Catching Up on the Legion of Super-Heroes

I’ve spoken to quite a few comic fans recently who are looking to get on board with the new Legion of Super-Heroes run. However, they’re not sure where to start. So, I thought I’d put together a trade list for just this specific purpose. The current iteration of the Legion (known as the “Retro-boot” or retro-reboot) picks up right after the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986. The following trades can get you caught up to speed with the Legion.

Superman: Secret Origin (OPTIONAL)

Superboy meets the Legion for the first time

Following Infinite Crisis, Superman’s origin is revised once again. Now, when he was a teenager, he once again adventured into the 30th Century to become a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The tale of a young Clark Kent meeting the Legion is collected in this volume. However, it is one single chapter out of the six collected issues, so it’s not strictly necessary to read but is included in this list for those that may be interested.

O! Call back yesterday!

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Early Years (OPTIONAL)
Another optional book, this volume collects a new take on the Legion’s early adventures that appeared in Adventure Comics. Written by Paul Levitz, the stories focus on the Legionnaires around the time of the first Khund invasion by the warlord Zaryan. More details are shed on the Legionnaires of this time, most notably Saturn Girl, and some dark secrets of the Legion’s past are revealed.
This book is not required to understand current storylines, but it is a fun look at the Legion of yesterday and was written at the same time as the current Legion series by Paul Levitz. It won’t be released until late March, so if you’d like to collect the individual issues, look for Adventure Comics 12 and 516-520 (all from the most recent run).
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga

The Legion returns!

After a long absence and different versions of the Legion, the original Legion of Super-Heroes returned to the DC Universe for the first time in almost 20 years in The Lightning Saga, a story running through Justice League of America and Justice Society of America. Legionnaires are discovered throughout 20th Century Earth for reasons that are a mystery, but they have a mission that involves the return of another hero…

Back to the 30th Century!

Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes
The first real “Legion” story since they’re return took place in the pages of Action Comics. Superman returned to the 30th Century to find xenophobia rampant and his own legend being exploited for the use of a racist group of “Earth first” heroes, led by a Legion reject now calling himself Earth Man. And a Crisis for the 30th Century is hinted at…
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds

You want the Legion? We've got ALL the Legions!

First off, don’t let the title fool you: this story has NOTHING to do with Final Crisis, it just took advantage of the Final Crisis line and cover-structure.
Superboy Prime arrives in the 30th Century and is shocked to find he’s merely a footnote in history. Enraged, Prime gathers up a new Legion of Super-Villains and brings the fight to the Legion. The Legion summons Superman to help, but quickly realize they need the help of all the Legion… including the Legions of other timelines! It’s the Original Legion plus the Reboot Legion and the the Threeboot Legion, all teaming up to take on Prime… and a hidden villain who is masterminding it all!
This is highly reccomended, as not only is it a great story involving all the Legion variants, but it’s drawn by the great George Perez!
Long Live the Legion!
After Legion of Three Worlds, the Legion appeared as a backup feature in the new Adventure Comics series. Each story focused on a different Legionnaire and fleshed out the current status of the Legion. As of this blogging, there are no plans for collecting it in paperback, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. If you’re looking for the individual issues, check out Adventure Comics 1-4.

Mon-El in the 20th Century!

Superman: Mon-El Vol. 1, Superman: Codename Patriot, Mon-El: Man of Valor
During the New Krypton storyline in the Superman books, 100,000 Kryptonians were freed from the bottle city of Kandor and founded a new planet on the other side of the sun called New Krypton. In order to get to know his people better as well as keep an eye on General Zod, Superman departed Earth for New Krypton, but not before freeing Mon-El from the Phantom Zone to watch over Metropolis and the Earth.
Future Legionnaire Mon-El’s adventures in the 20th Century are tied into the happenings in the other Superman books pretty heavily, but they do provide a nice spotlight for Mon-El as a hero in his own right. As the story of New Krypton unfolds, it is slowly revealed that not all is as it seems: the members of the Legion’s Espionage Squad are in the 20th Century too, undercover for reasons unknown…
Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton, Vol 1, Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton, Vol 2

Brainiac is back, but Superman and the New Kryptonians will have some help from the Legionnaires

Brainiac returns to recapture what was stolen from him: the residents of the bottle city of Kandor, now known as the New Kryptonians. Superman, Mon-El, Supergirl and Superboy are aided by the now-revealed Legion Espionage Squad as they battle to save New Krypton from Brainiac’s forces.

It's time for a new Green Lantern to be chosen in the 30th Century

The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Choice
Paul Levitz returns with an all-new Legion of Super-Heroes series. In the first volume, a world is destroyed, children are kidnapped and the Green Lantern Corps of the 30th Century begins to be rebuilt. It’s the start to a new era of the Legion and Levitz is on top of his game! Great characters, lots of plot seeds being laid and good, old-fashioned Legion action.
This trade won’t be released until April, but if you’re looking for the individual issues now, it collects Legion of Super-Heroes (current series) 1-6.

That should catch you up to the current Legion series. In additon to the current Legion series, remember that the Legion Academy storyline has begun in Adventure 521 and that has great artwork from Phil Jimenez. It’s a good time to be a Legion fan and a great time to become one if you’re not!

The Greatest Comic Series of All Time?

