DC Comics is reviving the Legion of Super-Heroes with some pretty big names. And judging by the reaction on the internet, it’s going to make a legion of readers pretty happy.
The Legion isn’t among DC’s best-known properties, and its existence is more a testament to fan enthusiasm than editorial planning. But that enthusiasm launched one of the earliest, pre-internet fan organizations, and it still smolders today.
The LSH first appeared in 1958, with a throwaway story in “Adventure Comics,” then headlined by Superboy. “Throwaway story” isn’t as much of an insult as it sounds; in those days, DC didn’t pay much attention to its on-page history — what today is called “continuity” — and every story was seen as disposable.
So when Saturn Girl, Lightning Boy (later “Lad”) and Cosmic Boy showed up in late 1950s Smallville and announced they were from a teenage superhero club 1,000 years in the future, it’s unlikely anyone at the DC offices expected newspaper columnists to be writing about them 61 years later.
“The Legion of Super-Heroes began as a gimmick and took years to acquire momentum,” wrote the late Les Daniels in “DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes.” He went on to say: “Rarely a top seller but always a favorite of the most committed fans, the series became an experimental laboratory where a generation of comic book personnel got their training while they tried to stretch the boundaries of the form.”
The Legion has fans in high places. Geoff Johns, DC’s chief creative officer, has been inserting Legion iconography and Saturn Girl in his “Watchmen” sequel, “Doomsday Clock.” And writing superstar Brian Michael Bendis, who moved to DC in 2017, told Newsarama that he’s been planning to bring the team back since he arrived at DC.
But before the Legion could return, Bendis (and Johns) had to prepare the ground. There’s no better place to do that than in the Superman titles, given the importance of the Superfamily in Legion history. And surprise, surprise: Bendis has been writing “Superman” and “Action Comics” for two years.
And now he’s ready. DC has announced that the Legion will return in “Superman” (fifth series) No. 14 next month.
However, the new “Legion of Super-Heroes” title won’t arrive until November. Bendis will do a little more throat-clearing with a two-issue miniseries titled “Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium” in September and October. That series will take an established DC character and abruptly grant her immortality. She — and gender is all DC has revealed of her identity — will then live through 1,100 years to the 32nd century, where the new Legion will be set.
DC has released some character designs by series artist Ryan Sook, featuring old friends like Brainiac 5, Blok, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. So if you’ve never read Legion of Super-Heroes, be prepared to meet 30 or 40 new best friends in the coming months. And if you have, trust that Bendis is taking your old friends seriously.
“The Legion of Super-Heroes is the biggest project I’ve ever done in my life,” he told Newsarama. That’s from the guy who rebuilt the Avengers, created the Ultimate Universe and gave us the Miles Morales Spider-Man. I think we’re in for a treat.