Of all the super teams with long histories, The Legion of Super-Heroes has seen many reboots and retcons to the point where even those in the know may be scratching their heads in confusion. This week Matthew Peterson and Stephen Schleicher take a peek behind the covers of Adventure Comics #517 to see how the founding members’ histories have been tweaked… again.

Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: Kevin Sharpe and Marlo Alquiza
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: Blond
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Cover: Scott Clark and David Beaty
Publisher: DC Comics

Previously, in Adventure Comics: When Rene Jacques Brande took an emergency flight back home, he found himself targeted by assassins who wanted to take out the galaxy’s richest man.  Fortunately, his transport was also bringing three young people to Earth to find their destinies:  Rokk Krinn, magnoball champion, sought to make a living.  Garth Ranzz, living dynamo, sought his long-lost big brother.  Imra Ardeen, mind-reader, sought out something that I can’t remember right now.  Together, this threesome saved Brande, and founded something that would outlast them all:  A Legion of Super-Heroes.  This is one of their earliest stories…

MATTHEW: So, let’s start this off with the obvious:  I have always kind of hated the times when they build a love-triangle into the founders.  It never seems to work for me, mostly because Garth and Imra-Prime’s marriage took place over FORTY years ago, and it always feels like infidelity when they try to ‘ship either Lightning Lad or Saturn Girl, even in retcons.

STEPHEN: Well, they did it in the Archie Legion…

MATTHEW: Yes, and it required a character to LITERALLY be in a coma to pull it off.  When you have to bust out the soap opera tropes, you best be sure it’s going somewhere with a BIG payoff.

STEPHEN: But isn’t that what the LoSH is all about – teen soap opera… IN SPAAAAAAACE! ? I think anytime you are throwing characters who have no contact with one another into a new situation, these kinds of things are going to appear – even from seasoned writers.

MATTHEW: This issue is an interesting one, taking place just before the team’s recruitment of Tom Welling (and thus, right before it’s first chronological appearance) telling the tale of how the Science Police came to respect three teenagers as equals.  I like the stern SP sergeant who takes them to task, although it’s patently obvious that she’s doing the “bad cop” routine because she’s secretly a supporter of the team.  I don’t even mind Imra’s feelings of inadequacy, but I don’t like the way our “hookup” was handled here.  And aren’t mindwipes terrible, horrible, awful, really bad things?  Or is that just when Zatanna does them?

STEPHEN: I believe we’ve had a lengthy conversation about mind control and mind wiping in regards to sexual relations on one of the Major Spoilers Podcasts (check the archives, kids!), but for me I didn’t see this issue as being “OOOOoooooo! Look who she slept with!”, rather Irma’s rookie mistakes and how the build up of her perceived mistakes shaped how she dealt with the rest of the team. There are only a handful of people who have your vast knowledge about all things LoSH, and even fewer that are below the age of 30. So while I don’t particularly like the way Saturn Girl’s character is being tweaked, for the majority of readers this is the only take on the original legion that they know as it’s been decades since their stories were told on a regular basis.

MATTHEW: This month’s Atom story, while well drawn by Dynamo 5 alumnus Mahmud Asrar, is almost painful to read for me, as the villain of the piece seems painfully obvious, and I can’t help but wonder why someone who is supposed to be as smart as Ray Palmer can’t put two and two together.  Actually, both halves of the book are well drawn, although it’s tough for me to accept the classic Legion suits as from the same time period as other future fashions (notably Saturn Girl’s workout clothes.)

STEPHEN: The biggest problem for me in both of these tales has to do with the costumes. Like you, I don’t like the strange jump from ’50’s era clothing of the future to the double-naught’s take on gym shorts, but I wonder if that is because there are two different artists on the main feature? When dealing with one character as the central focus, I would have though more attention would have been placed on the face and hair, which seem to have a few inconsistencies throughout the story. But I’m just nit-picking at this point…

MATTHEW: Bottom line:  I didn’t hate this issue, but it wasn’t a particularly special one for me, either.  The final line about swearing celibacy struck me as particularly odd for the character voicing it, and the Atom backup…  Excuse me, CO-FEATURE, was no great shakes.  It’s a slightly below average issue for me, causing Adventure Comics #517 to earn 2 out of 5 Stars overall.  It’s good to see more Legion material set during the big lacunas of the team’s out-of-order early adventures, but I don’t see this going anywhere awesome.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

STEPHEN: I haven’t read the two or so issues before this, so I don’t know the how Levitz got us here. I’m not particularly thrilled that we’re getting an origin before the origin story, and this whole time jumping story coming up next could be a real cluster-bomb considering we just saw a Legion origin story and their first encounter with Superboy in the pages of that Geoff Johns story some time ago. As far as Ray Palmer goes, there were a lot of plot problems that had me rolling my eyes, so the less said about this story, the better. Overall, I found this issue to be average at best, but I’m also not tied to original Legion, so I’ll give Adventure Comics #517 a middle of the road 2.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★½☆☆


There you go, dear reader, two takes on a very old team of teens, who haven’t even traveled to meet their idol.

