October 21, 2011

New Comics: Legion of Super-heroes

When I was a kid, I had a couple Superboy and the Legion of Super-heroes comic books. I liked them. They had Superboy and a bunch of cool looking characters. It was in space and in the future and, to someone excited about Star Wars and Superman it was a cool convergence of both.
Of course, I knew nothing about the cast of characters and the continuing story and I was very, very confused about what was going on. Both comics started in the middle of something . . . had some cool action . . . and ended on a cliffhanger.
I still like the concept, though, but like X-Men comics I never got into any of the many series because of all the backstory and the huge cast of characters. Reading comics over time I got to know some of the main characters and concepts.
In the comic shop yesterday, there were four different Legion of Super-heroes comics . . . and I thought this might be a chance to give it a try. Two of them, after all, were from the new 52 . . .
I decided to read this one first, since it was a reprint of an older Legion story.
I was very confused when I started reading it, because NOTHING went along with what I already knew about the characters, until I realized that it was actually an Elseworlds book: a stand alone story that has nothing to do with any continuity and is set in its own universe.
In the "real" Legion stories, super powered teens from the future are inspired to become superheroes by Superman's exploits in the present. In THIS story, Superman never existed because the rocket ship that carried him to Earth as a baby somehow went off course and wasn't found until the far future. So Kal-El lives in the future, has taken to calling himself Superboy (inspired by the OTHER superheroes from the present, who died early because Superman wasn't around) and Superboy now wants to build a "legion". Of "super-heroes".
I'm sure if I was more familiar with the Legion characters, I'd have found it even more clever than it was because of all the appearances of all the many characters. But as it is, I still found it quite interesting. It's a fun story, with super heroics and sci-fi ideas.
Recommended. The DC Comics Presents . . . series is a great deal. Each of these books is a 100 page "graphic novel" reprinting various classic and/or obscure story arcs from the past.
So this new series is one of the "new 52", like I mentioned in this previous post, and is supposed to be a great jumping on point.
It wasn't.
That's not to say it wasn't good. It was. And they worked to make it accessible, by carefully introducing characters as soon as you see them the first time, in both issues. But, just like my old Legion comics, coming into the first issue, the reader is coming into the middle of a story.
I did appreciate the science fiction elements, and it is well written.
But unlike the "Superboy's Legion" book I read just before this, where the initial confusion was intentional, here it was unavoidable because it is still tied to directly to the old Legion of Super-heroes stories.
Recommended if you are familiar with the characters and storyline, but not if you are coming in with no knowledge like me.
LEGION LOST #1 and #2
Coming into this series, I found the same problem as the previous series . . . but this time, it worked.
The first issue opens right in the middle of a story. A handful of the huge cast of superheroes from the future of the Legion has found itself trapped in the present. It's picking up from the same storyline Legion of Super-heroes picked up from, and the careful character introductions aren't there and somehow . . . I was drawn in.
Maybe I was okay feeling lost because "lost" was in the title?
Supposedly, time travel is no longer possible in the "new 52" DC universe, and these characters are stuck. "Men out of time", so to speak. I liked it.
It's geek fodder. "Who would win in a fight, Freddy or Jason?" "What if aliens fought predators?" "Wouldn't it be brilliant ifIron Man, Captain America, and  Thor met the Hulk, a red-haired woman, and a guy I'm pretty sure I recognize from something who shoots arrows?"
I can't imagine ANYONE has ever sat down thinking . . . "what if the futuristic Captain Kirk and crew teamed up with superhero teens from the further future?"
But here it is. It's a classic Trek trope -- the old "alternate universe timeline" story, in which Kirk and crew find themselves in a mirror universe. And so do a small group of the Legion heroes. The same mirror universe. The two teams haven't met yet, in this issue. I guess that's in the next issue.
But is it good? Surprisingly, it is.
Recommended? If you like this sort of thing.
~ Ben
PS -- The last one, of course, reminds me of this:
Yes, Star Trek/X-Men. This one, also as un-needed as the Trek/Legion, at least had a couple moments in which iconic characters meet and do iconic things. Like this:
Spock giving Wolverine a nerve pinch? I like it.
But I like this more:

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