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My first memory of the Legion of Super-Heroes was reading the climax of the seminal "Earthwar" multi-part story, discussed here in "Thomas, Altman, Levitz, and the 30th Century" by Timothy Callahan. I got that fateful issue hot off of the comic rack back in the late 70s and was immediately enthralled by this cool group of futuristic young super-beings that included the familiar Superboy. Even though I'm now in my mid-forties I still buy graphic novels and collections from time to time, and I also like reading about comicdom. "Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes" is a pleasant addition to my (virtual) stack.
"Teenagers from the Future" contains a number of interesting articles concerning various aspects of the Legion, from the original and somewhat innocent stories from the late 50s through the 21st-century reboots that have radically altered the Legion and played havoc with finely-crafted continuity. You'll find essays on everything from the Legion's scientific foundations ("The Legion's Super-Science" by James Kakalios) to the introduction of homosexual Legionnaires ("Coming Out of Future Closets: Gender Identity and Homosexuality in the Legion" by Alan Williams).
Everyone has their favorite Legion eras (mine are the Mike Grell and early Keith Giffen runs), along with a certain level of angst about some of the creative paths taken over the years. I'm kind of thankful that I got out of buying monthly comics right as the Legion's popularity peaked with the "Great Darkness Saga" back in the early 80s, as some of the subsequent changes would have been disconcerting to me. A prime example is the Five-Year Gap, discussed in "Revisionism, Radical Experimentation, and Dystopia in Giffen's Legion" by Julian Darius. One wonders if George R. R. Martin abandoned a similar plan for his Fire and Ice saga after seeing the fallout from this one.
At any rate, it was great fun revisiting old Legion/comic collecting memories (haven't heard the term "Baxter editions" for ages) and getting up to speed on the revamps I missed (Shvaughn/Sean? Didn't see *that* one coming). "Teenagers from the Future" is must reading for anyone who fell in love with any version of the Legion of Super-Heroes and still reserves a special place of fandom for them in his or her heart.
I am a long time fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes going back to about 1963. It was with great interest that I picked up this book as I felt that the group has never quite received their due in comic book history, let alone with serious pieces such as these. I wasn't disappointed with this book. In fact, it expanded my interest in the later versions of the group, such as the Bierbaum period that, during that time, pretty much soured me on the Legion comic books. Now I'm reconsidering that run as well.
I suppose that the Legion will always be about the classic Adventure Comics stories for me, so I read the pieces dealing with those 1960's stories with the greatest interest. I would certainly recommend this to fans of that LSH of that time period. The Legion is a group that has certainly stood the test of time, and this book is a fine way to pay tribute. I would love to know more about John Forte and his strange artwork from the early this period. Could someone please expand on what we know about him. His work was magical and a bit disturbing, and is only touched on in this book. I want to know more.
I have traveled to the comic book store nearly every week for fifty years due in large part to the Legion and it's hold upon me, and I would hope that others discover the fabulous history of this group through this book.
Unlike most other reviewers here, I'm not much of a comic reader, except for a few Batman comics after seeing the Nolan films and a few linked from Cracked articles. However, I still loved most of this book and enjoyed reading it. The articles are of varying quality coming from different authors, and unfortunately some of the initial ones are tough to trudge through, which gives a pretty bad first impression. In particular, I almost gave this a 4 star feedback mainly due to the "Liberating the future" part which had so much potential, but ended up mostly using the English-major trick of "create and find controversy where there's none" and leaves a bad taste in your mouth at the end of it, ruining the mood of the book. A few of the later chapters address similar topics in a more mature, rational way without going too astray from the theme of the book itself, I feel the book would have been better off without this chapter.
Ultimately though, this was a particularly interesting read for a comic-book newbie like me, introducing me to the various eras of comic books, various styles of the publications and artists, and of course to a fun gang of heroic teenagers!
I've been a Legion fan for 40 years, and I've been in and out of organized Legion fandom for a number of those years, having been a member of Klordny (and having read some of Interlac issues). And yet, I had never heard of any of the people involved with this project, which made me wonder "who ARE these people and what do THEY know about the Legion?". But it turns out that they are just like me - fans with a sometime inexplicable love for the characters and environment of this "comic book". I was hesitant to spend the money on this book, but also concerned about not seeing what it might be. And what it IS is fascinating - it amounts to an exploration of the history of pop culture and various artistic fields, as interpreted by many Legion writers over the years. And I don't even think I've come to the most interesting essays yet. It really is something different than what is available out there - kind of a grown-up discussion of something many of us have come to love as, basically, children. Science, Architecture, and more, it's fascinating and I'm very pleased that I made the purchase!
Yeah, I'll admit it. I was a Legion geek back in the 60s and 70s. I loved the Silver Age of DC Comics, and the Legion was primo stuff. The essays in this book take the tremendous affection of Legion fans, from all periods, as a starting point, and treat the stories, the art, the costumes and the fans as worthy of study and respect. I think sometimes, some of the essayists take themselves a bit too seriously, but, for the most part, I enjoyed them. I stopped my regular reading of Legion stories in the 1980s, only picking one up from time to time after that, so I'm not as familiar with the later period, but I still found the essays on those times interesting.
I was very impressed by many of the opinions expressed here. I didn't always agree with the viewpoints, but nearly all were very interesting. I enjoyed reading it, and I would buy similar books dedicated to other super-hero groups such as the Justice Leagues (of America, International, Europe, Antarctica....)
The target audience is definitely for knowledgeable fans of the LSH. Those unfamiliar with the LSH would probably not know about many of the characters and stories detailed.
As a longtime fan of the Legion, I really enjoyed this collection of essays. They're from such varied viewpoints that they covered territory I hadn't even considered; I really appreciated the chapters on costume and race, for example. A great read for fans who want new insights.
Fantastic Read. The Collection does a great job expressing the unique place the Legion of Superheroes holds in comics history, and this is by no means the only great showing from this publisher. I couldn't suggest this enough for people not only interested in the history of comics or the LSH, but the social movements of the medium from the Fifties to today.
The last few years have seen a growth in books containing essays on superheroes, with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers all getting time in the spotlight. Here's a wonderful addition to the mini-genre, as DC Comics' long-running future team of teen heroes are examined from every perspective you could wish for, from dystopias to fashion. The ideas come thick and fast in nicely written chapters by fans who really know their stuff. Highly recommended.
For me, the perfect sign of a good book is if I don't end up putting it down for a few hours. "Teenagers From The Future" is definitely one of those books. The book is full of essays about the history of the Legion, and Callahan and his fellow authors really showed many perspectives which, together, made something great. It's honest and critical and one of the best books on comics that I've read.