Monday, August 18, 2008

Newsarama loves the Legion

So who'da thunk that Newsarama would be doing a series of articles on the Legion's 50th? The first one, posted yesterday, is called "Legion of Super-Heroes at 50: What Makes the Legion Cool?"

In a fictional landscape inundated with sci-fi versions of the future and superpowered space heroes, the Legion has somehow stuck around and continued to resonate with readers. In celebration of the team's 50th anniversary – and as Legion of 3 Worlds is set to begin – we start a series of Newsarama features this week by talking to a few of the comic book creators who molded the team to find out why the Legion of Super-Heroes has such lasting appeal.

The article has talks with Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen, and Dan Abnett.

"My favorite superhero stories are the ones that on the surface appear to be a fun, big superhero story, but underneath are really about us," the writer said. "Our struggles with faith, loss, finding inspiration, overcoming our fears, striving to be the best we can be – that's really what Legion of 3 Worlds is about, among many other things.

"And in Smallville, we've got an element of embracing your destiny, or questioning those that tell you who you're supposed to be. There's many more in the episode I'm working on," Johns said of his upcoming television work with the Legion.

"I think the size of the group has everything to do with it. The cast is so huge and so sprawling that there's somebody there for everybody," Waid said. "And you get that great sort of feeling of, I'm a fan of this one character that nobody else likes, but that's OK. That's my special attachment to Shrinking Violet or Timberwolf or whatever. It's like when you find this band that nobody else knows is cool yet. You get that sense that I know something that nobody else gets. And I think that's a big part of the Legion's appeal."

"I think this version of the future has lasted so long because the Legion was one of the only ongoing science fiction series that put forward a positive future. That made it stand out," said Keith Giffen, who both drew and wrote Legion of Super-Heroes in the late '80s and early '90s. "There were threats and all that came roaring in, but for the most part, it was flight rings and snazzy headquarters and a fun future. The Legion is the idea that the science we have now did what it was supposed to do and made our lives better. It was a pretty Utopian future. All the different planets were getting along and you never really saw ghettos or any of the Dystopian things that a lot of the futures deal with."

Giffen said it was also fairly unique in that it focused on teens in the future at a time when the audience was made up of mostly kids. "The primary audience back then was young people, and here you had a future through the eyes of young people," he said. "If you're a kid, what's cooler than a club of superhero kids? They had their own clubhouse and everything.

"The Legion has survived because it's a thoroughly appealing future," he said, "and it's deeply tied to the very core of the DC Universe. Let's remember, it's been made over several times, but even the most extreme makeovers have retained the basic essence of the Legion. It's a future that pulses with nostalgia for all of us: this is a feature we've all grown up with, whichever version of it we're nostalgic about."

Coming soon: discussions with Paul Levitz and Jim Shooter.


Terence Chua said...

In fact, there are so many different heroes and powers that the team actually passed a rule allowing only 25 active members at a time, and all members had to have a unique power. This led to the start-up of a Legion of Substitute Heroes...

Uh... right.

Michael said...

Details, details. Close enough for government work.

(Actually, I missed that the first time around, otherwise I would have commented on it too.)