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Comic Book / Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes

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"Red Sun, Magic War, it could be raining Kryptonite, I don't care. Next time you need my help, you let me know."

Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes is a six-part Superman story written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank (pencils), Jon Sibal (inks) and Dave McCaig (colors). It ran from 2007 till 2008 first appearing in Action Comics no. 858 through 863 with an epilogue in 864. It was eventually collected into a trade paperback.

It is also the second installment of a Legion Trilogy that Johns began with The Lightning Saga and will conclude with Legion of 3 Worlds.

Superman is whisked away one thousand years into the future at Brainiac 5's request to help the Legion of Super-Heroes who are in trouble. Once there he discovers that he has no super-powers because Earth's sun has turned red. Superman learns that a team of rejects from the Legion has organized itself as the new Justice League and has either incarcerated the Legion's members or pushed them underground. This new Justice League has also proscribed non-terrestrial beings from Earth (including humans of terrestrial ancestry but born outside of the planet) and propagated the version that Superman had actually been an Earthling all along. It is up to Superman to rally the Legion to fight the Justice League and recover his powers before Earth is invaded by aliens who resent the League's xenophobic policies.


  • All of the Other Reindeer: This is how Clark Kent is treated by the other kids in Smallville (albeit for being a nerd) in a couple of flashbacks. Also, this is how Earth-Man and Storm Boy think the Legion treated them.
  • All There in the Manual: The collected edition inexplicably doesn't reprint Action Comics #864. While the collection more or less still works on its own without the epilogue, its absence does cause problems for readers immediately proceeding on to Legion of Three Worlds. It's very much a bridge between the two storylines, setting up plot points, (such as Clark's new Flight Ring) and revealing that it was the Time Trapper who created Earth-Man's fake tablet 'revealing' Superman was human rather than alien in an attempt to separate Clark from the Legion.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The Justice League of Earth contains mainstay Legion baddies such as Spider-Girl and Radiation Roy, alongside one-shot Legion rejects like Tusker, Golden Boy, Storm Boy, Eyeful Ethel, and Earth-Man (formerly Absorbancy Boy).
    • Rainbow Girl appeared in a single panel in a Silver Age story, but gets brought back as a full fledged member of the Substitute Heroes.
    • Night Girl, who is mainly known as a founding member of the Substitute Heroes and Cosmic Boy's lover, has been given official status as a Legionnaire.
  • Bait-and-Switch: It's shown that one of the kids in the Human Cultural Center is actually a shapeshifter, with the initial implication that this is Chameleon Boy acting undercover. It turns out this is Chameleon Girl, as in Yera Allon, Colossal Boy's Durlan wife.
  • Barrier Maiden: In a way, Brainiac 5, because he (now as leader of Colu) purposefully delays the United Planets' planned attack on Earth, buying time for his fellow Legionnaires to fix the mess.
  • Beta Test Baddie: All of the future Justice League.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Substitute-Heroes are called in as a last ditch back-up, and proceed to plow through the Justice League's satellite in a stolen school bus, ending with Stone Boy getting launched through the windshield and ramming Radiation Roy square in the chest.
    Spider-Girl: I don't believe this. They actually called in the Subs?
    Rainbow Girl: Hell yeah, they did.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Eyeful Ethel makes for an interesting take on the Sadist Teacher trope. Her students at the Human Cultural Center are all fond of her, but have no idea she's gleefully feeding them lies about Superman's "human origin" to further the Justice League's human supremacist campaign.
  • Blatant Lies: Earth-Man is so deluded about his rejection from the Legion that he rants about having been there when they first brought Superboy into their time.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • The Legion of Substitute Heroes and part of the Justice League are made up of members whose powers aren't that cool to start with.
    • Radiation Roy's power is slowly destroying his body. His armor hides his tumor ravaged face.
  • Body Horror: Eyeful Ethel and Radiation Roy (under the armor). In Ethel's case, she can turn it on and off at will. Roy can't.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Happens to Superman during 90% of the story due to the Sun turning red.
  • Cyborg: Storm Boy...voluntarily. At least 50% of his chest cavity is hosting some machinery or another.
  • Canon Welding: Rainbow Girl's given an overhaul of her power set, linking her to the Emotional Spectrum which, at the time, Geoff Johns was fleshing out in his run on Green Lantern going at the same time as this arc.
  • The Cavalry: Played with. The Legion of Super Heroes calls in the Legion of Substitute Heroes for help and they do come to assist in the nick of time. They are even bigger losers than the Justice Leaguers but they do put up a great fight.
  • Censored Child Death: The prologue of the story has an alien child sent to Earth, his parents hoping that their baby will be taken in. Instead, the human couple who find the child promptly raise their guns, the story cutting away before we see the extraterrestrial infant blown away.
  • De-power: Superman has no powers since the future Justice League has turned Earth's sun red.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The Science Police have turned into a bunch of faceless thugs gladly working with the Justice League and espousing Superman's supposed human origin.
