Legion of Super-Heroes #1


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Legion of Super-Heroes #1


  • Words: Mark Waid
  • Art: Barry Kitson
  • Inks: Mick Gray
  • Colors: Chris Blythe
  • Story Title: And We Are Legion
  • Price: $2.95
  • Release Date: Dec 29, 2004

What Mark Waid and Barry Kitson brought to Empire they now bring to one of the DCU’s most venerable franchises—and the 31st century may never be the same again .

The far, far future is the most peaceful era mankind has ever experienced. However, it’s the most boring as well. As the 31st century dawns a millennia after the Age of Heroes, super-powered young people from a multitude of planets are brought together by a common sense of duty and identity. Much too large in number to be just another super-team, they are a movement, a legion of super-heroes. Passionate activists and fierce dreamers crusading to make a difference, they pose a challenge to the status quo controlled by adults. But youth is all about rebelling and the status quo, like rules, is made to be broken.

The kid in me loves the Legion of Super-Heroes. Cool kids with super powers . Tons of them. In the future. How many times does a killer premise like that come along in a creator’s life? The adult in me, however, has a huge problem with science fiction stories set in the far future. With our ipods, Old Navy and Starbucks, we would be totally alien to our ancestors in the 11th century—either demigods or demons. Similarly, a culture a thousand years  ahead of ours would seem just as alien. The difference would be one of culture and psychology and not just flying cars and food in pill form. This is the reason why the adult in me could never put three dollars down for the Legion comics that the kid in me loves—the people in far-futuristic stories often are still us, and boringly so.

Thankfully, Waid’s take on the Legion is as concerned with building a different world as it is with telling an age-old story. Smart move on DC’s part to reboot the Legion with forty pages per issue, and Waid takes full advantage of the extra room. With only a few futuristic gizmos in the story, his character-focused narrative is animated by how different the culture of the 31th century is from ours and how different those who live in that time would be from us. Note, for instance, how dismissively adults treat these young adults by constantly referring to them as "children," and the tension that arises between the Legion and the authorities. Because the culture Waid presents is radically different from ours, it has its own way of illuminating our own.

Waid’s script also has a number of nice touches that make Legion of Super-Heroes #1 a fine read. The first few pages provide a strong set-up, putting heroes and struggles in the context of world history. Though Waid tries too hard at times with dialogue that seems more "O.C." than DC, I love the idea of envisioning the Legion as much more of a youth movement than a super group, as well as the tongue-in-cheek high sign the Legionnaires use. The tension between Sun Boy and Cosmic Boy, and between Cosmic Boy and a group of adult senators, gave real dramatic drive to this first issue; and the last two pages are as touching as I’ve read in months. Finally, as a kid I don’t remember seeing a major Legionnaire who was black, so the re-imagining of Star Boy was a nice touch.

In addition, maybe it’s just me, but as a creative team Kitson and Waid have something together that neither has on his own . Kitson in particular. In virtually every respect—proportion, movement, detail and emotional impact—Kitson’s pencil work is as solid as anyone’s. Only held back by Chris Blythe’s lackluster colors, Kitson’s lines are dynamic and vibrant, his figures as lively as they are realistically rendered. Here his lack of a distinctive, easily recognized style is a strength, as his art does so much more than look pretty on the page. It tells the story, and tells it as well as any artist working today.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 didn’t blow me away, but it did spark my interest in a title I hadn’t been excited about for twenty years. On the strength of that alone, I’ll be back in a month to check out issue #2.

-Dexter K. Flowers

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