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Graphic Novel Review: Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson

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The Legion of Super-Heroes is one of those concepts that eternally remains near and dear to, well, legions of comic book fans. First introduced in the pages of Adventure Comics starring Superboy, the Legion came from a hundred years in the future (the 30th century back in those days) to meet Superboy, who inspired them.

During the ensuing years, the Legion has been through a lot of changes, going from fun science fiction kinds of stories to the darker futures of the 1980s and 1990s. Mark Waid helms the revamp, but there’s already new stories featuring other Legions written by Geoff Johns that reinterprets the future yet again.

In Teenage Revolution, Waid returns the Legion to their roots as teenagers, but this time he adds the twist of having them want to change the status quo of their world. It’s a common teen theme, and it works well in this series. I enjoyed that ages-old struggle between youth and adult a lot. In this future, the United Planets has adopted an arms-length attitude toward developing problems. The Legion, under Cosmic Boy with Brainiac 5 serving as his aggressive second, wants to act. The Legion comes under fire from the United Planets and parents everywhere.

I’ve always loved Waid’s ability to render character on comics pages. The combative nature of Cosmic Boy’s relationship with Braniac 5 is fantastic, and I enjoy the two sides of an argument they present. I like the new edginess Braniac 5 has, and I think Waid has created a great version here to root for and find fault with.

Waid has also taken liberties, and poked a little fun at, normal Legion convention. Colossal Boy, as it turns out, is misnamed. He can’t actually grow; he shrinks to a height of six feet. He claims his real name is Micro-Lad. Dream Girl’s inability to separate present from future is a really understandable weakness and one I’d never considered before. Wonderful touch.

Maybe my favorite “origin” story of this version of the Legion is Triplicate Girl’s. I’d always thought she had one of the weaker powers of the group, but her origin as relayed by Mark Waid is awesome and laden with bittersweet touches. I loved the dating sequences and the eventual reveal, though I had guessed it before it all came together. I also got a kick out of Lyle Norg’s (Invisible Kid) backstory and his compromise with the Science Police. That was pure art.

Barry Kitson's art is fantastic and makes the Legion's adventures a visual treat.  He works well in stand-alone panels, group shots, and montages of action.

Waid’s run on the Legion is going to stand out in the annals of the 31st century super-heroes. I can’t wait to see what further adventures lie ahead, and I loved the cliffhanger Waid leaves readers with regarding the mysterious guy who can get into Braniac 5’s mind without him knowing it.

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