  • Fake Defector: Brainiac 5 pretends he's going to terminate Superman and the Legion to appease his fellow Coluans who are in league with other alien races to invade Earth and think Supes and friends are contaminating the information flow.
  • Fake Wizardry: Although he has the power to manipulate plants, Clorophyll Kid also claims that he can talk to them, which he can't do.
  • Family of Choice: Although Superman is only related by blood to one single Legionnaire, all of them have been his best friends and family since they were teens. Lightning Lad makes this clear in the epilogue issue.
    Garth: You were more of a brother to me than Mekt ever was.
  • Fan Disillusionment: Earth Man claims to have met Superman as Clark Kent when the Legion first brought him to visit the 30th century as a young teenager, and he was extremely disappointed to see Clark was a dweeb. Fans who've read past Legion stories will know that Earth Man's lying, having never met Superboy until he was a veteran Legionnaire in the Bronze Age.
  • Fantastic Racism: From humans on Earth towards any extraterrestrial beings in the galaxy.
  • Flashback: To Clark's tween years when he met the original Legionnaires.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: The narrative, the Legionnaires, and Superman himself all make it clear that the Justice League have absolutely no grounds to justify what they've done to Earth. Even if they were rejected from the Legion and, yes, the Legionnaires weren't exactly nice about it, Earth-Man and the rest really need to let it go.
    Earth-Man: The Legion kicked dirt in my face. It's only fair I do the same.
    Phantom Girl: What you need to do is grow up.
  • Friendship Moment: At the end of the epilogue, Batman walks in on Superman and Lightning Lad drinking beer together and remembering the good, old days when they teamed up to play pranks on their teammates.
  • Fugitive Arc: Most of the plot develops as the heroes are on the run from either the Justice League or extraterrestrials hunting for Earthlings.
  • Headbutting Heroes: In the #864 epilogue, Batman and Lightning Lad clearly do not like each other. Batman accuses Garth and similar time travelers of treating the past as nothing but a theme park attraction without considering the consequences, while Garth isn't intimidated by Batman's brooding persona and thinks he's a joke.
  • Hive Mind: Planet Colu.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Thanks to the Justice League instilling a human supremacist reich on Earth, the other races of the galaxy such as Braal, Titan, Winath, Colu, Imsk, and Rimbor have come to believe that Earth is a rabid animal that needs to be put down. In fact, the forces of the United Planets would've destroyed the planet had Superman and the Legion not ordered them to stand down after defeating Earth-Man.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Taken to a psychotic degree with the Justice League of Earth. They were all rejected from the Legion and have made it their mission to make life on Earth hell for the Legion and every alien citizen on the planet. Earth-Man and Storm Boy are perhaps the most desperate, while Spider Girl muses about her time with Radiation Roy in the Legion of Super-Villains and notes they don't just have power, but admiration.
  • Intimate Healing: Chameleon Girl has to kiss a comatose Sun Boy to help him regain consciousness fast.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Spider-Girl started off as an aimless Legion reject who simply fell in with the Legion of Super-Villains and was complicit with their takeover of the planet Orando, but has since graduated into full blown fully realized terrorism, fascism, and racism.
  • La Résistance: The Legion has turned into this, chased away from any official posts or recognition.
  • The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort: Superman tries to catch a bullet, but it pierces through his hand. Then the Legion reveals that Earth-Man has somehow turned the Sun into a red star.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In the last issue, Zoidberg from Futurama appears as an alien arrested by the Science Police. This is a rather fitting cameo, seeing how this issue takes place in the 31st century (much like Futurama).
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Not only do a group of third-rate villains take over the world, but they're stopped in large part by the Legion of Substitute Heroes, a fourth-rate team that raises What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway? to an art form.
  • Life Isn't Fair: In a way, the whole excuse for the future Justice League to do what they do.
  • Living Battery: Earth-Man captures Sun Boy and turns him into a battery for a device that transforms the Earth's sun into a red star.
  • Master of Disguise: Chameleon Girl, obviously.
  • Midas Touch: Golden Boy, although he can control it at will.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Tusker and Golden Boy weren't even rejected by the Legionnaires. They were rejected by Dynamo Boy, a criminal who infiltrated the Legion and orchestrated events so he could take over as leader.
  • Mood-Swinger: Rainbow Girl's problem due to the fact she can channel the Emotional Spectrum, but she can't control which emotion she taps into.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Justice League of Earth are essentially Neo Nazis of the future, having graduated to persecuting any races not from Earth. Earth-Man especially is blond haired and blue eyed with hard, Aryan features and a costume that only needs a swastika to make him an actual Nazi.
  • Noodle Incident: There's a lot that's not explained about what happened since the last time Superman saw this Legion. Aside from the Justice League's coup, there's still no answer given as to how and why Karate Kid was brought back from the dead.
  • No-Sell: Lightning Lad isn't intimidated by Batman and fails to recognize what's supposed to make him so scary. This seems to irk Batman at least a little bit.
  • Not Good with Rejection: The new Justice League of Earth, particularly Earth Man.
