Tales Of The Legion #316 – Reviews of Old Comics
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.
Writer/Plotter: Paul Levitz
Plotter/Designer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Terry Shoemaker
Inker: Karl Kesel
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Adam Kubert
This story is really just filler, but well-written, with characterization that is consistent with past portrayals of the characters. Stone Boy’s fear and pessimism is a new wrinkle. The giveaway that this story was most likely written outside of the ongoing “Eye For An Eye” story is that Bouncing Boy mentions that the other Legionnaires are “on missions,” instead of on the trail of the Legion of Super-Villains. The Super-Villains have taken Earth’s Polymer Screen, and it’s not only mentioned, but shown around the Earth. It’s a perfectly acceptable story, just placed badly in continuity.
The art by Terry Shoemaker is very good. At this time, Shoemaker was a newcomer to the comics industry, but he already has a style that is unique, yet reminiscent of some of the better young artists of this time like Steve Rude and Jaime Hernandez. Karl Kesel’s inks ground the settings very well and keeps a somber atmosphere throughout where it’s needed, which is rather often.
The backup story featuring the White Witch is essentially a summary of her first appearance and what happened afterwards. It’s not terribly riveting, but serves the function of fleshing out the questions stemming from her joining the Legion. It also explains why she looks so different. Apparently, the more one learns about sorcery, the more it changes them. This, of course, doesn’t explain why Mordru just looks like an older version of himself. It also doesn’t particularly explain why Dream Girl is so adept at using magic. Past stories have explained that it’s something ingrained in the genetic heritage of Naltorians. I have questions about how that Naltorian relationship works with magic, but this story does go a little way towards answering them.
To my knowledge, this issue has not been collected. It should be easy to find cheaply, but do not pay too much to get a good quality copy. You can get a digital copies through Comixology.
Final Rating: 7.0 (out of 10)
It is a filler issue. It can almost be missed entirely if you’re just looking for the “Eye For An Eye” story. On its own merits it works very well. I would even recommend it to a fan needing an introduction to the ancillary heroes in the Legion’s world. I got hooked on a Legion story centered on the Legion Academy. One can see this helping to set someone on the path towards following the Legion.