Character Issues: The Legion of Superheroes

The Stats:
Name: The Legion of Superheroes (The Legion, Legionaries)
Powers: Varied yet stunningly One Note
Type:  Teen Age Space Rom-Com meets Hamburger Hill
Excels at: Sprawling Cosmic Operas
Fails at: Having a coherent history

The Characters: 

Follow this link to buy Legion of Superheroes books

This edition is a passion project.  Some of the earliest books I was introduced to were Silver-Age Legion of Super Heroes books.  These books had a Star Trek vibe due to the interplay between the different planets and alien races.   The LSH was composed of characters that were literally dripping with awesome potential

Like Wildfire


or Ferro Lad


And characters that should have resulted in somebody being fired

Like Arms Fall Off Boy



Matter Eater Lad


The Issues:

The Legion of Superheroes books are a strange mix of solid superhero-y action, War Comic bleakness and Silver Age campyness, they never seemed to find their balance.  This is long running property, but they have not had a consistent narrative since the 1985.  Are they teens or are they adults?  Is Ferro Lad dead or alive?  How about Karate Kid?  Is Element Lad a hero or villain?  Is The Time Trapper just an insane version of Superman-Prime?  Is Validus Lightning Lad’s kid?  Due to the stories being canon but being set in the far future, The Legion of Superheroes is a an anachronism creating machine.  This is made worse by excessive rebooting.  Factor in the level of ruthlessness show towards the characters throughout the series, you have a grim yet strangely lighthearted book that is detached from any real continuity.  The Legion of Superhero books introduced regular character deaths to my comic book reading life.  The LSH had an “Anybody can get it.” sensibility that peppered many of their adventures.



Some will argue that this creates a level of tension in the books that encourages continued reading, the way I see it, if the writers don’t care about the characters, why should I?  It seems like an excuse to use carnage to create narrative tension as opposed to creating compelling stories or characters.

The Fix:

I propose one final reboot.  A reboot that re-establishes The Legion of Superheroes continuity and sets it in its own reality.   No more crossovers with other characters from other books. Just focus on fleshing the characters out and giving them distinct voices.  The things that helped solidify the Teen Titans books were not guest appearances from more famous characters or a high body count, rather those books contained tightly written stories and solid character development.  Emphasize the political interplay between the United Planets by playing up the concept that each member of The Legion is diplomat for their planet.  Cast the LSH as the voices of logic for their respective races and emphasize the insanity of the politics when dealing with threats that jeopardize everyone.

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