The Legion Companion
by Glen Cadigan
In this world, there are two types of people (among all the others, of course): Legion fans and Legion fans. And after reading The Legion Companion, I realize now that I would fall into the former group because only the latter could truly get into this book.
Set against the backdrop of the 30th century, DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes is a band of teenagers from a number of planets, each with amazing powers. Together they make up the premier crime-fighting team in the galaxy. This book, in fact, marks the 45th anniversary of the group that started with Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, still going strong decades after they made their debut in Adventure Comics #247.
Personally, I’ve always considered myself a Legion fan; at least when I got into reading the book as Wee Lad (with powers lamer than those of Matter-Eater Lad) back in the 1970s and ’80s. I got to the point where I knew all the Legionnaires’ origins, real names, planets and order by which they joined, which is no easy task. I see now that there’s a whole other level for fans of the team: Legion fans, who digest everything involved with the group, including being into the creative talent that worked on the title.
The Legion Companion, a rather ambitious project, compiles interviews and biographies of the writers, editors and artists that have worked on the team since its debut. Sounds like it could be a great resource for behind-the-scenes info on the team, right? Unfortunately, that’s pretty far from the case.
More than half of the material deals with how people came about working on the title, along with what they went into after their time on the book. Who cares? Give me some scoops! There are a few revelations, though, such as Jim Shooter’s original plans for Karate Kid and Ferro Lad, a couple of personal favorites. Shooter wrote a good chunk of the stories in the ’60s as a teenager and later went on to become the head honcho over at Marvel. He also provides the foreword for the book. Also, the interview with artist Steve Lightle, who worked on the book in the ’80s and has worked on the revamped group, had some interesting insight. He discusses what following his predecessor was like and working on the death of Karate Kid. (Sob!) At more than 200 pages, however, the captivating parts are too few and far between.
There is art throughout the book, but rarely any dramatic work, even in the artist interviews.
By cutting the interview material in half, The Legion Companion could have worked for anyone who has ever read the title. But Legion fans, the ones who live and breathe every story and every adventure, this book would definitely be for you.
TwoMorrows Publishing: http://www.twomorrows.com/