Friday, March 10, 2017

The Threeboot: A Requiem

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interrèd with their bones. 
Mark Antony from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Friends, Legionnaires, UP residents, lend me your ears.
Because after 15 months of reviews, my look at that Threeboot Legion has come to a close.
It is hard for me to believe that I have come to the end. But in some ways I am happy it has as the last several months of reviewing the Shooter run hasn't been easy.
More than any run, it seems like this volume has both good and evil. I unlike Mark Antony, I don't want the bad portion of this run to live on. And I don't want to bury the good. I want to take a broad look at the Threeboot one last time. And really, what I want to hear most is from everyone out there. What did you think of this run of the Legion? Did you love it? Or hate it? Are there moments that stick out? What do you think?
And unlike many versions of the Legion, despite the Threeboots' short run, there are definitely  discrete and distinct runs within the 50 issues. So let's dip our toes one more time.

The first 15 issues or so defined the vision that creators Mark Waid and Barry Kitson wanted for this version of the Legion. They were a brash, upstart, socially conscious, politically progressive, independent group. The UP bureaucracy didn't like them. The establishment didn't like them. The Legion was a movement, looking to shake things up, and looking to the youth of the universe to lead to a better place. Anyone could be a Legionnaire as long as you had the ethos.

Their enemy was a group which espoused the Legion desire for progress but as seen through a mirror darkly. Praetor Lemnos looked to destruction as the catalyst for change. And somehow he thought the Legion would jump on board.

Waid had the uneasy task of reintroducing us to these people. This was a new Legion, aimed at satisfying old readers while bringing in new fans. Kitson's work is brilliant throughout. Utterly lovely.

The book suffered a little from pacing. The Lemnos arc took too long.

And with that first arc done, the book entered its second phase.

The next 15 issues are the Supergirl issues.

Needing a little injection of adrenaline, and with the Lemnos arc finally complete, Waid and Kitson uses the 'One Year Later' breakpoint to add Kara to the proceedings.

For me, this chunk of the Threeboot is the best. While Supergirl was portrayed as a whiny, angry brat in her own title, Waid returned her to her roots. Gloriously optimistic, fierce in her desire for justice, and always ready to be a hero, Supergirl shined in this book. And Kitson drew the hell out of her.

Once again, this section dragged a bit. There was a long running plot of a robot rebellion spurred on by the Dominators. We met the Wanderers and learned of Mekt Ranzz. While it took a while to get there, the ending of this mega-arc with the Legion battering their way all over the Dominator homeworld was fantastic.

But that pacing may have dragged things a bit.
And I wonder if it wasn't impossible for Waid and Kitson to serve two masters. How could they make a new Legion for a fresh audience and satisfy the older fans?

With the Dominator plot over, Waid and Kitson left the book.

I call the next phase of the book the 'Interim Coach' phase.

You know in sports when a coach gets fired in the middle of a season, an assistant coach steps in to finish the year. And everyone knows that person is keeping the seat warm until the 'real' next coach is found? That is what I call this section.

And God bless Tony Bedard and Dennis Calero for their work on their six issues. Without a doubt, based on these issues, you can tell that Bedard is a Legion fan. He threw so much updated Legion history at us all while honoring the past that it was the best of all worlds. You could just see that he knew this stuff and wanted to bring it back!

Wildfire! Validus! Evolvo Lad! Matter Eater Lad!

There was a lot of history there. But it also felt like Bedard was treading water. These issues seemed like self-contained stories which didn't necessarily look to the future. And did all these reintroductions keep the attention of those supposed new readers? Hard to know.

And the Dennis Calero was just a bit too rough for my tastes. It certainly was a far cry from the polished Kitson art.

But this was a place holder.

And then the final creative team came on board, Jim Shooter and Francis Manapul.

I am going to start out by saying that Manapul's art is brilliant. It is interesting to see his early art in comparison to the pencilly style he has now. I can forgive him the cheesecake he put into the book. He drew the script given to him.

As for Shooter, I don't know if bringing in the writer from the earliest Legion stories was supposed to be a draw for new readers. And Shooter's bawdy and nasty approach to the book felt a bit too much like an old guy trying to be cool.

His plots were all over the place. Some meandered and lingered. Others were introduced and never finished. Between the tecnno- constructs and Projectra's descent into evil, things limped along. Wedged into these stories was as gratuitous panty shots and icky sexual innuendo and trysts to make you want to shower.

And then the plug was pulled. Shooter didn't even have time to finish at least three plots he was brewing, including the Projectra one which dominated page space.

Of all the sections of this book, it is this section which is my least favorite.

And so ends Threeboot Fridays ...

But let's end with one last conversation. Tell me your thoughts on the book!


