BOOK LOG 59: MORE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
The Life and Death of Ferro Lad; Supergirl and the LSH: Dominator War; Enemy Rising; Enemy Manifest; Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes; Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds; Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th Century
Various authors and artists
DC Comics Entertainment
The problem with having a completist gene is that once you pick up a project, you feel the need to, you know, complete it. Unfortunately, in this case I’m hampered by only being able to read what the local library has available instead of the almost sixty years of Legion stories published (you can see the challenge and problem there; I know I could track down a lot of it, but a lot not), so I’m doing my best to read and reread everything that is available in the system. I know too many other Legion fans that if I have a question, there will be someone who can come up with an answer, so I’m not too worried about gaps in knowledge not covered in available narrative.
So in the latest batch, I tried to read them in chronological order—and the stories that made up the first compilation, The Life and Death of Ferro Lad, I actually read when the comics were originally published, written by a then-13-year-old Jim Shooter. After having not read them in many a year (even many a decade), I read them with a clear eye—and I have to say, they held up well. Seriously! Plotting good, dialogue sparse enough yet informative enough that I never frowned trying to get through murky writing and random art, too often the current case. The editor, a man named Mort Weisinger, had many flaws (many), but he did a good job of getting the best out of a kid writer, and the kid did a great job. Those of us who write stories in general should take notice (and notes).
What strikes me as interesting is that the villains in the DC pantheon over the years have been numerous and sundry, but over and over again the villains introduced in Legion stories, and by youngster Shooter, show up a lot even now, far far away from anything dealing with the Legion. We hadn’t realized how much until Mordru the Merciless, a longtime adversary of the Legion, made an appearance (without real reason, it turns out) in a Justice League cartoon. Out of nowhere and, as I said, for no good reason. But it was Mordru, and no mention of the Legion. Hey!
Then there was the Persuader of the Fatal Five, who made an appearance on the Smallville TV show. That made sense; Superboy (before the original Superboy was lawsuited out of existence) played a large part in the Legion’s adventures in the early days, so Smallville made sense (which was, after all, the adventures of Superman when he was a CW star, and the CW versions of the Legion’s founders showed up too). Those are the two that come to mind; other Legion enemies have popped up, one, the Khund, in a passing reference in the first season of Supergirl, and another, the Dominators (before BDSM was an everyday thing), are apparently the Big Bad Adversary that forces Supergirl to join forces with other CW DC super-heroes this season.
All this comes to mind because besides Lex Luthor and Brainiac (the original), Legion villains seem to come up with remarkable regularity. Seriously, there are THOUSANDS of villains. THOUSANDS. I’d say the current creators might want to come up with other old ones, or, heaven forfend, MIGHT WANT TO MAKE UP NEW ONES. Is that too much to ask?
Kidding. Well, I’m only kidding to some degree, because of course there have been many others who have been put to repeated use.
Why am I going on and on (and boring you to a comatose state)? Because even if you’re not writing comics, and if you’re writing something else, think of something NEW. I know we’re always told that there’s nothing new under the sun and to think of a new twist to something old, but come on. Is it too much to ask for a new twist on a twist?
Coming up: West of Everything by Jane Tompkins