Monday, September 14, 2009

Legion Boys and Girls

Has anyone noticed how the Legionnaires are getting subtly younger since "Superman & the LSH" and L3W? In Superman etc, they looked to be contemporaries of Superman's, say early 30s. Now they look early-to-mid 20s.

I wondered if Geoff Johns was going to address the "Lad" and "Boy" and "Girl" names for characters who looked like they were in their 30s. Now that Levitz is coming back, I suppose we can all just agree that the explanation of "extended lifetimes with extended adolesence" is true, so it's not odd for them to be "Boy" and "Girl" at what we would consider to be advanced ages.

I'm okay with that, as long as we don't have to be brainwashing Superman to keep the secret from him. That was a cool idea, but it didn't quite fit in with the Legion. One of Levitz's rare misses.

of course, it might just be a public relations thing: the public responds better to "Lightning Lad" than to "Lightning Man." After all, that's always been his name.

I've been trying to think of similar contemporary examples; the best I've come up with is the Spice Girls, some of whom are as old as the Legionnaires appear to be now. There's also a group of definitely-mature woman performers who call themselves "The Fuel Girls." And, of course, there was the comedy troupe called Kids in the Hall.

It's the old dilemma of letting time pass and characters develop vs having stories take place in some sort of "eternal now." If you look closely at the official chronology of DC Comics, the Infinite Crisis happened more than a year ago, while the original Crisis on Infinite Earths must have been only a few years before that, certainly less than a decade...otherwise Superman would be in his 40s. It gets really absurd when you try, for example, to reconcile the ages of the multiple Robins.

We were doing okay with a Legion history that covered 15-20 years between the Legion's founding and the "present," but that's not going to be tenable forever. On the other hand, I like having a Legion that changes and develops; I don't really want these characters to go back to being teenagers in an "eternal now."

Is it possible to craft a solution that will satisfy today's readers, while still allowing for what things will be like as the Legion approaches its 100th annviersary? I don't know. I would love to see the development of a second-generation Legion, featuring the sons and daughters of the current Legionnaires, along with their friends and classmates. I would love to see Garth and Imra and all the others as grandparents (I know, sacrilege!).

But I do know one thing...every time the Legion gets too tightly coupled to the present-day DC Universe, sooner or later it leads to bad things for the Legion.

It's that damned fixed 1,000-years timespan. If we gave up on that, we could allow the Legion to develop along its own calendar...similar to the way Roy Thomas ran All-Star Squadron, where each "month" in comic-book time (i.e. one issue to the next) covered a specific period (a week, maybe?) in real-world history. Anchor the Legion firmly at some particular date in the 30th century, and allow approximately one "Legion week" to pass for each issue of them comic. Or give up on a fixed-ratio, just elect a new Leader every five years (60 issues) and call that a "Legion year."

I shall have to think on this, toss some numbers, and see if I can't codify it into something useful.


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