Maybe calling it “Justice League: Demon Knights” would have saved it.

§ May 14th, 2013 § Filed under dc comics, legion of super-heroes § 15 Comments

So the newest iteration of Legion of Super-Heroes is kaput (along with three other DC titles, which I’ll discuss in a moment). I went on about it on the Twitter yesterday, where I suggested a couple of options as to what to do with this particular franchise because, you know, DC’s totally listening to me:

1. Just give Legion a rest already. Every reboot/restart boosts sales on the title for a little bit, then it always settles back to the numbers it usually sells at. Or maybe a little less. Maybe a little time out of the public eye would result in an actual fresh start for the book, removed from the previous decades’ worth of continuity that may or not still be valid because who the hell can tell any more. A little testing of the waters with some guest-appearances prior to any relaunch wouldn’t be out of order.

2. Pick one Legion character, give him or her a solo title, and make the Legion background/supporting characters. There could still be occasional Legion adventures, but it would be all told from the perspective of the title character. My personal pick for this would be Brainiac 5, because good gravy I’d love to read a solo Brainiac 5 comic, and also he seems like the one interesting/complex enough to carry a series on his own. Super-genius, doesn’t really “get” the emotionally volatile non-geniuses around him, always inventing crazy machines that are more trouble than they’re worth, HAS A TIME BUBBLE…c’mon, that’d be fantastic. But whoever is the star…that at least would give us a fresh perspective on an old dusty comic.

I don’t know. I’ve liked the Legion about as long as I’ve been reading comics, and easily have about three decades’ worth I’ve bought off the rack, and I’m still getting the sporadic and progressively more dear Archives reprints of the older material. I did stop reading new Legion some time back, prior to the New 52 relaunch, simply because I think I lived through one reboot too many and just couldn’t get into a comic where the constant threat of yet another restart to get themselves out a painted-in corner was always there. But I would love to read a good Legion comic again, particularly one that did something interesting with the franchise beyond “we need to have a Legion book on the stands.”

Okay, that sounds like I’m slagging the folks who are working on the comic now, and I’m really not. It’s just that…well, Legion isn’t grabbing new readers. With no current movie/cartoon/video games/action figure line to drive kids into shops looking for comics with those awesome Legion characters, the potential audience is restricted to people already buying comic books, and by and large, the people buying Legion are usually the people who always buy Legion, with some attrition over time (such as yours truly). To grab money out of the pockets of comic fans, you need to grab their attention, and the perception is that Legion is just same-old, same-old…this is your grandpa’s comic book. Esteemed Twitter colleague Max said that “Legion needs to be J.J Abrams-ed,” and that’s probably what it’ll take.

There have been some nice shots at it before…I really enjoyed Mark Waid’s take and the subsequent One Year Later (geez, remember “One Year Later?”) revamp Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Those worked, at least for a while, in grabbing new readers.

As for those other cancelled DC titles that I was reading…I’m pretty sure Dial H was no surprise to anyone. It was a fun and intelligent comic, but maybe a little too off the beaten path for your standard line of superhero funnybooks. Threshold‘s main selling point was the Larfleeze back-up, and even that wasn’t too much of a draw…maybe a cover or two actually featuring him may have helped. The lead story is entertaining, but the Green Lantern hook is slight enough to not have grabbed much of that franchise’s audience. And Demon Knights…I really liked Demon Knights. I have no idea why that’s getting cancelled. Well, okay, I know it’s low sales. Let me try again…”I have no idea why more people weren’t reading it.” I believe I mentioned a while back that the early issues were a tad on the chaotic side, and I wasn’t 100% sure I was following all the plot threads, so maybe that was an issue with more folks than just me. But I thought the rough spots were smoothed over of late and it’s been a highly entertaining fantasy/horror adventure. Ah, well.

• • •

In other news:

So that DC publication outlining all their graphic novels ‘n’ such I mentioned a few days back? Collected Editions does the thorough overview of this item that I was totally too lazy to do myself. Good work, gentlemen and / or gentleladies…give yourselves a raise.

15 Responses to “Maybe calling it “Justice League: Demon Knights” would have saved it.”

  • Adam says:

    I feel like I’m honorbound to be the only person to admit he really liked Mark Waid’s 2005 threeboot of the Legion. I wish it hadn’t tanked when they inexplicably decided to have two … three? separate Legion continuities running concurrently.

