When DC rebooted their entire line of super-hero comics in October 2011 (dubbed the "New 52"), the Legion of Super-Heroes was spared from another total reimagining. The original Legion had been restored several years prior by Geoff Johns (who became DC's Chief Creative Officer) and he and other creators that be probably decided it was too soon to subject the team—and its fans—to another major change.
That said, even though the Legion's 30th/31st century adventures can stand well in continuity, the Legion has always interacted with the heores from a thousand years in their past. As such, events relating to the 20th/21st centuries are once again totally in question. They have been removed entirely from this version of the Legion Chronology. <sigh>
If you'd like to read a very detailed accounting of DCnU Legion tidbits, go to Legion World: The Complete Continuity Match-Up.
Since the DCnU launch, Superman has been shown to have been friends with the Legion in his youth, so many of the Legion's early adventures probably stand in continuity.
The Legion's Secret Origin
In their first appearance (Adventure #247), they were already several members strong when recruited Superboy—but their origin was a secret indeed. The real tale, how the three founders came together to save R.J. Brande, wasn't told until Superboy #147 (May/June 1968). That version didn't go much further, showing only (and for the first time), that Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl were the next to join.
After this, the membership order was laid down in part by the All New Collectors' Edition #C-55 (1978). It was a brief rundown of all members arranged roughly in the order that they joined (exceptions made for Superboy and Supergirl). The origin was greatly expanded, covering lots of new ground in the Secrets of the Legion mini-series (1981). More recently, two story arcs have aimed at fleshing out the early history of the Legion, in the period before Superboy joined. Adventure Comics #517-520 (2010) told the story of their foe Zaryan and how it led to Lightning Lad's death. And Legion: Secret Origin (2012) gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the Legion became a powerful and respected force in the United Planets.
Other good sources for Legion history and origins are DC's Who's Who in the Legion, the Legion Sourcebook, and of course, you can just keep reading right here through my chronology, or browse the Character Profiles…
The Earth-0 Chronology
NOTE: The Legion Chronology for the New 52 is far from infallable. There is much discussion about what remains in continuity after this New 52 switch. Many events may be invalid (again). New 52 events are included, but other events are speculative until more is written on the subject.
This chronology is edited assuming:
- The history of the New 52 Legion is largely the same as DC's original Silver Age Legion and "Legion 1." Since the New 52 reboot, some fundamental differences must occur. Readers may never know fully what these changes are.
- Original Legion continuity may be valid through the end of Legion v.3
(#63, 1989). For more on this, read
below. We know this because
Magnetic Kid's death in Legion #62
was validated by Legion v.6 #6 (2010). But there are some
discrepancies and unresolved questions...
- Although Saturn Girl has recovered her son Garridan from Darkseid, Validus (his alter ego), still exists in the Legion's time.
- The Pocket Universe story, the death of Superboy, and the
Legion conspiracy (Legion v.3 #36-50) happened, but
it's unclear how, exactly. It was referenced in Legion of
Three Worlds #4. Most significantly…
- Duo Damsel's second body died in Legion #50, but was alive again as Una in Earth-0 continuity. Was she revived the same way as Karate Kid?
- Also, it was suggested that Mon-El died from his injuries, and was wedded to Shadow Lass, who cut off her finger. These things are not apparent in current continuity.
- The death of Superboy itself is an anomaly. From the Legion's perspective, did the Time Trapper temporarily succeed in killing him and removing him from Legion history? And was it the secret conspiracy of Legionnaires that succeeded in defeating the Trapper and reversing his tampering?
- The Emerald Empress has returned from the dead (#58).
- Some relationships have been repaired: Star Boy and Dream Girl, Timber Wolf and Lightning Lass.
- Passage of time: I use the calendar established in Tom and Mary Bierbaum's 2995: Legion Sourcebook (1995) to mark the passage of years. In this book, a timeline was established in which Legion leader elections happened at the turn of each year. If that principle holds in current continuity, the original Legionnaires — if admitted around age 14 — would now be around 30 years old and the Legion has been around for about 15 years. Years such as "2973" have been changed to "Year 1," etc.
- All events from Legion v.4 (aka "Five Years Later" or "Legion 1.5") are not considered part of current Legion continuity. This includes the characters Valor, Laurel Gand and Kid Quantum, and Garth Ranzz's identity as Proty II. In some instances, however, I have kept "harmless" details concerning Legionnaires' origins that were revealed in this series. The Time Trapper did not create the "SW6" Legion and store them beneath Metropolis. Writers Tom and Mary Bierbaum took extensive pains to construct timelines for the entire Legion and some of this remains useful despite the elimination of their tales from continuity.
- "Deep" Silver Age tales: Many of the original Legion tales remain intact, but tales of the Legion's interaction with the 20th century have been largely eliminated.
- Lana Lang, Pete Ross and Jimmy Olsen never developed powers or alter egos, or became honorary Legionnaires.
- Karate Kid may have spent a brief time in the 20th century during his quest to win Projectra's hand in marriage, but his presence was probably largely unnoticed by other heroes.
