I've been looking around at reactions to Legion of Super-Heroes #1 on the web. They fall into two categories.
First are the Legion readers, who seem to be relieved and delighted that the reboot has left the Legion reasonably unscathed -- and, especially, that there hasn't been a Fourth Reboot.
Then there are the non-Legion-readers. I will summarize their reactions below:
I never used to like the Legion, even though I haven't read it since the 1980s. Although I think X-Men and the Avengers are the greatest things in the world, with their cast of thousands, their convoluted histories, their endless reboots, and their soap-opera plotlines -- I still criticize the Legion for exactly the same qualities.
I picked up LSH #1 because I feel it's DC's obligation to make every one of their comics easily accessible to new readers...and even though I'll stop buying everything around issue #3 and go back to complaining about how much I dislike DC, I somehow thought that this new direction would turn them into Marvel.
So I opened Legion of Super-Heroes #1 expecting it to read like an introductory issue of Spiderman. It didn't, and I blame DC and Paul Levitz personally.
Boo hoo, I can't count high enough to keep track of more than 10 characters. Wah, I'm too stupid to follow more than one plot thread at a time. There were too many words and the drawings were too complex for either my primitive brain or my minuscule attention span. Whole pages went by without anything blowing up, anybody shooting a gun, or anybody killing someone else in a particularly gruesome way. It wasn't like watching TV or movies.
I do appreciate the little ID tags that they put on characters, and I wish the Legion had started doing that years ago.
I don't like my comics literate and challenging. I like simple stories where the good guys (only a few of them) beat the bad guys into bloody pulp. Above all, I don't want my comics to make me think.
The Legion is a failure and always has been. It's big, it's complicated, and it asks me to pay attention and fill in some of the blanks on my own. It scares me. I secretly suspect that I'm way too stupid to read the Legion, so I'll react with hostility and ridicule.
You know what? These people are right. They are too stupid to be Legion readers. The only way they would continue reading the Legion is if the Legion stopped being everything that makes it the Legion. So why does DC keep courting these people, trying to get them into the Legion.
Just this week I've received emails from two different people who recently discovered the Legion (before the whole "new 52" hoopla), became enchanted, and want to know more. That's the kind of new reader we want -- someone who appreciates the Legion for what it is. Someone who isn't just a passive consumer, but who is willing to put in some effort to get the rewards that the Legion gives.
You can't just sit down cold turkey, pick up a comic, and get the most out of the Legion. Being a Legion reader means being confused for a while, making lists of characters and powers and relationships, reading back issues to catch up, prowling websites to learn the backgorund. It means puzzling over obscure clues, trying (and failing) to see where the story's going.
Being a Legion reader means taking ownership, one way or another, of the universe and the characters. It might be as simple as voting in a Leadership election. It might be suggesting new Legionnaires, blogging about the Legion, dressing up as favorite Legionnaires, drawing your own pictures or writing your own fan fiction, collecting Legion crap. For some, it eventually means becoming part of a Legion creative team and actually shaping the myth.
If you just want to be entertained passively, if you want it all to be simple and straightforward and easy, if you don't want to be a participatory reader...then the Legion isn't for you. And, fate willing, it never will be.
And that's all I have to say about it. (For now.)