LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IN THE 31st CENTURY

KC Carlson as illustrated by Stuart Immonen

KC Carlson as illustrated by Stuart Immonen


A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson

I’m still inventorying my DC Comics. It’s taking forever because I generally only have the time to do a few boxes a day, 3 or 4 days a week. And I sometimes get distracted by finding something I completely forgot about. Like this title.

I only came across it because I was starting to inventory DC Comics’ kid-friendly titles, and there it was in the middle of a box. I’m talking about it now because of my personal drive to keep the LSH in the memories of fans and readers. It doesn’t seem the current DC has any plans for them for them to return (other than an odd cameo of individual characters every once in a while), which is a shame.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1


Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century ran from 2007 to 2008 for a total of 20 issues, plus a Free Comic Book Day promotional reprint of issue #1.

For only 20 issues, this title sure had a lot of talented folks working on it. J. Torres was the main writer (9 issues), alternating with folks like Matthew K. Manning (3, including the standout Arm-Fall-Off Boy issue), Jack Briglio (3), and Scott Beatty (2). Top artists included Alex Serra (7 issues), Ethen Beavers (4), Sanford Greene (3), and Nathan Massengill (3, all inking Greene), with interesting single issues by Chynna Clugston (#1) and Shawn McManus (#16, the aforementioned Arm-Fall-Off Boy issue). The primary cover artists for the series were Alex Serra and Steve Uy (signed SUY).

The series was edited by Jeanine Schaefer (until issue #18). Harvey Richards co-edited the last few issues, starting with issue #16, and solo edited #19 & 20.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #6

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #6


My reading experience with this series was a bit jumpy. It seems that it took everybody a few issues to get into the groove — not too surprising with a cast this big. (But not as big as a lot of the issues of the many previous Legion of Super-Heroes – and Legionnaires – series.) This comic, as mentioned above, is also a series designed for younger readers, mostly those who watched the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century animated show on WB Kids.

A LOADED QUESTION

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #13

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #13


Which version of Superboy is featured in Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century? I honestly have no idea at this point. (And my brain almost exploded reading the Wikipedia page for Superboy.) Whenever the character is mentioned in this particular series, he is called Superman. Which is obviously “wrong” because the character is portrayed as a teen. That should be a big clue to something — but I’m not really sure what. But I’m pretty sure that lawyers were involved somehow… At least the show and comic were paying attention to the group’s original start as supporting characters for the Boy of Steel.

STILL, LOTS O’ CHARACTERS!

In general, the stories in Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century used these regular characters: Superboy Superman, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Bouncing Boy, Triplicate Girl, Timber Wolf, Phantom Girl, Element Lad, Sun Boy, Blok, Sun Blok Boy (ok, not really) — and, of course, Matter-Eater Lad. These are either classic founders of the group or uniquely powered or visually distinctive characters, which makes sense for animation.

LSH characters on the cover of Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #17, roughly from left to right: Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad, Triplicate Girl, Dream Girl, Karate Kid, Invisible Kid, Timber Wolf, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Phantom Girl, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, and Blok. Please note that Superboy is not in this cover shot (although his head-shot is up in the left corner next to the logo).

LSH characters on the cover of Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #17, roughly from left to right: Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad, Triplicate Girl, Dream Girl, Karate Kid, Invisible Kid, Timber Wolf, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Phantom Girl, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, and Blok. Please note that Superboy is not in this cover shot (although his head-shot is up in the left corner next to the logo).


Guest stars include Infectious Lass, J’onn J’onzz, Lois Lane (who also looks like a teen here), Earth President Wazzo (Phantom Girl’s mom), Impulse, the aforementioned Arm-Fall-Off Boy, White Witch, Nemesis Kid, and Booster Gold. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were others lurking in the background.

