Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Reboot Legion

It was practically unavoidable.

The Five Years Later era broke the mold, adopting a deconstructionist approach to the Legion that, while exciting, would leave the franchise in a difficult place. An older, wounded and traumatized Legion, nearly unrecognizable from the characters they used to be, was far off the original premise and had lost its iconic properties. To refresh the Legion DC introduced the SW6 Legion, a batch of clones (or as it would later be revealed, temporal echoes) who were literally the teenage Legion circa the late Adventure Comics era (during Ferro Lad's all-too brief stint) and spun them off into their own book, Legionnaires. But this Legion had to share the primary Legion's dark universe, which meant it didn't have access to every possible character or trope, and also created an off-putting continuity element worthy of an X-book. When Zero Hour was set to tweak certain parts of DC history, it became clear it's what could save the Legion from the impasse it had reached.
Or at least, the change was concurrent with Zero Hour. In the books themselves, the Legions chose to sacrifice their existence to fix a history gone awry through the machinations of the Time Trapper and Glorith, in particular to prevent the older Cosmic Boy from becoming the Time Trapper. Both Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires continued with the same numbering - after the obligatory #0 origin issues cover-dated October of 1994, of course - from LSH (vol.4) #62 and Legionnaires #19. The rebooted Legion was very much in the mold of Batch SW6, and in fact, several characters kept the look, personality and code names presented by their SW6 selves. Other characters got bigger overhauls, including Sun Boy, whose spot would be taken up by a female version of the hero called Inferno (she got a 4-issue mini-series in '97). And there were new faces as well, like Flash descendent XS, Kinetix, Gates, Monstress, the giant snake Sensor and others. This Legion definitely had more diversity in terms of gender, race, and species. These series would run until March 2000, ending with LSH (vol.4) #125 and Legionnaires #81 respectively. But the story wouldn't end there.
The Legion would be split in two and the focus on the space-tossed Legionnaires would continue in a new series, Legion Lost (vol.1), written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (collectively known as DnA) who had taken over the two core books at the end of the runs. The Legionnaires would rejoin the rest after #12 (April 2001) and the combined group would continue their adventures in The Legion from December 2002 to issue #38 in October 2004, most of which was written by DnA. The months between Legion Lost (v1) and The Legion would be taken up by a 6-issue mini-series called Legion Worlds, which caught us up on what the Legionnaires NOT lost had been up to.
This was a fruitful era for the Legion. Not only did it spawn several mini-series, like Legion: Science Police, Legends of the Legion, and the aforementioned Inferno, but it was also the high mark for the Legion interacting with the rest of the DC universe. In the 20th century, L.E.G.I.O.N. and then R.E.B.E.L.S. was providing an exciting antecedent to the 30th century heroes. By virtue of a family connection, XS was running around with Impulse. Various members of the Legion were trapped in the past and participated in the Final Night event. Mordru fought the JSA. The Legion appeared in various Annuals and "+" Specials, teaming up with other DC stars. And new recruits included the so-called clone Superboy (Kon-El) and a member of the Marvel Family.

But by the end of the 2004, the Reboot Legion had apparently been played out, and the Legion was rebooted again, or if you like, THREEbooted.

This banner will look at this era, as it rose and fell across a decade, from 1994 to 2004.


  1. Probably my favorite Legion (though I love them all) - when I started buying the title(s) on a monthly basis, this is the team I was reading about.

    I feel this team best embodied what I always thought of as the Legion's core concept - a group of young people solving problems in the galaxy and providing a shining example of interstellar cooperation. That's why I'm glad, Siskoid, that you commented on this Legion's diversity in your introduction. There wasn't a time in the property's history when there was a greater variety beings - which (by definition) the Legion should always have had.

    I love these characters and hate the way this era got the axe - I can't help wondering if somehow this iteration of the team could have somehow been adapted to the concepts Waid & Kitson were to put forth in the 'Threeboot.' By rule, any unnecessary rebooting should be avoided at all costs in the Legion-verse.

    Anyway, I look forward to reviews of this era and can be counted upon as an engaged commenter!

    P.S. I will continue to refuse to refer to this era as the 'Archie' Legion.

  2. I've never heard that, "Archie Legion". Was it because of the art? And where's Captain Pureheart anyway?

  3. I suppose that 'Archie' monicker could have originally referred to the Jeffrey Moy artwork, which I guess is more Archie than, say, Stuart Immonen is, but the label has always bothered me (no disrespect to Mr. Andrews & Co.).

  4. Because to say it's because they're teens doesn't make much sense when that was the franchise's original premise.