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A legion of reboots.

§ June 9th, 2021 § Filed under legion of super-heroes § 37 Comments

So remember my post from last week about how I kinda lost my involvement in, my connection with, Swamp Thing post the New 52 relaunch? You folks had a lot to say in the comments, mostly along the lines of “Mike, I feel your pain, but with the Legion of Super-Heroes.”

Hey, I hear ya. I wrote at length about this…egads, was it really five years ago? Well, here we are Five Years Later (wink wink, nudge nudge) with one more Legion reboot come and apparently gone, so things haven’t changed. I suppose this newest iteration of Legion can still pop up…given that Superman’s son Jon is a member, and is about to be the focus of the Super-books for a while (where the solicitations reference the team), I’d say there’s a good chance the Legion will show up there.

Now in that post I linked, I talked about how I finally stopped reading new Legion comics after years of enjoying them. That recent Legion reboot I did read, as writer Brian Michael Bendis had been doing a good job on the Superman books, I thought, and was interested to see what he’d do with our favorite 31st century super-teen team. I don’t know if DC has given up on this version, but the big relaunch for the book fizzling out after a year doesn’t inspire confidence. Frankly, at this point it just accelerates the countdown to the next attempt at getting the Legion to stick to the wall.

Anyway, I went into extensive detail on all this back then . And pal Andrew had my back with his own analysis of the Legion’s decline.

To reemphasize…there was a lot of Good Work being done in the comics, despite editorially-designated changes to the franchise. In fact, just earlier this year I was writing about how I enjoyed the Five Years Later era, which granted was more of a soft reboot. But in the 2016 post I wrote about how I enjoyed the Zero Hour reboot version as well. And the Legions that happened after that.

It’s just…having multiple mostly-contradictory takes on the Legion, a group where a large part of the appeal was its lengthy history and established personalities, was just too much. You want to invest in the characters, even if you have to follow them from series to series, but with each reboot essentially telling you “forget everything you knew!” that appeal is completely undermined.

On the Twitters, blogging colleague and noted Legion Lover Johanna Draper Carlson said to me in regards to Legion’s restarts

“I’m not sure the ever-more-complicated soap opera history was a successful path forward, either.”

…and she has a point. I feel like there should be a way to give folks a fresh start on a franchise like this, and tell new stories, without necessarily undoing or contradicting what had gone before. But it apparently required (or DC Editorial thought it required) a new #1 and a completely fresh slate every time the comic was attempted, in the hopes to get new readers on board. And like many of the reboots and new #1s that have flooded the stands over the last decade or so…sometimes it worked for a while. But just for a while.

As I’ve said again and again, there was a lot of work to be found in these reboots. Both in Legion and in the New 52-and-later Swamp Things. It’s just that the connection wasn’t there…too much was changed, sometimes downright arbitrarily, from What Had Gone Before. When the Byrne-reboot Superman came on the scene, folks reacted with “this isn’t the real Superman,” but eventually, through an at least halfway chain on continuity, and just fact few people reading Superman in ’86 are still reading now, that Superman is the “real” Superman. So much so that the New 52 one felt like a fake, and it was a relief when the “original” post-Byrne one came back to replace him.

That’s kind of how I feel about Swamp Thing and the Legion. Maybe I’ve been enjoying their stories of late, but that deep, dark part of my fanboy mind stills asks “when will the real ones come back?”

Honestly, it’s harder to type “5YL” than it is just to type out “Five Years Later.”

§ February 12th, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, legion of super-heroes § 8 Comments

So anyway, I’d meant to have a post up Wednesday, and then tried to have it up for Thursday, and in fact I actually had most of it written on Wednesday, but I was just too tired to put finishing touches on it and I wasn’t able to tell through my sleepiness if it all made sense or not. Thus, a rare moment of “quality control” on this site. No need to thank me.

I’ll probably revise and post what was completed at some point so all that “hard” “work” doesn’t go to waste. But in the meantime, let’s talk about Five Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes.

Longtime reader Wayne brought it up in his comment (responding to my post where I mentioned I was going through that latest volume of Legion reprints), and y’all continued the discussion on the pros and cons of that revision to our favorite 30th century heroes.

Wayne asks of the Five Year Later (or 5YL, as I think it was popularly known by) storyline “anyone else remember that run?” and boy howdy sure I do. I…probably implied a reference to it here in this overall post about the Legion of Super-Heroes Vs. Rebootery, in that it was one of many attempts at revitalizing/restarting the Legion in order to expand the audience beyond the readers who would buy Legion comics regardless. 5YL was not a reboot as such, but a rejiggering of the concept designed to shake things up, re-engage readers, and also try to clean up a continuity glitch or three, while technically maintaining a continuity of character and plot developments started so many decades ago in the Legion’s first appearance in Adventure #247.

In you’re not familiar, and in case you haven’t guessed from me repeatedly using “5YL,” with the new first issue in 1989, the Legion storyline jumps ahead five years to a universe where the Legion is scattered, everything’s in turmoil, all the character’s call each other by their first names instead of their codenames, and there are mysteries within intrigues within conspiracies, all told in a deliberately obfuscatory manner.

