Given that Legion of Super-Heroes already takes place in the 31st century, Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes provides an interesting challenge for writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Riley Rossmo. The solution: go even further into the future, of course.
How far? Well, you’ll have to read the two-issue series to find out, as exactly when in team we find the Legion—and what happened to dramatically reshape the galaxy—will be revealed in the story itself. But there’s still plenty that Bendis and Rossmo can talk about, including how the Future State story ties into the past year of Legion of Super-Heroes, and introducing the latest iteration of those classic superhero rejects—the Legion of Substitute Heroes.
Since Legion of Super-Heroes is already set in the far future, how do you approach the Legion in the context of an event like Future State? How far in their future is this story?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, that’s one of our special surprises. Because Legion already takes place a thousand years in the future, we have the opportunity to surprise people with where this is in relation to that.
It’s Legion! This could be five years from where we left them or five minutes! Either way, a lot has changed. There is a huge event that took place, and everything has changed in the galaxy.
Riley Rossmo: Legion is a great book to draw. There’s a freedom of being able to work on something that’s so far removed from the present—fashion, architecture, transportation, politics can all look however we want. I like that it is so far in the future it can basically be fantasy. We don’t have to worry about how things work so much as that they feel right in the world the Legion is a part of.
I loved designing the team, figuring out which characters would look the best together and how they'd contrast and complement each other. There are some events that take place in issue #1 that affect the environments our story takes place in in a crazy way, which was important to consider when drawing the world of our story.
How closely does the Future State story evolve from what you’ve done in Legion over the past year?
Bendis: It’s crafted very specifically to make the most out of a new reader experience. At the same time, we wanted everyone who’s been with us since Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 to be blown away by what we’re introducing here.
Also, we may not go back to “present day” after this. We may keep going from here.
Which characters does this story focus on?
Bendis: A real nice mix of the classic Legion founders and some of the newer characters.
I went to Riley, and I asked him very directly who he wanted to draw and what he wanted to design. He came back with a handful of designs and alterations of the character that were in themselves story ideas. and I cherry picked from that on top of what we had already built.
Rossmo: I really wanted to draw Bouncing Boy, Triplicate Girl, Shadow Lass and Saturn Girl.
The two of you worked together in Legion of Super-Heroes #9—for one page. How has it been collaborating on a full-length Legion story?
Bendis: I think Riley is a very, very special voice in comics. The day I walked into DC, they had just printed the first issue of Martian Manhunter, written by Steve Orlando. I couldn’t believe how inventive and future-forward all of the visual ideas were, yet very fun to look at. Then we started doing some DC retreats, and Riley would show up with designs for some stuff, and it was blowing everybody away. I even stole one of the designs for a Superman villain, Xanadoth.
When this project came up, it seemed perfect for him. The kind of project that allows him to expand and explore and explode.
Rossmo: Brian is great to work with! Brian's been great about making space for me to push concepts and ideas for layouts and designs.
Gotta ask about the Legion of Substitute Heroes—what can you tease about their role?
Bendis: The hardest part about writing Legion of Super-Heroes is waiting for the opportunity to introduce the Substitute Heroes. I wanted to introduce them in the first issue of Legion proper, but of course a lot has to be set up for that to happen. And the substitute Legion and Riley were made for each other.
Rossmo: Tons of fun! Antennae Lad and Infectious Lass are my favorite! I love that Brian worked them into the story.