Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Adult Education and Other Trades

This Is Pop Culture, among other places, has the list of what will be released in trade paperbacks early next year. Among them:

Writers: Edmond Hamilton, Jeph Loeb, John Byrne, Karl Kesel, Greg Rucka, Cary Bates and Len Wein
Artists: Curt Swan, Ed McGuinness, John Byrne, Dick Giordano, Peter Doherty, George Klein, Tim Sale, Dick Dillin, Neal Adams, Joe Giella, Dan Davis and others
Cover artist: Alex Ross
Price: $19.99 US/$23.99 CAN
Page count: 200 pages

World's Finest #142 is the first Composite Superman story.

Writers: Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger, Jerry Coleman, Otto Binder, Edmond Hamilton, Robert Bernstein and Leo Dorfman
Artists: Curt Swan, Al Plastino, Stan Kaye, Sheldon Moldoff, George Klein, Jim Mooney, George Papp, Kurt Schaffenberger and Wayne Boring
Price: $16.99 US/$20.99 CAN
Page count: 560 pages
Collects: Stories from ACTION COMICS #276-292 and SUPERMAN #146-156

This should mean reprints of Superman/Supergirl and the Legion stories from Action 276, 284, 285, 287, 289, and 290; and Superman 147, 149, and 156. Some of these are key issues (Action 276), others are Imaginary Story cameos (Superman 156).

Writers: Mark Waid and Tony Bedard
Artists: Barry Kitson, Adam DeKraker and Rob Stull
Price: $14.99 US/$17.99 CAN
Page count: 192 pages

If nothing else, this suggests some sort of resolution by issue 27.

Supergirl for Halloween

I have no idea who this adorable kid is, but that's the kind of daughter I wish I might have some day. That is how you do Supergirl right.

(Hey, Supergirl's a Legionnaire, so she's not really off-topic!)

An earlier post showed that she used the Helen Slater movie Supergirl as an inspiration. Read this one for how she came to be wearing Supergirl's costume, and her history of dressing up as super-heroines.

For the record, the site appeared on one of my search lists for keyword "Legion".

Legion Halloween

How do they celebrate Halloween in the DC Universe? The Planetary Chance Machine wants to show you something really scary. But what else do they do?

They put on masks and stage pranks

They put on fat suit costumes and gorilla costumes (in the DCU? Of course!)

They dress up as infants

They put on outdated clothes

They even try on fetish wear

They go to costume parties where lots of others are also dressed as heroes

They dress up as pirates, yarrrr!

They dress up as zombies. Mmmmm, brains!

They dress in drag

I hope they do something interesting for Thanksgiving.

Sales charts through SLSH #22

Here's the updated sales charts for the Supergirl/Legion books through issue #22, the Nov. cover-dated books. The top one is the current series only, the bottom one is ten years worth of sales figures, from Nov. 1996 to Nov. 2006 (mostly courtesy LegionWorld and LegionClubhouse, as seen in my April 2006 analysis; recent data via Marc-Oliver Frisch at The BEAT). Click each image to enlarge.

Yes, sales on the current book are sliding, but so are most series. And it's still higher sales than any other series in the last 10 years.

Previously here: sales through April 2006, along with commentary and analysis; sales through June 2006.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Issue 23 review roundup

Update 10/30 Added two more at the bottom.
Update 10/31 Added one more.

Here's a roundup of reactions to this week's new Supergirl and the Legion #23, at least those of you who got the issue. As always, in no particular order. I've only found a few reviews so far, maybe because of the delay. Well, I'll add more as I find them (or as others point out to me).
  • Matthew at the Legion Abstract:
    In this title we've had no major story since Sun Boy punched out Lemnos, and only a bunch of subplots bleeding from issue to issue with no obvious end. And, again, all the ingredients were good, but they inevitably added up to less than the sum of their parts. If we're now into a good butt-kicking Mon-El and LSV story, then that's great, but I want to go on record as saying that I don't want to read comics that are only killing time until other comics come along.

    I was pretty pleased by this issue, but it also pointed out to me how frustrating the preceding six-or-seven issues had been. It's possible I've been too generous in my evaluations up to now.

