LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
The Legion Retroboot
Post-Infinite Crisis and The New 52
This section concerns the "Retroboot" Legion of Super-Heroes. This era in Legion history is very similar to that of Original Legion continuity.
In 1994, the Legion was entirely rebooted during the Zero Hour event (this resulted in the "Reboot Legion").
After Infinite Crisis and 52 in 2007, however, the DC multiverse was recreated. The original Legion was restored (more or less) into the multiverse. They first reappeared in "The Lightning Saga," which ran through the pages of Justice League of America and Justice Society of America.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds established that all three Legions were now in existence in the DC multiverse.
The original Legion's continuity was presumed to be generally restored, with the exception of the events of Legion of Super-Heroes volume 4 (1989-1994). This "Five Years Later" era of Legion publishing — which was a wildly different era — was not a part of restroed continuity.
When the DC multiverse itself was rebooted in 2011 (called "The New 52"), it seemed that the Legion had been spared from another major reboot itself. This was most likely due to the fact that Geoff Johns (DC's Chief Creative Officer) had so carefully engineered their comeback just several years before (in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds).
But the end of Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 7 suggested that the New 52 Legion might have diverged somehow from the original. Now even the New 52 multiverse has been restructured (be events such as "Rebirth" and Dark Nights: Metal), and the fate of the original Legion is uncertain. A fourth Legion was created by Brian Michael Bendis in 2019.
Continuity of the Legion's Origin
The Legion's origin has been revised several times, usually because it relates to Superboy, Supergirl, or Mon-El's history. The Superman family is integral to the DC Universe, so when big changes happen to those characters, the relationship with the Legion is usually affected.
In their first appearance in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), the organization was shown to already be several members strong when they recruited Superboy. The true origin, how the three founders came together to save the life of 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 first new recruits.
After this, the membership order was laid down by the All New Collectors' Edition #C-55 (1978). The origin of the Legion and its members was explored more in the Secrets of the Legion mini-series (1981).
Two post-Infinite Crisis story arcs revised and fleshed out the early history of the Legion, focusing on 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, 2995: The Legion Sourcebook, and of course, you can just keep reading right here through this chronology or browse the Legion Profiles.
"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:
Newsarama: 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…
Johns: Sure. Take Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Newsarama: Which you’re putting back together in Action after years of having been separated…
Johns: 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?
DiDio: 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.”
The New 52
When DC rebooted their entire line of super-hero comics in October 2011 (dubbed the "New 52"), only a few properties were spared from another total reboot. Those included Batman, Green Lantern and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The Legion's fate may have influenced by Geoff Johns, who had been instrumental in restoring the original Legion just several years prior (in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds). The restored Legion starred in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 6 (2010–11). Johns was probably an advocate for the status quo; it was too soon to subject the team—and its fans—to another major change. When the New 52 launched, Legion vol. 6 continuity led directly into two new titles: Legion vol. 7 and Legion: Lost vol. 2 (2011).
That said, the major problem with Legion continuity has always been the ways in which it crosses over with the 20th/21st centuries. With a new Superman in the 21st century, what would happen? Thankfully, writer Grant Morrison reestablished that this Superman had met the Legion as a teen (Action Comics vol. 2 #5–6, 2012).
But when Legion vol. 7 ended, it threw doubt about the Legion's place in the multiverse. Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel had a conversation that suggested this had been the Legion of Earth-2.
After the title's cancellation, the Legion was cast into limbo again. The team continued to appear here and there, but in wildly different incarnations. For these reasons, the Legion New 52 section of Cosmic Teams does not attempt to establish a linear timeline. Instead simply documents key appearances from Legion vol. 6, vol. 7 and thereafter.
In 2019, Brian Michael Bendis announced a new Legion reboot (Rebirth). Superman had never met the Legion. Instead, his son Jonathan Kent became the new Superboy & the Legion came from the 31st century to invite him to join (Superman vol. 5 #14, Oct. 2019).
The New 52 Legion was apparently wiped away, most notably by the disappearance of Saturn Girl from the timeline in Doomsday Clock #11 (Nov. 2019).
READ MORE »Legion World posted a very detailed accounting of New 52 Legion tidbits in The Complete Continuity Match-Up.
» SEE ALSO: Legion Elseworlds summarizes Legion appearances from this era, in Convergence and Justice League 3000.
This chronology is edited assuming:
- The history of the Legion of Earth-0 is largely the same as DC's original Silver Age Legion. With the changes to the DC multiverse wrought by the Infinite Crisis, some fundamental differences must occur.
- After the first Crisis, the 30th century became a place hostile to aliens and Superman did not see his Legion friends again for years.
- Original Legion continuity is valid through the end of Legion vol. 3
(#63, 1989). For more on this, read
below. We know this because
Magnetic Kid's death in Legion #62
was validated by Legion vol. 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 vol. 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 first established in the Mayfair Games Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 1 sourcebook (213MFG, 1986), cowritten by Paul Levitz and Steve Crow. It references “Year 1,” etc. and the timeline was “divided into the fourteen years we believe comprise the existence of the Legion in Earth-calendar years.”
- Tom and Mary Bierbaum's 2995: The Legion Sourcebook (1995) used a similar timeline and added detail.
- Years in the timeline are aligned with Legion leader elections, which happened at the turn of each year.
- This puts the age of original Legionnaires — if admitted around age 14 — at 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 vol. 4 (aka "Five Years Later" or "Glorith Reality") are not considered part of this Legion's 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.
- Mon-El never used the name "Valor" and was not a member of the L.E.G.I.O.N. (this happened in Reboot, Earth-247)
- Superboy (Conner Kent) of Earth-0 was not a member of this Legion, but did join the Reboot Legion (Earth-247).
- "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.
- Phase of the L.E.G.I.O.N. is assumed to be one of Apparition's bodies, from Earth-247.
- The identity of R.J. Brande as the L.E.G.I.O.N.'s Durlan is unclear. Perhaps the Durlan became the Brande of Earth-247 (in which case, he no longer exists).
- The Pocket Universe and its Supergirl (Matrix) nave not been definitively explained in Earth-0 continuity.
- 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.