    Also, I agree with point two. They should focus on Triplicate Girl. And release three issues a month, each telling the same story from the perspective of a different girl. And as a gimmick they could have Frank Quietly write one and Grant Morrison draw it! OH MY GOD MY IDEAS ARE SO BAD I SHOULD WORK IN COMICS!

  • Adam says:

    Oh, I somehow missed that you yourself said you liked it. Hooray! That’s two of us.

    Speaking of a Legion cartoon, that’s once again somewhere that we can blame WB, if not DC directly. Cartoon Network is terrible at maintaining its licensed shows. Not because the shows don’t do well (Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Legion and Young Justice all did very well) but because they seem to be utterly incapable of maintaining any sort of schedule. Turns out that when you have shows for kids on your network, kids don’t handle not having any idea when they can tune in to see their favorite shows well and will eventually just give up. Take a gander at the Young Justice timeline and you’ll see a show whose first season was aired over the course of fifteen months because they would just stop showing it without warning, then bring it back with no advertising beforehand. It leads to me just not caring when I hear that Cartoon Network has some great new property on which they’re basing a show. Seriously, they could announce a teamup show featuring Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and Guy Gardner and I wouldn’t watch because I wouldn’t want to get invested in a doomed property*.

    If I sound bitter, that’s ONLY BECAUSE I AM!

    *I’m lying. I’d still watch.

  • Jer says:

    I really liked Demon Knights. I have no idea why that’s getting cancelled.

    I like Demon Knights a lot too. But I’m not surprised it’s getting cancelled – I’m surprised it’s lasted this long. I think calling it “Justice Knights” or “Justice League Avalon” or something might have prolonged its lifespan, but probably not for long. There doesn’t seem to be that much diversity in the “superhero” market anymore – personally I think it’s because DC and Marvel have chased away anyone who isn’t interested in their fairly narrow vision of what a superhero story is supposed to be, but that’s probably just me.

    I think the Legion has the same problem, BTW. There just isn’t the fanbase for a “sci-fi superhero” book anymore – especially one where the most vocal and most loyal fans want a continuity heavy book where the “sci-fi” elements were already dated for the most part when the book was at its most popular in the 1980s. The market for retro-sci-fi is already pretty niche, the market for retro-sci-fi superhero is a niche of a niche. You could do something great with the Legion these days, but it would require a different market than the one that’s there, and DC doesn’t seem to be at all interested in expanding the market for their comic books.


    Turns out that when you have shows for kids on your network, kids don’t handle not having any idea when they can tune in to see their favorite shows well and will eventually just give up.

    No, actually the kids will never give up. My experience is that superhero shows targeted to kids (Ben 10, Batman B&B, Teen Titans) will attract kids whenever it’s shown. And kids are more inclined to ask about watching their shows on the web or getting episodes from Amazon/iTunes/whatever and/or “know” that someday they’ll see the episodes again. So they’re more flexible about timing issues and “missing” episodes in my experience than you give them credit for.

    It’s the adults who get fed up with not being able to find it on the schedule. And that’s where Cartoon Network is falling down – writing cartoons targeted at adults but scheduling them like they’re targeting kids.

    Take a gander at the Young Justice timeline…

    And here’s a big example of it. Young Justice was not a kids show. That was it’s biggest problem – it was clearly being written for adult fans of the characters but they put it on on Saturday Mornings with a Green Lantern show that was also being written for adult fans more than it was for kids (though from what we saw of it, Green Lantern was closer to a superhero show that kids want to watch than Young Justice was – it wasn’t quite there, but it was close).

    No idea how the new Batman series will do, but my kid is eating up the new Teen Titans Go! cartoon every shot he gets to see it. It and Ben 10 are his two favorite superhero shows right now and, surprise, it’s pretty clear that BOTH of them are being written for and marketed to smaller kids rather than grown ups…

  • Snark Shark says:

    “(geez, remember “One Year Later?”) ”

    NO! Thankfully.

  • Walaka says:

    Did that solicit really say “and the future of the DCU is changed in a way you’ll never expect!” Didn’t they just change the entire past, present, and future across the entire line in ways the reader wouldn’t expect? Have we finally blurred entirely the lines between reality, irony, and parody?

  • Rob H. says:

    I suppose “give it a rest” and “Abrams it” worked for Guardians of the Galaxy and now that’s a top-selling book. Then again, they also added, “recast the whole team”, “add Iron Man” and “hype a movie” to it as well.

