Monday, March 5, 2018

GEE WIZARD: The Write Stuff part 7

To round off our look at the various publications that featured articles about the Legion, we feature WIZARD magazine, the high-end product that emerged during the comic speculator boom in 1991. At its prime, with its glossy pages and focus on all aspects of the industry, including independent publishers, trading cards, toys, games, and market information, the magazine and its subsidiaries enjoyed monthly circulation of more than 100,000 copies.

Yet, despite this, the Legion rarely featured in WIZARD's 233-issue run. By 2011, with the onset of Internet comic book sites that offered the same sort of content for free, the magazine's subscriber base was so low that it had no option but to cease publication.

WIZARD #19 (1993)

The first major inclusion of anything Legion-related in the magazine did not involve any ground-breaking expose on the group. But coincidentally, Legion characters appeared in two different spots.

The first was a depiction of Valor by Bart Sears, in an article in which he clarified his artistic techniques for drawing his brutes and babes.

The second was an advertising page for the new LEGIONNAIRES book that was coming out soon.

WIZARD #59 (1996)

It's 1996. The magazine's list of top writers include Peter David, Neil Gaiman, Kurt Busiek and Garth Ennis. Grabbing the best artist spotlight are the likes of Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Bill Tucci, Joe Quesada, and practically anyone associated with Image Comics.

And finally, a Legion issue gets coverage. LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #83, featuring the first part of the Emerald Eye saga, is previewed along with an interview with writer Tom Peyer, in which he foreshadows a “terrible” fate for a Legionnaire. “This character has been around for decades”, Tom says. “And as far as I'm concerned, he will never be back.” Who was it? Can you remember? :)

WIZARD #67 (1997)

The Legion is the focus of this issue's Casting Call segment, in which writers suggest actors who could play the parts of various super-heroes if they appeared in movies.

It's a testament to the vagaries of time that only a handful of the actors are remembered today, when they were all probably hot properties back then, 20 years ago. The most famous is Leonardo DiCaprio, when he was but a fresh-faced teenager, who the magazine felt would make a good Live Wire. They also thought a punkish Jared Leto would fill Ultra Boy's boots well. David Faustino, Bud Bundy from Married With Children, gets nominated to play Star Boy.

But apart from those, one struggles to remember the others. Claire Danes? Marne Paterson? Brad Renfro? Chris Demetral? Douglas Emerson? It's a lesson to be learned, Chris Wood. Mon-El today, gone tomorrow.

WIZARD #129 (2002)

Like in the comic book series, the Legion didn't appear in the magazine until five years later. By this time, it was early in the new century. The second hottest book of the month was a titled called Alias published by Max. The top writer was deemed to be Kevin Smith, and the top artist Michael Turner.

But also turning heads was the revamped LEGION title, following on from the trials of LEGION LOST, during which the group lost Monstress, Element Lad,  and Live Wire (in a fashion). The book was written by the team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and drawn by Oliver Coipel. It was the time of Kid Quantum as leader, the Progeny, the Credo, the establishment of Legion World, the vessel named the Bouncing Boy, and the return of Ra's Al Ghul.

The series was sufficiently well-received for WIZARD to recognize it as its Book of the Month, and rightly so. It accompanied the feature with a list (the mag was all about lists) of the top 5 shocks that DnA had delivered so far.

WIZARD #207 (2009)

2009 was a tumultuous time for the Legion. And for many long-time fans such as this writer, an exciting promise of things to come.

The threeboot, scripted by Jim Shooter, was ended abruptly, well before the writer could establish the conclusion to his story arc that he'd crafted so painstakingly the year before.The events that led up to the enforced cancellation have been well-documented, but it was likely DC Comics simply wanted to bring in the rejuvenated Legion that Geoff Johns had so brilliantly revived in his run of ACTION issues.

This issue of WIZARD reported on the demise of the Legion's book, but included a promise from Johns that the title was in good hands, hinting at a regular series based on the pre-reboot version of the Legion. Johns was also asked for his views on possible artists for the book, which included Jim Lee, George Perez, Ivan Reis, and Patrick Gleason. Perez eventually drew the LEGION OF THREE WORLDS series that served to amalgamate various incarnations of the group into the version that kicked off the new regular series. And as fans know, the team which kicked that off was the impeccable pairing of Paul Levitz and Yildiray Cinar.

Johns' run in ACTION was also recognized in this issue, with the book being named the Best Book for 2008, quite an accolade indeed. It cited such landmark moments as the return of the original Legion, the clever use of the Substitute Heroes, Superman's battle against an enhanced Brainiac, and the start of the New Krypton story-line, which would incorporate the contribution of several Legionnaires.

WIZARD #208 (2009)

Geoff Johns had his hand into every Legion-related enterprise DC Comics was involved in, from the LEGION OF THREE WORLDS, the Lightning Saga, the New Krypton arc, up to the small screen. SMALLVILLE in its eighth season had the Legion's three founders making an appearance in an episode written by Johns, which he has said incorporated elements of his story-lines from ACTION and LEGION OF THREE WORLDS.

In WIZARD's interview with Johns, he says: “If you're a real Legion nut, you'll see far more there than anybody else will. They mention Polar Boy's home planet Tharr. There's more fanboy stuff in there than in any other episode of Smallville.” I think I'll have to go watch that again to catch all the references.

What's obvious from Johns' comments from this issue and the one before is his absolute love for the Legion. With the group absent from the limelight for so long, it's every fan's dream that Johns, who of course is still a person of influence at DC, will be able to ensure that the Legion is given the treatment it deserves when it finally gets its own book again.

And THAT ends up our look at the various comic magazine articles about the Legion, which has spanned the past few months. If you know of any we've missed, let us know!

Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.


  1. Not gonna lie, that piece on the DnA Legion got me back into the series after a finances-mandated break during college; the shop near my school helped me catch up with "Legion of the Damned" through to the run, and that ultimately became my favorite Legion era. So Wizard did at least one good thing in my book.

    And man, does DiCaprio look like a tiny child in that picture. He's always looked younger than he is, but he looks all of 12 there.

  2. Regarding those awful Casting Call features... Clare Danes hasn't really phased into obscurity, Homeland, multiple Emmys and all/

    1. Yeah, I was gonna point that one out, too. Also, the dismissive "apart from those, one struggles to remember the others" seems to overlook their choices for Chameleon (Wil Wheaton, probably better liked today than he was in his Star Trek days) and Shrinking Violet (Natalie Portman, who's been a fairly well-known name since, if not when she started appearing in films in 1994, then since 1999 when she was in The Phantom Menace).

      (I suppose it's somewhat fair to say that Jonathan Brandis (their choice for Brainaic 5) isn't as well-known today, but his 2003 suicide might be a factor in that.) (On the other hand, he was getting fewer roles, which is believed to be a significant reason for his suicide.)

      (And I'm sure quite a few people know who Stacey Dash (XS) is nowadays, even if they'd rather they didn't...)

  3. It does illustrate the problem with a Legion movie. To have folks who could credibly portray teenagers, you'd pretty much have to go with all unknowns, which would undermine box office potential.