Legion: Foundations

When I was into comic books, and I was majorly into comic books until about 1997, DC’s The Legion of Super-Heroes was one of my favorites. That and its spin-off Legionnaires were typically the first I read as they came out of the bag. I’m not sure I could to this day tell you what it was I saw in the Legion, because the Legion isn’t an easy super-team to get into with its thirty-plus years of history, its roll call of five hundred members, and so forth.

Zero Hour, DC’s crossover event of 1994, ended the Legion’s long history and rebooted the series with a new beginning, giving new readers a jumping-on point to a series that had known its share of continuity problems springing out of Superboy’s removal from DC’s history.

But if Zero Hour gave Legion a jumping-on point, for this reader it represented a jumping-off point. I gave the new Legion about a year, stayed through their first time jaunt back to the 20th century when they met Superboy, the clone of Superman introduced during the “Reign of the Supermen” storyline in 1992, and decided that the new Legion wasn’t the Legion I’d grown up with. It had the same name and the same characters, though most had new monikers, but it wasn’t the same. I’d grown up, the Legion had grown up, and now they were kids again. I wasn’t.

Usually when I’m at Barnes & Noble I’ll take a look at the graphic novel rack. Yesterday I saw a Legion trade paperback, “Foundations.” Prominent on the front cover, Superboy. It was the post-Zero Hour Legion, and I had walked away from their adventures long ago, but the old fan in me took hold, and I carried the trade up to the counter.

Superboy, the clone and member of the Teen Titans, is found in the distant future, while on Apokolips something long dormant stirs. Comparisons to “The Great Darkness Saga” are inevitable–both that story and “Foundations” share Darkseid as the villain–but there the comparisons end.

It was a fun story. It wasn’t the Legion as I remembered it, nor did I expect it to be. But in reading “Foundations” I remembered why I read the Legion for so long and so avidly–the 30th century is a fantastic place to visit and the character dynamics sparkle. The conflict between Cosmic Boy and Superboy–Cosmic serious, Superboy decidely not–is the principle character dynamic of the story, but other arcs with Kid Quantum and Live Wire shape the story. The solution to Darkseid’s resurrection comes down less to the use of superpowers but to the way the characters put their brains together to overcome the problem.

I don’t know if I’ll pick up another Legion comic in the near future. But for even a moment, reading “Foundations” made me feel as though I were fifteen again.

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