Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been mulling over the upcoming end of DC’s ‘Legion of Super-Heroes’ title, and what (if anything) it means to me and to the comics industry.  I started reading Legion sporadically in 1982, but the book has been continuous part of DC’s publishing line since the characters stole Superboy’s title from him back in late 1979.  Of course, there are still rumblings that the cancellation will be followed by a launchbootvamp of a new iteration of the LSH in the near future, but the question that keeps occurring to me is whether it was difficult for the people behind the New 52 to axe a property with that kind of longevity.  The Legion as a concept not only predates the Internet, it has been part of DC’s shared universe through something like eleven presidencies, and four universal reboots, but I can’t decide whether or not that seniority works for or against the property in the free marketplace…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced “kwerl docks”) would like to point out that The Simpsons has been on the air since the Reagan administration, asking: Should the longevity of a property matter in decisions of whether or not to cancel/continue it?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. May 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    That’s kind of a tricky question. Using your Simpsons example, there are whole latter day years where it feels like the creators are still genuinely interested in the property but others where it’s just on because it always has been. But because each episode is essentially a standalone story, it doesn’t really hurt it (in fact, some of its attempts at continuity turn out badly; see Barney’s sobriety). So long as someone on the creative end thinks the property still has some life, that’s great (and I firmly believe that the Legion has lots of life left). But when a series is kept active just because it’s been around so long it’s just part of the scenery & no one cares about it other than in terms of its long run, maybe it’s time to rethink it.

    • May 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm — Reply

      I think you hit the nail on the head there.

      There are a lot of things that have been around forever that I love and would hate to lose, but at the same time I’d rather see it exit on a high note rather than overstaying its welcome. Taking from your examples, much as I still enjoy The Simpsons, I think it is probably about time they think about wrapping up the series. I really think they’ve slapped the Krusty seal of approval (“Its not just good, its good enough!”) on many of the episodes in recent years.

      In comics and animation where you have characters who don’t age, it does seem to put a ceiling on what you can do with them before you need to either shake them up (such as the various Legion retcons) or say goodbye to them, at least for a little while.

  2. Verse
    May 25, 2013 at 7:06 pm — Reply

    I don’t think so. If something has been going on for so long it needs to stop/take a break, then it needs to stop/take a break. Comics are funny as compared to other mediums. If a TV show gets axed, then it is hard to bring back. It happens sometimes (Family Guy and such), but not often. Normally when it is dead it stays dead. A series of Novels may only have one every year or two. Comic series tend to end then come back. Look how many times Hulk has been axed in one form or another and brought back. In regards to comics I just don’t think longevity should have to much weight due to the fact that the industry is used to things going away and then coming back.

  3. tidge
    May 25, 2013 at 11:43 pm — Reply

    Longevity absolutely should matter, in this era more than ever!

    Even though I was driven from Hellblazer by Garth Ennis (20 years ago!) I felt great pride that the series had become the longest consecutive numbered DC-published title by the time it succumbed to the new-52…and even then it immediately got a fresh re-imagining.

    LSH (in the new 52) was the book that I always hoped would somehow be the key to undoing the post-Flashpoint nu52…but I suppose it is not to be. They survived Crisis; they survived 5YL; they survived Zero Hour; they survived Geoff Johns. I’m disappointed in you Querl Dox!

    Long Live the Legion!

  4. Mark
    May 26, 2013 at 1:33 am — Reply

    No… both ways
    is it good? and does it make money? should be the only two things in mind

  5. ctb
    May 26, 2013 at 1:41 am — Reply

    I’m a big Legion fan and what I’ve seen over this recent run has been such a big disappointment to me that I am fine with the series ending with hope that something new will make me enjoy it as much as I once did. Aside from Johns’ and Shooter’s recent input, the last legion run I really enjoyed was 5YL.

  6. Oldcomicfan
    May 26, 2013 at 1:47 am — Reply

    Rather than the Simpsons, I should use the Flintstones as an example. It started out as a parody of the Honeymooners and stuck around far longer than it should have. It was turned into the Pebbles and Bam Bam show instead of being allowed to decently die, and has been revived several times since – the last as a live action movie or two that made the Howard the Duck movie look good. So, no, longevity should have absolutely no bearing on the matter. When a property gets stale, being the LSH or not, it should be allowed to go. Think of what sort of mess we’d have if Gilligan’s Island were still being made. LSH grew out of the thought that “If one Superboy is great, fifty will be better” and though the books had their own moment of greatness, for the most part the series had suffered from all the problems of team books – too large a cast and a lack of focus because the writers couldn’t manage to keep so many balls in the air at one time. If history tells us anything, it will be that the Legion will be back in some for or other in the future.

  7. May 26, 2013 at 8:05 am — Reply

    I think it should matter, but I think “Legion of Superheroes” is quite a bit like “Doctor Who”, and not just in subject matter. “Legion of Superheroes” has run for quite a long time, but maybe its time to end it so new creators came come back to property with a fresh perspective. I guess we need to do this if we want to see the Chistopher Eccleston years of “Legion of Superheroes” :)

  8. May 26, 2013 at 10:43 am — Reply

    In comics more than anything else it shouldn’t matter. With sliding timescales and reboots how long something has been around isn’t terribly solid anyways. I’ve been reading LoSH for more than five years and I’ve never seen the projectra costume shown above. I love the series but if DC is not getting sales they have to do what they need to do. I know for a fact that once it’s axed there are literally thousands of trades or ogns i can go pick up of other stuff.

    Hard to miss “new” stories too, when almost anything from the seventies to the nineties is “new” to me as well

    Long or short, it is the marketibality of the title not the number that dictates whether it lives

  9. AllenBT
    May 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm — Reply

    I’d have to go with no. Ultimately a property needs to be relevant to the current audience, whether its the concept, character or theme. That’s only measurable in terms of its audience interest. Too many properties, whether new or old, drag on in comics as the editorial staff try to “fix” them. Frankly they just sap the energy of the industry.

    I think Hawkman might be the poster child over at DC. We’ve seen innumerable reboots, re-conceptions and revivals of the character, with a bus load of “fan-favorite” artists and writers, all convinced they could solve equation and make Carter/Katar/Khufu interesting and entertaining long term. None have worked. He’s a interesting looking character and with or without his wife, great in an ensemble. But he’s not a viable solo book character, despite a lineage that goes back to 1940.

    • Oldcomicfan
      May 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm — Reply

      You make a very good point here. Back in the days when comics cost a nickel, or a dime, or twelve cents, it wasn’t so big a thing to buy a comic that might feature a second string character, like Hawkman, Batroc the Leaper, Plastic Man or the like – but given that comics now cost between three and five bucks a pop, I don’t think its very smart of the major publishers to continue to flood the market with several dozen substandard titles a month as opposed to limiting themselves to a half dozen good ones. Comic buyers don’t have bottomless pockets, so I am not going to buy something like Hawkman, Static Shock, Hawkeye, or Jonah Hex. I’ll spend my dollars on something like Batman, Superman or Spiderman since I can’t afford to buy everything.

      Keeping a book in print long past the time when it was either good, relevant or popular, just because it’s been around for a long time, is a bit like keeping your great grandpa’s corpse sitting in his favorite rocking chair sixty years after he passed away just because “he’s always been there”.

  10. Bob
    May 26, 2013 at 9:08 pm — Reply

    It was Zero Hour that drove me out of comics all together. The big companies focus on getting new readers, but forget the constant reader. So after collecting many titles, I stopped all of them. Including my all time favourite LSH.
    I would check in on the comic world every now and then ,mostly via the internet. Then when I heard they were bringing back the pre crisis Legion I started following this site. I was getting my Legion without committing again to comics. Apparently that was a good thing. Because here comes yet another boot!
    So I will continue to check things out via the internet, and save my money.

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