But, y’know, is it any good?

It feels silly to write out anything about this stretch of Legion when pal Andrew knocked it out of the moopsball ring with this analysis. Just kinda picture me nodding my head next to pretty much every sentence in that essay. In short, this phase of the Legion devoted a lot of time to tearing up the scripts and smashing the scenery of What Had Come Before,a propcess that eventually brought us to the point of, as Andrew says, requiring the start-from-scratch afforded by a reboot.

“Yes, yes, Mike, but is it good?”

I started reading the Legion in the early ’80s, so I came to it a little later than the “Long Live the Legion”/APA-type fans who arose out of ’60s and ’70s fandom who opined on Legion goings-on in fanzines and whatnot. Legion was noted for its loyal fanbase, surely inspired (in part if not in whole) by the soap opera aspects borne by the large and varied cast. But I jumped in with both feet, followed the title, then the two titles once the “hardcover/softcover” publishing plan (in short: DC published a version of Legion for comic shops, reprinted a year later for newsstands, but before the reprints started the newsstand version also contained new stories).

Plus I read stories in DC’s digest reprints, and picked up back issues, and that sort of thing, so I was reasonably well versed in the franchise by the time that first “direct-sales-only” comic shop series came to its end.

“Mike….”

Okay, okay, I happened to really like the “Five Year Later” relaunch. It felt…it felt almost like a superhero version of Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!…I mean, not in the sexy-naughty-times sort of way, but in that the comic was, as I said before, deliberately obfuscatory. It wasn’t bad storytelling, leaving out important plot points or taking unnecessary short cuts or leaving the reader in the dark for no good reason. The information was there, sometimes between the lines, making it a challenging read, but challenging in a good way. You’d reread each issue a time or three making sure you got what you were supposed to get. It felt…adult, again not in the dirty-filthy sense but in the “we expect you to bring some interpretative abilities to this, it ain’t no kid’s book.” And look, I was, what, 20 when this was coming out? It was rewarding to read a book that made you feel smart for getting it.

Not to say some of the criticisms some of you related in my comments section weren’t valid. Yes, calling everyone by their real first names could be confusing unless you were already fully immersed in all this nonsense prior to the launch of this series. I could read stuff in the comics written in the Interlac alphabet without referring back to the key they published in the early 300s, keeping Reep, Jo, Brin and Imra straight wasn’t going to be a problem.

And sometimes the artistic choices didn’t help either. Lots of characters in shadow, the occasional super close-up of whoever the heck it’s supposed to be…it added a layer of confusion to a series that was already not open to casual reading.

The storytelling gradually switched back over to a more traditional form as the series wore on, though the focus continued on breaking the milieu in ways that couldn’t be rolled back (refer back to Andrew’s post for a cataloging of some of these events). And, you know, it was fine reading it at the time…it was suitably dramatic, and surprisingly permanent, because back then you didn’t realize “shutting it all down and starting anew” was an option on the table. The series had survived Crisis on Infinite Earths, riding out the changes wrought by that series directly affecting Legion’s underpinnings. (One of which, the removal of Superboy, was one of the continuity fixes installed in those early 5YL issues.) If it could make it through that linewide event, nothing could stop the Legion!

Well, except sales, and a back-pedaling on the whole “5YL” concept, by introducing what appeared to be the younger, more innocent version of the Legion, coexisting with the older, wiser, and occasionally embittered post-5YL team. Let’s be clear…it was still entertaining, I thought, and something of a compelling mystery…where did these younger Legionnaires come from? But it was still a splintering of the concept, asking you to maintain your loyalties and devotion to the ongoing character developments with two versions of the same characters. It was one of those bendings of the concept that was interesting at the time, but didn’t realize what it had broken.

Eventually things came to a head and, as I talked about before, DC used their Zero Hour event as an opportunity to wipe that slate clean and start again. And I already went into detail in that post why that was a bad idea, so I won’t repeat it all here.

But yes, I liked “Five Years Later.” We can look at it from a publishing standpoint and say “ooh, maybe DC shouldn’t have done that” (see also Crisis on Infinite Earths), but as a story just in and of itself, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not knowing what to expect in each issue, knowing nothing was necessarily sacred, was the kind of excitement one didn’t often get in long-running comic book franchises. But maybe there’s a reason we don’t get that in long-running comic franchises, given the Legion’s difficulty in maintaining a significant presence in the decades since.

Basically I just say I’m behind on my reading but here’s a couple of things I do like reading.

§ February 8th, 2021 § Filed under collecting, eyeball, legion of super-heroes, star wars § 10 Comments

One thing I haven’t heard at the shop in a while is “wow, what a great job, you get to read comics all day!” Which is good, because that did get a little tiring to hear, and to explain (when I bothered to do so) that the one thing I really don’t have time for at the shop is reading comics. Particularly now, that I’ve opened my own shop, where the only hand on deck is me and spending the time to read a comic means less time pricing old comics or whathaveyou.