  • Queer Legion (QL) at The Planetary Chance Machine had to buy the Hughes cover because the regular one was delayed:
    Overall: Another solid issue from WnK. The story should please both the "not enough action" crowd and "let's wrap-up the Supergirl arc" folks. I can't wait for the next issue!

  • Harvey Jerkwater at the Filing Cabinet of the Damned is a new reader:
    After decades of avoiding them, I've started reading The Legion of Super-Heroes. A reboot, plus Mark Waid, got my attention. So I bought the first two trade paperback collections.

    Danged if I don't like it. Waid plays into the zeitgeist very well. He is a clever, clever bastard.

  • Jeff Lester, one of the Savage Critic(s):
    I wax and wane in my appreciation of this title. There's so much to like (clever dialogue, lovely art), why does the stuff I don't dig turn me off so much? I'm inclined to think the good stuff makes the bad stuff stick out that much more (a character thinking she's just in a weird dream for, like, months, is the main craw currently stuck in my throat) but I really don't know. Any ideas? OK because it's too accomplished for Eh even though my real feelings about it are indeed Eh.

  • The Original Losing Loser at seebelow LJ community:
    Boy, I keep wanting to like this more than I do, and it lets me down. Waid seems to be getting as bored writing it as I am reading it. On the upside, they finally seem to be getting shed of the tedious Supergirl-memory-loss stuff, but it comes after too much dickig around, and the big cliffhanger (the return of Mon-El! Sort of!) comes after pages of snores. I wanna give it another chance, but the Mon-El stuff better be dynamite. The Verdict: Zzzzz.

    New 10/30

  • Jeffrey Bridges at Superman Homepage:
    I have but two problems with this book right now. One, I think there are just too many concurrent sub-stories that haven't been touched on in forever. Sun Boy. The giant criminals. It just feels like there's a little TOO much and it's reaching a critical mass. I sincerely hope Waid is able to tie all the pieces together well enough to pull it off.

    The other problem isn't as much of a real "problem", but what I loved the most about this book when I read the first few issues was the sense of fun and adventure, excitement and camaraderie between Legion members. For the past several months that lighthearted fun that I so loved has been missing, and it's missing still.

    I'm still enjoying it, but not as much as I once did. Perhaps it's because it's so difficult to follow the plethora of stories running at the same time with dozens of different characters, or perhaps it's just not as light-hearted anymore, I don't know.

  • Graeme McMillan, another of the Savage Critic(s):
    Fill-in creators Tony Bedard and Adam DeKraker disappear after a couple of months, and suddenly the book regains some of the momentum that it’s lost over… hmm… the past couple of months. Coincidence, or something more sinister? ... I’m certainly hopeful that the focused storytelling that’s on show here sticks around, and a refocused-and-hopefully-less-under-the-52-deadline-gun Mark Waid continues to remember that, as nice as subplots are, it’s always nice to have an A plot, as well.

    Update 10/31

  • Rokk Krinn at Rokk's Comic Book Revolution:
    Overall: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #23 was more of the same boring pointless writing however, the last three pages give me hope. I think that this title may actually be turning the corner. For the first time in a while, I’m actually excited for the next issue of Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes. I just hope Waid can deliver.

Season 2 rumors and "Phantoms" preview

A couple of days ago, writer Matt Wayne said

"...while Legion hasn't been greenlit for a second season, Warner is getting a group of writers together to talk about it just in case. Including me."

Today's Comics Continuum contains this:
...a source indicated to The Continuum that a second season for the series is "a good possibility." If a second season happens, Darkseid might be a major villain.

LegionWorld wonders if that happens, what will it mean to the proposed "Great Darkness Saga" DVD adaptation?

The Continuum also has some preview images from next week's new episode, "Phantoms". Unexpectedly (by me, at least), it's not Mon-el (or even Dev-em). LegionWorld has a copy of the promo commercial, and apparently the guy's name is Drax.

Remember, next week is the start of three new episodes.

Stuff on eBay

The first of an occasional series of posts about interesting things for sale on eBay.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sun Girl speculation

Chameleon1609 at the DC Comics message board has an interesting theory that I hadn't heard about or considered yet:

Hi guys, thought i would post a thread about the Villaness in Titans East,if its been done , sorry. Her name is Deborah Morgna, a decendant of Dirk perhaps, my original thought was that she was Inferno, but her name was Sandy Anderson so....

