From left to right, these costumes represent: the founders' first appearance, classic Silver Age, and current Earth-0 looks. The Legion's history began with a bit of an anomaly. In their first appearance only (Adventure Comics #247, 1958), the three founders appeared in costumes that were never used again—the left-most costumes, above. Additionally, Lightning Lad was called Lightning Boy and Saturn Girl had dirty blond hair. Generally, these first-appearance differences have been ignored by creators.
The Legion of Super-Heroes can be a daunting book to follow. Most comics readers are at least tangentially aware that the franchise has undergone extensive "rebooting" over time. That deters a lot of folks. It strikes me lately, however, that following the Legion is scarcely more difficult than following the X-Men, whose continuity now also includes dozens of members and several different versions/timelines.
There are several Legions known to exist in the current DC Multiverse. Note: In the 2011 (re)creation of the New 52, only "Legion 1" is known to be in existence so far, although there are multiple Earths.
- Legion 1: the Legion of Earth-0. Universe-0 is the main DC Universe. Superman from this Earth joined its Legion as a teen. The Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) and Superboy (Conner Kent) of Earth-0 joined Legions in other universes (next).
- Legion 2: the Legion of Earth-247 (which was destroyed in Infinite Crisis). Superboy (Conner Kent) from Earth-0 was a member of this Legion.
- Legion 3: the Legion of Earth-Prime. Supergirl from Earth-0 was a member of this Legion.
- The Legion of Earth-12. This Legion resides in the "DC animated" universe. It contains stories from the Legion cartoon and cartoon comic.
- The Legion of Earth-22. This Legion resides in the Kingdom Come universe.
- The L.E.G.I.O.N. This group operates in the 21st century, not in the future, in Universe-0. Some of its members are considered to be ancestors of 31st century Legionnaires.
Apart from the Legions above, there have been many other variations throughout the Legion's publishing history…
- Legion "Elseworlds": Read about all sorts of variations here. They are all considered currently "out-of-continuity." In the Silver Age of comics, these variants were sometimes called "Imaginary Stories."
- Legion 1.5: And if that's not confusing enough, know that the current Legion of Earth-0 is based on the original Legion. The original Legion's publishing history spanned 1958–1994. However, the current (Earth-0) Legion's publishing history only concerns events up to Crisis on Infinite Earths—1958–1986. So now there is a span of "lost" years from 1986–1994 which are no longer in continuity. I call them the "Legion 1.5."
Before diving into dense history, you might like to absorb some images that can help you differentiate between the Legions…
- At-a-Glance Cross-Legion Comparison—a visual guide to the most common Legionnaires in the major universes
- The Legion Gallery, organized by each version
Of course you can explore the Legion here at Cosmic Teams. All my info is accessible from the sidebar at the left.
There are lots of other great resources out there, too…
» SEE ALSO: Where to start reading? Certain eras are well-collected and others hardly at all. Again, see the Publications section for a list of trade paperbacks and others.
» SERIES: Let me break these down by universe, which goes more-or-less chronologically...
- Adventure Comics #300-380 (1962-69)
- Action Comics, #378-392 (1969-70)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.1, 4 issues (1973)
- Superboy (and the Legion) #197-258 (1974-79); becomes ...
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.2, #259-313 (1980-84); becomes …
- Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes, #314-354 (1984-87)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.3, #1-27 (1984-86)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.6 16 issues (2010–11)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.7 current (2011–)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.3, #28-63 issues (1986-94)
- Who’s Who in the Legion, 7-issue limited series (1988)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.4, #1-61 (1989-94), continues…
- Legionnaires, #1-18 (1993-94), continues…
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.4, #0, 62-125 issues (1989-2000)
- Legionnaires, #0, 19-81 (1994-2000)
- Legion: Lost, 12-issue maxi-series (2000-01)
- Teen Titans/Legion: Universe Ablaze, 4-issue limited series (2000)
- Legion Worlds, 6-issue limited series (2001)
- The Legion, 38 issues (2001-2004)
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.5, 50 issues (titled Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #15-36, 2005-09)
- L.E.G.I.O.N., 70 issues (1989-94)
- R.E.B.E.L.S. v.1, 17 issues (1994-96)
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, 5-issue limited series (2008-09)
- R.E.B.E.L.S. v.2, current (2009-)
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
For an exhaustive list, see The Anal Retentive Legion Checklist
- Cosmic Boy #1-4
- Justice League of America, v.1 #148-148
- Justice League of America, v.2 #8-10
- Justice Society of America, v.3 #5-6
- Legends of the Legion #1-4
- Legionnaires Three #1-4
- Superboy, v.1 #172,173, 176, 178, 183, 184, 188, 200, 191, 193, 195
- Timber Wolf #1-4
- Valor #1-22
- Who's Who in the Legion #1-7