Monday, May 10, 2004

Image Hosted by

Just to prove how influential my opinions are in the comics world, I see where the current run of The Legion, a title which I've been buying more-or-less faithfully since around 1996, is coming to an end in after about five more issues. Of course, as my regular readers may remember, I had decided to stop buying Legion as of the most recent issue, since I felt the book had shot its creative wad and was dying on the vine as writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning seemed to be eager to move on to other, presumably greener pastures, piling on dubious science and wacked-out contrivances (the weird-ass business with Superboy, the return of Lightning Lad in Element Lad's tromium body, completely nullifying the impact of the conclusion of the criminally unavailable-in-a-trade Legion Lost, and most unforgivable, leaving my beloved Zoe Saugin aka Kinetix as an Amazon Breadfruit Woman, or some such) that just didn't sit well with me. Also, the new creative team of Gail Simone, Dan Jurgens and someone named Andy Smith (a Crossgen refugee, methinks) didn't excite me at all. So, for the first time since 1999, I bid the Legion a forlorn adieu. Then DC summarily goes and cancels it, obviously since I wasn't buying it anymore.

I started buying both the Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires regularly a couple of years after the 1994 reboot, because Wizard had hyped it in a small feature article and I was intrigued. And after picking up the most recent issues, I kinda liked it. It was no Watchmen or Love and Rockets, but it was well-drawn (although I preferred the more organic stylings of Lee Moder to the staid Archie-style Jeff Moy work) and the character interaction was interesting, so I became a Legion reader for approximately the third time in my life. I stuck with it through several artist changes and a couple of writer changes, justifying my continued patronage as "guilty pleasuring" until finally I couldn't take it anymore after an incredibly silly storyline involving Bizarros...and I bailed. And I was content for a while, until I started noticing a little something different a few months later...a new artist. One with a radically different style from what I'd grown tired of before. The artist was newcomer Oliver Coipel, and the storyline was "Legion of the Damned"...and it looked a lot more down-to-earth than what had been the norm. At first I was hesitant to re-add it, but I soon gave in and bought the most current chapters, along with the ones I'd missed, and I was hooked again. I soon was convinced that the Abnett/Lanning/Coipel team was enthusastic, talented, and had set out to do some memorable stories, and they did not disappoint for a long time. But, as the Quiet Beatle once sang, "All Things Must Pass", and entropy started when Coipel left for Marvelbucks, and Abnett & Lanning soldiered on, but it just wasn't quite the same despite some fine fill-in artists.

Of course, this wasn't my first experience with DC's 30th century super-team- heck, me and the Legion go way back. When I was about 4 or 5, I distinctly remember playing "supers" with other neighborhood kids and whenever we were the Legion, I was always Lightning Lad or Sun Boy because I had red hair. The first Legion story I remember owning and reading was Adventure Comics 334, which featured the LSH trapped in 'The Super-Stalag of Space". After that, I got the occasional issue but I wasn't really a big fan of either the Superboy-Superman family or the art of Curt Swan so I didn't get many. In fact, the first time I bought a Legion comic for real was in the 70s, when Dave Cockrum and Cary Bates breathed fresh air into the stale concept by totally redesigning their uniforms and creating some fun and fast paced adventures. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Cockrum bailed to go do some X-book or something, and was replaced by Mike Grell, whose work I hate with a passion, so I left not long after. And I didn't buy another Legion title regularly until Tom and Mary Bierbaum and a talented newcomer named Chris Sprouse launched the Legion companion book Legionnaires, and collaborated on six excellent (and underrated) issues before Sprouse's terminal lateness caused problems and he was soon replaced. OK, at first it was by Adam Hughes, early in his career, but he didn't stay much longer and was replaced by several artists who gave us some of the most amateurish comics art I've ever seen. I bailed again, and now we've come full circle, when I resumed my Legion habit a couple of years later.

Knowing the history of the LSH as I do, and also knowing that LSH fan (and former writer) Paul Levitz is stil calling the shots, I'm pretty sure the Legion will be back sooner rather than later. Will I buy? Who knows. I'm not ruling it out!

No comments: