|Comic trade paperback, 223 pages|
Published 2008 (contents: 1958-2002)
Acquired December 2012
Read May 2015
edited by Anton Kawasaki
Writers: Otto Binder, Jerry Siegel, Edmund Hamilton, Jim Shooter, Paul Levitz & Keith Giffen, Mark Waid & Tom McCraw, Dan Abnett & Andy LanningArtists: Al Plastino, John Forte, Curt Swan & George Klein, Mike Grell, James Sherman & Jack Abel, Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt (with Kurt Schaffenberger, Howard Bender & Frank Giacoia, Dan Adkins, Dave Cockrum, and Joe Staton & Dick Giordano), Stuart Immonen & Ron Boyd & George Freeman, Olivier Coipel & Andy Lanning
This collection came out in 2008 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Legion of Super-Heroes. As a result, it contains stories spanning (most of) the full history of the Legion, from their first adventure to the first reboot. There are some weird omissions, though: nothing from the Five Years Later version (1989-94), nor anything but a cover from the "threeboot" (2004-09). That's a full fifth of Legion history not represented, and some key parts of it to boot. I've never read anything from either version, so just for my personal edification, it would have been nice to have.
Focusing on what is here, though, there's some good stuff. Of course, there's the first Legion story... which on reading it, I don't think I'd ever read the whole thing before, just synopses and excerpts. There's a lot of Silver Age goofiness here, of course, and though what I like about the Legion is nascent in that, I'm starting to realize that what I really like about the Legion doesn't really click until the Levitz/Giffen run, when the Legionnaires are finally written as real people, and not Silver Age assholes pranking each other. But I did enjoy seeing Saturn Girl, possibly my favorite Legionnaire, lay the smackdown on all the others in "The Stolen Super-Powers!"
It was also nice to see a number of historically important, oft-referenced stories, like the death and resurrection of Lightning Lad, or Superman's trip into the future of the future to meet the "Adult Legion" (Cosmic Boy's receding hairline is hilarious). The inclusion of "The Future Is Forever!" (which I already read in The Curse: The Deluxe Edition), on the other hand, is just dreadfully confusing out of context. To be fair, I'm not totally sure I got it in context; it seems to have been written for the hardcore Legion fan who's been there since Day One. A hard-hitting standalone like "The Day after Darkseid" seems like it would have been a better choice to represent the Levitz/Giffen era. On the other hand, to a parliamentarian like myself, getting to read the Legion charter is totally fascinating!
I also really enjoyed my peeks into the reboot Legion, who've I've previously encountered only in Legion of the Damned and the excellent Legion Lost. Here are three of their tales: their very first issue (which I really liked), a short story of the Legionnaires reflecting on Superman (it felt very Elliot S! Maggin to me), and a glimpse of the Legion's reunification after Legion Lost. These were all really solid comics that seem to make the Legion work for an audience of newbies and oldies alike; I look forward to reading more from this era someday.
So overall, a decent primer on Legion history, with only one "bad" inclusion. Swap out the overly-long "The Future Is Forever!" for a different Levitz/Giffen tale, a 5YL tale, and a threeboot tale, and this book would have been perfect.
Next Week: I begin a new project: one novel from every season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!