Troy Brownfield’s unavailable today, so I’ve been asked to fill in with this week’s Legion Blogpost.
I get the “indie guy” rap around here, and I guess for good reason, since I typically prefer the non-superhero stuff, but I’ve certainly read my share of superhero comics (still do) and have certain favorites among the cape set. The Legion’s long been a particular favorite. My first Legion book was v.4 #74 (a crossover with Karl Kesel’s Superboy series; I literally didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Legion before that crossover). I found those early post-Zero Hour issues appealing, and hearing of the love for previous versions, I started tracking down issues from Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen’s runs.
Reading three different incarnations at one time, I found myself excited less by any single version and more by the possibilities and range of style the Legion seemed open to. The strangest thing about reading so many different casts – and so many characters in differing versions – I never really developed any specific favorite characters. The characters were always secondary to the concept. But still, people always ask who is your favorite character, so I’ve wondered about it. I’ve a soft spot for the more interesting, less WASPy designs – Blok, Quislet, Tellus, Shikari, Gates (Sensor and Monstress’s personalities prevented them from ever gaining much favor) – but I think my favorite Legionnaire is Rokk Krinn, Cosmic Boy.
As with many things, it’s Keith Giffen’s fault.
In Giffen’s acclaimed “five years later” run, we find that the Legion has been disbanded and its members scattered. Mysa, the White Witch, and Rond Vidar (who, frankly, I always kinda hated) were held captive on the world of the team’s long-time foe Mordru, and a mission to free them ends with Rokk having dinner with Mordru, a nearly omnipotent wizard. In addition to being a visually striking comic – their dinner conversation is done entirely with a half-page of text alongside a tall, half-page splash – the issue finds Rokk, powerless, negotiating with a vastly more powerful entity for the lives of his teammates. Suffice to say, the issue ends with the Legion free, Mordru’s other rivals (the Legion’s not his only problem) at bay, and the wizard asking himself, “How can one be so powerless, and yet be the most powerful of them all.”
Later in Giffen’s run, still powerless Rokk would use his wits and tactical mind to defeat B.I.O.N., an andriod with the powers of the entire Legion. Combine those stories with some of Cos’s leadership in the early Zero Hour issues and his maturity in stepping aside for the next generation and working with the Legion cadets during Levitz’s run, and you have my argument for Rokk Krinn, Cosmic Boy, as the greatest Legionnaire.