There’s a right way and a wrong way to end a comic book series, and “Legion of Super-Heroes” #50 is definitely the wrong way. Nicknamed the “Threeboot” Legion (due to this being the third incarnation of the team of super-heroes a thousand years in the future), the series has certainly had its ups and downs in its four years. The book started strongly with Mark Waid and Barry Kitson on board, then faltered a bit when Supergirl was grafted onto the team and both Waid and Kitson seemed burnt out on the book.
Long-time “Legion of Super-Heroes” writer Jim Shooter came on board with #37 with new artist Francis Manapul, and while their run had its ups and downs as well, you could tell that Shooter was excited about the characters and was doing his best to bring the fun back to the book. Likewise, Manapul’s art was energetic and fresh, and got stronger almost every issue. Then, the proverbial wind was taken out of the sails (or should that be sales?) of “Legion of Super-Heroes” when the original Legion showed up in the pages of “Action Comics,” which in many ways was the beginning of the end for the Threeboot Legion.
With cancellation of the title, Shooter had said in interviews that his current storyline was supposed to end with #54, but that he would try and wrap up as much as possible with #50. But what we actually got with #50? Well, despite the solicitations promising Shooter and Manapul, instead we got the pseudonym of “Justin Thyme” for the writer, and Ramon Bachs pinch-hitting on pencils. And unsurprisingly, it’s not very good. The big storyline, with Princess Projectra being the real enemy that the Legion had to worry about? It’s completely gone. Instead the Legion fights an army of rogue planets in a virtual reality environment, which is just rather dull, and everything else from the previous issues are ignored.
Now, I understand that there could be numerous reasons as to why the company went with a different writer for the final issue. Perhaps editorial wasn’t happy with the ending, perhaps it didn’t tie things up the way they wanted it, or who knows what other reason? But strictly from a reader viewpoint, it’s hard to not feel cheated when you get this far into a storyline and suddenly a hollow “happy ending” is tacked onto the book. It’s a cheat of an actual ending (and considering the advanced solicitation text has nothing to do with what we got, it must be pretty far off from Shooter’s original plans), and it came across as nothing short of a colossal disappointment.
On its own and compared to nothing else, this issue is a little flat and uninteresting; as the final part of both a storyline and a series, it’s awful. The “Next Issue” box says, “We greatly appreciate the support of our loyal readers!” but as one of those loyal readers, that’s not how I ended up feeling at all. What a shame.