L is for Legion
David Haller was introduced in 1983’s New Mutants 26 and is the son of Israeli politician Gabrielle Haller and Professor Charles Francis Xavier, so we already know that this is a story about unethical practices and unhappy endings.
20 years or so before, Professor Xavier was helping victims of war including the aforementioned Gabrielle, who was one of his patients and the two embarked on a short lived affair (I told you we’d get to unethical practices) after it ended, Xavier left Gabrielle who never told him she was pregnant. Fast-forward years later and their son (David) needed Xavier’s help and boy did he.
David, being the son of one of the world’s most powerful psionics, was an omega level mutant with far reaching telepathy, telekinesis and pyrokinesis. However, since Xavier was involved, there was tragedy as David isn’t well. He suffers from dis-associative identity disorder (once more commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder) and this links to his powers. As well as David, we have Jack Wayne, Jamail and Cyndi, the psionic powers split between them, with David more of less supressed. This was the status quo until in an X-FActor issue (#108) which showed Legion awake and seemingly whole and having a plan to travel back in time to before he was born, kill Magneto (before he became Magneto) and save his father’s dream of human/mutant coexistence. This act led to the universe changing Age of Apocalypse event.
More recently, David has had a bit of a resurgence in Si Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy series which focuses on the forgotten son of Xavier and the legacy he inherits. It’s also about something you really see looked at in mainstream comics, mental illness. Legion isn’t well, but he isn’t a villain, or violent, but instead was someone living with dis-associative identity disorder, with a mutant twist. There were hundreds if not thousands of errant personalities, each with it’s own power set.
More recently Fox TV made a series of Legion which was both gripping and bat-s**t crazy with a strong cast and a distinctive look at a world with mutants, but this wasn’t in any way a super-hero story. For now, Legion in the comics is no more, but when has that ever stopped him?
L is for Legion of Super Heroes
1,000 years from now there will still be heroes. Otto Binder and Al Plastino introduced the team in 1958’s Adventure Comics 258 being a group of future teens inspired by Superboy’s exploits creating a sprawling super-hero team.
Part sci-fi space opera, part super-hero story and part teen soap melodrama and several ret-cons, changes, titles and decades later it became something of a convoluted mess. In 1993 a title called Legionnaires was launched which starred a young version of the team with fresh costume designs and a returned sense of optimism. Then DC announced Zero Hour and a decision was made and in 1994 all of the future history where the Legion of Super Heroes lived was wiped away and the story started again. Written by Mark Waid and Tom McGraw and Stuart Immomen and Jeffrey Moy and split between Legion of Superheroes and it’s sister title Legionnaires. This from 1994-200 was the way I experienced the Legion. It was accessible and fun, but had pathos and intensive story-telling to spare. It was often overshadowed by Levits’ classic Legion which came before it, or Mark Waid’s ‘Threeboot’ which followed it. It’s a great era of the Legion of Super-Heroes is a hidden gem of an era that had a definite beginning, middle and end. Very few ongoing super-hero stories get the chance to have that.
L is for Licensed Comics
Merchandising any moderately successful media property is almost a forgone conclusion. The right to use the intellectual property property in it’s non-original medium is referred to as licensing. That’s why we have action figures from movies and TV, plush dolls from cartoons and pop vinyl figures for f***ing everything.
Comics is no different, with the rise of Marvel Cinematic Universe and other TV/movie successes we are now used to seeing comics properties licensed out to other media. In the past, the majority of it went in the opposite direction. In the 1970’s a less than A-list director licensed out his sci-fi film. The film and the comic that just preceded it was Star Wars. other films followed, there was also music licensed stuff, like Dazzler and KISS. The ones that were really memorable are the ones that relate to toy and cartoon series. The reason for this is that these comic series created or reinforced much of the memorable mythology that fans associate with these properties. GI Joe, Transformers, Micronauts and Rom all benefited from comics writers fleshing out these toys.
These days it’s hard to find a pop-culture property which doesn’t have a comic adaptation somewhere in it’s history. Recently IDW found a way to combine Transformers, Rom, M.A.S.K., GI Joe and Action Man into one coherent narrative, giving these licensed properties their own comic universe to play in, bringing these licensed comics full circle.
L is for Lockjaw
Next Time: M, obviously