  • Old Flame: Radiation Roy towards Spider Girl. He still pines for her, but she makes it clear she's not going anywhere near him now that he's a walking pile of tumors.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Clark when he's in front of Perry White, natch.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite Lightning Lad's genuine dislike of Batman, Garth still apologizes to him for having lost his temper and tries to give Batman a veiled warning about his impending "death" in Batman R.I.P..
  • Plot Hole: The entire ploy with the crystal tablet hinged on it being used as proof of Superman's supposed origins as an Earthling by birth. It would later be revealed the Time Trapper hid the tablet until it was found by Earth-Man in the 31st Century. Brainiac 5 even confirmed the tablet actually was over a thousand years old. The problem is that if the Trapper went through a great deal of trouble to make the crystal tablet appear genuine, how is it Earth-Man and the rest of the Justice Leaguers were able to realize the tablet was a fake (keeping in mind the Trapper gave no indication he ever willingly plotted this whole scheme with Kirt)?
  • Police Brutality: The Science Police are shown to fully be on the side of the Justice League and were instrumental in rounding up Metropolis's alien citizens to be detained, despite having been staunch allies of the Legionnaires in the past. It's reached a point that Lightning Lad has lost all respect for any police officer, and hurls electricity at the cops in Gotham City when he sees the bodies of Karate Kid and Una.
  • Power Copying: This is the ability of Earth-Man, leader of the "Justice League".
  • Prehensile Hair: Spider Girl. She's since dyed her hair gray to resemble a spider's web to make her name more fitting.
  • Propaganda Machine: The Justice League of Earth control and manipulate the press and media to propagate their xenophobic agenda.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Earth-Man and Storm Boy are both hung up about a single moment of childhood rejection and have turned into remorseless, solipsistic psychopaths lashing out at the supposed "bullies" keeping them down.
  • Putting on the Reich: The Justice League wear a red armband with Superman's symbol on it.
  • Reconstruction: This is the Post-Crisis story arc that restores back to canon status Clark's membership as a Legion member since his teenage years. The epilogue story briefly mentions the Pocket Universe retcon as a ploy the Time Trapper created to make the Legion forget about the real Superman.
  • The Resenter: Earth Man argues that the Legion made young pencil-neck geek Clark Kent an honorary member not because of who he was but because of who he would become.
  • Skip the Anesthetic: All the surgery on Storm Boy must be performed without anesthesia.
  • The Sociopath: Unlike the Legion of Substitutes or other Justice Leaguers, Earth Man wasn't rejected as a Legion member because of his powers (which are actually more impressive than the ones that each Legion member has), but because they perceived him to be mentally unstable.
  • Stunned Silence: In the epilogue, Batman walks in on Superman and Lightning Lad reminiscing the good, old days when they played dumb pranks on their teammates. When Superman tells him Lightning Lad taught his teen self the importance of sometimes breaking rules, even if it was just for fun, Batman is left speechless.
    Batman: So you two got into...trouble? You? Trouble?
    Superman: Garth taught me sometimes rules had to be broken. Sometimes just for fun.
    Batman: ...
  • Take That!: There's a subtle one to The Man of Steel and John Byrne's overall take on Superman, which infamously kickstarted all the continuity problems which are still plaguing the Legion to this day. Eyeful Ethel is shown teaching children in the Human Cultural Center that Superman was a homegrown Earthling hero who was against aliens. Byrne's Post-Crisis origin story showed Superman was technically born on Earth thanks to mechanics of Jor-El's rocket and Kryptonian's birthing protocols. When he infamously encountered the Legionnaires "for the first time" in original Pocket Earth arc, Superman was immediately distrustful of them because they were aliens. There's even the one issue where Superman showed himself willing to work for Republican president Ronald Reagan. All in all, Johns essentially reframes the Man of Steel era as the spiteful, Right Wing-esque mischaracterization from someone with a grudge against the Legion.
  • Torture Cellar: Where they were keeping Polar Boy.
  • Touch of Death: Golden Boy if he gets to touch you, though he's not smart enough to use this on all his opponents or the Justice League would've defeated the entire Legion by now.
  • Unbreakable Bones: Tusker's power. What started off as a set of unbreakable tusks gradually became an unbreakable skeleton.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Justice League of Earth were really being manipulated by the Time Trapper thanks to him creating the crystal tablet they discovered and used as proof of Superman's supposed true origins.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The future Justice League is just so loved by earthlings. Especially because of the propaganda they feed the people. Dawnstar says not everyone bought their lies, but enough did to get them the power needed to take over Earth. One of the kids at the Human Cultural Center mentions her uncle's not invited to her house anymore because he doesn't believe the League's story.
  • Weight Woe: Many of the Legionnaires, especially the founders, have a noticeable amount of gauntness in their appearances and look as though they've lost weight due to being on the run. Saturn Girl especially looks exhausted.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Polar Boy's offended when Wildfire asks if the Substitute Heroes are truly any different from the Justice League.
  • Working with the Ex: Spider-Girl and Radiation Roy were once lovers while in the Legion of Super-Villains. He still pines for her. She refuses to go near him since his power has ravaged his body.