To be honest, it takes the series a couple of issues to really get going (and the art to get more consistent). But the wait is worth it. The Legion of Substitute Heroes waste no time in arriving by issue #3. Infectious Lass shows up and causes many strange (and humorous) temporary changes in the Legionnaires (like switching Lightning Lad and Bouncing Boy’s powers!). Then, in #6, a new (and very cute) female Green Lantern arrives named Jordana Gardner (I’ll leave it to you to unpack that name harkening back to classic DC characters), and there’s a temporary LSH/GLC battle (or misunderstanding, as those things go). Then, in a story titled “No Boys Allowed!” in #7, the female Legionnaires depart to Paradise Island and a meeting with Wonder Woman after Circe first causes trouble for the girls.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #8

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #8


But I think issue #8 is my favorite of the run. It’s kind of an odd issue (by Jack Briglio and Alex Serra) that has a lot of LSH boy/girl interaction, mostly focusing around Triplicate Girl interacting with Superboy Superman, Bouncing Boy, and “new” character Starfinger! Does the story title “Three’s a Crowd” give things away? Also, I really like the idea by artist Serra of having the Triplicate’s hair not only falling all over their face, but you can apparently see through their hair so both of their eyes are visible. Extra points for the Triplicates having three separate personalities and for the high energy level of the artwork and story!

The Legion’s fight with the Fatal Five in #10 is both high action and great fun — especially with Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad nose-to-nose, uncomfortably hiding in a cramped locker! Issue #13 features Clark Kent and Lois Lane competing for stories about Superman (with a cameo by a young Perry White)! And Impulse causes all kinds of problems for the LSH in issue #15.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #16

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #16


Issue #16 is another classic, written by Matthew K. Manning and illustrated by Shawn McManus — The Untold Legend of Arm-Fall-Off Boy! Easily the funniest and strangest issue of the series! Also features Starfinger and Floyd Belkin’s (AKA Arm-Fall-Off Boy) mom. Awww…

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #20

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #20


Sadly, Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century was cancelled with issue #20. But it went out in style, as the the last page of that issue celebrates what was the Legion of Super-Heroes’ 50th Anniversary in comic books. I still miss it. I wonder if the LSH will be back in their own book by their 100th Anniversary?!!

______________________________

KC CARLSON: Not that I would ever find out. I’ll probably be long gone by 2068. If only I could remember where I double-parked the Time Bubble…

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Tenzil Kem, Tenzil Kem, Does Whatever a Tenzil Kem… (sung to the tune of… aw, you know what!)

ONE LAST NOTE: Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century was an animated series that ran on the WB Network (Kids’ WB) from September 23, 2006, to April 5, 2008, for a total of 26 episodes. Only the first 13 episodes were ever released on home video, although Season 2 became available on iTunes in HD and SD download format on September 22, 2015. However, I have no idea if they are actually still available in any format anywhere.

Also, the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1-6 issues were once collected in paperback — but that book is now long out-of-print and unlikely to be reprinted. Your best bet for reading these stories today is to find the back issue comic books or look for digital downloads.

USER COMMENTS3 Responses

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  1. Nuggie99 Says:

    Fyi, seasons 1 and 2 are on the new DC Universe service.

  2. Hal Shipman Says:

    “That should be a big clue to something — but I’m not really sure what. But I’m pretty sure that lawyers were involved somehow”

    Yep, that’s exactly it. This series (and the TV show it’s based on) came out just as the Seigel heirs’ lawsuit about Superboy was going to trial. So, Superboy wasn’t referred to for a while there and, thus, we had “Superman” in this title.

    From the Wikipedia page:
    “DC Comics argued that Superboy was a work made for hire and thus DC owned the character from conception; that Superboy was a derivative work of Superman and thus Siegel had no right to it because DC owned Superman; and that Superboy was a joint work between Siegel and Shuster and thus Siegel’s heirs lacked the majority interest required to terminate.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_lawsuits_by_Superman%27s_creators

  3. Hal Shipman Says:

    Also, I loved this cartoon. I’ll have to check out the books.