Long before I knew anything about the “SW6” Legion, clones, or even much of the complex Legion continuity, I had the good fortunate of discovering The Legionnaires by Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story. And while I’ve come to find that some love this era, while others revile it, for me it was honestly something akin to a shining light in a darkening industry. Signs were popping up everywhere that the comic industry was in for some hard times, and even worse, some of my favorite books and characters were being affected as they started down a slippery slope. Sudden attitude adjustments became the norm, “cool” costumes with jackets, spikes were introduced left and right, uncreative swipes were everywhere, and storytelling was taking a nosedive across the board.
So it was with great enthusiasm that I stumbled upon books like The Legionnaires.
I had a vague idea of the original Pre-Crisis Legion at this point, and had already had a couple of grand adventures with them elsewhere, but I really hadn’t had the chance to grow up with them as I had a number of the older DC/Marvel properties so this was really a good introduction for me, and a great starting point to jump right in. And no doubt thanks to their experience and outright love of the Legion, the Bierbaum’s just seemed to have an ideal grasp on each one of the characters they were writing, giving them all unique personalities, and never losing anyone in the large cast. Here it’s probably worth mentioning that Chris Sprouse & Karl Story’s crisp, light-hearted, artwork really went a long way in making each of the Legionnaires distinct and fun to read about, what with personality oozing out all over the place and all the crazy powers on display, and it was a huge reason for me to come back from week to week. In fact, it was this run that made me a huge Sprouse fan and I’ve followed his work wherever I’ve been able to ever since. Unfortunately, however, when he left the book along with the Bierbaum’s a little over a dozen issues later, I kind of went with them. The same spark just wasn’t there when Mark Waid took over, surprisingly enough, and I closed the book with fond memories of the last year or so happily intact.
In the years that followed this run, I’d eventually gain a much greater exposure to original Legion of Super-Heroes and have actually come to prefer the originals as introduced in the pages of Adventure Comics, but I’ll forever have a place in my comic loving heart for this iteration of the team as well (and perhaps they’ll even hit upon it favorably in the upcoming “Legion of Three Worlds” storyline by Geoff Johns) and after re-reading Legion of Super-Heroes #41 last night, which introduces the Legionnaires for the first time, I’m hankerin’ to read those issues all over again. It was the beginnings of something great that led to something even greater and I owe everyone responsible a hearty “thanks!”