With a new Legion of Super-Heroes series launching the week that I'm writing this, it seems like a perfect time to revisit one of my favorite Legion stories of all time, Legion Lost. I like it so much that it would be my pick for a Legion film adaptation. I'll come back to that. As the millennium came to a close, Legion of Super-Heroes was in dire need of a new direction. They were referred to as the "Archie Legion" due to the more light-hearted and innocent nature of the stories. Of course, this was stark contrast to the last major new direction for the Legion with the start of the "Five Years Later." This version kept up two series, which probably didn't help in the late 1990s when the tone of comics went darker and grimmer. As the series came to an end, the Legion faced a terrible threat that apparently killed several members.
Because I'm drawing a blank on what old comic to read next, let's get back to covering the Legion of Super-Heroes stories that hooked me in the 1980's. When last we left the Legion of this Era, Shadow Lass and Mon-El thwarted Lady Memory on Talok VIII. Five Legionnaires are missing in Limbo and Lightning Lass and Lightning Lord got inadvertently abducted by Zymyr. Like with most of the Baxter series, I read this issue after the fact, probably years after it first came out. I'm also thinking about if I want to stop this around issue twelve, which is about where I took a sabbatical from the Legion. I did that because it was at this point that I couldn't regularly get to a comic shop. I tried to place it where it fell chronologically with Tales of the Legion. While Dream Girl is talking about returning to Earth, Lightning Lass isn't at the group meeting in Tales of the Legion #318. I guess that there was a long sabbatical on Winath at the end of this story.
I was at HeroesCon last weekend and got to sit in on a great panel discussion about the Legion of Super-Heroes with three artists that worked on the Legion, Joe Staton, Greg LaRocque and Keith Giffen. I got the opportunity to pose a brief question to the three of them. So, I asked, "Other than your own work, what's your favorite Legion story?" LaRocque and Staton both answered with classic Silver Age Legion stories. Staton liked The Moby Dick of Space and LaRocque loved the story where Star Boy was expelled for killing. Giffen responded with the time they made Element Lad crazy and into a villain. I'm paraphrasing, but he was referencing the Legion Lost twist where the all-powerful Progenitor was revealed to be their lost teammate Element Lad. I can agree with the first two, but the mention of the Legion Lost story really impressed me. It was a great time when the writers did something uniquely different with the Legion. It shouldn't have surprised me to come from Keith Giffen, who was one of the architects of one of those times.
It's time to get back to covering the Legion of Super-Heroes stories that hooked me in the 1980's. When last we left the Legion of this Era, Tales of the Legion was focusing on Shadow Lass and Mon-El returning to Talok VIII. There, they ran afoul of Lady Memory, the inheritor of a legacy of hatred of the Mallor family. As I recall, this came out when I was in eighth grade. The cover made an impact on me, and when it came time to decorate a field trip journal for school, I did the Legion, copying this cover and adding the rest of the Legion. My classmates were impressed, but my teachers really hated that I didn't illustrate the theme of the field trip, Washington, DC. They expected me to draw something really nice on my journal cover, but super-heroes wasn't it. It was beautifully colored, though, a rarity for the journals my class had. Enough of that , though, let's get onto the comic.
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'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.
When last we covered the Legion of Super-Heroes that hooked me in the 1980's, Karate Kid heroically sacrificed himself to try to stop the Legion of Super-Villains. In this issue, we finally see how that went. However, given that Orando, the home world of his wife, Projectra, has been taken to a limbo between universes by the Villains, it might have been in vain. Of course, I didn't read this until several months, maybe years afterwards. I lived in a little town in western North Carolina at the time that didn't have a direct market comic shop. All of my comics were bought from the newsstand, most often a little convenience store called The Colonel's Pantry because of its proximity to a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
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
We're back to following the period of Legion history that I got really hooked on the Legion. The book got split between two titles, the original newsstand title, renamed Tales of the Legion and the new Legion of Super-Heroes title that was part of DC's line printed just for comic shops on premium Baxter paper stock. The real story at this time, focused on by long-time Legion writer Paul Levitz was in the Baxter series. Tales of the Legion ran smaller stories that tied up some loose ends or offered stories with a smaller cast of Legionnaires. Among the loose ends was Lyle Norg's seeming return from the dead in Legion of Super-Heroes #310. Previous to that, he had appeared in a strange dimension discovered by Wildfire and the second Invisible Kid. This issue tied up that subplot using the same Legionnaires that found Lyle Norg.
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.
Before I get started, I need to make an admission. I was going to make my next Legion review Tales of the Legion #316. However in reading, I realized that I was skipping an issue. I’ll certainly be happy when I get to the end of this year they published two Legion books every month.
I initially started this review of an old comic reviewing an early independent comic featuring one of the earliest creator-owned characters of the Bronze Age of comics, E-Man #2. I abandoned that after months of trying to sum up a comic that not only featured of the most bizarre stories around a bizarre character, but also a story from the legendary Steve Ditko that seemed a little different in tone. After a while, I had to accept that my heart was just not into reviewing a comic just to get another Review of Old Comics done. I wanted to review something I was a little more nostalgic for, and that meant revisiting the Legion of Super-Heroes.