Four Legionnaires face the immensely powerful Time Trapper at the End of Time

I’m going to go ahead and make a declaration: the Legion of Super-Heroes (in all it’s various incarnations, with all it’s various spin-offs) is the greatest comic of all time. Some who read this may know that I’m in the middle of reading all the Legion books, from their first appearance in Adventure Comics 247 in the late 50s on. It’s been on and off, and slow at times, but I’m now approaching the end of Paul Levitz’s second run, the end of the 1984 Baxter series. I was just floored by Keith Giffen’s return as co-plotter and penciller in issue 50, the gigantic battle against the Time Trapper. WHAT AN EPIC BOOK! I can’t believe this isn’t on lists for epic battles/storylines.

The plot is great: after Superboy’s death at the machinations of the Time Trapper (a long story for another time), four Legionnaires secretly swear an oath that they will find a way to get to the end of time and kill the Time Trapper in revenge, despite the moral and legal implications. The conspiracy slowly unfolds over several issues until, finally, it’s revealed. The Legion as a whole agree to go and take on the Trapper, a being of immense power, in his domain. It appears to be suicide. At the last minute, Brainiac 5 takes the rest of his conspirators into the future, leaving the Legion behind.

The battle seems hopeless, the Legion is bounced around by the Trapper, there are casualties and revelations, and when all looks lost, Brainiac 5 reveals his secret weapon: he’s taken the brain-dead body of Jaxon Rugarth (a man who was once sent through the timestream on an infinite loop, becoming the powerful and tortured Infinite Man) and recreated the experiment, forcing Rugarth to again become the only being capable of taking out the Trapper. The Trapper, the embodiment of Entropy and the destruction of all things at the end of time, finds himself dragged from the end of time into the beginning of time by the Infinite Man, seemingly killing them both.

That alone is worthy of applause. I was stunned by the scope of the story and the scale of Giffen’s art. I kept reading to the next issue, 51, expecting a nice epilogue. Issue 51 revolves around the Legion’s trial of Brainiac 5, not for conspiracy or even for the murder of the Time Trapper, but for the apparent murder of Rugarth. Polar Boy prosecutes, Saturn Girl defends and Cosmic Boy presides as judge (if you’ve followed the series to this point, these are perfect roles representing their personalities in the Legion). It was argument back and forth, written well enough, but nothing spectacular… until Brainiac 5 decides to forego a defense and make a speech:

Brainiac 5's statement... powerful dialogue

If you’re not a Legion fan, I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again how great it is from Legion fans, but I’m also sure you’ve heard all about the roadblocks for reading it (complicated continuity, cheesy code names creating a perception it’s corny and hacky, gigantic cast of characters, too much soap opera, etc.). I hope this post serves as an example (relatively small in comparison to all the others I could give about how awesome the Legion is) as to how good the Legion can be. One thing I’ve also always found is that the people who do take the time to get into it always end up absolutely loving it. And if you used to read it and gave up on it, well, the old adage applies: once a Legionnaire, always a Legionnaire! There’s no better time than now (with Paul Levitz back on the book and the original Legion back in continuity) to pick up the new issues, or at least do yourself the service of reading one of the trades.

You’ll hear more from me from time to time on the Legion, that’s for sure.

My Picks, Week of 12/2

Here’s my anticipated comics for this week. Reviews will start once I have them in my hot little hands. NOTE: Due to Thanksgiving, new books won’t be out until Thursday.

Adventure Comics #521
LEGION. Need I say more? How about LEVITZ. I should elaborate? Ok.
With the first flashback arc of the Legion’s adventures wrapped up, the Legion feature focuses on the present day and one of the big mysteries floating around the 30th Century: Who will be Sector 2814’s new Green Lantern? The feature promises to be a nice merging of Green Lantern and Legion, and will set the tone for the new Corps.
Also, Jeff Lemire’s Atom backups continue, with a continuation of the Atom’s investigation into shrinking suicide bombers. Always an enjoyable read!
She-Hulks #2
What can I say, I’m a sucker for strong women. Lyra is one of the more interesting things to come out of Hulk in years, and throw in everyone’s favorite non-Orion green gal Shulkie and you’ve got my attention. The first issue was straight up fun from Harrison Wilcox and the art was clean and gorgeous. We’ll see if the second issue stand up, but I have a good feeling it will.
Action Comics Annual #13
If you didn’t notice, I’ve had nothing but good things to say about Paul Cornell’s take on Lex Luthor. Well, while we wait for the upcoming Secret Six/Lex Luthor crossover (remember, Lex was Mockingbird in Villains United!), Mr. Cornell gives us an annual with some flashbacks to Lex’s meetings with other villains. We’ll get a look at a younger Lex’s dealings with Darkseid and Ra’s Al Ghul, and I, for one, am certifiably JAZZED.
Danny Husk: The Hollow Planet
This one’s a bit of a wildcard. Written by comedian Scott Thompson, this graphic novel takes his Kids in The Hall character to a Robert Howard-esque world where “his average looks and demeanor make him an exotic, and highly-sought after individual.” I’m a big fan of KitH and Thompson, so I anticipate this to be pretty damn hillarious. It’s an odd choice, but one I think will pay off.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #39
With news of a new, Joss-less Buffy movie, it’s good to know that Buffy and Angel will continue on in comic form under Whedon. He’s pulling out all of the stops for the finale to Season Eight, and with Georges Jeanty in place and guest stars Angel, Spike and The Master, I can’t wait for the next chapter in “Last Gleaming.”

We want to hear from you! What are you looking forward to this week?

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