Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Legion Errs

The Legion of Super-Heroes has always been plagued by continuity confusion. One of the problems with writing a series about the future, which frequently ties into the present, is that major changes in the present must be directly addressed in the future. This is part of the reason for the soft reboots (replacing Supergirl with Andromeda, the pocket universe) and the harder reboots (Zero Hour, the current relaunch). This has been a bit of a stumbling block for the series to obtain and retain readers.

This problem with continuity stability is only exacerbated by failures to maintain stability from creative team to creative team. I'll be honest, I really liked the Waid/Kitson reboot, and I was sad to see it go. But I'd be a lot more happy with the Shooter run if there were any sense of consistency between the two teams.

What really stuck out to me are the detail problems. It was a fairly major plot point early in the Waid reboot that the Legion flight rings are keyed to their owners' genetic signatures, and thus can't be used if stolen. Shooter apparently missed that point, as a recent issue had precisely that happen, with no mention of the reason for the change. Today I'm flipping through the newest issue, and I see various Legionnaires pulling brand-new costumes out of the automatic closets. While this is a particularly cheesy way to introduce a new look to the team (especially since I thought some changed costumes at the beginning of Shooter's run), it's also totally unnecessary, because, as also established early in the Waid run, the costumes are images generated by the Flight Rings, and can be changed at the wearer's whim.

I know these are minor problems, but I think that's precisely the point: there's no reason why a halfway decent editor, or a quick perusal of the first trade or two, couldn't have cleared them up. I mean, I haven't read the relevant Waid issues since One Year Later hit, and yet these inconsistencies stick out like sore thumbs to me.

It just annoys me to see errors like this that could have been avoided with a sharp-eyed continuity editor, a thirty second Google search, or the fifteen minutes of research that ought to have been standard practice before taking over the title.


Jason said...

I think it's a good rule of thumb never to pull Mark waid off of a book, no matter who you're following him with, another example of this is Fantastic Four.

While I understand that Shooter was "THE" LSH writer back in the 80's, but he just isn't anymore.

Tom Foss said...

I don't know, it seems to work if you follow him with Karl Kesel or Geoff Johns. I guess a continuity wonk like Waid needs to be succeeded by someone with similar continuity knowledge.

Bill S. said...

Levitz was "THE" LSH writer in the 80s; Shooter was way back in the 60s. God, I'm a geek. But I was there, I remember.

What they should have done was merely treat the LSH as if it was in a bubble, establish the past in their dimension and then work outward from that. By reconfiguring the Legion every time something happens in the "present", it means that there is no foundation to work with. Especially since the continuity in the present is most likely to correct itself, anyhow; i.e., Andromeda / Supergirl.

I thought Waid's generational politics was pretty simple-minded, certainly towards the beginning of his series.

Tom Foss said...

Yeah, they did tend to be pretty caricaturistic and exaggerated; still, making the Legion future into a gleaming teenage dystopia was a damn good idea, and exaggerated politics tend to be a staple of dystopian literature. I wish, in fact, that they'd done more with that.

Same with the reversal of the old Legion membership rules; instead of "one person with a given power" it was "whoever the hell wants to join," as I recall.

But the thing I really liked about those early Waid issues, which got referenced less and less over time, was the absurd lengths that adults went to to avoid human contact. I think that, more than most of the series, was a sign that Waid's Legion ought to be taken as a bit tongue-in-cheek.

Kid Kyoto said...

Didn't Waid also forget the whole genetic structure thing?

he had batman stealing and using a flight ring in Brave and Bold.