  • CalvinPitt says:

    Dial H was the only one of the canceled books I was reading, and I’d probably agree with your assessment. I loved it, but I always felt it was on borrowed time. I didn’t have any confidence it would find a large enough audience, and I guess it didn’t. Too bad, it was the new52 title I’ve enjoyed most.

  • Lane says:

    Dial H, Legion, Threshold, and Amethyst are the few DC titles I am reading. The only other one I have left is Phantom Stranger and I may drop it if becomes a crossover event. DC doesn’t want my money. Marvel has very few titles I’m following, Daredevil, Hawkeye, and Hulk. I will start picking up more Image, Darkhorse, IDW, etc. I’m enjoying the new Judge Dredd, Popeye, and Rocketeer titles.

  • Boosterrific says:

    ADAM: “Seriously, they could announce a teamup show featuring Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and Guy Gardner and I wouldn’t watch because I wouldn’t want to get invested in a doomed property.”

    Um, I am willing to turn on my television to Cartoon Network and break the remote control if there is even the remotest possibility of that show ever coming on. Please, please, please, please!

  • Mike Zeidler says:

    “LoSH has rebooted too may times for fans to take it seriously anymore. To get more people interested we should reboot it!”

    Everyone is calling for Mark Waid to relaunch the Legion again, but he was the problem in the first place. He was behind BOTH prior reboots and should not be allowed near the book ever again. There was nothing coming out of Legion Lost that couldn’t have been fixed by a writer who wasn’t going for a nostalgia kick, and then Johns had to ruin everything by going on a BIGGER nostalgia kick and re-introducing a version of the Legion that had already wrapped everything up neatly.

    Geoff Johns epitomizes why I hate fans who constantly call for failed shows to be brought back years and years after they were cancelled because they just won’t let go.

    I own every appearance of the Legion of Superheroes, and have been tracking down reprint appearances the past couple of years (Archives, Showcases, DIGESTS).

    If DC brings back the Legion, I will buy three copies of the first storyline (one to read, two for a local children’s ward) and if it’s up to snuff I’ll keep it up like I’ve been doing for the past few years. If they don’t, perhaps I’ll just start from the beginning.

  • philfromgermany says:

    I already dropped Demon Knights after issue 8. I take way too long to drop a title but Vandal Savage dragged the book down a lot IMO. Riding girl and the brainiac were weak characters as well, this title was one of the biggest missed opportunities for DC in the new 52.

    Dial H will be sorely missed, I loved the Canadian Secret Service and the beautiful artwork. Hope it will receive a better sendoff.

    More and more of my money is going towards Dark Horse and Image as well.

  • Adam says:


    Yeah, sorry, that was mean. It will never happen.

    What I meant to say was that I heard CN is putting together a show about Swamp Thing and Man-Thing teaming up to solve crimes in roaring twenties New York whole maintaining their cover as a pair of little old ladies who run a quilting shop.

  • Bill S. says:

    With the cancellation of Dial H, that means the number of DC titles I’m reading drops to 0. I suppose I should be thankful that DC is so thoughtful to help me keep my comic-buying budget to a minimum.

    I used to read LoSH, but the seeds for my ultimately giving it up were sowed in the Zero Hour reboot. I stuck with it through Legion Lost, but at that point I was just done. And the Waid reboot had some nice things, but I found the look of it too homogeneous, and drifted away again. My feeling is that I have enough Legion in the Archives that that should do whenever I get a hankering for the team.

  • David G says:

    I’ve been a Legion fan for years, and have been reading the latest series, but was on the verge of dropping it out of boredom. It was nice enough, but not exactly compelling. The only time I really looked forward to it was when Giffen came back. And then he left straight away.

    I thought the threeboot was pretty good, but agree that Waid has had two reboot shots so doesn’t deserve another.

    If they do bring them back, please can we have a limited connection to current continuity, and NO stories set in the present. Legion stories in the present ALWAYS suck. I was reading the main book , but the Legion Lost one never attracted my money. Hate Legion stories in the present. HATE.

    Also, no Legion as teenagers. That might have sort-of worked in the 60s, but its worth noting that the golden period of their sales was when they were all in their early 20s and acting like adults. Pandering to baby boomer nostalgia by trying to reproduce the feel of their early adventures isn’t going to bring in the kids.

    Actually, what I would really like from DC is a new volume of the Showcase reprints.

  • kidnicky says:

    There was a Legion kids’s cartoon. I have a DVD of the first five episodes somewhere. It was a decent enough show, but it doesn’t eat me up inside that I’ll never see any more.