Does that mean I’ve never read comics in the shop? No, of course not…it’s just not something I’m normally inclined to do. The one time I can remember doing so at the new store was an issue of Doomsday Clock, I think. And, at the old store, back when DC and Marvel used to send out preview packs of full issues coming the following week, I’d make time to read Preacher whenever it showed up. However, beyond occasionally flipping through an issue to check for damage while grading or maybe briefly browse through one to find something for Instagram, and yes sometimes just to admire a page or two of art…I tend to leave the actual reading at home.

The big problem, of course, has been my eyeballs. At first, I just thought my vision was getting blurrier due to my encroaching decrepitude, causing my reading to slow down considerably (even with the assistance of progressively stronger dollar store reading glasses. And then once the actual problem was determined (“Oh hey the interiors of your eyeballs are bleeding.” “Wait, what”) and problems began to accelerate, clouding my vision or blacking it out entirely…well, “reading” became an activity that was off the table.

End result: huge backlog of reading. For nearly three years my reading habits have been impaired by my ongoing eyeball issues. For the first year, it was just “no reading,” as my eyes switched off being cloudy or dark or too blurry and so on. Then once my eyes stabilized a bit (with only occasional bouts of hampered vision)…I found I had fallen out of the habit of reading comics. Sure, I read one or two here and there (at least once using a giant glass lens as a magnifying glass) but mostly I just watched television.

Television, as it turned out, was a lot easier to enjoy with my sometimes not-clear vision, particularly with my TV’s large screen and the somewhat close proximity in which I sat. The bright colors tended to cut through whatever was in the way, and while things were still sorta blurry, at least I could make sense of what was happening. Ended up rewatching all of Babylon 5 during this period…it was all bright and colorful and those early CGI effects were crisp and clear and easy for me to see. (I do remember early on watching A Quiet Place on Amazon Prime, with one eye blacked out entirely, and the other essentially with rivulets of blood obscuring its vision…it was like looking through prison window bars.)

It wasn’t until relatively recently that I started making an effort at trying to keep up on the comics I like to read, to try to cut down some of the backlog. And I’ve made some headway…I’m still caught up on Immortal Hulk and the Superman books, for example. But it’s still slowish going, even with somewhat stable eyesight and real glasses. My vision isn’t what it was (my left eye being the strongest one, and my right eye, where all the problems began, being partially impaired and not able to easily read anything below a certain size), coupled with the fact that the backlog is…a little imposing, is still kind of putting me off a bit.

Plus, I’ve gotten into the habit of just watching TV instead, which is easier.

I’m working on it, though. I’m probably making it sound like I just have giant piles of comics teetering over me at home that I gingerly remove a single copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood from the top to peruse. I don’t actually pull aside a whole lot of comics for myself, but week after week after week of not reading them means to the “to-do” pile adds up faster than you’d expect.

THUS, THE CULLING BEGAN. I started going through the stuff I did pull for myself and deciding just what I can pass up for now. The big loser here, unfortunately, was Marvel’s many Star Wars titles. Not to say I didn’t enjoy them…I did, they were a lot of fun, but it’s just too much and with Marvel’s crazy publishing schedules, it just stacks up too quickly.

I am keeping one title around, however, even though I’m desperately behind on this title as well, is Doctor Aphra (which you may have been tipped off to by the inset pic here). I think of the new Star Wars series Marvel’s been cranking out, this is the one I’ve enjoyed the most. I believe I wrote on Twitter about the appeal of the character as filling the “morally ambiguous” role that Han Solo can no longer occupy after his turn in the original movie trilogy. It’s an exploration of this universe via a fresh yet cynical perspective, told with humor and the right amount of pathos. While there is some sort of redemption arc to her story, it’s a meandering one which means we get to see her be a space asshole, which is quite entertaining.

As I said, I’m way behind, so some of my above comments may no longer apply. The last issue I read was #26, which could mean I’m two years behind or six months behind, given Marvel’s aforementioned publishing schedules. But I’ve got ’em all stacked up here and ready to read, and all her previous appearances (in her own title and elsewhere) set aside for future reference. And all other Star Wars funnybooks…back to the shop with ’em. Hate to see you go, but what else can I do, really.

I plan on cutting other titles out of the backlog as well, though I haven’t quite decided what’s next. There are things I’ll always read, stuff I’ve followed for decades: any Hulk series, for example, or the main Superman books, or any Groo or Love and Rockets and related. But there’s the other stuff, the series maybe I just started, or comics I’ve been putting off reading for so long it’s pretty clear I’m not that interested in them. Or books I dipped back into reading, like Batman or Flash, decided “yeah, read enough of those” and stopped. Again, no critique implied of the books…they’re perfectly fine, I just don’t have time for everything anymore.

That said, I did pick up this book last week:


…continuing the complete reprinting of the Legion of Super-Heroes that began in the Legion Archives hardcovers and living on in these differently formatted, cheaper to produce hardcovers which picked up where the Archives left off.

This volume brings us up to Legion of Super-Heroes #271, plus the Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes mini-series. That means we’re in the very early ’80s, and just about to the point where I started picking LSH off the stands. I was bit of a late starter, sort of, to the Legion, but I was instantly a fan and kept reading the book ’til about the New 52 era, which was just one reboot too many for the comic that had pretty much become known for its incessant reboots and the hope the New, Improved Legion would get traction this time.

