Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week of 21 August 2013

Just one Legion sighting this week:
Legion of Super-Heroes 23, the last issue and the last Legion appearance for a while.
This is a wrap-up issue. Dirk and Thom and confirmed dead and memorialized on Shanghalla. Tinya is missing and Brainy can't contact her.
Mon-El is still critical and unconscious in a medical chamber. Shady says she's going to take him home -- I presume she means to Daxam, with the best medical care anywhere.
Gigi Cusimano comes to drop a bombshell: The U.P. Council has voted to disband the Legion. This has been coming a long time -- the Legion's been having trouble with the Council since Legion of Three Worlds, and the recent mess has left them crying out for a scapegoat.
There are four poignant epilogues. The first shows Nura being welcomed back to Naltor, with a hint that It's All Been A Dream. (Jacques has also hinted this in the past few issues.)
The second epilogue has Luornu and Chuck pledging eternal love, and supposedly retcons the entire New52 Legion into the New52 version of Earth-2. Which I suppose leaves the Morrison version of the Legion in New52 Earth-1, or whatever they're calling the place now. It's really hard to care, especially as it's all going to be different in another ten years anyway.
The third epilogue shows Jeckie and the newly-regenerated Val arriving at Orando.
The final epilogue shows Rokk, Garth, and Imra on Winath with Garridan and Graym playing in the background, and ends with Imra proclaiming that the Legion's story never ends, while Mr. Levitz signs off with the obligatory Long Live the Legion.

I've been pondering the place of the Legion in DC Comics, their fate this time around (as well as the fates of other versions), and the fact that the Legion just can't seem to find a mass audience in today's comics world.
I wonder if it's not inevitable. I can't say I understand what today's comics readers are looking for, other than blood, guts, and boobs. What seems to succeed violent, sadistic, misogynistic, simplistic, and childish.
I don't think the Legion can be any of those things.
I've heard that the Legion's large cast is a deterrent (but somehow large casts in the X-Men and the Avengers aren't a drawback). I don't think there's a way to do the Legion without a large cast.
I've heard that the Legion's convoluted history is a deterrent (but somehow the convoluted histories of Batman, the X-Men, and the Green Lanterns aren't). I don't think the Legion can avoid having a history -- even if it starts over again from square one, in a year or two there'll be a history that will inevitably be part of current stories.
I've heard that the future, science-fictional setting of the Legion is a deterrent. I don't think the Legion can work without its future setting.
I've heard that the Legion isn't "edgy" enough -- which I think is code for sadism and violence. Well, the Legion's tried dark-and-gritty, and there was plenty of sadism and violence in the Giffbaum years. I just don't think the Legion is, fundamentally, compatible with sadism and violence (or "edginess" if you prefer).
It's odd, Batman and Superman and Spiderman and all the rest die and beat each other to bloody pulps all the time...maybe the difference is that they come back -- whereas the Legion (the first  comic to have a character die permanently) has always treated death and violence as consequential and, in many cases, irreversible.
In so many ways, I just can't see the Legion finding a successful place in today's comics environment.
So what's the answer?
There are a certain number of Legion readers who will buy the book no matter what. I don't know what that number is -- ten thousand, eight thousand, five thousand? It's not enough to sustain a print book.
But what about a web comic? How much do an artist and writer get paid per issue? If five thousand readers would each pay, say, $3 a month for a digital version (I know I would), that's $15,000 a month or $180,000 a year -- do artists and writers get $90,000 a year per book? Somehow, I don't think so. (Even if you assume DC and Comixology take their cuts, throw in an Annual and a special issue or two, and you could still be talking $50,000 a year each for artist and writer. Not chicken feed.)
If DC thought there was a demand, they could package six months or a year's worth as print collections and sell them -- the same 5,000 loyal fans would probably buy them, and any other sales would be additional gravy.
Just an idea.

Everyone seems to be pitching DC their take on a revival of the Legion. I, of course, have one, and I'll present it in an entry over on my Legion website.
For now, hokey as it sounds: Long Live the Legion!