The Legion of Super-Heroes debuted in April of 1958 in “Adventure Comics” #247 as teenagers from the 31st Century travelling back in time to meet their idol Superboy. Since their inception the group of young heroes has grown to be a full Legion with numerous members from all over the universe. Along the way DC Comics has continued to reinvent the Legion. From recreating their origin stories, to removing Superboy altogether from the mythos, to jumping the stories five years further into the future, each iteration of the Legion has met with fan delight and fan disgust along the way.
In 1999, DC Comics welcomed a new creative team onto the “Legion of Super-Heroes.” The popular writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning were paired with hot up and coming European artist Olivier Coipel to take over the two ongoing monthly “Legion of Super-Heroes” series. Their task was to reinvigorate the franchise for the new millennium. The first stories they told ended the then current Legion titles “Legion of Super-Heroes” and “Legionaires.”
As the two Legion series came to a close the promise of a new future for the Legion was offered. This time in the pages of a twelve issue series “Legion Lost” published from May 2000 to April 2001. Abnett, Lanning, and Coipel were joined by artist Pascal Alixe and the story they told is one of the seminal stories in the history of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The story opens with a small band of the Legion stuck in hibernation chambers. Their ship had been forced through a rift in the galaxy and they are lost through time and space. Discovered by Shikari, a bug like native of this new galaxy, the Legion of Super-Heroes are awakened to find they are uncountable light years removed from their home. Their ship is damaged and their hope is as lost and they are.
They have lost everything, their home, their purpose, their spirit, their friends and Abnett and Lanning want it that way. Each issue of the series is told from the point of view of a different Legionaire. With this changing perspective, the writers are able to get to the core of each of the twelve heroes showcased throughout the series. As the events become more desperate the heroes are tested regarding the fundamental philosophies of what it means to be a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The heroes are chased by a genocidal race of aliens known as the Progeny. The Progeny’s purpose is to eliminate “variants,” anything they deem different from their own species. The guiding factor behind the Progeny when revealed provides the ultimate test to these heroes as they must overcome insurmountable odds when they are at the lowest points in their lives.
Coipel drew nine of the 12 issues with Alixe drawing the other three. Both artists were inked by Lanning who maintained a consistent look for the art through the series. Coipel has gone on to become one of the premiere artists working in comics. Following his time on “Legion” he achieved mega-stardom drawing books for Marvel Comics’ “House of M,” “Thor,” and “X-Men.” Throughout the series you see the talent that Coipel is working to harness. Lanning’s inking tightens the work up, but the raw power and energy of the pencils is visible. It is a stunning to see the youth and the vibrancy within the artwork. The energetic style compliments the tone of the story that is full of confusion and desperation on the part of the Legion.
The three issues completed by Alixe are not differing in tone from the artwork of Coipel as it compliments the future star’s work. It does lack some of the dynamism found in Coipel’s pages but the change is not jarring and on any other story the artwork would be considered stellar.
What the “Legion Lost” series does so successfully is provide a new entry point into the convoluted history of the Legion. By pairing the cast down to a manageable (if you consider 12 manageable) number you are able to learn about the strength and weaknesses of each character. Their origins are covered without banging you over the head with unnecessary exposition or in depth sob stories.
Some aspects of the 12 issues draw on the history of the Legion and some of it recent in regards to this series. It does give you a sense of the enormous history of the characters but the allusions to the previous stories let you know they had a life before “Legion Lost” but it does not impact the overall exploration and characterization achieved within the series.
Next month the current series featuring the “Legion of Super-Heroes” comes to a close with a new take ready to begin later in the year with “Justice League 3000.” With the Legion restarting again revisiting one of the past successes in the Legion of Super Heroes franchise is key, and there a few more endearing and entertaining than “Legion Lost.”
The first narrator in “Legion Lost” was introduced in the first issue, Shikari.
Solicitations for this issue: A splintered fragment of the 30th century’s greatest heroes must find their way home from a galaxy away in a shattering maxiseries from the writer/artist team responsible for “Legion of the Damned.”
The second issue’s narrator Monstress was introduced in “Legion of Super Heroes” Volume 4 #82 in July 1996.
The solicitation for this issue: It’s bad enough that several Legionnaires have awakened in the middle of a galaxy completely unfamiliar to them, but they also find themselves in deadly conflict with the Progeny, an alien race dedicated to exterminating (what they call “deleting”) any race they deem genetically fallible! Unfortunately, that list includes just about everyone, including the Legionnaires!
Introduced in “Legion of Super Heroes” Volume 4 #33, Kid Quantum is the narrator of the third issue and one of the stars throughout the series.
The solicitation for this issue: With no apparent way to return home and the Progeny hot on their heels, the stranded Legionnaires take refuge with Shikari’s race and learn just how special their new friend is among her own people. Plus, the lost heroes make a shocking discovery that will either help them on their quest or lead the Progeny straight to them!
Tinya Wazzo aka Apparition first appeared in “Action Comics” Volume 1 #262 in May 1961. She narrates the fourth issue and provides a calming influence for her husband Ultra Boy.
The solicitation for this issue: The lost Legionnaires try to make the best of a bad situation, but Apparition can see through their brave fascades. Hopefully Brainy’s attempt to rebuild the ship’s drive can jump-start their journey home…provided it doesn’t blow them up along the way!
In the May 1961 issue of “Action Comics” (#276), Brainiac 5 debuted. Over the years he was upgraded to Brainac 5.1 and is the “brains” of the Legion. His smarts may be one of the only things giving the Legion hope.
The solicitation for this issue: The lost Legionnaires look to Shikari’s path-finding abilities to help lead them home. But the ride promises to be a bumpy one, especially when a small team lead by Brainiac 5.1 comes across a drifting vessel housing only one being an unstoppable creature that stands ready to destroy anything in its path!
Umbra from Talok IV originally joined the Legion of Super Heroes as Shadow Lass in “Adventure Comics” #365 in February 1968. She has one of the toughest times adjusting to the situation the Legion is in. But will this harm the other Legionaires.
The solicitation for this issue: The prospect of being lost perhaps forever in an unknown part of the galaxy is taking its toll on the Legionnaires, particularly Umbra. Unfortunately, efforts to comfort her result in Umbra’s lashing out against the team and taking refuge on a nearby planet. Even worse, they may not even be able to go after her when their ship is infiltrated by a dark, sinister force!
Ultra Boy (Jo Nah of the planet Rimbor) is one of the few members of the Legion of Super Heroes to not change his name in the 1990s. The character first appeared int he pages of “Superboy” #98 in July 1962.
Solicitations for this issue read: While trying to deal with the problems that unfolded last issue, the lost Legionnaires discover a planet that holds a mystery only Ultra Boy can piece together. However, he may not get the chance to do so when he, Monstress and Umbra meet opposition from the planet’s champion…Singularity!
Reep Daggle, aka Chameleon, is from the planet Durla, where everyone has the power to change their physical form. As Chameleon Boy, Reep first appeared in “Action Comics” #267 in August 1960.
The solicitation for this issue: The Legionnaires still are lost, a comrade has fallen, a strange being is running loose on the Outpost, and Singularity continues to view the heroes as an alien threat to his world. But hope finally shines through for the team with the unexpected arrival of help. Will it be enough to rally the team to its greatest moment since first being cast away to an unknown galaxy?
Saturn Girl first appeared in “Adventure Comics” #247 (April 1958) as a founding member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. She is the leader of this team at the outset of “Legion Lost.” But the burdens of leadership may be too much for her.
Solicitation for “Legion Lost” #9: Just when the lost Legionnaires think they’re finally on their way home, they face their worst setback yet. If they can’t put their growing individual problems aside and work together, they’ll never find their way home–or be in any condition to deal with the oncoming threat that is fast approaching!
Erg-1 becomes Wildfire during this series but the character debuted in “Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes” #195 (June 1973).
Solicitations for issue “Legion Lost” #10: With the Lost Legionnaires’ spirit having reached its lowest point, the team must face a huge Progeny army which has converged on our heroes’ ship for a final showdown. Even if the vastly outnumbered team can overcome its differences and pull together against the Progeny, it almost certainly won’t be enough against the even greater threat lying in wait!
Element Lad is the key to the Legion being found by Shikari in the first issue of the series. What can he possibly add to this story at this late juncture?
In this issue we learn his fate.
Live Wire (Garth Ranzz), also known as Lightning Lad has the ability to generate electricity, usually in the form of lightning bolts. He is a founding member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He first appeared in “Adventure Comics” #247 (April 1958) under his original codename Lightning Boy.