"We're picking up the story after some gap after my last issue and what we saw in Geoff's work in Legion of Three Worlds and 'Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes.' Something's happened in that time that Quislet came back, Tyroc showed up, other stuff has happened—I don't have a complete list of things to be revealed, but it's quite clear that things have happened in people's lives. There's at least one major Legion romance that's gone to hell in the time inbetween."
Prior to that, Geoff Johns, in a podcast Interview at Newsarama generalized:
- "We're really looking at the Baxter series that Paul [Levitz] did as our end point where we pick them up,"
- "Basically, Crisis on Infinite Earths is our cut-off point." He was also quoted saying "right around Crisis… a little bit afterward" (official DC Podcast, 26 July 2008).
- [We're at a point] "back before Superboy was taken away from its history, basically."
This excerpt from another interview, Johns revealed some of his thoughts behind restoring the original Legion:
NRAMA: When you do say something like you want to use everything and not leave anything by the wayside from their history as things move forward… that kind of thing carries some serious meaning in the modern-day DCU where there are some larger legacies and “families” that are missing members and other elements…or have been for some time…
GJ: Sure. Take Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
NRAMA: Which you’re putting back together in Action after years of having been separated…
GJ: I believe that Superman’s connection with the Legion makes both concepts stronger, which is why I’m doing the story in Action right now. Clark Kent didn’t have a group of friends when he was growing up in Smallville. Sure there was Lana, but he didn’t have a group of friends where he felt like he was one of them. He had great parents and wonderful people he knew, it was tough for him. But when the Legion showed up, and he went to the future with them as a kid…a lot of them were aliens who looked human that came to earth. Suddenly, Clark was just “one of the kids” after being so different. I think that helped him relate to other heroes.
Even though people really look up to him, he sees himself as part of the community. His experience with the Legion – being a member of a group of heroes – helped teach him a lot of that. And on the flipside, the Legion was built off of what Superman did – this alien who came to Earth, and the Earth giving something to him, and him wanting to give back to the Earth. It’s the same kind of thing – the Legion is stronger for having interacted with him. They helped to make Superman who he is, and as a result, they’re stronger.
Also, in the Mega Con '09: DC Nation Panel, Dan DiDio answered:
QUESTION: Why does it seem like the re-introduction of the same ideas?
DD: They are the same ideas but shown in a new light. Take the Legion for example. They are important to DC, and Legion always worked best when it appeared with Superboy. Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes was the most successful, so that’s what we want to get back to.
At the Toronto Fan Expo in August, 2009, DiDio said:
“The problem with Legion of Superheroes is the big cast and my biggest personal problem was the lack of Superboy and the inspiration for the team. That was so key to the origin and so key to so much going on there that without that, without Superboy to inspire the team, it lost its own purpose and just became a team. It was something set in the future, but it didn’t have a real tether to what was going on in the DC Universe currently. What we are trying to do is rebuild that time, rebuild that sensibility, and hopefully rebuild a Legion that is a strong powerful set of characters in the DC U again.”
- Color Codes:
A new member joins the Legion. A Legionnaire dies. Major storyline.
- Issue information in parentheses indicates one of two things: (a) the tale was retold/corroborated in additional stories, and/or (b) the tale was told as a flashback. Certain events that have never been fully chronicled in print use asterisks (*) in place of issue numbers and cover dates.
- Characters' first appearance IN PRINT is bolded. This often differs from …
- Characters first CHRONOLOGICAL appearance is italicized.
- When the placement of a tale within continuity is in question, the event is usually placed in the most recent possible time.
- Most 30th Century dates come from 2995: The Legion of Super-Heroes Sourcebook and/or Legion of Super-Heroes (volume 4).
- Only the inheritors to a title display the level of succession. Example: "Invisible Kid II" (for Jacques Foccart), but just "Invisible Kid" (no "I" for Lyle Norg).
- Consideration for inclusion is based on an event's relevancy to the Legion, its members and their legacy. This includes major Legion series and key issues from other DCU series.
- Comics book titles have been abbreviated:
Legion v.1 = Legion of Super-Heroes, 4-issue limited series (reprints only, 1973) Legion v.2 = Legion of Super-Heroes 2nd series (#259-313; continues numbering of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, 1980-84) Legion v.3 = Legion of Super-Heroes 3rd series, 63 issues (1984-88) Legion v.4 = Legion of Super-Heroes 4th series, 125 issues (1989-2000) Legion v.5 = Legion of Super-Heroes 5th series, and Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes (#16–36), 50 issues (2005–09) • The "Threeboot", aka "Legion 3" Legion v.6 = Legion of Super-Heroes 6th series, 16 issues (2010-11) Legion v.7 = Legion of Super-Heroes 7th series, current (2011-) Superboy v.1 = Superboy 1st series, #172,173, 176, 178, 183, 184, 188, 200, 191, 193, 195 (1971-73) Superboy & the Legion = Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (#197-258; continues numbering of Superboy, 1st series, 1973-79) Tales of the Legion = Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes (#314-354; continues numbering of Legion of Super-Heroes, 2nd series; 1984-87)