Anyway, I like these books, and I suspect I’ll likely continue picking them up even as they start to overlap with the Legion comics I do have. You know, just to get the Great Darkness Saga on paper that isn’t terrible. I may stop once they hit that initial “direct sales only” series, which already exists on nice paper!

Did want to note that Paul Levitz, one time DC president/publisher and writer of the Legion, provides the introduction. He says that the contents within may feel a little…disjointed, due to various creative team pressures and deadline issues and stuff, but honestly when has a Legion story not felt somewhat like some of the pipes are rattling a bit? But Levitz does make some space to say some nice stuff about longtime DC editor/writer E. Nelson Bridwell, a fella that, from some things I’ve heard, may not have been afforded much respect from other folks in the field. Well, Mr. Bridwell’s writing, whether for a comic story or his explanatory editorial pages, were eagerly enjoyed by a young me, so he’s got my respect for certain.

Also wanted to note the artists in this volume…Joe Staton (always great), Jimmy Janes and Jim Sherman (both wonderful draftsmen…Sherman’s got a great splash with Light Lass that’s a knockout), and, of course, Steve Ditko. I’ve read that Ditko story before (hence the link to the previous post) and it’s pretty well out there.

You know, for someone who’s been having a hard time reading, I sure wrote a lot for other people to read. There’s some form of base irony there somewhere. But thank you for putting up with my typing, and we’ll chat again shortly.

Oh for the days when I used to be referred to as “Get on Down Disco Dynamite.”

§ February 14th, 2020 § Filed under legion of super-heroes, superman, what § 5 Comments

So pal Brook (the very one who clued me in to the Hulk single) dropped by on Wednesday after perusing the vinyl record selection at the weekly flea market a town or two over. One of this acquired goodies was the following item, courtesy the year 1978:


And behold the back cover, if you dare:


A closer look at the back cover blurb:


…and if the song title “Lois Gets on Down” didn’t get you to buy this record, surely the idea of “Superman grooving out of sight” would do the trick.

Brook was good enough to let me borrow the record for the week, and…yes, it’s pretty amazing. A number of the songs are disco versions of movie theme music (and I didn’t realize there was another disco version of the Star Wars theme aside from Meco’s, though thinking about it I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised…and the two versions are awfully close). And if you’re wondering, “Mountain Funk” is a disco-ized version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

I’ve linked to a couple of the songs on this record already, but here’s the main attraction…the disco-enhanced recording of the John Williams theme from Superman: The Movie. You’re welcome. And be sure to stick around for the weird vocalizations (surely done by those kind women on the album cover).


Also, if I may add, speaking of that cover…Twitter pal Rob pointed out that the nice young lady on the right of the image bears some semblance to Saturn Girl and her ’70s swimsuit costume, and darned if Rob’s not onto something. And I’d bet one can of Billy Beer that there was someone at that same disco dressed like Grimbor the Chainsman.

BEHOLD THE AQUARING.

§ November 13th, 2019 § Filed under gelatinous cube, legion of super-heroes, retailing § 10 Comments


“So what’s the deal with this ring?” asked the customer, gesturing at the little pile of plastic Legion of Super-Heroes rings I had laid out on the counter, a promotional giveaway for the new Legion series that debuted last week. “Are they for Aquaman?”

Um, Aquaman? How do you get “Aquaman” from a ring that very clearly has an “L” on it? I didn’t say that to the customer, but I did let him know what the rings were actually for, and that seemed to satisfy him.

What struck me, though, is that he knew enough about comics to mention to the people he was with that the Flash used to have a ring in which he would keep his super-compressed costume. But he didn’t know enough about the Legion to be able to identify one of the flight rings, which is a fairly integral element of the series. …Which is fine, of course, just because you like superhero comics doesn’t mean you have to know Every. Single. Detail. of each and every one.

But he wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what the flight ring was. I had a number of people certainly identify what it was supposed to be, but had just as many other folks, comic reading folks, coming-in-every-Wednesday-for-the-new-goodies customers, who did not know what that ring was supposed to represent.

There was once a time when Legion fandom was a thing…like, it was one of the franchise’s defining elements was its active, involved fanbase. And that fanbase eroded over the years for various reasons (discussed both by me and pal Andrew a while back) to the point where DC no longer found it profitable to even attempt at keeping an ongoing Legion book on the stands for the last several years.

Of course, that absence has changed now, with DC’s much-ballyhooed Legion relaunch last week (preceded by an entertaining two-part mini bridging the current DC Universe to the Legion’s future), brought about by DC’s equally-ballyhooed acquiring of one of Marvel’s Big Name comic writers Brian Michael Bendis. Whether that rebuilding of what was once the formidable Legion Fandom will follow is…well, okay, it won’t, it’s a different time, and the natural, organic evolution of that fandom over years and decades isn’t suddenly going to repeat itself with the latest revival, however long it manages to last without yet another reboot.

