Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Point/Counter-Point: The Death of Superboy


To wrap up our Superboy Memorial Week, today we present our very first Point-Counterpoint post. The Irredeemable Shag and Bilingual Boy tackle the question: Did the death of Superboy affect the Legion? 

Pro Super Life
by Bilingual Boy
When Superboy perished in Legion #38, the last lingering part of Silver Age DC Comics died, too. The Justice League was disbanded and the Justice Society had disappeared. Superboy's death was clearly a tragedy for the Legion, but it was also a tragedy for all fans of Earth One. Originally, of course, Superboy grew up to become Superman, who with fond memories of his days in the Legion would help form the Justice League of America on Earth One. Now, if Superboy ceasing to exist, that means that Superman wouldn't help form the JLA....and look what ended up happening in the Post-Crisis DCU!

I often wondered why DC felt obligated to kill Superboy at the end of LSH #38. Why couldn't he have been allowed to disappear with the Smallville "pocket universe"? After all, the same basic plot was how we lost Tyroc and his small town, Marzal. If Superboy had gone away with Smallville, perhaps Earth-1 could have existed somewhere, sometime, after all... (Granted, it would have been a world without Krypto the Superdog, but still.)

As it was, we not only lost Superboy and Earth-One, but the charm and innocence of the Legion as well. The last two years of Paul Levitz' Legion series would not have swerved darkly into revenge and distrust, but perhaps been centered around sacrifice and heroism. Would that have changed the 5YL Legion, too? Maybe. Now of course we'll never know.

Consider for a moment Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?. In that story, the Silver & Bronze Age Superman is allowed to, literally, walk off into the sunset. We will not argue here which of these "endings" is better, but certainly that story is kinder and more gentle to the legacy of Superboy/man than The Death of Superboy is.

Pro Super Choices
by Shag

The Death of Superboy, huh? Never read it.

As a member of the Legion of Super Bloggers, I recognize Superboy's importance in the Legion's history. The problem is... I just don't care very much for the classic Superboy. *Gasp* I know, heresy, especially here. The fact is I'm a post-Crisis kind-of-guy, so I never had any attachment to Superboy. When it comes to the Legion, I'm a "Five Years Later" kind-of-guy and there is no place for a Superboy. That's the beauty of all the reboots. You can have your era with Superboy, and I can have my era without. Both are equally valid.

I know! I know! The Legion was inspired by the 20th century heroics of Superboy, but that just doesn't factor into my own personal interest. Even in the post-5YL era, I don't care much about substituting the 20th Century heroics of Valor. If I need a Legionnaire that's more powerful than a locomotive, I'll call Mon-El or Kent Shakespeare.

For me, the wonder of the Legion starts with the founders: Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and RJ Brande. The only reason these kids came together was because they wanted to help.Three teenagers with different backgrounds and an adult who saw their potential. That tiny spark fanned into a blazing flame of heroism that spanned the galaxy. Dozens of diverse members from all corners of the 30th century. That's the Legion for me. Not some 1,000 year old history about one strange visitor from another planet.

Long Live The Legion!


  1. The problem with the argument that reboots make all histories valid is that they are not. If the Superboy Legion were as valid as the Five Years Later then DC would and could have kept both Legions in publication but they didn't and they don't. Whichever present history is popular and loved by editorial is the preferred history. As an example is the present day Legion, which again made its comeback ignoring the existence of Abnett & Lanning's Legion or the Legionnaires, or even Mark Waid's. This in spite of the existence of a multiverse. And who knows what new Legion DC might give us now.

  2. Nice arguments, both! The Legion, of course, owes its existence to Superboy, having gotten its start as a mere plot device in an SB story. But I've always admired how the team & concept developed on its own - was able to stand on its own legs for decades.

    The death of Superboy to me, while I can see editorially was a way to 'clean house,' was about the Legion growing up, in a way and they continued to soar - some of their very best stories were still to come. Sure, SB's death could have been handled differently - I appreciate Bilingual Boy's comparison to 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?' - but I was never of the mind that the Legion's continued existence relied on the presence of a 'Super' in its ranks.

    And to Jesus' point: if the glorified fanfic that was Legion of 3 Worlds taught us anything, it was that every published Legion is 'valid' it's just a matter of, you're right, Jesus, which Legion gets the spotlight at any given moment.