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Grumpy Fanboy’s Top Legion of Super-Heroes On-screen Appearances

5 Sep

Toyfare #158 announced that DC Direct will soon be launching 12 new action figures from Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes. I’ve always had a soft spot for teenagers with super-powers – Captain Marvel, the Teen Titans, the X-Men – but I love the Legion most of all.

Since they first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), the Legion of Super-Heroes has rarely had more than cult-status success, never quite achieving the popularity levels of other comic book teams like the Justice League, the Avengers or the Fantastic Four.

So if you’re a long-time Legion fan like myself, you’ve waited breathlessly for any appearance of the Legion outside the pages of the comic books. Here’s a quick look at all their on-screen appearances so far:

“New Kids in Town”, Superman the Animated Series

Aired in 1998, Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl travel back in time and team with young Clark Kent. Although these three get the most air time, other Legionnaires make cameo appearances, too.

You get no more than a glimpse of the Legion but seeing these familiar characters for the first time in animation was a real treat. To my knowledge, this is the first time the Legion appeared in a story outside of the printed page.

“Far From Home”, Justice League Unlimited

Aired in 2006, Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy travel back in time and bring Supergirl, Green Arrow and Green Lantern to the 31st century to rescue the rest of the Legion from the Fatal Five. You also get to see Blok, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy and Wildfire in action. At the end of the episode, Supergirl decides to stay behind and fulfill her destiny as a full time Legionnaire.

Overall, a satisfying story though I wish it had focused on more of my favorite Legionnaires. (I mean, why Bouncing Boy???) I also particularly enjoyed the emphasis on  Kara, who appears in her more familiar blue & red outfit for the first time in the series.

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series

Aired in September 2006, the Legion with a core team of Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Superman and Timber Wolf were introduced with its own full series. Other Legionnaires such as Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Ferro Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, and Triplicate Girl would also appear in later episodes. The series lasted two seasons, the longest ever on-screen run of the LSH.

The extended exposure was terrific and the series even revisited familiar events in Legion lore, such as the death of Ferro Lad at the hands of the Sun-Eater. I did not like that Brainiac 5 was turned into a machine and that (again) Bouncing Boy was selected to be a central character. The introduction in the second season of Superman X, a clone of the original, to fight side-by-side with the original Superman was a strange choice. What were they thinking???

“Legion”, Smallville

Aired in January 2009, the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared in live action for the first time ever.  Reprising their first appearance in the comics, the original Legionnaires Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl travel back in time to rescue Clark from a time-displaced menace.

As much as I hate Smallville for its low production value, lousy acting and – most of all – its penchant for shitting all over DC Universe continuity, I couldn’t help but download this episode. Seeing the original three Legionnaires raise their flight rings and say “Long Live the Legion!” still makes this appearance worth seeing.

Check out my Youtube channel for more appearances of the Legion of Super-Heroes in my Virtual Action Figure Collection. LLL!

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