Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blast from the past

I'm sorry, but other than a surprisingly decent Superboy, these guys look terrible. I assume they were trying to capture some of that rakish Teen Titans quasi-anime mojo but instead they took a left turn and veered off into Ugly Town.

For that matter, you have to wonder how the cartoon will get away with featuring Superboy so prominently, in the wake of the recent court ruling that the television series Smallville may infringe on the copyright held by his creator's wife and daughter...and that show doesn't even refer to the character as "Superboy." So wouldn't the same concerns over possible copyright infringement apply here? DC only just got finished getting rid of the two remaining characters they had named Superboy, and the current Legion comic now features Supergirl.

Personally, I don't understand why the different divisions at Warner can't coordinate their activities a little better: either have a "Legion of Super-Heroes" cartoon without a Superboy or Supergirl...or, better still, make the cartoon "Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes" for greater consonance and cross-promotional possibilities with the print version, not to mention a girl-positive lead character.

(And if you say a teenage girl cannot be the lead action hero in a cartoon series that appeals to boys, I shall have to ask you to step outside.)

Ah well. As a reward for putting up with my fevered rantings, here's something nice to look at, courtesy of Robby Reed at Dial B for Blog:


  1. Is that first image for real?

    Concerning the last one, I'm sure Metropolis' beleagered air traffic control union was thrilled with the sudden influx of tiny, unscheduled dots on their radar screens.

  2. Yep, it's real. If you click the "Back" link on the Comics Continuum page, you'll find a brief item about the Legion series being developed for Kids WB this Fall. As it happens, Cartoon Network had a much more comics-faithful version of the Legion in an episode of Justice League Unlimited this season. I'd originally assumed that was a teaser for this series, but apparently not!

    The thing about the Legion is, it's the Thirtieth Century. Everybody is zipping around Metropolis with rocket belts or flight rings or Legion Cruisers or what have you. It's an air traffic controllers worst nightmare!

  3. Hm... now when I look at the first image it doesn't look so bad, although Ball Boy over there is kinda iffy.

    If I lived in the 30th century and *everyone* didn't have superpowers, then I be writing a stern letter to my congressman.

  4. There's something weird about Lightning Lad...he looks evil.

    I'm also confused about the rework that Kal-El was Superboy again...at least that's what IC looks like...

    Maybe they're planning to pay the estate for use of the copyright after all? Or might be negotiating a settlement to buy it from them?

  5. I started reading Superboy and the Legion in 1975, and I haven't missed an issue since 1980, which I realize makes me an LSH newbie. Still, despite these iffy character designs, I have hope for the series. We still don't know how these designs will work in motion, what secondary Legionnaires will look like, or how the series will be written.

    I've noticed in the post-infinite Crisis books that Superboy still gets mentioned by name, so apparently there's no extra-textual campaign underway to erase the property from DC comics in the wake of the Seigel decision. That, alog withthis cartoon, tells me that either they're coming to an agreement or planning to.

  6. I imagine DC could still mention Superboy by name inside a comic book without violation of the copyright ruling and without need to pay the Siegels any royalties. Putting a character called Superboy on a cover or having a comic book with Superboy in the title would be another matter entirely.

    Since Judge Lew found that the premise of the show Smallville may still be a violation of the copyright even though the name "Superboy" is never used, nor does Clark Kent wear the costume, it may end up being decided that anything using the abstract concept of "young Clark Kent before he grows up to be Superman" belongs to the Siegels. On the other hand, Judge Lew's preliminary finding might be overturned on appeal, and only the name "Superboy" and the costume are owned by the Siegels.

    Either way, the name and the imagery in the cartoon is very clear, and the Siegels are going to be owed royalties. kalinara may be onto something in suggesting Warner might buy the copyright. But if it remains a matter of paying royalties, I'll bet we don't see a comic called Superboy or featuring him ever again.

    Another possibility is when this cartoon was first developed, Warner was expecting the 2004 decision to be thrown out and the Siegel's claim to copyright revoked. I wouldn't put it past them. But now it's been upheld rather than overturned, with the cartoon well under way, and they'll be forced to do the right thing and put a good face on it...

  7. In fairness to the show, for some reason the preliminary promotional art to just about every Warner Bros. cartoon looks like ass at first, but actually comes off good in the execution. I remember when the Dini-Timm promo art appeared in the 90s a lot of fans were put off by thr blocky, stocky oversimplified cartoony look to the art. But once seen in action, it looked awesome.

    Same with the concept promo art to Teen Titans, looked like shite but actually came off sweet onscreen.

    Even the early Jusice League promo art looked awful, all the men had super-wide W-shaped torsoes, but it turned out great.

    I reserve judgment until I see it in action.

  8. The Legion has to have Superboy. He's the POV character. Supergirl doesn't work. Everyone knows Superman/boy is Clark Kent and he's from Smallville. Who's Supergirl? Is it still Linda Danvers? Where's she from, besides Krypton or, sorry, Argo City? Having Superboy there makes better thematic sense and is better writing.

    C'mon RAB, you knew this already.

  9. I hear you, Gary, and the traditionalist in me is inclined to agree...but in the comics, Superboy hasn't been Clark Kent from Smallville for the past twenty years. One may well argue that the Legion has been awful for the same amount of time, and there may well be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between those two things. But from the perspective of a hypothetical little kid watching this cartoon not having this aged perspective on Legion history, Superboy wouldn't be a POV character that "everyone knows" -- he'll just be another unfamiliar hero in a whole bunch of them.

    When I started reading comics, the tv cartoon versions of the Fantastic Four, Superman, Aquaman et al, were fairly close to the print versions. The FF cartoon used stories taken directly from the comics, and the Superman/Aquaman cartoon had appearances by Hawkman, Green Lantern, the Atom, and the rest of the JLA. Moving from the screen version to the actual comics was a natural progression. Now, I realize DC publishes titles that match the style of the more recent animated versions -- a sort of "kiddie ghetto" line -- but it's not really the same. When I suggest that the cartoon should have starred Supergirl, it's only because that's what the kids would find in the comic shop. I'd like to see kids who enjoy the tv version to be able to read it in comic book form, and then move on to more comics. That seems a lot more important than making the stories fit in with whatever you or I remember from our own childhood.

    Hell, while I'm at it, I might as well mourn the disappearance of comic books from newsstands, which has had a far more devastating effect on the recruitment of new readers...

  10. Man, I'm 23. I'm not looking back far. And as for kids reading comics? As if.

    I'm not even saying that Superboy is familiar. But Superman? Yeah. A shift in age doesn't mean a totally new character.

  11. As someone who's been reading the Legion on and off for over 30 years, I don't know any compelling reason to have SuperBOY or SuperGIRL or SuperHORSE or any superthing.

    That illo does look mighty slack, like someone was given a Kim Possible (which I love, by the way- I noticed your userpic as well as the link) model sheet and they traced it over a light table. I'm wondering if perhaps there might not be more tinkering yet to do.

    Personally, I would think a Ben 10 inspired-look would work best...

  12. ...which gives me an opening to mention this update. Apparently the art on the show is not quite that of the promo piece, as johnny triangles previous suggested...and Superboy's involvement is, um, "up in the sky."


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