Teenagers From the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes: A Very Short Review

No especially interesting comics this week (recommendations solicited, if anybody knows of anything thrilling coming up), but here is an exciting nonfiction volume!  Published by Sequart Research & Literacy Organization, a nonprofit new to me, this is a solid well-made volume.  It delves deeply into subjects that till now have only been debated among Legion fans, perhaps on lightly-attended late-night panels at Worldcons.  The role of women in the Legion, a passionate defense of the Giffen version, the relative professionalism of the Legion compared to other super-hero groups, an analysis of 30th century architecture — it’s all here, oh frabjous day!

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These are the issues that try Legion fans’ souls.  Why is the LSH the only group of comics characters that actually ages?  Have any of the contrivances to get around the paradoxes of time travel really been successful?  (For consistency I would simply sever all connection between the 31st and the 21st centuries, but nobody is consulting me, and marketing considerations always prevail.)  How malign was the influence of disco on costuming issues?  (Horrible, it is universally agreed.) How to reconcile the various Legion reboots?  This is minute analysis, folks.

There is an optimistic avowal in the foreword, that this book could introduce new readers to the LSH.  But these essays are going to appeal far more deeply to the real geeks among us.   I would not hand this volume to a new reader — it’s just too much.  If you want to know more about the Legion you would do better to go straight to the source, and pick up back issues of Legion from the sale bins or in the various compendiums DC has helpfully published.  A discussion about a subject can never convey the charms of the subject itself — would you rather meet Hugh Jackman in person, or just talk about him?  The question answers itself, does it not?

But then!  Once you are in, this is a delightful book — more coherent than fan newsgroups, more permanent than blogs.  The only improvement I can imagine would be articles or interviews with some of the actual Legion creators.  But this lack does give room for a follow-up volume!

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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