Recently, DC Comics discontinued publishing the Legion of Super-Heroes book. They cited poor sales since the launch of their New 52. From the outside looking in, it appears that customer weren’t buying the book.
I don’t see any lack of support from DC. This isn’t a Fox Network and Firefly, SyFy and Caprica, or TNT and Crusade. In each of these cases, the network sabotaged the series either through poor schedule, improper promotion, lack of promotion, or simply not wanting to produce the series (This is a shot at TNT, and their inexplicable decision to make Crusade a “limited series” before the first episode ever appeared on-screen.)
To be clear, I’m not criticizing DC for cancelling the book. They’re in the business to make money, and if the property isn’t producing, they have to make choices.
So, why wasn’t The Legion of Super-Heroes selling? It should be a natural; it’s DC’s version of Marvel’s The X-Men, which is a popular book and has had several movies based on it. Yet, no movies for Legion, and for now, anyway, no book.
My impression reading the book is that the stories were difficult to follow. It’s not that the story was too intricate; it’s that too many characters were involved. In the first panel that a character appeared in every issue, the artist provided a callout indicating the character’s given name, superhero name, home planet, and powers. There’s a reason they had to do this. There are too many characters! Plus, within the story, sometimes characters are referred to by their superhero name and sometimes by their given name. All of this creates confusion.
At times, the reader couldn’t clearly see who was performing actions or talking. The uniform was ambiguous or facial features were generic. Again, the more cast members, the harder it is to keep everything straight.
These weren’t the deal breakers in my mind. The true fault was that the story arcs didn’t focus on one or two characters. No matter what happened, a dozen legionnaires got in the mix. I never really felt like I had an intimate understanding of any character. I knew a lot of facts and interesting tidbits, but the stories never stayed long enough to establish a story protagonist that I could vicariously enjoy the story through.
It’s a shame, really. I grew up reading Legion in the ‘70s. I loved the stories, the artwork, and the characters. When DC rebooted with the New 52, the Legion books (Legion: Secret Origin, Legion Lost, and Legion of Super-Heroes) were the first I put on my hold list with my local comic book store. My hope is that with a little time off, a new sensibility can be brought to the book to address the above-mentioned issues and produce great stories with interesting characters.