Monday, September 1, 2014

Unlimited Possibilities- Why I Love The Legion

In the beginning, there was Superman, and he gave way to Superboy. I loved both characters above all others.

But, the tales of the Man of Steel as a lad usually ended up being a smaller-scale version of his adult counter-part.

Until three super-powered teens showed up, and opened the door to a greater universe. Then, there was no going back.

I saw the future, and what a future it was. Filled with aliens, flight rings, and adventures beyond the scope of Smallville.

And, nearly limitless heroes who formed a club, who were friends, sometimes even lovers. Imagine high school on an infinite scale, and everybody could fly. There is no downside to the idea.

When a seed is that potent, it bears amazing fruit. A universe where virtually anything can, and did, happen. The ground is fertile, and the character possibilities nearly write themselves.

The Legion could be seen as an extension of the Superman mythos, but it grew into something more, something beyond what anybody could have expected. They became my friends, my secret crushes, my ciphers in a grander universe.

For as vast as the 30th and 31st centuries are, and despite the multitude of Legionnaires, I feel at home with them, and I know them intimately, even in the endless void of space.

We are The Legion, because The Legion is us- characters with flaws like ego (Brainiac 5) or misguided love interests (Invisible Kid) or even disabilities (Lightning Lad).

Regardless of the powers they have, or the adventures they go on, the real reason that I love The Legion is that they are real characters with absolutely no limits to where they can go in space, or in my heart.

Long Live The Legion. 


  1. So true, so why did I never really make that connection? I mean, from the 8th grade on, I used to choose my 7 favorite characters in each monthly issue of Who's Who and assign them to myself and my 6 best friends at school, imagining us "Dial for Heroing" our monthly superhero identities. And in high school later, I played a game where I wrote up a long list of mutant powers, then attributed them in that order to everyone I spoke to or who spoke to me in the same order. A mnemonic game, but suddenly I was in a superhuman school. And Legionnaire-like, I belonged to an improv club that was the reason for even going to school, a club I am still a part of. It's grown, it's not just limited to a single school, and it includes teenagers and much as 40somethings. Some married and retired, but they're never very far. With time came greater diversity, more complex storylines, joy and heartbreak.

    Wait... am I still talking about improv or am I talking about the Legion? Is there a difference? Thanks for making me see there isn't really, David.

  2. I started reading the Legion at about the same time as David, and I have the same type of memories. I always liked the Justice League, but I *loved* the concept of the Legion. Let's face it, the JLA will always win in the end and maintain the status quo. The Legion? They don't know that they are comic-book characters. Heroes live! Heroes get married! Heroes die! I loved them *because* they seemed more real to me, not less. I know that sounds funny talking about fictional characters, but it's true.

  3. The Legion is only slightly older than I am, and I want to say that my first Legion story was "The Army Of Living Kryptonite Men". I don't have a clear memory of reading the story, but when I read the story again, some of the panels as well as the cover stick in my mind as familiar. I also recall a story where at the end Lightning Lad's missing arm was regenerated, and at least one Legionnaire, maybe Bouncing Boy, had his power restored. The first Legion issue I remember getting was one of the 100 page Super Spectacular issues. Despite this spotty run of Legion stories, I've been hooked for a lifetime. After Superman, the Legion Of Super-Heroes is my second favorite comic book.

    1. Billy, its funny you mention that issue, that was one of my first Legion stories as well, I came to comics much later, but scored that issue, Superboy #86 from a garage sale when I was 5 or 6. I want to say that issue also has the milestone of being the first appearance of Pete Ross?

      -Kyle Benning

  4. Great essay which echoes so much of what I love about the book. As a kid I imagined myself with super-powers, assigned powers to my friends, dreamed of being in a club ... everything the Legion has.

    And yes, reading them for so long, I did develop fondness for some of the female Legionnaires, crushing on different ones at different times.

    The Legion was like a group of friends to hang out with!