  1. Let me preface with this: I gave the book 3 years of my money.

    Eager for a new Legion book I was ready to see what Waid & Kitson had to offer. Out of the gate, a few things annoyed me, but they were minor (Colossal Boy shrinking, Viloet unseen for several issues, and of course, the off-putting "Eat it Grandpa!", among others). But I didn't let them dissuade me, and I kept reading. Supergirl was a much-needed breath of fresh air.

    Two of your comments are the reasons I ultimately gave up on this iteration. a) I agree that the stories did indeed drag on too long; and b) you use the word 'movement'. I like that word, and it's why this version of the legion didn't work for me. They began as a movement, but then didn't ever truly become a team. So I pulled up my big boy pants and spent my dollars elsewhere.

    Side note: so far every reboot has been in too much of a hurry to retell old stories. I feel that any new Legion book should begin with a small team focus (perhaps the Espionage Squad), tell a few new tales (creating NEW villains along the way), and then reintroduce members (and add some new) & villains from the past, in logical ways.

    Lastly: Thanks for all the hard work, it was interesting to see this particular run through eyes other than my own.

  2. Yes, the "Eat it Grandpa!" was very tiresome.

    I don't like Mark Waid's Spider-Man but he's welcome to write the Super-family whenever he pleases. Unlike other DC writers in the time, he knew and understood Supergirl and it shows.

    The book really changed when he left. Bedard's arcs weren't bad... but they weren't as good as the older stuff.

    Shooter has complained Manapul is a brilliant artist but often ignored his editor-approved scripts, but he also has blamed himself for the book's troubles which led to cancellation.

    A pity his second run went so wrong. Back in the Sixties the Legion characters were really especial to him:

    By the way, in another blog entry he explains briefly why Supergirl and the Legion features were shuffled in 1969:

  3. The Threeboot started great and ended poorly. But I wish they had tried to salvage it. Even at its worst it was always an attempt at originality, which the retroboot never was. I miss it, and I'm worried that DC will never do an ambitious Legion comic again.

  4. The Waid-Kitson stuff was good but flawed, the Shooter-Manapul stuff was flawed but sometimes good. My favorite stories were the Tony Bedard stuff, but the art was just so off-putting, I was glad to see them replaced by Shooter-Manapul. Be careful what you wish for! I didn't mind the overall "let's look again at who these characters are!" plan, but Brainiac 5 in love with dead Dream Girl? Projectra turning evil? A little bit too much.

    And yes, each of these writers could have used a much stronger editor to keep the plot-lines more on track. For only 50 issues, this series seemed like it went on forever.

  5. Ultimately forgettable. I was about to drop the book when Shooter/Manapul came on and I gave it a try (the art alone was worth it in some ways).

    The reintroduction of the originals really killed the book. I remember feeling kind of angry about that especially since it hadn't been that long since the removed the zero-hour Legion (who I loved) from continuity.

  6. The threeboot was a mixed bag at best. A lot of people just assumed it was about juvenile rebellion but Waid had a lot of good stuff in there about generational conflicts and the dark sides of utopias.

    There were some interesting ides and concepts but it never quite got its groove. The Lemnos story and the Dominators plot went on far too long.While she had some fine moments, Supergirl took the spotlight away from some of the mainstays. Losing Cosmic Boy, a strong character who had essentially been the closest thing to a main character, halfway through the run didn’t help matters. Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl, both of whom were offered interesting spins on the characters, bowing out in the final quarter also undermined the book, especially as it was linked to other DC plots.

    While the first dozen or so issues were flawed, they were fun and engaging. Even when Supergirl took over, there were some fun moments. That came to an end after Waid and Kitson left. For the record, the art remained excellent throughout most of the series, even at the end with Manapul and Livesay.

    Shooter had his problems to be sure but I don’t think he is to blame for the demise of the threeeboot. The big problem with came down to DC and fans. DC simply had no idea what to do with the comic after Waid left (and frankly neither did Bedard who kept it in a holding pattern and Shooter who simply went in an odd direction). The fans also helped kill it, especially as hints of the old--no, not that Legion, the one before it.....wait before that incarnation and the five tears we didn’t show you.--the Legion from the days of Ronald Reagan, Muppet Babies, Larry Bird winning rings, Magnum PI, Belinda Carlile. That Legion.

    Well, the traditionalists won and their Legion was brought back thanks to Geoff Johns and the DC brass. The traditionalists even got Paul Levitz back at the helm and a “Legion Lost” spinoff to boot.

    How did that work out for everyone? Oh, right. Crashed and burned faster than the threeboot did. For the first time in decades, we have no Legion comics.

    The threeboot had a great deal of potential that never took off. It’s nowhere near as bad as its critics maintain even if it never truly developed into what it could have become.

  7. This week's DCTV Legion reference: Cadmus shipping aliens off to Takron-Galtos.