I remember the last time DC Comics provided plastic Legion ring giveaways to tie into some new Legion thing or ‘nother, it seemed like everyone was in on it. They all knew the Legion, knew what the flight ring was and what it represented, and so on…but then, Legion was still an ongoing, if not entirely what it once was, concern at the time, a couple of decades back. Now…after being basically gone, or generally off the average comic fan’s radar, for about a decade or even more, one can’t depend on a shared fan nostalgia that will remember some piece of a franchise that was dead, or might as well have been, when several of today’s fans first got into the comic collecting hoohar.

Now, the good news is that despite some of my customer base not recognizing the Legion ring, there is still enough of the rest of that base to have either recognized the Legion, or are new to it but have been intrigued enough by the advertising/guest-appearances, to pick up the book. In fact, it was a near sell-out for me, and I have a box of restocked copies heading my way…well, today, hopefully…and even then about half of those restocks are already spoken for. I haven’t even got one for myself yet, since I was saving copies for the shelf.

I spoke with a friend who has a comic shop a few hundred miles away and says he can’t give them away, so I guess Your Store’s Mileage Will Vary. I’ve experienced this before…even back in the ’90s, I was comparing notes with a retailer in L.A. and he was all like “you sell how many Legion!?” But I hope this series is an overall success (in whatever meets “success” levels in today’s diminished market)…I do like the Legion, and I would like to have a new comic of theirs I can read. It won’t be the same, with the characters all cut off from their long history that brought me to these comics in the first place, but I can still enjoy a good comic regardless. I mean, assuming it’s good.

Oh, and I figured out why that customer thought this was an Aquaman ring:


…because he probably saw one turned on its side. An easy enough mistake to make, I guess.

And I mean, like, the Wonder Woman #1 from 1942, not the Pérez one, you wiseacres.

§ August 25th, 2017 § Filed under legion of super-heroes, retailing, the eBay § 4 Comments


So kind of the last thing I expected on the most recent New Comics Day was for someone to walk in with a shoebox containing about a dozen and a half comics, with that comic pictured above right on top of the stack. For the two people reading this site who don’t recognize the significance of that particular issue, that is Adventure Comics #247 from 1958, containing the first appearance of the long-running DC Comics team the Legion of Super-Heroes. And yes, that is a scan of the actual copy that I received in that collection.

I was particularly surprised because, at my previous place of employment, my old boss Ralph would often note that this comic is one that he never had show up in any collections. People would bring in runs of Adventure, but #247 was always skipped. Third or fourth appearances of the Legion, sure, but never this first one. In the time I worked for Ralph I’d seen multiple Amazing Fantasy #15s, and Amazing Spider-Man #1s, X-Men #1s, a Wonder Woman #1 here, a World’s Finest #2 there, but nope, never that elusive Adventure comic.

But there it is, at long last. In my hot little hands. Sure, it wasn’t in the best condition, but all the pages were there, and it was completely readable. The cover had seen better days, and the spine was about half-split, and the centerfold was loose. What I presume were the owner’s initials are right there on the front cover, as they were on some of the other comics in this collection…well, either initials or some elaborate hand-written arrival date scribbled on there by some newsstand operator. Not a great copy, but better than no copy.

Anyway, I put it on the eBays…I was planning to put it up for one price, thought “well, let me try for a slightly higher price,” and I guess I should have put it up for a much higher price because it was listed literally for about two minutes before someone bought it.

And that’s the tale of how I owned Adventure Comics #247 for all of about half an hour, forty-five minutes tops. Where was this comic a month ago, when I was talking about that exact story of the Legion’s first appearance? Ah, well…I probably would have been too afraid to scan that panel out of this comic anyway.

Here’s hoping whoever bought it doesn’t try to send it back…I’ve already spent that money on hooch, dice, and other sinful pleasures. Besides, I took a whole lot of pictures of the book’s problems to accompany the listing…I probably spent more time taking those pictures than the comic actually spent on eBay. There shouldn’t be any surprises.

Now I need to actually process the rest of the books in the collection: some late ’50s/early ’60s Detectives, a couple Brave and the Bold issues with Cave Carson, a beat-up Action #300, an even more beat-up Atom #4, a couple of other things. But this is one of the real perks of the job…getting to enjoy lots of old comics. Even if certain comics only stick around for about half an hour.

This Legion of Super-Heroes post brought to you in part by a little stuffed bull.

§ July 28th, 2017 § Filed under legion of super-heroes § 9 Comments

So I had a few responses to my most recent Answering-the-Question-Time-Post-from-Several-Months-Ago post, but I’m going to focus on a couple of the Legion of Super-Heroes-related comments for today.

Firstly, Turan, Emissary of the Fly World (and how is Fly World nowadays? Weather still nice?) comments about the Legion’s earliest appearance:

“A fact that is always overlooked is that, in the Superboy story that introduces the Legion of Super-Heroes, the team consists of more than three members. Lightning Boy (not Lad then), Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl are the only ones named and clearly shown, but there are a half dozen or so shown from the back, cheering on Superboy’s admission into the team.

