eventually they’ll stop saying it. If Waid and Kitson had taken over the reboot Legion and revamped them without a full reboot, and Jim Shooter had been brought aboard in late 2007 the way he has been, would we be better off, worse off, or neutral? I don’t think we’d be worse off.)

It was done like this: the reboot Legion had an adventure with the Titans, involving much time travel and interdimensional nonsense. This was chronicled in an issue of Titans and the Titans/Legion Special. At the end of the Special, the good guys won, but there was a temporal instability that prevented the Legion from returning to their proper time and place, and they were lost in the timestream, or wherever it was, and the last few pages of the comic book were just an introduction of the threeboot Legion. There were some interesting points about that:

-- the 'temporal instability' that caused the reboot Legion to spin out in the middle of their time travel was, though nobody called it that at the time, one of the famous 'Superboy punches' made famous in Infinite Crisis: Superboy-Prime punching the walls of reality to try to bust a way out of his little microdimension.
-- the reboot Legion's reality wasn't destroyed at all. It was still intact at the end of the Titans/Legion Special; it was only the Legion themselves whose fate was unknown.
-- one Legionnaire, Shikari, was separated from the others and found herself in a world that was strange to her. The implication was that she was in the threeboot Legion's world, but this is not explicitly stated, and if you read the comic carefully with this in mind you'll see that she really could be anywhere.
-- the reboot Legion did find their way back to their home time-and-place, and Shikari did too. This was shown in a panel of Infinite Crisis, but I think some people missed it. The panel stated that this happened on 'Earth-247', which is obviously a reference to Adventure Comics #247, the Legion's first appearance.

I read somewhere that it was always DC's intention to have the threeboot Legion be the Legion of post-Infinite-Crisis DC reality. Even though they technically made their debut about a year before Infinite Crisis. But making this change created some continuity questions that haven't been answered, as far as I know, and I suspect they won't be.

For one thing, the reboot Legion interacted with the 20th/21st century DCU on a number of occasions. Many of the reboot Legionnaires spent long periods of time in the present-day DCU. Did all that still happen, or did Infinite Crisis (and, I suppose, 52) erase it?

For another, there's the problem of Bart Allen. Not only did Bart meet the reboot Legion and spend a lot of time with them, but one of them was even his cousin: Jenni Ognats, aka XS. (Jenni's mom was Dawn Allen, sister of Bart's dad Don Allen.) So if the reboot Legion's reality is no longer the mainstream DCU's future, then where did Bart come from? Does he remember his cousin? Does he even still have a cousin? Bart's dead now, so there's really no urgency to address this... but I wonder if it's going to be one of the things swept under the rug when DC finally sorts out what the deal is with both the threeboot Legion and 2x+unboot Legion having connections to the current present-day DCU.

It doesn’t look like DC’s trying to completely sweep this Legion under the rug*. The Lightning Saga crossover in JLA and JSA contained mention of an adventure called ‘Legion of Three Worlds’, which almost certainly refers to the 2x+unboot Legion, the reboot Legion and the threeboot Legion having some kind of crossover story of their own (the presence of the reboot Legion among those three was almost guaranteed in a subsequent issue of JSA when Starman mentioned XS to Superman). No word on if or when we’re ever going to get the straight of that, but any source of hope is welcome to those of us who miss the reboot Legion.

* unlike the Five-Years-Later Legion, that is.

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