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July 18, 2006

Comments

Jason

You hit the nail right on the head. As a loooooong time Legion reader, from about '76 on, with whatever older comics I could find anywhere.... I loved the Legion. I was invested in the characters and felt I grew up with them. One reason I love the 5 Year Later stuff was that it bumped the Legion to my age bracket.
When that ended and the Legion rebooted, I bailed. I had little interest in reading reinterpretations of stories I'd already absorbed. I also didn't care about the new Legion. They weren't the characters I knew and grew to love... they were just imitations.
It was definitely the loss of that 20 or so year investment I had in the characters that caused me to bail.

Actually, it's something similar that's caused me to bail on most of the Marvel and DC stuff right now. As they jetisson stuff from the past, I find they're setting me free from my investment in their universes. Freedom! At last!

Matthew E

I'm looking forward to seeing what you write tomorrow, but, to me, it's worked out okay. I miss some of the characters and history from the two (or three, or four) previous boots, but the current version a) makes a lot of sense, and b) is good on its own merits.

Of course, on one level it wouldn't make any difference to me even if it stunk; I've learned the hard way that the Legion has hooked me for life and there's nothing I can do about it.

But, please, no more reboots. It's annoying. Far better to work with what's there than to start over.

RAB

This is an excellent summing up of what drove me away from the comic for good...though as you pointed out in the previous post, splitting the series between the newsstand format and direct market Baxter format -- described at the time as analogous to "hardcover" and "softcover" editions, ignoring the plain fact that monthly periodicals aren't comparable to novels -- was the fundamental breach that lead to all the creative problems later on. Just prior to that, the book had finally reached a good place after years of neglect, only to be torn apart all over again by a succession of spectacularly bad choices.

Looking forward to the next installment!

wizardimps

You forgot to mention Giffen's "Hat Trick" on how he was going to end the old/young Legionnaires storyline: the adults were clones and pawns of the Dark Circle, while the kids were the "real" Legion. The two groups would fight to the death with the victims names being drawn out of a hat. The survivors would regroup and make up, with the old guys going out to the Vega System as the Omega Men, while the youngsters stayed on Earth as the Legion. The end. See this post for more details.

Jeff R.

Someone mentioned legion-as-pokemon on the first part, but I'll mention Legion-as-Harry-Potter here. One of the reasons that the 5YL era, and later the reboots, lost favor among the legion fans was, I'm convinced, their failure to service the various camps of Legion 'shippers. Laurel Gand fell short of being a perfect retcon because no 'real' substitute Kara would break Querl's heart and run off with, of all people, Rond Vidar; Tinya/Jo never saw a payoff from the long separation arc; even in a post-vertigo era the could never come out and openly acknolwledge Ayla/Vi in the text (and none of the reboots even touched that 'ship...), Snake Projectra failed not because people didn't want a nonhuman character as such, but because it forclosed a relationship with Val...

Greg Morrow

I don't talk about 5YL any more....

The first reboot failed for me for two reasons: It made changes, like Snake Projectra, that subtracted from the myth without adding anything I valued, and it made them fast enough that within detectable time, this was not the Legion I wanted to read about; and it didn't feel like the Legion. Little things like Apparition instead of Phantom Girl are one thing, but the issue before the big Mordru confrontation was a !@#$ strategy meeting! Real superheroes don't hold strategy meetings, they get their asses kicked in fights until they miraculously come up with a winning strategy at the last possible second.

So far, aside from a few stupid Waidisms, the second reboot has felt a lot more like the Legion to me.

Marc

I'm tempted to say "Give it time." I saw nothing but subtractions. And I have to admit I'm puzzled by your tolerance for a Legion that can spy on each other and split into rival factions in the midst of an interplanetary crisis--or dither around with politicians while kids are getting killed--but not one that has strategy meetings before fighting a powerful menace.

Jeff, I can't say I was ever bothered by what Supergirl would have "really" done in her love life, and Jo Nah had one of the better arcs in the series; his budding relationship with Spider Girl was a lot more interesting than another autopilot Legion romance from the 60s. I think the problem with the 5YL Legion was not its willingness to make changes but its willingness to make bad or unnecessary changes, or not to follow through on the good ones.

Personally, I always thought Snake Projectra failed because a minority of Legion fans had been bitching for years about how the Legion should have more nonhuman characters, since that would make for more realistic science fiction, and the writers foolishly gave them what they asked for. The Legion isn't about realism or even science fiction, and every attempt at writing a "token nonhuman" came across as cloying (Tellus and Quislet?). Adding insult to injury, the snake seemed to come out of a fairy tale rather than an alien planet, and a snake with magical powers is just plain stupid. The snake failed because the snake was always going to fail, because the writers badly misread the fans they thought they were catering to.

That points out another problem that brought the Legion low, one I'm loath to bring up: the fandom. Especially in the 5YL era, too many fans wanted to lock the Legion into its 80s status quo. That ossification would have been just as destructive, in the long run, as some of the capricious changes of the 90s. Even the storytelling style of the 5YL was deemed too radical, and so the book got busted down to insipid stories with Glorith and the Khunds. Sometimes the fans were their own worst enemies.

Ironically, the current Legion reads a lot like some of the criticisms of the Bierbaum Legion: the society is too unpleasant, the series is too "pessimistic," the Legionnaires are all jerks, etc. I guess Legion fans are so starved that a book that would have roiled the mobs fifteen years ago gets hailed as a masterpiece today.

Greg Morrow

To be completely honest, I haven't been reading Waid's LSH with enough focus to zero in on flaws. At the very casual level I'm interacting with, it's had only a couple of issues I was dissatisfied with, mostly having to do with, as you say, Legion factionalism and ineffective in a crisis.

Dave Van Domelen

Regarding the factionalism and spying, a lot of that comes out of Waid reaching back to the 60s instead of the 80s, and taking stuff like "Sun Boy goes nuts and tries to exile/kill half the Legion" that was resolved in 8 pages originally and retell it over 12 issues.

Seriously, the 60s Legion was like a high school drama series, with cliques and infighting and stuff. It just resolved problems so much more quickly than stories do today, so it was hard to get tired of any given plot.

Marc

True, but it also had a cardboard characterization that allowed writers to wreak some pretty serious (if temporary) havoc on the Legionnaires without doing any lasting damage to them; they were more templates than people. We can appreciate that kind of treatment today with irony and humor, but not as serious drama. Trying to do classic Legion zaniness with contemporary realistic characterization makes the Legion look like pricks.

Morrison has a much healthier approach to his "modernized Weisinger" stories in All-Star Superman, where he keeps the crazy antics but acknowledges the simmering dysfunctionality of the Superman/Clark/Lois or Superman/Jimmy relationships. Of course, it helps that his characters are just plain nicer, better people than Waid's Legion (much as it helps that he's Grant Morrison).

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