“For whatever reason these shadowy members were immediately forgotten, and ever after there was a pretense that Superboy was the fourth member.

“Though, when DC did finally get around to providing an origin for the team, it did show those three and those three alone as the founders, so MrJM’s point remains.”

And Chris G’s follow-up:

“‘For whatever reason these shadowy members were immediately forgotten, and ever after there was a pretense that Superboy was the fourth member.’

“That’s not quite so – identifying those members became a parlor game among Legion fans, and at least one reprinting recolored one of them to look like Brainiac 5. Superboy, officially, was around the eighth or ninth member.”

We may be getting a little astray from MrJM‘s original question of “Why a duck Legion?” but this brings up a point I hadn’t really thought about.

Yes, in the very first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics #247, in the scenes that take place in the Legion’s future Earth, shots of the clubhouse do show what appear to be additional members. Here’s a meeting at the clubhouse which shows the three founders of the team sitting at the table with Superboy, while anonymous silhouetted members look on:


…or they could be fan club members, allowed to sit in while the Legion conducts business. I mean, you don’t know for sure, right?

However, in the original printing of this first appearance, we do get a better look at some of the other folks hanging around in the clubhouse:


…and they either look a little superhero-y or perhaps that’s just how people dress in the far-flung future. However, as Chris G notes, in at least one later reprinting (in this case, from Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1, 1991) the panel is recolored to suggest Brainiac 5’s presence:


Now the next Legion story is just Superboy and the original three members (plus a bunch of superheroes from other worlds) and you don’t see new Legion members until the Supergirl story, which is the 3rd Legion appearance. And, to make things confusing, she meets the children of the original Legionnaires Superboy met (who all have the same names and powers), and their teammates Chameleon Boy, Colossal Kid and Invisible Kid, so it’s a slightly more future future than the future Superboy is visiting…but thankfully that particular distinction is dropped and it’s all the same Legion shortly thereafter.

After that it’s another Superboy story just featuring Lightning Lad, and then the Superboy story after that introduces new member Star Boy (again featuring a scene with the original three members and Superboy at a table in front of a room, while we see the backs of heads of other supposed team members). Now, I can’t sit here and read all the Legion stories when I need to go get my beauty sleep, but it looks like at least at the very start of the Legion’s appearances in comics, the team was likely meant to be larger than just the the Main Three we first encounter. If that’s the case, then the term “Legion,” if not technically accurate, is at least a little closer in description to the team in this particular instance.

Going back to the Legion’s origin in Superboy #147, it is just Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl at first…who are then joined by Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl as the next members, and Superboy isn’t shown joining at all just yet. I suppose we can take this as additional confirmation that, at least at this point is Legion’s editorial history, the Legion was comprised of more than just the initial three members by the time Superboy was made part of the group.

And to add a little support to my assertion that R.J. Brande’s dubbing of the team as a “Legion” was primarily marketing (and the presumption that more guys ‘n’ gals would join), here are a couple of panels from Secret Origins #25 (April 1988):


(That second panel is trimmed a bit for clarity…rest assured there were a whole lotta Legionnaires drawn in there). Anyway, MrJM, I hope that additionally answers your question about why it was called a Legion…or at least muddies up the topic even further. I’m too close to be able to tell, myself.

And besides, I think we’re avoiding the really important topic, and that’s these amazing costumes:


Let’s hope the coming Rebirth revival includes the chest-text. It’s all the rage in the 31st century!

(A special thanks to that Little Stuffed Bull of the Future, Bully, for tracking down several of the featured panels in this post for me…and finding that bit in Secret Origins! I couldn’t have done it without him!)
 
 

images from Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958) and its reprinting in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1 (1991) by Otto Binder and Al Plastino; Secret Origins #25 (April 1988) by Paul Levitz, Rick Stasi and Dick Giordano

Of reprints and Patreons.

§ April 26th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, legion of super-heroes, publishing, self-promotion § 6 Comments

So a while back on the Twitterers I complained that a joke I had planned for an End of Civilization post was undone by the fact the publisher actually didn’t mess up something I thought they had messed up. I’ve been meaning to get around to telling the one or two of you who might remember that and still care just what I was talking about. And what I was talking about was the Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes hardcover volume one, as solicited in the March 2017 Diamond Previews:


That’s the image they’re using to solicit the collection, but obviously not the actual, final cover since that’s a pic of the Legion treasury edition the book will be including.

Anyway, my assumption is that there were going to be some issues skipped between the last of the DC Archives reprintings of the Legion of Super-Heroes and this volume, which picks up in the 1970s. However, to my surprise, this new book picks up exactly where the Archive editions left off, so for those of us depending on DC’s reprint program to gather up all those classic Legion stories in chronological order, like I know I was, that’s good news. Of course, this new format won’t have as many stories per volume, but also it won’t be $75 like that Archives generally were near the end there, so at least there’s that.

Like I mentioned, the treasury edition, featuring the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (hey, stop snickering, this is a big deal) is in this book, and I was greatly anticipating its appearance in the never-forthcoming Legion Archives Volume 14. At some point, around, I don’t know, 2008, I even passed up on a copy of the treasury because I figured I would eventually get that story in the archive series. Well, took a little longer than expected, but it’s finally on its way. Hopefully. Assuming it isn’t cancelled or postponed.

