Home Entertainment Review: Legion of Super Heroes: The Complete Series (Warner Archive Collection)

“I’m going to the future, Ma!” “Ok! Bring a sweater!” The Legion of Super Heroes is a 2006 WB animated show produced and designed by Justice League Unlimited veteran James […]

“I’m going to the future, Ma!”
“Ok! Bring a sweater!”

The Legion of Super Heroes is a 2006 WB animated show produced and designed by Justice League Unlimited veteran James Tucker. It is based on the DC comic of the same name, which features characters created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino in 1958. Young Clark Kent, as Superboy, was the starring feature in Adventure Comics then, and a group of super-powered peers was conceived for him. The Legion was a team of adventurers from the 31st century who traveled back in time in hopes of getting Clark to return with them to the future and join their club. The group was popular, first replacing the backup feature in Adventure, and then becoming the main draw in Adventure Comics #300, published in 1962.

The team appeared alongside Superboy when he got his own book, and again their popularity eclipsed his. The title would first be renamed Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes before the Teen of Steel left the book in issue #250. Then it would simply be called The Legion of Super Heroes.

One of the conceits of the Legion is that you have to be eighteen years or younger (or whatever your planetary equivalent is) to join the team. Originally, the group was known for rather elaborate try-outs, but that method was later supplanted by the Legion Academy, where hopeful applicants could hone their powers and wait for their chance to join the team. Another conceit is that each character needs to have their own distinct superpower, though exceptions are made for Kryptonian-level abilities.

The Legion has a lush and convoluted backstory, with dozens of characters in the roster. While that in and of itself is not off-putting to your typical comic geek, the title has suffered through five major reboots and retcons since the late eighties and some find it hard to dive into.

The Legion of Super Heroes is WB’s third attempt at animating the team. Different incarnations of the team appeared in the episode, New Kids in Town for Superman: The Animated Series in ’98, and again in the Justice League Unlimited episode, Far From Home, airing in 2006.

This version begins with the Legion facing an emergency they can’t handle. Saturn Girl (Kari Whalgren), leads several members back in time to ask Superman for help. They accidentally overshoot, meeting a younger version of Clark Kent (Yuri Lowenthal), one unsure of himself and his newfound powers. Once in the future, he panics and flees the field of battle. Finding inspiration in Metropolis’ Superman Museum, Clark is able to return and turn the tide. After the initial crisis is past, Clark learns that the Legionnaires can return him to Smallville at the exact moment he left. With this knowledge in hand, he decides to stay in the future and learn what it means to be a true hero.

There are two seasons of the show, consisting of 13 episodes each. The art style is clean, with character designs that are a happy middle between the older DCAU look and the more children-oriented Teen Titans Go. The first season is largely concerned with world-building and revealing who the characters are, with stories full of madcap, youthful energy mimicking their earliest adventures in Adventure. However, at the end of the season, the two-part episode, Sundown, showed how seriously the kids in the Legion took their responsibilities. In an impressively faithful adaptation of The Fatal Five, from Adv #352-353 in 1967, a teammate makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the Earth. The second season takes its cues from that and has a more mature and darker tone, with much higher stakes. Season two ends on a positive note, though in that finale, dark seeds for future stories are sown. Unfortunately, the third season was ultimately scrapped.

This is a good show, with interesting characters who were fun to watch. It is very clever. I wish there was more of it. The Blu-ray is a good transfer and is of high quality. The problem is, there’s not much else there. Not only is the main menu static and boring, there are only two special features, and they are both on disc 3.

They include:
We Are Legion: A short film introducing several of the main characters as well as the premise of the show.

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Producer James Tucker, voice actor, Kari Whalgren (Saturn Girl), and Director Brandon Vietti over Dark Victory parts 1 & 2.

Legion of Super Heroes is available for purchase now.

About Dan Kleiner

Dan Kleiner is a strange visitor from another planet who resides in Brooklyn, New York with two cats and his amazing girlfriend. When not plotting world domination, he spends a great deal of his time watching movies and anime of all sorts, reading comic-books and book-books, studying politics and history and striving for the day when he graduates as a Class A-Weirdo.