If Sun Girl of Titans East really is the character most recently known as Inferno, it could explain her "Morgna" name (though Inferno was known as Sandy Anderson) and Sun Boy/Sun Girl/Inferno costume similarities, and as far as we know she's still in the 21st century. I don't recall what her last appearance was, but it's also not inconceivable that this is the post-Infinite Crisis rebooted version of the post-Zero Hour reboot character Inferno.

Legion TV schedule Nov. 2006

Via ToonZone, here are the airdates and episodes for the Legion show for November. All episodes are supposed to air at 10:00 a.m. local time on The CW Network.

Nov. 04 - episode 6 new, "Phantoms"
Nov. 11 - episode 5 new, "Champions"
Nov. 18 - episode 4 new, "Fear Factory"
Nov. 25 - episode 2, "Timber Wolf" (4th airing)

Episode 6: "PHANTOMS"
When Superman accidentally opens a gateway to a phantom dimension, a young man with powers identical to his is freed in the process. Now Superman must not only stop this destructive visitor, but also rescue the Legionnaires when they become trapped in the vistor's dimension.

Make way for Mon-el, stuck in the Phantom Zone?

Episode 5: "CHAMPIONS"
While supporting Lighting Lad as he competes in the challenging Galactic Games, Superman and Phantom Girl uncover a sinister plot by the Fatal Five! Lightning Lad has troubles of his own when he finds his biggest competition from someone close to him.

Back in June, we learned that "Mekt Ranzz, Lightning Lad's brother, will appear in an episode." This sounds like it, unless it's Ayla here.

Episode 4: "FEAR FACTORY"
During a cosmic storm, the team takes refuge in a creepy, derelict space station. On board, one-by-one, each Legionnaire faces his or her deepest fear -- and then disappears.

Previously: schedule for Sept./Oct. 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rob Hoegee, Matt Wayne, and the happy monkey dance

Somehow I missed posting this one. Legion story editor (which is pretty high up in the chain of command) Rob Hoegee was interviewed last week at CBR, as a companion piece to their earlier James Tucker interview. Highlights of Rob's chat, which can be seen in its entirety here:

What era was the biggest inspiration for the show?

"I've probably drawn the majority of my inspiration from the Silver Age run - mostly in terms of the sense of fun and adventure it had," Hoegee told CBR News. "One of the great aspects of writing for Legion is how each new creator brought his or her own interpretation to the world and characters. I'd like to think we're doing the same thing here."

What about the fan reaction?
Critics and fans seem to agree on their love for "Legion Of Super Heroes," a reaction that puts a smile on Hoegee's face. "I'm sure that for long-time Legion fans, seeing some of their favorite characters in their very own show for the first time must have been special," he said. "Legion fans are notoriously vocal. The sentiment of 'don't screw it up' is something I've been very mindful of."

What about the epic storylines?
"The trend these days is for more contained 'stand alone' episodes, but James Tucker and I are interested in finding ways to have some continuing threads in the future. Character arcs are another matter though. We do have quite a bit of emotional continuity between episodes. Another trick is to make each episode feel 'epic' on its own."

What do you do as a story editor for the show?
"Writing an episode usually takes about 6-8 weeks start to finish. On Legion, most of our stories are generated internally - meaning I'll come up with an idea (or James Tucker will, or we will together) and then a writer is hired. After a premise is approved by DC and the network, I'll sit down with the writer and flesh out the entire episode beat for beat. Once everything is figured out - and this usually takes a few hours - I'll bring James into the room and pitch him what we've got. He'll add his ideas and then the writer goes off to write an outline. Then the fun begins."

What's coming up?
"Lots of new characters, that's for sure," he said of what to expect. "We've got a two-part season finale that promises to be a real knockout. We actually get a bit epic in the last three episodes, with writing duties split between Amy Wolfram, David Slack and myself. As far as hints, I've noticed in the fan feedback to our 'Timber Wolf' episode many were wondering why we set the story on the planet Raal instead of Zoon. This wasn't an oversight. You'll find our why in episode 9."

Meanwhile, ToonZone caught up with writer Matt Wayne for a chat on his new Hellboy show, but he dropped a few items about his work on the Legion:
TZN: What are you currently working on and when can we expect to see it?

