The 'Legion of Super-Heroes,' from comics to TV

By: Henry Hanks, Contributor     @hankstv /

Hardcore DC Comics fans got a treat when "Supergirl" returned for it's first episode of 2018. Joining recurring character Mon-El were Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5: members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The Legion goes back 60 years to Adventure Comics #247. 

They were recurring characters in the "Superboy" feature, Super-fans from the 30th century inspired to start their own club of heroes. 

They would return 20 issues later, and before long they were sharing top billing with Superboy.

They had names like Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Triplicate Girl and yes, even Bouncing Boy.

Supergirl joined the team eventually, and they were something of a precursor to the Teen Titans. Like all super-teams, membership changed over the years as new characters would be introduced. 

They remained quite popular throughout the Silver Age, but that waned in the early 1970s..  that is, until the first mini-series with "Legion of Super-Heroes" in the title launched in 1972.

Superboy's solo title once again shared billing with the new title "Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes" the following year. 

Writer Paul Levitz brought the Legion into the Bronze Age with epic plotting and by the time the 1980s came around, the team had sole billing on their ongoing series.

The Legion was relaunched to take on a darker tone, reflecting many other comics at the time in 1984. Another new title, with the Legion having to rebuild itself from scratch, started in 1989. This being the post-Crisis era (with no Superboy), Mon-El became the jumping-off point in the team's history.

Of course this would not be the first time it was rebooted (or spun off, as it was with "Legionnaires"): the Legion would get a fresh reboot in 1994 thanks to DC's "Zero Hour" story arc.

The 2000s brought new series like "The Legion" and "Legion Lost," and the team remained a mainstay with more DC changes in the following years due to "Infinite Crisis" and the New 52, though the latter series (renumbered like everything else at the time) was cancelled after a couple of years. 

The Legion had their own cartoon series in recent years, with cameos on "Justice League Unlimited" and "Smallville." However, "Supergirl" is their biggest exposure yet, and surely new comic book adventures for the Legion can't be far behind.