Monday, August 17, 2009

Superhero tropes I love: The Legion of Super-Heroes.

Not so much a trope as it is a group and a title, but as concepts went in the grand scheme of things the Legion of Super-Heroes has to rate up there with the best of them. Kids like superheroes, and they like superhero teams, so what could be finer than a book featuring a superhero team comprised of kids? In fact, more than a team, the Legion was a club for young heroes, a group where they could get together and not only use their magnificent abilities for the betterment of the United Planets, but they could meet and do that which teenagers do so well; angst it up in the best emo tradition!

Okay, okay, I'm kidding obviously. But in all seriousness I have a lot of love for the classic 1980s Paul Levitz Pre-Crisis LSH. They were getting older, the enemies they were facing were getting formidable, and it was time when a guy could rock a beard and be in his mid-twenties and still be called 'Star Boy'. It also featured one of my favorite concepts; that of Superboy being a member of the Legion and time-travelling from the past to the 30th century to join in their exploits. While I take issue with some of the things Geoff Johns has done with Superman of late (following the Donner films a smidge too slavishly for one) on the whole he's gotten a lot of things right and no better instance of this exists than in the opening of the Superman and The Legion of Super-Heroes story wherein Clark meets people who are like him. Kids like him with powers. And they have a club, a place where he can belong. That's the core of the Legion to me. It's a place where you can belong, and I think that underlying theme explains the enduring love fans have for the book, that's allowed it to survive reboot after reboot and still gather fans despite continuity snarls and backstory problems that make even the hardest of the hardcore fanboys reach for the asprin. They've been kids, they've been grownups, they've even been cartoons but at the core of it all the Legion is a family. Sometimes a highly dysfunctional one, but that sense of belonging and community with it's upbeat utopian message that maybe we will make it after all makes the book for me.
The Legion's latest comicbook incarnation came to a close recently and it's now been relegated to a backup story (I'm sorry 'co-feature') with the current Connor Kent/Kon-El Superboy in the pages of Adventure Comics (fitting since that's where the Legion debuted in the first place). But it wouldn't surprise me if those teens from the future returned yet again. They're nothing if not tencacious.

Long live the Legion!

Ps. If I had my druthers and any juice in the comicbook industry I'd have Christopher Bird take a crack at writing the Legion. His 'Why I should Write The Legion' posts over on his blog are nothing less than pure awesome. Check them out here.

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