I just found out that between Legion of Super-Heroes and Tom and Jerry, I have a credit airing every Saturday morning in November. ... And my favorite Legion credit is "Champions," which airs that month. I'm developing something for Cartoon Network that could be greenlit in by the end of the year, and while Legion hasn't been greenlit for a second season, Warner is getting a group of writers together to talk about it just in case. Including me. My first comic book in a while, Legends of the Dark Knight #213, is on sale December 20th.

It's been a month since the premiere and people are still writing about how cool it is, how happy they are to see the show, and what? There's a Legion show? No way, dude! Here's Chort Psychoshaie's reaction, and I think it pretty much says it all.
They did it, they really did it.

I've wanted this series to be a carton since I escaped the amish and found technology such as your tv.

*does happy monkey dance.*

Movie night

While we're waiting for new episodes of the animated TV series, may I suggest a movie? Over at the latest Googleplex Theatres is One Shot Hero. Produced by Dave Miller, based on the story by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum. You can see the source material at Ye Olde Comick Book Blogge as I mentioned the other day.

ERG-1 has all the powers of the Legionnaires - yet he's rejected due to a quirk in the rules that requires a unique power, by none other than a man who turns that quirk to his advantage. Was Mon-el jealous of ERG-1? His own powers were not unique when compared to Superboy, yet he bans ERG-1 for the very same thing.

Of course, you can't get to the theater late, you have to see the trailers first. Coming soon from Studio Sanning and 20th Century Dox are the trailers to The Ghost of Ferro Lad (based on Adventure 352-3) and Escape of the Fatal Five (based on Adventure 365-6). Note that the trailers only work in Internet Explorer, not Firefox, even the new version.

The animation styles for each are very different - the ERG story is completely hand-drawn and animated in Flash, while the two trailers were done in the style of the old 1960s Marvel cartoons, where the animation consisted of moving static images from panels taken directly from the comics from one side of the screen to the other. Each have cool sound effects and animation, and each is true to the source material.

P.S. Sorry, Dave, I meant to write this up over the summer when you sent me the link in the first place.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Legion #23 delayed

In much of the country, due to some last minute snafus, two books will not ship this week: Seven Soldiers #1 and Supergirl and the Legion #23. Instead, they'll ship one week late. This only applies if your retailer gets their books via the Memphis TN distribution center and not the NYC or LA centers.

This week will see a variant cover by Adam Hughes, in a 10:1 ratio with the "standard" cover. The standard book is the one that's delayed, while the variant book (with its subsequent higher price) will be available.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What a character!

A roundup of various character-related posts on these here internets lately....

  • New blogger Queer Legion (QL) at The Planetary Chance Machine has been showcasing various Legionnaires as part of Beefcake/Cheesecake Appreciation Week. As mentioned earlier here (Saturn Girl and Shrinking Violet Got Back!), here's Dream Girl (v3 era), followed by new images of Colossal Boy (current version), v3-era Princess Projectra and Mon-el, and Phantom Lad and Cosmic Boy. Other Legion-related entries include v4-era Dream Girl at the Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat.

  • Queer Legion (QL) is currently following that up with some of his favorite Legion "character" moments: Brainy and Dream Girl during the Universo Project, and Ultra Boy and Light Lass with a light moment rebuilding after Omega.

  • Over at the Legion Abstract, Matthew has been writing a series of wonderfully analytical essays on various Legionnaires, which I have been sadly neglecting. Here's his take on Invisible Kid:
    Now, I speculated [earlier] that Invisible Kid's power of disappearing made him perceived as inherently untrustworthy by the other Legionnaires. And the idea still appeals to me. But I now think that another possibility is that his power matches the desire of an abused child to hide, to disappear, to not be there anymore. I'm not comfortable putting too much weight on that idea, but you can have it if you want it.

    The point is that he can get some support in the Legion. Probably he needs more therapy than they can give him, but at least they'll cut him the slack that his parents never did. He'll get comfortable, he'll let down his guard a bit, he'll grow up a little. He’s a superhero and a Legionnaire; he’ll be fine.