Now if we can get DC to pick up reprinting Sugar and Spike where that last archive edition left off….

• • •

And now, for a brief commercial message…as mentioned just the other day, plans are continuing apace for the Swamp Thing-a-Thon, my attempt at reviewing every Swamp Thing comic, that will be an exclusive, at least for a time, for Patreon supporters. I finally updated my Patreon page to include that reward tier in the sidebar.

Since I have the reward tier set at the lowest level (I mean, I don’t think you can contribute less than a dollar a month, can you?), anyone who supports my Patreon at any level will get access to the Swamp Thing-a-Thon posts. If you’re already a supporter, you’ll get access. If you click the “Become a Patreon” button and donate that generous $150 a month I know you want to, you’ll get access. You don’t have to click on that $1 Reward button to get access, that just makes it easier for you to chip in. If you’re contributing at all, you’re in.

Like I’ve said…the content there will make it over to this site eventually, but not for a while. If you can provide support, that’s great, but if you can’t or don’t want to, that’s perfectly okay too, and you’ll get to see that stuff anyway, if you don’t mind waiting a bit.

Thanks to you folks out there who still read this “comics” “blog” after all this time. I appreciate all the support and readership you’ve given me for so many years.

More than just a pretty name.

§ December 19th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, legion of super-heroes, letters of comment § 15 Comments


So a while back I mentioned in a footnote to this post that the above comic book, Superboy #208 from April 1975, was the first comic book I ever read featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes. Now, I don’t recall if I read this when it was new (which would be probably January or February 1975, given the usual difference between cover dates and the actual release dates) and I was five years old, or if my original copy was purchased from a used book store a bit later, when I was around, say, seven years old.

Either way, I was quite the young fellow when I was exposed to that weird-ass story where Lightning Lad stepped out of a spaceship left foot first, bad luck on his planet, and ended up losing an arm because of said bad luck! Okay, things weren’t quite what they seemed, but still, that stuck in my head for years, along with several other images and bits of dialogue from this issue that floated around in my brain. I’d long since lost my original copy, but picked up a replacement sometime later at my previous place of employment.

Now, at my current place of employment (being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of lovely Camarillo, CA), I bought another collection of 1970s comics that was heavy on the Superman and Superboy comics. And in this collection was yet another copy of Superboy #208 (said copy scanned and posted above). As I was processing the collection, I did what I sometimes like to do with old comics and glace at the letters page, looking for missives from future comic creators, customers of mine from either shop (more common that you’d think!), or letters from around my local area. I never recalled doing this with my own copy of #208, so I went ahead and checked this copy, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a letter from someone from my own hometown:


…and that’s pretty neat an’ all, but I started thinking. As I recall, perhaps not every letter that appeared in these old comics were, shall we say, on the up-and-up. As in, “not actually written and sent in by real readers.” Whether it was just to fill up space, or to lead into a plug for other comics, or whatever, sometimes there was a little fudging of the truth in those letter columns. (I don’t know if the practice continues today, though in the ’90s a pal had a letter printed in a particular superhero comic that was edited from being critical to being quite praising, so there were still shenanigans of some sort going on.)

Anyway, this only comes to mind because two of the main drags in Oxnard, California are “Rose Avenue” and “Gonzales Road,” which actually intersect not too far from where I’m living now. Now, “Rose Gonzales” is hardly a rare or unusual name or anything, but that certainly seemed like quite the coincidence, like someone needed a name to attach to a letter (or a seeming excerpt from a letter), whipped out the Book o’Maps, picked “Oxnard” for the letter writer’s city, and picked out a couple street names to comprise the name as a gag. (I regularly spot letters with “Oxnard” or nearby “Ventura” addresses in ’60s and ’70s comics, so I imagine the city names were at least somewhat familiar to some editors.)

Now I have no idea if that’s what happened…granted, seems like a lot of work just to create authenticity for a line or two of inconsequential text to fill space in a layout. Could just as easily been “Mary Smith of New York” and it’s not like anyone was going to check. And I certainly can’t check now, as anyone involved in the editorial process here is either, um, departed, or not going to want to take any calls from a dude asking about 40-year-old letter columns they don’t remember.

I just thought it was an oddly interesting thing to note in this old comic that I have strong nostalgic feelings for…that now has an even stronger connection with its ties, real or spurious, to my hometown.

In which I basically don’t define any terms and just assume you know what I’m talking about.

§ May 23rd, 2016 § Filed under legion of super-heroes, question time § 13 Comments

From the Question File, DavidG doesn’t make it easy on me with

“In the long run, The Legion of Superheroes never recovered from the Post Zero Hour reboot, in which baby boomers destroyed years of continuity in a misguided, nostalgia based decision to make the Legionnaires teenagers again, even though they were more popular as adults. Discuss.”