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆



The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. brainypirate
    August 15, 2010 at 10:50 pm — Reply

    I was expecting more Legion fans to be screaming bloody murder at the hookup reveal (a la the Gwen Stacey/Harry Osborne reveal), but a couple of folks have actually stated in their reviews that the hookup makes perfect sense in explaining some of the ways Imra was portrayed back in the day–Ice Princess and all that. Though I do wonder how TPOB will spin the Imra-Zatanna comparison.

    I didn’t like that they introduced a strong Latina only to kill her off before she could really contribute anything — couldn’t they simply have wounded her really badly, so that she could come back in a supporting role later? (How long are they planning to keep up these “untold old” stories anyway? How many new characters can they safely introduce before readers cry foul?) Yes, I know it sets up all sorts of ironies for the later (i.e., earlier) stories in which people do in fact die in Imra’s place, but really — that’s the closest the Legion’s ever had to a Latina/o connection, isn’t it? (They’ve got African, Asian, Native and Jewish — they just need Latino and Arab….)

    I thought the gym shorts/jock bra seemed out of place, but then I also preferred the way the guys trunks were drawn as coach-shorts in the recent B&B team up. And their tunics aren’t consistent: are they skin-tight or just close fitting? Is Cos’s shirt a pullover or a jacket (the inconsistent seam in the center)? I wish Levitz’s “chronicler’s error” was extended to the costumes, so that those old costumes could be retconned into something more consistent with the current looks.

  2. August 15, 2010 at 11:29 pm — Reply

    Since you didn’t say who she actually hooked up with; I really don’t know what to think. So I’ll just think they had group sex. ;p

  3. MarkW
    August 16, 2010 at 10:19 am — Reply

    Who are these stories even intended for? They don’t really help newbies get up to speed for the main Legion title, as this very early Silver Age Legion is far from the one Levitz is using in the main book. And I can’t think most long-time fans are real excited about paying for another Legion origin story, especially one with retcons.

    It seems just like setup for Levitz breaking up Garth and Imra in the main book.

  4. August 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm — Reply

    Y’know, I haven’t picked up my copy of this issue yet, but your review has left me dreading it a little less. It doesn’t sound like the “eternal triangle” is as much of a focus as I feared. I HATED it when they pushed the founders’ love triangle so much in the SW6 “Legionnaires” series, since it turned Garth into a violent jerk, Coz into a doormat/victim, & Imra into a creepy “abused girlfriend” type. Why every incarnation short of the WKRP Legion feels this need to revisit a thread that so weakens the portrayals of the participants is beyond me.

  5. ykw
    August 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm — Reply

    The problem I had with the “hook-up”, if you will, is this: it takes place right after the “team” (three people) forms. When they’re all middle-school-aged. It’s really, really…. squicky, I guess. Like LSH through the lens of Larry Clark.

    • August 20, 2010 at 11:24 am — Reply

      The problem I had with the “hook-up”, if you will, is this: it takes place right after the “team” (three people) forms. When they’re all middle-school-aged. It’s really, really…. squicky, I guess. Like LSH through the lens of Larry Clark.

      Mmm… I don’t know if that’s the case so much anymore, but it’s definitely worth noting. If Imra and her paramour are 15, does that change the nature of the tale, even if 14 is the age of consent in the 30th century?

  6. August 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm — Reply

    I’m one of those long-time Legion fans, and I AM thrilled to be revisiting the early days of the team…especially since there are very few stories set in this time-frame.

    This story helped explain how Imra the shy, inexperienced S.P. wannabe became the Ice Maiden…and also why (in Adventure 304) she was so willing to mind-control her teammates and become a dictatorial leader in order to keep any of them from going out to die. It also explains why she was so grief-stricken when Garth DID die in her place, so much so that she was perfectly willing to sacrifice herself to bring him back.

    As for the ages of the Legionnaires: Cosmic Boy was an adult by the law of his home planet. These teenagers were flying spaceships, controlling multi-billion credit budgets, and acting as fully-deputized law enforcement agents; within a year or two they would be risking their lives to save hundreds of thousands of people.

    They were also, incidentally, about the same age as Romeo and Juliet. (Rokk was maybe a year younger than Romeo, Imra was maybe a year or two older than Juliet.)

    In short: This old-time Legion reader liked this story, and is glad he spent his money on the comic.

  7. Darrell Lawrence
    August 18, 2010 at 10:29 pm — Reply

    Another old time Legion fan here.

    I love these “fill teh gap” stories, and this one filled in nicely.

    I personally did have a problem with the under-agers drinking and (presumably) having sex.

    Rokk may be an “adult” by Braal standards, but it has never been stated that Imra and Garth are “adults”.

