Launched last May, DC's "Rebirth" event has proven to be a hit! As the "Rebirth" era nears its one-year anniversary, Geoff Johns is teasing his return, and a Batman / The Flash crossover event looks set to lift the lid on some of DC's greatest mysteries. Meanwhile, a year after the first hint, it looks as though the Legion of Super-Heroes is about to return!
Meet the Legion of Super-Heroes!
Created by writer Otto Binder in 1958, the Legion of Super-Heroes is a team of heroes based in the 30th & 31st centuries. The initial version of the LSH was inspired by the adventures of Superboy, and they traveled back in time to add him to their number. To Binder's surprise, the LSH proved so popular that they became recurring characters in Adventure Comics, and they eventually took over the feature completely. It wasn't until the 1970s that the Legion began to star in their own official title, though.
The origin of the Legion has been rewritten with pretty much every reboot of the #DC universe, but they've remained the future's premiere superteam. Each member typically has fairly distinct powers, but all wear a flight ring marked with an 'L'.
Over the decades, there have been countless Legionnaires, but the staple members include the telepathic Saturn Girl, the electricity-manipulating Lightning Lad, and the electromagnetic Cosmic Boy. The Silver Age added characters such as Triplicate Girl, Phantom Girl (who turned intangible), the shapeshifting Chameleon Boy, and the genius Brainiac 5.
The Legion's Role in "Rebirth"
Last May, all-star writer #GeoffJohns launched the "Rebirth" era with DC Universe - Rebirth #1. A tremendously successful comic, Rebirth teased a lot of major arcs that would be developed over the next two years, and one of them was a teaser that the Legion of Super-Heroes would soon be returning.
In one brief scene, we were introduced to a mysterious young woman who had been arrested after stealing food. She claimed to be a friend of Superman's, and wasn't particularly shaken at the news that he'd recently died; in fact, when interviewed by Captain Maggie Sawyer, she told her she'd seen the future and everything would turn out fine. Sawyer was understandably impressed, but the GCPD considered having the girl evaluated for psychological help. In one final scene, we saw this mystery character's only possession; a Legion flight ring.
Fans of the Legion were thrilled, not least because they deduced the mystery woman was most likely Saturn Girl — a key member of the Legion. They were right, as we learned after a second teaser in Batman #9. Launching Tom King's phenomenal 'I Am Suicide' arc, Batman #9 saw the Dark Knight recruiting a crack team of Arkham inmates. Significantly, as Batman stalked through the corridors of Arkham Asylum, he passed a cell containing a 'Jane Doe', who breathed on the glass of her cell and inscribed the Legion insignia. It seemed the Legionnaire had been sent to Arkham after psychological evaluation.
Why Saturn Girl?
Geoff Johns has always loved the Legion of Super-Heroes — and he's always had a particular love for Saturn Girl. In his view, three members of the Legion are absolutely fundamental to the history of the DC Universe: Cosmic Bay, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad. After all, back in Binder's 1958 origin story, these were the guys who taught Superman what it meant to be a hero! He reserved particularly warm words for Saturn Girl:
"Saturn Girl is the heart and soul of the Legion of Super-Heroes. When everybody's saying, "Legion doesn't work anymore. There's too much xenophobia. You can't change people." Saturn Girl says, "Yes, you can." Then suddenly, you realize she can read people's minds. She knows everyone's deepest, darkest secrets. If she has faith, then at the base level, human beings and aliens and everybody can reach that goal, can reach that achievement and have that goodness inside them. I believe her. I'm with her. And that's why Saturn Girl is so important to the Legion. She says, "We can do this." And it's like, well, if she believes it, then I believe it too. She's at the epicenter of truth for the entire universe for me."
So it's hardly a coincidence that Johns added Saturn Girl into the "Rebirth" mix, emphasizing once again the fundamental vitality and positivity of the reborn DC universe.
'Justice League vs. Suicide Squad'
The first event comic since "Rebirth", Justice League vs. Suicide Squad has enjoyed seeding a lot of important plot elements. Perhaps most notably, it revealed Amanda Waller's original Suicide Squad, a powerful and dangerous team that includes characters like Lobo and Johnny Sorrow. Significantly, though, it also features a Legion of Super-Heroes villain known as the Emerald Empress.
The Empress wields a powerful object known as the Emerald Eye of Ekron, which has been rumored to be linked to Green Lantern power rings. Throwaway dialogue established that she arrived in the present in pursuit of "the Legionnaire". In #4, The Empress — along with the rest of this original Suicide Squad — took on the Justice League.
It didn't go well for the Emerald Empress; the Eye refused to fire on Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, and in fact began to trigger some sort of temporal energy wave. With the Eye under attack from the Green Lanterns, the Emerald Empress teleported away with an exciting declaration:
Superman declared that the Justice League would have to deal with the Emerald Empress another time — and that's when DC dropped the bombshell. In a small text box, they revealed:
"Oh, you will, Superman! In the pages of Supergirl!"
As with the main "Rebirth" story, DC is playing the long game with the Legion of Super-Heroes. But plans are clearly set in place; at Baltimore Comic Con 2016, they revealed that one of the DC Rebirth panel would soon be writing Legion of Super-Heroes. That’s a choice of Dan DiDio, Tom King, Hope Larson, James Tynion IV, Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens and Yannick Paquette. While I'd highlight Paul Levitz and Tom King — Levitz has been associated with the Legion for decades, while King gave a nod to Saturn Girl in Batman #9 — the truth is that any one of those writers could easily pen the series.
Still, that text box suggests that the Legion plot is heading over to the pages of Supergirl. Solicits to date haven't given any indication of a Legion-centric plot here — or of an encounter with the Emerald Empress, for that matter. So that exciting arc can't happen until April or May at the earliest; my money's on May, the one-year anniversary of "Rebirth", when I'm expecting DC to kick off a second phase. If I'm right about that, then we can expect the Legion of Super-Heroes to get a high-profile relaunch in just a few months' time!
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DC is playing the long game with their "Rebirth" — and nowhere is that more clear than in their gradual, tantalizing buildup of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Justice League vs. Suicide Squad's teasers have suggested that the Legion plot is about to take centre-stage, though, and fans of the Legion couldn't be more excited. Maybe Saturn Girl will soon get to meet Superman after all — but why does she want to meet him? Given the Legion's knowledge of the future, is it possible that she's about to reveal some of the mysteries of "Rebirth" — and hint at just who stole ten years from the DC Universe?
I guess we'll just have to wait and see!
Are you excited about the return of the Legion of Super-Heroes?
(Sources: Comicville; Poll Image Credit: DC Comics)