    That was followed by QL's response at The Planetary Chance Machine.
    Lyle’s reactions follow a classic passive-aggressive pattern. Some of the panels you feature support this: Lyle faces people and situations in which he’s relatively powerless. He “provokes” [sic] in many instances not overtly and in a way that elicits a strong negative response. This behavioral pattern allows Lyle the luxury of trying to assert himself, while maintaining his self-perception of being an under-appreciated victim. Furthermore, you may be correct in your assessment that “his power matches the desire of an abused child to hide, to disappear, to not be there anymore” [sic], but I view Lyle’s power as more a metaphor of his own feelings of social impotence and lack of recognition by those around him. Lyle feels “invisible”, especially to those from whom he craves recognition the most.

    Go read both for some interesting analysis.

  • Scott at Polite Dissent remembers Tenzil Kem's v4-era "All-Star Benefit Concert to Rebuild the Earth". Why do we remember who Shagrek is?

  • Puppyboy Sukk has a celebrity crush on the new Sun Boy.

  • The Fortress Keeper at the Fortress of Fortitude notes that it's good to be Chuck Taine, can't wait for Waid to reintroduce him in the current Legion, recognizes his fighting prowess on the Justice League and LSH cartoons, and thinks Bouncing Boy is cool. Commenter John Freer notes that
    Bouncing Boy was the Legion’s own Ringo Starr. Not a key player by talent or position but nonetheless posessed by a high social intelligence and an ineffable charisma.
    Guys like that always land in the sack with twins.

    The same, however, can't be said for Silver Age Matter-Eater Lad, who was always eating vaguely phallic items and talking with his mouth full of stun-beam.

  • For some reason, Brian Hughes at Again With the Comics is proud of the fact that he is apparently the #1 Google hit for Dr. Mayavale. That story, from LSH v2 #268, ranks down there with the worst Legion stories ever written and/or drawn. At least the issue had a nice cover by George Perez.

  • Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge takes a snarky look back at Superboy #195, featuring the first appearance of Wildfire.
    Going back to my original point, while my knowledge of the Legion's adventures is limited, I'm struck by the fact most of them seem to be treated as epic, life changing events by the Legionnaires. ... I get the impression if the Legion went to Safeway and found the bakery section was understocked on bagels, tears would be spilled and a statue would be built to commemorate the date.

    Wait, who's that guy in the green? Is that actually Chemical King, in a real mission? (OK, the mission is to fight "a giant, mob controlled dustbuster that's destroying all the crops on an agriculture planet as part of a scheme to shake down the Federation for money", but still - a real mission!)

Animated roundup

Boy, you stop blogging for a few days and those internets just keep on rolling. Here are some things you might have missed related to the animated show (and while you're reading, remember that I'm trying to give away a genuine copy of Adventure Comics #247):

  • Denimdamsel is excited not about the show itself but what logically follows these days:
    This means there are going to be little LSH fans running about playgrounds all over the nation! This means that I will most likely be able to buy a Brainiac 5 lunch-box, and all the over-priced action figures an obsessed fan-girl could ever dream of! Oh joy of joys! Saturday mornings just won me back. Sleep? Sprock sleep, I say; there is Legion to be had once again! Let the world rejoice and be glad in it! Forsooth!...um. Yeah I think that's enough.

    No word yet on those action figures and lunchboxes, but I've been keeping an eye on things looking for it all. I'll report in when there's something to report.

  • Antonio Sugizo chimes in after seeing the first three episodes:
    ...As much as I wanted to hate the stuff, I have to admit it's perfectly okay in terms of cartoons produced for the 6 to 11 crowd. Still hate that ugly character design they came with for Brin and Brainy, though (Ugh.. that Transformers thing in the first episode was just awful...).

  • Comics Continuum's Rob Alstetter reviews the show in his Detroit News blog. There's really nothing new there, it's a compilation of quotes from his earlier interviews (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), but it's a good summary aimed at those who aren't familiar with the show like we are.

  • Ty's Toy Box, a site for licensing industry news and information, calls the show "retro cool".
    Anyway, if I had talked about Legion, it most likely would’ve gone something like this: Wah wah wah, I am sad about Teen Titans being cancelled, but there is a small chance that Legion of Super Heroes will fill this hole in my heart.

    (I’d like to tell you it would’ve made more sense than that, but I’m afraid that’s pretty much what I would’ve said.)