    Rokk is 14 at this time. Imra, looking to become a SP Officer, may not have become a cadet until her 18th birthday, thus only being in something similar to a boarding school for a few years before that happens. Garth clearly does NOT want his parents to know where he is, thus giving the idea he is, by Winath law, still under-age.

    These kids may be doing “adult” things other than the booze and sex, but are they mature enough to be drinking and having sex?

    I have a 14 year old daughter. Doing those things is NOT ok. So if she sits here and reads in a family-friendly comic that it’s ok for that to happen, then what kind of message is sent? It makes my job that much harder LOL

    As for the rest of the issue, at this point in time for these characters, Garth and Imra are NOT an item, so I don’t see how it’d affect those two in the future. It may affect Rokk, though, in that Imra took away an evening of pleasure away from him. It’s raise suspicion as to whether or not she had done it before, or will do it again.

    I don’t really see any of this story as a retcon either. It didn’t change any previous stories. It only added to them. It’s like you do not know what my H.S. years were like, yet if I told you, would that be a retcon? No.

    • August 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm — Reply

      I don’t really see any of this story as a retcon either. It didn’t change any previous stories. It only added to them. It’s like you do not know what my H.S. years were like, yet if Itold you, would that be a retcon? No.

      But I *DO* know what Rokk, Imra and Garth’s high school years were like. I have experienced literally DOZENS of stories in this early Legion time period, in four different versions of the continuity. In essence, I was THERE for parts of it. This is more like someone you WENT to high school with revealing what happened behind closed doors that you never heard of. It’s a bit more problematic in that sense…

      • Darrell Lawrence
        August 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm — Reply

        No. It isn’t. I have friends from H.S. where I didn’t know every detail of what they did in H.S., and when we have get-togethers and tell stories of back then, if I learn something new, they are still the same person they were before telling me.

        Nothing was changed. Except your perceptions, maybe.

        • August 20, 2010 at 11:22 am — Reply

          No. It isn’t. I have friends from H.S. where I didn’t know every detail of what they did in H.S., and when we have get-togethers and tell stories of back then, if I learn something new, they are still the same person they were before telling me.

          With all due respect here, mileage will vary. I appreciate that you didn’t have the cognitive dissonance that I had reading the issue, but that fact doesn’t negate my thoughts on the issue. It was a problem for ME, and thus, I commented on it. I’m glad it worked better for you…

    • August 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm — Reply

      Darrell, I wonder if you have a problem with your daughter reading or seeing Romeo and Juliet? Juliet is 13, you know.

      Different times and different cultures have different mores. A thousand years ago, a girl of 13 would be married and perhaps have a child or two. Who’s to say what things will be like a thousand years from now?

      In the Legion it has always been a background assumption that children and teenagers are more advanced than their counterparts in our time — when the Legionnaires are shown in school, they’re always studying advanced tensor calculus and hyperwave mechanics and such. It’s not a great stretch to imagine that they are more physically mature as well.

      I haven’t seen much evidence (if any) of unwanted children in the Legion’s future — one assumes that they have the birth control/contraception problem licked. And with implanted nanobots managing their health, I imagine the risk of venereal disease is nil. Given a supportive society and little risk from sex, it’s not hard to imagine that kids would start sexual experimentation early, and be fairly casual about recreational sex.

      (Recall that the Earth-Prime Ayla Ranzz said she was uncomfortable sleeping alone. Part of that stems from the twin-dominant culture of Winath, but she had been on Earth for quite a while at that point — so Earth culture of the time must be fairly tolerant of teenagers sleeping together.)

      The drinking is a little more problematical, but (a) we don’t know that it was alcohol they were drinking — maybe it was something benign like Star Trek’s “synthahol”, (b) in many European countries today, teenagers routinely drink (wine or beer with meals), (c) in my high school in the mid-1970s there was a lot of drinking (and pot smoking) going on, and I’m sure things haven’t changed that much.

      Anyway, if we assume that those medical nanobots are doing their jobs right, there would be no chance of any permanent damage, overdose, alcohol toxicity, or any of the other negative biological consequences of drinking or drug use. (Those nanobots probably allowed only the most minor intoxication, within the limits of what the young bodies could tolerate.) Robot cars eliminate the possibility of drunk-driving accidents.

      Once again, in the absence of most negative consequences, I’m not surprised that 31st century society allows teens to indulge.

      Of course, you must explain to your daughter that she does not live in a utopian 31st century society, and so she shouldn’t be emulating the Legionnaires. Also, no matter how good a reproduction it is, that ring doesn’t allow her to fly. :)

      • Darrell Lawrence
        August 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm — Reply

        Your last paragraph just wiped out everything you said above it, and agreed with me i the fact I am the one that has to make sure she is educated in the realm of sex and drinking.

        What I said about THIS ISSUE is it made my job a bit harder IF she should read the issue. I even had a LOL there :)

        As for the 70’s, etc etc drinking and sex? Yeah, it happened in my school too. But was it ok? Legal? No.

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