31st Century Heroes Invade the Hilton

Photo by Brandilyn Carpenter

On Saturday morning , cosplayers garbed as members of DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes (known to fans as simply “the Legion” or “the LSH”) gathered for a photoshoot on the Hilton’s fifth-floor balcony. The Legion debuted in Adventure Comics #247 in 1958 with a story fittingly called “The Legion of Super-Heroes.” The group’s three founding members introduced Superboy to their team of crime-fighting teenagers based in 30th-century Metropolis. When the 20th century became the 21st, the Legion’s world magically changed to the 31st century. The group’s adventures continued, with occasional brief breaks, until 2013. Since then, there has been no Legion series published. Yet this group of cosplayers gathered at each Dragon Con anyway.

The photoshoot is the brainchild of Legion fan Adam Dahlkoetter, who unfortunately passed away shortly before this year’s con. The group gathered anyway, with Ben Badger (dressed as Matter-Eater Lad) coordinating. Badger described this year’s event as a tribute to Dahlkoetter.

Brian (dressed as Ultra Boy) said he had come because of Dahlkoetter’s death. Although he knew Dahlkoetter only from the con, he was aware that his friend “put his heart and soul into this.” Brian particularly wanted to participate this year because of that.

Photo by Brandilyn Carpenter

The group took photos that included everyone as well as breakout photos of various groups. When asked why they liked the Legion, the cosplayers had various answers.

Randy (Timber Wolf) said he loved the heroes of the future and that the Legion and The Flash were the first superheroes he discovered.

Keren (Princess Projectra) was drawn to the Legion because it’s her husband Jean-Paul’s (Karate Kid) favorite. She enjoys making their costumes for the photoshoot.

David (Polar Boy) cited the group’s diversity and their youth. As a minority teenager, he enjoyed those aspects as well as the camaraderie and teamwork. He aspired to be the same way.

Artist Colleen Doran, a surprise visitor to the photoshoot, said she liked the wide-ranging cast, offering someone for everyone to identify with, and the drama of the book.

Miranda (Phantom Girl) enjoyed the characters and what they stood for.

George (Tyroc) found the group nostalgic. He liked that the team were teenagers reflecting more of our world, and were so diverse.

Mark (Mon-El) said he grew up reading the group’s adventures.

Badger said Dahlkoetter always talked about the Legion, which spurred Badger’s interest. He dresses as Matter-Eater Lad because a character who eats anything is especially significant to him as a diabetic.

Six years is a long time for fans to remain loyal with no book to enjoy. The Legion cosplayers discussed what they had done to keep up their interest.

Randy said he read back issues and trade paperback collections, like The Great Darkness Saga. David was confident they would “pop back eventually” and looked forward to the next edition.

Badger enjoyed watching the animated show and learning the history of the comic, always hoping it would return.

Fans hoping for the Legion’s return are getting what they wanted. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ryan Sook are launching a new version of the Legion, beginning with Millennium #1 next month. Comics fan react to reboots and relaunches with joy, disgust, or anything in between, depending on how faithful they feel the new version is to the things they loved about the old. The Legion cosplayers had a range of reactions to the upcoming debut.

Randy (Timber Wolf) is looking forward to it. He loves Bendis’s work and is confident he will “kill it” and this version will be great.

Miranda (Phantom Girl) is “absolutely excited” about it and eager to see the new material.

Badger said he badly wants the group back. He added that Dahlkoetter was excited about the group’s return because it will tie up unfinished business.

Jean Paul (Karate Kid) is excited about the team returning but will be nervous until he actually sees it. He’s most excited about Jonathan Kent as Superboy being a member.

Those who aren’t Legion fans may not be aware that Superboy was the original group’s inspiration, and he was a member from 1958 until John Byrne’s Superman reboot changed the character’s history so he had never been Superboy, thus gutting the Legion’s continuity.

The arrival of Doran and Legion writer and artist Keith Giffen provided a welcome surprise for the cosplayers as well as an opportunity for further photos. Afterward, group members lingered, talking about their favorite heroes.

Author of the article

Nancy Northcott is the Comics Track Director for ConTinual. She's also a lifelong fan of comics, science fiction, fantasy, and history. Her published works include the Boar King's Honor historical fantasy trilogy and the Arachnid Files romantic suspense series. Collaborating with Jeanne Adams, she also writes the Outcast Station science fiction mystery series.