Wednesday, December 24, 2008

3008: A Look Back

Originally I was going to hold off until LSH #49 came out before I posted this, but then I found that it wouldn't be in stores until, technically, the new year, so we're all set.

I've remarked on this before, but this seems like a good time to do it again. There were 32 Legion stories to choose from in 2008: eleven issues of the main title, eleven issues of LSH31C, two issues of FC:L3W, three issues of Action, and five episodes of the cartoon. Thirty-two, that's a pretty good number. Almost three a month!

How many are there going to be in 2009? Three issues of FC:L3W. Two issues of the main title. One episode of Smallville. Some number of issues of Adventure Comics between zero and nine. So, at the absolute most, fifteen stories, barring the unforeseen and not counting R.E.B.E.L.S..

So I won't be doing one of these next year.

Top Ten Legion Quotes of 2008

10. "A couple, actually."
9. "You got an imagination, Mordru, I'll give you that."
8. "And be nice to each other while I'm gone, okay?"
7. "Hit 'em like Napoleon!"
6. "Look!" "Up in the sky!" "What the hell is that?"
5. "I'm in the stupid future."
4. "Been eating a lot of those protein bars..."
3. "I'm very busy!"
2. "She's not really what you would call a talker..."
1. "We need to redeem Superboy-Prime."

It was hard to come up with ten Legionnaires who acquitted themselves well in 2008, because a) Jim Shooter isn't out to flatter any of his characters, and b) the cartoon forgot about the female Legionnaires and made too many of the male Legionnaires way xtreme. If anybody has any other suggestions, I'm willing to listen.

Top Ten Legionnaires of 2008

10. Nemesis Kid - Here's a guy who was created to betray the Legion... and yet he didn't.
9. Gazelle - Ah, give her a break. It could be her only chance to be on this list. And she's a decent character.
8. Tellus - so he does exist!
7. Invisible Kid - had a couple of nice moments in Shooter's run. I preferred his infiltration of the alien autopsy to the I-am-too-a-good-superhero subplot on Velmar. He doesn't need to prove anything to anybody.
6. White Witch - well, she appeared on TV, however trivially, and in LSH31C. And it looks like she could be important in FC:L3W.
5. Dawnstar - the Johnsboot seems to have provided her with a deeper commitment to the Legion than we had previously seen from her, and she seems like she's settled into a role (with Wildfire, who isn't on here because he's been annoyingly crushing on Dawny instead of keeping his mind on his work) as the Legion's top faraway-dangerous-missions specialist. She even gets the final FC:L3W cover all to herself.
4. Brainiac 5 - almost every story this year has depended on Brainy and his position as the Legion's planner and the Legion's curiosity. It's becoming more and more obvious that you just can't do a Legion story without Brainiac 5. Not that these stories always show him to his best advantage...
3. Phantom Girl - at some point it was decided that Tinya was the Legion's confidant, the one everyone brings their problems to. It's one of the few character notes that Shooter preserved as-is. And it makes her a key player in the Projectra storyline.
2. Ultra Boy - he got to make a couple of appearances in the cartoon and in LSH31C, but the real key here is how competent he is in Jim Shooter's hands. He may not be the most couth individual, but he's still the threeboot's powerhouse and reigning champion.
1. Superman - the whole aim of the Johnsboot, and for that matter the Legion cartoon and LSH31C title and the upcoming Smallville episode, was to reforge the relationship between Superman and the Legion. These stories have shown us a whole new side of Superman, one that the Silver Age Legion stories never thought to explore. Anyway, it's Superman who's been the spotlight Legionnaire in all of the Johnsboot stories, and it's been his role and qualities that have been responsible for most of the glory the Legion has achieved over the past year.

Top Ten Legion Stories of 2008

10. Legion of Super-Heroes episode 2-11. This is the one with Dream Girl. It wasn't a great episode, but it was the best one to air first in 2008, and I didn't want the cartoon to be shut out of this list. There were issues of the main title I might have plugged in here instead, but they wouldn't have been notably better choices.

9. Legion of Super-Heroes #42. This was the first issue in the Rimbor arc. It was pretty good.

8. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #10. The one with Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl defending the clubhouse against the Fatal Five. The budding relationship between Garth and Imra is the big show here, and writer Matthew K. Manning provides some memorable dialogue to display it.

7. Legion of Super-Heroes #38. This was the one with the UPYH tryouts, and the second issue of the Triton arc. It was pretty good. Still had a lot of that initial energy from the start of the Shooter-Manapul run.

6. Action Comics #861-863. I'm including all three of these in a single entry because the story was so stretched out. I didn't like this arc as well as a lot of other people did, partly because it was overinflated, and partly because it relied so heavily on nostalgic elements without bringing much that was new to the table. It was certainly an entertainingly told story, though; very enjoyable.

5. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #13. J. Torres and Alex Serra deliver one of the all-time indispensable Superman stories here: his first days in Metropolis, the influence of the Legion on his superheroic role, his first encounter with Lex Luthor, and even an in-comics mention of Chloe Sullivan. I'd like to put this higher on the list.

4. Legion of Super-Heroes #45. A planet shows up in the middle of the solar system and messes with the gravitational equilibrium! Only Star Boy and Light Lass can help--if Brainiac 5 can get them to! Holy beans! Shooter and Manapul really put it all together on this one.

3. Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2. Perez and Johns at the top of their game. This series has been worthy of all three Legions. If we absolutely have to sodomize continuity one more time, at least it's with a decent story.

2. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #16. Second appearance by Matthew K. Manning on this list, and it's a honey. I'd like to rate this one higher, too. It's the untold legend of Arm-Fall-Off Boy, and it's everything one could hope for. Might have been the funniest Legion comic ever.

1. Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1. I've noted before that, especially where the Legion is concerned, it's easier to put across a first issue than a second issue, a first arc than a second arc. All of the arcs that the Johnsboot Legion has appeared in are first arcs, and this is the first issue of the best and most ambitious of them. Furthermore, Johns sets up a truly audacious premise for the story in the last panel, one that makes things look even tougher for the Legion than they were before.

Next year in LSHv6!