In the comics world, when Clark Kent was still a teenager living in Smallville, he was visited by a team of teenagers from the 30th century called the Legion of Super-Heroes, whose members were from many different worlds. The LSH told Clark that, although he felt alone now, he would grow up to be a hero whose legend would last millennia and who would be an example to everyone that different races and cultures could work together.
Tonight, the LSH will finally make their live-action debut on the CW's long-running Superboy-themed television series "Smallville," in an episode written by veteran comics scribe Geoff Johns and titled “Legion.”
So, for you folks looking for a little background on DC's young heroes from the future, MTV has compiled a list of some of Clark’s more exciting team-ups with these teen superheroes from the 30th century.
"ADVENTURE COMICS" #352–353 – “The Sun-Eater”: Teenage Clark Kent visits the 30th century just in time to witness the appearance of a creature aptly named the Sun-Eater. With Earth and her solar system threatened by a menace that can consume entire stars, teenage Clark and a skeleton-crew of Legionnaires must join forces with deadly supervillains to save everyone. Sadly, for them to win, a hero will have to die. The stakes involved made this 1967 story truly shocking for fans. It was written by Jim Shooter, who was only a teen himself at the time.
"ADVENTURE COMICS" #369–370 – “Mordru the Merciless”: Clark Kent has three major weaknesses: Kryptonite, radiation from a red sun, and magic. So when the teen from Smallville visits the Legion in the 30th century and they accidentally awaken a nearly immortal and utterly insane sorcerer named Mordru, well… it’s a problem. The villain is so powerful that Clark and the LSH actually go back in time to modern-day Smallville just to catch a breath and figure out how to defeat him. But Mordru uses his magic to follow them, bringing an army ready to enslave modern-day Earth. Another story by Jim Shooter.
"SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION" #241–245 – “Earth’s Last Stand!”: The sorcerer Mordru is back and this time he’s playing dirty. Political manipulation and betrayals lead to the rise of an intergalactic war, with Earth caught in the middle. Can the combined efforts of a young Clark Kent and the entire Legion be enough to stop this conflict before the human race is wiped out? Written by Paul Levitz.
"TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES" # 277-282 – “If Answers There Be …”: Written by Gerry Conway, this story begins with Reflecto, a mysterious hero who debuts just as the villain Grimbor is causing 30th century Earth to lose its oxygen. The Legion defeats Grimbor and finds teenage Clark Kent, who is inexplicably suffering from delusions and isn’t sure how he’s wound up in the future again. Clark’s condition is due to one of the LSH’s most powerful and manipulative enemies, the Time Trapper. The second half of the story involves the time-powered villain hurling the heroes into the 20th century, where he frames the delusional Clark for treason against the U.S. and forces the Legion to run through a gauntlet of challenges, including facing the U.S. army. It’s a complex story of cosmic mystery.
“SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES” (available in trade collection): Drawn by Gary Frank and written by Geoff Johns, who also wrote the “Legion” episode of "Smallville." This story opens up in the present day with an adult Superman being contacted by the Legion for the first time in many years. Traveling into the 31st century, Clark finds his old friends now all grown-up and hunted as fugitives. Earth has decided that all aliens are a threat and is ready to go to war against the rest of the universe. Naturally, Clark’s ready to help his friends and remind humanity that they needn’t hate and fear those who are different. One problem: Earth’s sun has somehow become red, meaning the Man of Steel is now completely powerless. It’s a high-stakes story that proves just why the Legion of Super-Heroes are true champions and shows how Superman’s real power is his determination and courage.
The "Smallville" episode "Legion" airs tonight, January 15, at 8pm EST on The CW.
(And for more must-read comics inspired by television and film, check out our "Punisher: War Zone" reading list!)
Looking forward to the episode? think we missed any must-read Legion of Super-Heroes adventures? Let us know in the comment section!