We're back to the Legion of Super-Heroes stories that hooked me in the 1980's. With the story of the Legion of Super-Villains pretty much finished, we're shifting our view over to the newsstand title, Tales of the Legion. To be honest, I wasn't reading the Baxter title at the time this issue was published. I didn't have easy access to a direct market comic shop. I bought all of my comics from the newsstand. It wouldn't be until about a year later that I managed to snag a few copies at a nearby comic show at a shopping mall. A couple of years later, I would discover a direct market shop in that same nearby town.
I'm bound and determined to get the most out of my Marvel Unlimited membership. When looking for something to review, I looked at the 1980s Defenders that got rid of the "non-team" status of the membership. I also looked at the Marvel magazines of the early 1980s. I took a look at the full list of Marvel titles available on Marvel Unlimited and saw Legion of Monsters catch my eye. That's where I got to here. I didn't know that there was a Legion of Monsters comic. The only memory that I have of the "group" was in a single issue of Marvel Premiere. Actually, it was Marvel Premiere #28 that featured the Legion of Monsters. That sparked me to try and give some of the horror characters that the title gave tryouts. It turns out that aside from the Legion of Monsters, Satana was the only original horror-themed character that got a chance in Marvel Premiere. However, looking at the issues available, the first couple featuring Adam Warlock came to my attention, due to the cover obviously by Gil Kane.
It's amazing whenever you see Batman go into cosmic or science fiction stories. That's not to say that it's necessarily bad, because sometimes it's really good. It shows the strengths of the character. In the Justice League, we often see Batman in situations that he should not be suited for. Somehow, he manages to show himself to be very adaptable. With Batman and the Outsiders, Batman gave up the more fantastic adventures for those that were more grounded. There were still threats that should have been outside of his skill set. Writer Mike W. Barr proved how adaptable Batman is. Even in the more grounded 1980s, Batman could be taken into space and fight other-dimensional beings. With issue #22, we also saw an artist join that would excel at telling these stories, Alan Davis. It was in that issue we got to see more than the team facing a cosmic threat illustrated by a new artist. We saw the beginnings of the rift between Batman and the Outsiders.
In the 1990s, there was a trend of "bad girls." These were female characters that were usually violent and almost always had costumes that showed more skin than they covered. Lady Death (and most of Chaos! Comics' female characters), Razor, Shi, Glory, and Witchblade were just some of the characters that were the prime examples of this disturbing trend. There may not have been a publisher of super-hero comics in the 1990s that didn't try to ride this trend. Topps Comics, short-lived as it was, even got into the act with Lady Rawhide, spinning off the character into her own title. There were different degrees of the bad girl trend and Lady Rawhide was definitely on the tamer end of the spectrum. However, right there on the cover of her first appearance, Topps looks tobe trying to get in on the trend.
I've had a rough couple of weeks. The thing is that comic book creators have given me some lessons that help me cope with rough times like this. A professional might take issue (no pun intended) with some of these lessons, but they're what gets me to the next stage of dealing with rough patches. Legion of Super-Heroes is one of those titles that has always been something that I come back to over and over. One run that I really enjoy is referred to as the Five Years Late Legion, specifically the first 38 issues, shaped primarily by Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum. It was extremely dark in that the Earth had been covertly conquered by the Dominators. The Legion had disbanded, In almost every issue, there was some level of death and destruction. It'sonly fitting that this story should end with the destruction of Earth, even after it had been liberated with the help of two Legions.
I can't believe that I haven't reviewed this book before. I remember first getting this comic, and being amazed at the way the acetate cover was used to give a gorgeous, full-bleed cover free of the cover elements. This wasn't my first painted comic, Books of Magic probably came first for me, but this was the one that changed something for me. This one had the feel of a traditional comic book, and felt like a big deal. Books of Magic felt like a story, and introduction at the most. It was also split between four artists, and this was one artist who seemed to make the characters in the comics feel real.
