Thursday, January 25, 2007

Christopher Bird on "What's Wrong with the Legion?"

Christopher Bird, a Legion geek along with the rest of us, has written a very interesting critical review of the whole Waid/Kitson series to date. There are things that need fixing, in his opinion, and he presents a pretty reasonable argument.

He opens with this:

I have always said that if I was allowed to pick any one comic to write - any one - it would simultaneously have to be Legion of Super-Heroes, and could not in any way be Legion of Super-Heroes. It is my Grail, my monolith in 2001, my (insert metaphor of simultaneous longing and dread here).

I want to write that comic very badly, but at the same time, I recognize that it's quite possibly the most difficult assignment one can pull in superhero comics - a huge, almost unmanageable cast, the demands of writing a Big Two comic book with none of the bonuses (you can't just bring in Batman for a two-part story when you feel like it) or the usual cheats (all the usual-suspect characters are for the most part long dead, so it can't just be Lex Luthor behind everything), plus on top of that you have the insanely stupid and constant editorial demand that Legion storylines set in the 31st century tie into present-day continuity (because when somebody writes a Batman comic, they of course have to account for how their Batman story ties into the launch of the Second Crusade).

All of that having been said, I still feel the need to express dissatisfaction with Mark Waid's current Legion of Super-Heroes run. It's funny, because usually I'm a huge Waid booster - he's had his share of turkeys, just like every writer (Kingdom Come, the tail end of his second run on Flash, et cetera), but when Waid hits it, it's always out of the park. I consider his recent Fantastic Four run to be some of the best F4 comics in history - surpassing Byrne, and right up there as worthy successors to Stan n' Jack. And Empire, despite having terrible names for the supervillains (one of Waid's major failings has always been that he's crappy, really crappy, at coming up with character names) is a masterstroke.

But when I read his Legion - it doesn't work. I can see where a lot of it would work in a comic other than Legion of Super-Heroes. If this was Mark Waid's Space Teens it would probably be a much better comic. But anyhow. A few points:

Here are his points. Go over there for the explanation.

1.) The name of the comic is Legion of Super-Heroes.
2.) We're twenty-six issues into this comic and most of the team doesn't have personality or character worth mentioning.
3.) The pacing sucks.
4.) The central trope of "young versus old" is both stupid and limiting.
5.) The comic is completely unapproachable to people introduced to the Legion through the cartoon.


Scott said...

some good points here, but as for the comic being unapproachable to people introduced through the cartoon - good! there's a new comic coming out for that - last thing I want is to see things dumbed down in the regular comic to cater for that market!

RavenScholar said...

I could follow it pretty well based on the "Hero Histories" over at Major Spoilers and Christopher Bird's own "I Should Write The Legion". But, yeah, the cartoon doesn't mesh well with the Threeboot. I think it fits best with the Reboot, maybe parts of the Classic Legion.