Friday, July 21, 2006

Legion: Is it "JLU" good or "The Batman" bad?

Ol' Comics Continuum has an interview with Matt Wayne (HERE!), who was a story editor on Justice League Unlimited, and has written some for this new DC Animated show. Justice League started slow and Teen Titans finally won me over, so should we give this new show a chance? Sure! I'm not sure the bad taste of "The Batman" revamp will ever be left behind (although that movie 'Batman Vs. Dracula' was actually pretty damn good!) and I think when a show like JLU reaches such high levels of sophistication and quality, we all feel the end was early. Regardless, here comes the next one, may it extend DC Animated for at least another year of triumph. Marvel? Hire Bruce Timm and anyone you can get your hands on to do some quality animation for once.

Hint: Ultimate Avengers 2 isn't gonna made a great book into a lousy animation.


SAN DIEGO -- If you liked the Justice League Unlimited or Teen Titans animated series, there's a decent chance you'll like Kids' WB!'s upcoming Legion of Super Heroes show. And that's not just because the shows all deal with DC Comics characters. Many of the creators of Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans are now working on Legion. Matt Wayne, who was a story editor on Justice League Unlimited, has written two early episodes of Legion. Before the Bruce Timm/Legion panel at Comic-Con International on Friday, The Continuum caught up with Wayne to briefly discuss the show.

The Continuum: You're not on staff with this show, but I guess you could say you're extended family?

Wayne: Sure. I worked with Superboy back when when he was a man. James Tucker, who's running the show, was a producer on Justice League. Rob Hoegee, the story editor, came from Teen Titans. So there are a lot of the same crew contributing. Amy Wolfram from Titans did some particularly great writing, as did Stan Berkowitz from JLU.

The Continuum: What are the titles of your episodes? Who do they feature and what are they about?

Wayne: Not sure I'm allowed to say. Episodes Two and Five, titled "Timber Wolf" and "Champions" respectively. The first introduces a new Legionnaire to the team, but I won't say which one. The second takes place at the intergalactic games, and there are big stakes for Lightning Lad.

The Continuum: How would you say this show compares to Justice League? Or Teen Titans?

Wayne: This is the 31st century. Ordinary citizens have incredibly advanced technology at their disposal. So the threats that you'd need to call in a team of superheroes to handle are bigger than ever.

The Continuum: Were you a fan of the Legion? How does it feel to see a Legion show?

Wayne: I'm a fan of the goony, early Legion stories. And for very different reasons, the Levitz/Sherman, Levitz/Giffen stuff. When I wrote Shadow Cabinet at Milestone, Dwayne McDuffie sat me down and told me to read up on those runs, because that's how you do a team of heroes with a big roster. So I'm a fan from way back, if not all the way back.

What's particularly exciting about the show to a Legion fan is that it's kind of a reboot. Meaning everything is happening for the first time, without all the baggage of years of crises and clones and deaths. It goes back to what made the Legion great: Teen heroes in a mostly bright future.

I'm not a fan of the Legion of Superheros. Teen heroes with names like "Lighting Lad", "Cosmic Boy" or "Liquid Lass" (I made that last one up...I think?) just seem too silly to interest me. Whether or not DC can or even wants to make it interesting for anyone over 12 remains to be seen. I only know, I already miss Justice League Unlimited. What's going to happen to Green lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl? Tell me that!!!

Wiki, show me some
Legion Of Superheros!

The Legion of Super-Heroes is a DC Comics superhero team. Created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino, the original Legion first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958). Although time travel stories in comic books are frequent, the series is different from most in that it actually takes place in the 30th Century. Legion of Super-Heroes stories contain more elements of fantasy and science fiction than most American comic books. The Legion is also known for its sizable roster. Most Legion line-ups include more than a dozen minor and major characters. A common visual associated with the group is a tidal wave of colorful heroes utilizing the group's "flight rings." The team was originally closely associated with Superboy and was first portrayed merely as a group of time travelers who frequently visited, or were visited by, the young Superman. It was several years before the Legion’s origin and back story was fleshed-out and the group's connection to Superboy was loosened. They have since remained a somewhat popular DC franchise.

Among the Legion's many members are Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad,Triplicate Girl, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Mon-El, Matter-Eater Lad, and Element Lad. When Superman was a teenager (see Superboy), he journeyed into the future and joined the Legion. Supergirl is also a member of the Legion (because Superboy meets Supergirl "before" his memory of encountering her as Superman, she must place a hypnotic suggestion to erase his memory whenever they meet in the 30th century). Jimmy Olsen is an honorary member of the Legion under the name Elastic Lad. The Legion's "animal branch" is known as the Legion of Super-Pets. The Legionnaires are fully aware that Clark Kent is secretly Superman. From the time the Legion meets Superboy onward, the post of Legion Leader is held by Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid, and Ultra Boy, during parts of this interval, Superboy, Saturn Girl, and Mon-El serve as Deputy Leaders.

Starring in Adventure Comics

In Adventure Comics #300 (September 1962), the Legion finally received their own regular feature, cover-billed "Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes". While they would share space with Superboy solo stories for a couple of years, they eventually displaced Superboy entirely as their popularity grew. Superboy, however, continued to appear on every cover, even if only briefly (or barely) mentioned in the story.

It was this run which established the Legion's general workings and environment. A club of teenagers, they operated out of a clubhouse in the shape of a yellow rocket ship inverted as if it had been driven into the ground. The position of Legion leader rotated among the membership, sometimes through election and sometimes by more arcane methods. (From time to time the editors of the Legion stories would allow readers to vote on the leader. See below for list of leaders.)

Each Legionnaire had to possess at least one natural super-power (i.e., powers from devices were disallowed), in particular one power which no other member possessed. (Despite this, several members had overlapping powers, particularly Superboy, Supergirl, Mon-El and Ultra Boy.) Some issues included comical moments where candidates with bizarre, useless or dangerous abilities would try out for membership and be rejected. (A few of these flawed candidates went on to form the Legion of Substitute Heroes.)

The Legion was based on Earth and protected an organization of humans and aliens called the United Planets. The regular police force in the UP was the Science Police.

Many of these early stories were "gimmick" tales, revolving around someone trying to trick the Legion, or a member of the Legion being controlled or injured in some way so that he turned against his comrades. Stark tie-ins with the Superman stories appeared from time to time, with Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang and Pete Ross all becoming "honorary members". Characterization was often skimpy. In fairness, these sort of stories were common in DC Silver Age comics, and many of these stories are beloved by long-time Legion fans.

If you want more on the modern versions of the Legion Wiki HERE! Do you love the Legion? Write me your take on the news and I'll ad it!

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