When I was a teenager, especially a young teenager, Uncanny X-Men was the most popular comic among my peers. From looking back at comics journalism, we were not unique. This was also the same year I've been covering in my run of the Legion. It turns out that 1984 is a very important year for comics. This saw DC Comics make an investment in the direct market with its Baxter series. It also saw an explosion of independent publishers, including Mirage Studios with the breakout phenomenom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Antarctic Press, NBM Publishing, and Continuity Studios also debuted in 1984. Alan Moore took over Saga of the Swamp Thing. Marvel debuted the event series with Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars. Fantastic comics were being produced in 1984. Uncanny X-Men was one of them, going in new directions, especially with this issue.
As I’ve said before, I’ve tried to keep a pattern to Reviews of Old Comics, but the last attempt to write a DC review that wasn’t the Legion was so daunting that it delayed the schedule for three weeks. For me to write these regularly, and have something every week, especially for Patreon supporters, it
Before I settled on this story of Terra betraying the Teen Titans, I really struggled figuring out what DC Comic to review this time around. My first choice was the infamous Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #106. My wife wanted me to review something from the Golden Age, perhaps even the very first DC Comic. Golden Age comics from before the explosion of super-heroes are a mish-mosh of genres and stories. Then I wanted to do an issue of Adventure Comics featuring work by Alex Toth. Unfortunately, that also featured three other stories that I didn't care for. Finally, I decided on New Teen Titans #34. This was truly the beginning of The Judas Contract. A case could be made that it began from the moment Terra first appeared, this was where the readers were let in that the Terminator had a spy inside the Teen Titans. At this moment, whatever other story was happening, readers were waiting for the moment when Terra would betray the Titans or turn on the Terminator. I also need to note that I'm referring to him as the Terminator in this review. At this time, Slade Wilson almost solely went by the Terminator. He wouldn't be referred to solely as Deathstroke until well after the Judas Contract was done. By then, it was obvious that the James Cameron franchise was stronger than the reputation of this character in the comics.
It's really sad when I want to review an old Marvel comic like The Eternals and I can't use my Marvel Unlimited membership. I wanted to review this from the first time I read it and saw that it drew inspiration from Erich von Däniken's book Chariots of the Gods. I don't buy the "ancient astronauts" theory. It is a little entertaining to watch how proponents work evidence to meet their theory. I watch them ignore basic elements of artistic representation to make ancient works of art literal interpretations rather than rich, symbolic visual poetry. I find the thought that a lack of modern scientific discoveries made ancient man less intelligent almost offensive.
Watching Avengers: Infinity War, I was taken with how powerful the Scarlet Witch was portrayed. This was a character shown to be powerful enough to shatter an Infinity Stone. Given that in the past two films that she's appeared in, her powers have been shown to be primarily telekinetic and mildly telepathic, but not so powerful that she can shatter one of the six most powerful items in the universe. This level of power is something that is not uncommon to long time comic fans. Most famously, she has completely rewritten reality in the House of M crossover event. She also stripped all but a handful of mutants of their powers at the end of that event. Writer John Byrne explored how her original power to alter probabilities in a great, albeit truncated story in Avengers West Coast collected in Darker Than Scarlet. On his forum, John Byrne explained that Wanda's powers worked backward through time, which brought the attention of Immortus. Immortus sought to exploit the most powerful aspect of her mutant power to change history, creating a timeline without an Avengers. This was a demonstration of how powerful Wanda could be, and that demonstration of power was the best part of what remained from the original story.
I was going to review Tales of the Legion #316 a month or so ago, but then realized I would have been jumping the gun on it, since Legion of Super-Heroes #3 comes before it chronologically. If I wanted to continue reviewing the Legion from the point I really became a fan, then it would have to wait. Now it has its turn. Tales of the Legion #316 went on sale to comic shop on July 3, 1984. This was just a week after the third issue of the companion magazine. However, the direct market was still very new and like me, many fans had no close comic book shop, so many fans read this story out of order. I actually didn't read the Baxter series for some time, years, probably. Of course, that means that Tales of the Legion was my only outlet for new Legion stories, so this was the only way that I knew about anything that happened in the Baxter series. You'll see the problem later.