The Many Origins of the Legion of Superheroes
Eric S Brown
The Legion of Superheroes is a DC Comics’ team whose adventures take place one thousand years in the future, after the days of Superman and Batman. The Legion is perhaps the most rebooted team in the history of comics. Originally created in the late 1950s to serve as a supporting cast for Superboy. Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Lightning Lad were the team’s first three members but the Legion’s membership grew constantly during those early adventures . By only their fourth appearance, the Legion already consisted of a dozen members. The Legion has remained an iconic part of the DC universe, expanding into their own title only to have it be canceled and brought back time and time again.
The first major change to the Legion came in the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths which erased the existence of Superboy and all of the team’s early adventures were now no longer part of DC’s main history but rather had existed only within a pocket universe created. It would be revealed that this pocket universe was actually created by one of the team’s more powerful enemies and would become an important plot point in a later incarnation of the Legion.
The next reboot of the Legion jumped into their own future with the team’s heroes now grown up into adults and their adventures taking on much darker themes. The team was popular enough at the time to have DC create and launch as second title for it entitled Legionnarries which returned to showcasing new stories of the team’s younger days. Both of these ended with DC’s Zero Hour event during which Hal Jordon’s attempted rewriting of the DCU erased the Legion completely. They were brought back with an entirely new history by Mark Waid’s famous run on the title that began in 2005. In this incarnation, the team was more than just heroes, they were prime movers in terms of social change, pushing for people to return to living with one another in real life instead of through vitural means. This take on the Legion as cultural rebels remains one of the best loved runs of their adventures and its first stories are collected in a trade paperback entitled Teenage Revolution. Despite the quality of Waid’s run, the Legion was canceled yet again in 2009.
The Legion was later restored to being a full part of the DCU’s timeline in Infinite Crisis by a storyline known as the Lightning Saga. This reboot erased nearly a decade worth of Legion stories and returned them to who they were during Crisis on Infinite Earths only younger.
Many events and storylines such as The Legion of Three Worlds, the New 52, DC Rebirth, etc. continue to change up the status quo of the Legion and its place in the DCU. The most current run of the Legion lasted only a meager dozen issues and created yet again an entirely new version of them, being much closer to a future version of the Justice League than anything the Legion had been before and at its end during the Future State event, the team suffers a betrayal which brings to an end, its members dying in battle.
If DC reboots the Legion in the future, most fans hope they will be something much closer to their original version or at least Mark Waid’s fantastic run on the title than the odd and not quite right version which was just killed off.