When I was a kid growing up, the Legion of Super-Heroes was one of my favorite comics ideas. They debuted in issues of Superboy as a group of super teens from the 30th century. At first there was only Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl. But dozens of others joined over the years.
I wasn’t the only comics fan taken with the idea of a club of teen superheroes. The demand for more adventures with the Legion flooded the offices of DC Comics. Pretty soon, when Superboy was published in Adventure Comics, the Legion of Super-Heroes ran as a back-up feature that eventually pushed the Boy of Steel out of his own comic.
The Legion flight rings were totally cool and gave everyone the power of flight. That way each Legionnaire could have his or her own unique power in addition to the ability to fly. Some of the powers were inevitable: Invisible Kid (yeah, you know this one), Ultra Boy (kind of like Superboy only limited to using one power at a time), Chameleon Boy (shape-shifter), Colossal Boy (yep, he grows), Shrinking Violet (yep, she shrinks), and others. Karate Kid came about because Kato was on the Green Hornet and martial arts claimed a lot of attention.
Of course, there was always Matter-Eater Lad, who had the super ability to eat anything. Now there’s a power to write home about!
Anyway, comics fans were consumed with interest in this teen organization. However, as comics turned bleaker, so too did the Legion. We got some really dark stories there for a while. Where the Legion flourished as a colorful, space-crossing, force for good, they tended to languish as teens of retribution and confusion.
The Legion just wasn’t meant for all that negativity in my opinion. The Legion is supposed to be about being heroic, larger than life (not just Colossal Boy), and fighting the good fight. Being dark really limited their strengths. Kind of like when the Metal Men went on the run and disguised themselves as humans. Or when the X-Men split up.
The Legion came back under Mark Waid in a new incarnation, but just didn’t click as well as I’d hoped it would. I liked the issues, but the old vitality just wasn’t the same. The comics just weren’t as fun. Even though they weren’t dark, they were a tad too serious, too incestuous in scope.