It seems like every four years the Legion of Super Heroes gets rebooted by a new creative team with visions of shaking up expectations and launching the next great Legion era.
While somewhat short-lived writer Mark Waid and artist Barry Kitson’s 2004 series struck the right balance of surprising readers with different takes on their favorite Legionnaires while still being faithful enough to the core of the concept to feel familiar.
One of the biggest changes is the Legion is largely viewed by adults as a counter-culture radical organization corrupting the youth. The Legion have had various states of approval during their tenure, but this rings true to how younger generations are viewed by their predecessors. It’s more likely that the older establishment would constantly try to belittle and dismiss the Legion in the same manner Baby Boomers scoff at millennials.
Waid makes some subtle adjustments to Legion members’ personalities as well for the better. Cosmic Boy has to constantly fend off Brainiac 5’s challenges to his leadership. Dream Girl loses track of what conversations she’s had and which ones she’s experienced in premonitions.
There’s some fun twists to the characters like Colossal Boy insisting he be called Micro Lad as his powers allow him to shrink to the same size as his teammates instead of growing to be a giant. Invisible Kid gets so nervous he triggers his powers around his teammates while Phantom Girl is in phase with her home world and Earth at the same time. Saturn Girl only speaks telepathically while Triplicate Girl explores the use of her powers on personal levels as well.
What’s most important is Waid keeps the general personalities of the Legion intact so Ultra Boy isn’t suddenly a shy, demure powerhouse. Brainy’s arrogance might be dialed up higher and he’s not suddenly Mr. Sociable on the team.
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Waid throws in the occasional significant threat, but uses these first six issues to establish the various personalities at play. It’s a smart move if for no other reason than the size of the team can be unwieldy to some writers if they have favorites. The one disappointing area with the team is the diversity. Star Boy is the lone black member and Karate Kid was only raised in Asia.
Kitson, who designed the costumes, handles the art for most of the trade. His art is some of the all-time cleanest and he’s got a tremendous gift for cinematic dialogue heavy scenes. The character work is strong, but Kitson really makes them come alive.
Leonard Kirk, Dave Gibbons and Scott Iwahashi provide additional pencils. Their work isn’t bad, but Kitson’s return for latter issues was welcome.
This was the kind of fresh slate reboot that welcomes new readers without chasing off longtime fans. By the end of Teenage Revolution you’ll be anxious to see the next phase of this rebellion.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: DC Comics