Basically they're like the X-Men but better, in the future, with spaceships.
Inspired by legends of Superman, several super-powered teenagers in the 31st Century joined together to form a great, big super-team. Some of them gained their super-powers by accident, others are aliens whose powers are a natural attribute of their race. They all defend Earth and the rest of the United Planets (it's a bit like Star Trek) from evil. All members are given a ring that enables them to fly (even the ones who can fly already) and some of the younger members have to train in the Legion Academy before they can join.
2) Weren't there several continuity reboots?
Yes, but pretty much everything from 1958 to 1989 happened with a few minor revisions. Everything else happened on parallel Earths.
|Keith Giffen & Al Gorden|
In 1989 the series jumped forward in time five years. In 1994 it was rebooted and everything started from scratch. In 2004 the exact same thing happened again and the stories were once more started from scratch! In 2007, believe it or not DC Comics went back to the original continuity!
3) Is there an official timeline that sums it all up?
Yes! This year Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 featured a board game that doubled as a timeline.
|Art by Brian Douglas Ahern|
While it's obviously tongue-in-cheek it does actually tell you everything you need to know about the Legion in a succinct and fun way.
4) Who are the members?
There's loads of them!!!!!
Here are a few of the most prominent members.
Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz) A hotheaded character from the planet Winath where everyone has a twin. He gained electric powers when he, his twin sister Ayla and his evil, twinless older brother Mekt were struck by a Lightning Monster from the planet Korbal! His sister later became Lightning Lass and his brother became the villainous Lightning Lord.
Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen) Saturn Girl actually comes from Saturn's moon, Titan, home of a whole race of telepaths. She's the wife of Lightning Lad and together they have two infant, twin sons, Graym and Garridan. Saturn Girl is a bit like the X-Men's Jean Grey but she doesn't die as much.
Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn) A natural leader type who has magnetic powers. Everyone from his home planet of Braal has the same powers but he's really good at using them. He founded the Legion, along with Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl.
Mon-El (Lar Gand) A resident of the planet Daxam, Mon-El has all of Superman's powers. He is however, the unluckiest guy in the Universe! After an encounter with a young Superman in the present day he was accidentally poisoned by lead (which is fatal to Daxamites) and placed in the Phantom Zone to stop him from dying. He remained stuck in the Zone for 1000 years until he was rescued and cured by the Legion. He's just been dumped by his long-time girlfriend, our next Legionnaire....
Shadow Lass (Tasmia Mallor) Shady comes from the planet Talok VIII where she inherited the powers of her ancestors, a long line of shadow champions with the power to spread and control darkness. She is currently mourning the death of Earth Man, a former villain for whom she left Mon-El.
Chameleon Boy (Reep Daggle) Reep is from Durla, a planet of shape-shifters. Thanks to his crafty powers, Reep is leader of the Legion Espionage Squad. He is the son of R.J. Brande, the Legion's financier and a Durlan trapped in human form.
Ultra Boy (Jo Nah) Jo has most of Superman's powers but he can only use them one at a time. He gained these powers after being eaten by a space whale (Best. Origin. Ever.) He comes from the planet Rimbor and is something of a working class tough guy.
Superman & Supergirl Thanks to time travel the team's two biggest historic inspirations are also members, although how they fit into Legion continuity after their recent reboots is anyone's guess. In my opinion it's enough for us to know that Superman and Supergirl are members and then leave it at that. In the past the writers have tied themselves in knots trying to reconcile Super-continuity with Legion continuity. I honestly think they're better off leaving us to fill in the blanks ourselves.
5) Who are Legion Lost? (CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR LEGION LOST #1)
A group of Legionnaires are currently trapped in the present day after attempting unsuccessfully to retrieve a super-villain who had escaped from the 31st Century carrying a mysterious virus. Gates and Chameleon Girl seem to have been killed in issue 1. Here's who's left.
Timber Wolf (Brin Londo) Brin is from the planet Zoon and gained his powers after being experimented on by his mad scientist father. He is like Wolverine but better! That's right, you heard me!
Tyroc (Troy Stewart) Tyroc has sonic powers. His origin is frankly embarrassing and is summed up nicely in this brilliant cartoon strip from ComicsCritics.com. Judging by the first issue of Legion Lost Tyroc is currently developing into a pretty good team leader.
Wildfire (Drake Burroughs) Wildfire is a normal human from Earth transformed into a ball of energy by a lab accident. He has to wear his special costume to maintain humanoid form and stop himself from dispersing. He's a bit of a loudmouth who can rub his teammates up the wrong way (a bit like Green arrow or Hawkeye) and he has a complicated romantic relationship with our next member....
6) What Legion stories could I check out to get me started?
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. This story tells you everything you need to know about the Legion without bogging you down with continuity. It's just a really fun story that gives quite a few of the Legionnaires a chance to shine and showcase their personalities. Even if you never see yourself becoming a Legion fan, if you love super-hero comics you'll love this story, trust me!
Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1-4 Four thick, affordable black and white books containing the Legion's classic Silver Age stories in all their wonderful, lovably daft glory! Loads of fun!
The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. Probably the most famous Legion story, it features the team going up against the biggest, baddest DC Comics villain, Darkseid! At one point Darkseid gets an entire planet full of people to carve their home-world into the shape of his face. He is one evil dude!
Eye for an Eye by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. The Legion are attacked by the Legion of Super-Villains, who have all taken a blood oath to kill one hero each! This story contains some great moments between Lightning Lord and his sister, Lightning Lass and also features Karate Kid's final showdown with the evil Nemesis Kid. Like The Great Darkness saga it can initially be a bit confusing with all the different characters running around but both stories are so good that your patience will be thoroughly rewarded.
The Choice & Consequences collect some of Paul Levitz' recent run on the title. These two volumes feature the Legion having to let former villain Earth-Man join and Mon-El being chosen as the 31st Century's only Green Lantern. Very enjoyable stuff.
Hopefully this blog post has been useful to anyone interested in checking out the Legion for the first time. If it has, feel free to leave me a comment and let me know. If it hasn't, then write a comment anyway, leave me some abuse, it's all welcome. After you've done that why not follow this link to another of my Legion based blog posts, where I explain how I became a Legion fan in the first place.