Yeah, well, that was somethin’, wasn’t it? I think, in its defense, and in the short term, the Zero Hour reboot worked, as the twisted timelines/multiple Legions hoohar was resolved in an effective and not entirely unemotional manner during a DC Universe-wide event. And, unlike the usual shoehorning of the Legion into these events (difficult, given the Legion was set 1,000 years later than the rest of the DCU), it actually seemed to fit about as naturally as these things can.

Now, the problem here is that a lot of the appeal of the Legion is its soap opera aspect, with decades of character development and relationships mixed in with the superhero action, creating a significant fanbase in the process. The Legionnaires whose lives you were following in, say, the 1980s were essentially the same Legionnaires that started to be introduced in Adventure Comics #247 (1958) and continued to pop up for many years following. There were the occasional reboot or retcon (the whole post-Crisis Superboy thing, the “Five Years Later” timejump) but you can still draw a line from the beginning of the Legion to, well, the end as represented by the Zero Hour tie-in.

With that Zero Hour conclusion to the Legion saga as we knew it, the chain was broken. Granted, Legion fandom wasn’t what it once was by the time Zero Hour rolled around (what comic’s fandom was?), but that was the final break between What Had Come Before and What DC Was Going to Try to Attempt in the Future. Even Crisis on Infinite Earths didn’t cut off the Legion’s progression, despite throwing some serious monkey wrenches into the works (like, as previously noted, the whole Superboy thing).

For longtime Legion fans, that was a lot of investment in the characters that was seemingly just discarded by DC, but in DC’s defense, they couldn’t depend on just the longtime Legion fans to support the title. They had to pursue new readers and build the audience for this particular franchise, and usually the #1 strategy comic publishers go to when trying to bump up sales numbers is, well, new #1s. Or in this case, #0s, where as part of the Zero Hour event issue #0s were released in which the status quos of DC’s various titles were reestablished. And, in the case of the Legion titles, the adventures were rebooted…started from scratch and presenting a hopefully fresh, new jumping on point for readers previously intimidated by the decades of backstory.

It worked, for a while anyway, and as I recall it sold reasonably well at least for our shop, gathering some new readers as hoped, and old Legion fans (like me) sticking around out of curiosity and, oh, because the comics were actually pretty good. This version of the Legion went through some interesting permutations, I thought, including the dark but still enjoyable Legion Lost mini-series, which followed the end of the previous Legion comics.

There were a couple more series set in that Legion continuity, but eventually (and presumably sparked by a need to improve sales) a new Legion series was launched, rebooting from scratch again. It was a fun comic, I thought, with some new takes on old characters, but this reboot of the Legion only made it five years (versus the second reboot’s ten years), and then suddenly we were into our next rebooting of the Legion, which was actually more of a reinstalling of a back-up of the original Legion continuity into then-current DC continuity (with some minor tweaks here and there to jibe with the DCU as a whole).

Following that was a mini-series connected to the Final Crisis event, in which all three (or three and a half, depending on how you feel about that last reboot-ish thing) versions of the Legion encounter each other, and I think it was around this point that I sorta lost the Legion thread. I love the Legion, I read ’em for years, and it was even the only extended DC Archives hardcover set that I collected. But after reboot and relaunch and wait we didn’t mean to reboot it again let’s go back to how it was before…I couldn’t do it any more. Like I said, one of the appealing aspects of the Legion was getting immersed in the soap-operatic nature of the stories, but the multiple reboots just gave me the feeling of “well, if they write themselves into a corner, they’ll just reboot instead of trying to write themselves out of it” and that sort of soured me on the books.

I realize this is a complaint you can have about ANY comic that has a history of rebooting/restarting…I’m guessing DC’s New 52 relaunch hit a lot of people this way. But specifically with the Legion, with such a long history behind the title, to see what was special about it fragmented this way, was disappointing. The reboots seem to have shorter and shorter lives, with the New 52 version of the team (which I guess was still more or less the original continuity still, I guess?) lasting around a couple dozen issues. I’m hoping letting the team’s shelf presence rest a while (its first extended break that I can think of!) will help, and that whatever forthcoming relaunch may occur will be more well received.

There are ideas I hope DC would attempt at refurbishing the Legion for current audiences. Maybe they could appear as supporting characters in another title, or perhaps a new title could launch focusing on just one member of the team (like Brainiac 5) with other Legionnaires appearing as needed. Or maybe the Legion can just say out of the public eye until someone has a really good idea how to use them…but with hints at their existence in the Supergirl TV series, I suspect any possible media presence may force DC’s hand sooner rather than later.

So yes, DavidG, I think the Legion’s involvement in Zero Hour did cause the long-running franchise to stumble and never quite find its legs again. Not to say there weren’t good comics that came out of all the reboots, because there were, and that a five-year run of a series isn’t something to sneeze at. However, I’m not sure if or when the team will ever find any kind of extended traction again. Like Hawkman, the Legion was “fixed” until it was broken and…wait, that’s it!

Hawkman and the Legion of Super-Heroes! I did it! I fixed ’em both! DC, get on this right away!

EDIT: Pal Andrew has additional wise insight on the matter.
 
 
 

PICTURED: the first Legion of Super-Heroes comic I ever read – Superboy #208 (April 1975)

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