    I don’t know if they’ve truly filled the hole, but they are just the kind of entertainment that someone who, say, grew up on Super Friends and later enjoyed Teen Titans might really get into. Its roots are in “old school” comics, while still bringing in plenty of what makes a modern kids’ show appealing.

  • Louise has a few dozen screen captures of the pilot episode, "Man of Tomorrow".

  • Mike, Die Führer von Piggies has an overall opinion on the series so far.
    Updated thoughts on the Legion of Superheroes cartoon: 6 - 6.5 /10.

    I've had time to reflect on it, and that's what I think of it. At first I said "a solid 7" but now I think 6.0~6.5 is about right. I don't know why, but it's not a show that I really get eager to see another episode of. More like "Legion's on... but I can just download it and watch it later" as opposed to "Justice League is on. Shoot the neighbors, drown the kids, and unplug the phone. Gonna 'geek out!'"

    It's pretty good for a KidsWB cartoon that has to appeal to mindless children. Hell, it's fantastic in that aspect. But it doesn't seem GREAT to me just yet. Only three episodes so far. Maybe a show like this has a learning curve to it, and I hope so. I see some potential in it, but some things should probably be toned down...

More later on other subjects...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Baby Got Back!

This is my 300th post to the Omnicom. Thanks to all the people who keep coming back for more each day! Don't forget I've got a free copy of Adventure 247 to give away, check out this one for the details.

So what better way to celebrate 300 posts than with some cheesecake? It is Beefcake/Cheesecake week, after all.

I was 11 years old when this one came out in summer of 1977. I have never thought of Ric Estrada and Jack Abel as cheesecake artists before (or since) but they really did a job on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #232.

Here's a good shot of Saturn Girl in her 1970s hot pink bikini costume. Contrary to popular belief, Mike Grell did not design this one (a fan named K. Haven Metzger - Kim? - did in 1970), but she used it from 1970-1982.

The plot involved people being shrunk, which gave the artists a chance to do some worm's-eye-view of the festivities...

... and a bird's eye view of the little people. That's Shrinking Violet over to the right.

Here's Shrinking Violet wearing Saturn Girl's costume. Notice how she fills it out differently from Imra (2nd picture above).

The Planetary Chance Machine weighs in with a classic shot of the appropriately-named Dream Girl.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sun Girl

Apparently I haven't been reading the right things, because in the upcoming Titans East storyline (beginning in Teen Titans #42), there's a new character named Sun Girl. She's related somehow - her name's Deborah Morgna. Sun Girl was mentioned by Dan DiDio back in August in one of the DC Nation columns.

Here's her Wikipedia page, with a little more about Titans East.

From Wizard #180 is this description of Sun Girl, as written by Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson:

SUN GIRL: My most dangerous weapon and my greatest concern, Deborah Morgna harnesses the power of the sun, but her real talent - and true love - is manipulating others. Disturbingly, she reminds me a great deal of Terra. Even more disturbingly, she reminds me of Rose. Hopefully neither of those assessments indicates things to come.

Art by Tony Daniels, from Wizard:

I like the upturned collar, reminiscent of the costume that her descendant(?) Dirk wore.

Finally, the cover to Teen Titans #43, just announced and appearing in January. That's her at the 2:00 position.

Coming in January

In addition to Action Comics Annual #10 preview the other day, here's what else is coming up in January:

Here's Action Annual 10 (the standard edition, not the limited cover edition) with the cover copy, and boy does it make a difference. The caption "Clark Kent's Big Brother" is a reference to Mon-el's original appearance in Superboy #89, where he was called "Superboy's Big Brother".

Next up is Justice Society of America #2, cover by Alex Ross, featuring Starman. Of course, that's the Kingdom Come version of Starman's costume, which is an extension of the v3 Thom Kallor, though the last time we saw someone in this particular costume, it was the reboot version of Thom Kallor. Wonder if this is the hat trick, the current version of Thom Kallor?

Finally, Supergirl and the Legion #26.

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Barry Kitson & Mick Gray
Cover by Kitson
The Dominators' plan to destroy Earth reaches fruition as the Robot Rebellion sweeps the planet! And with key Legionnaires having defected to the "Adult Legion," Cosmic Boy knows this is a war the team can't win!
On sale January 24 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Is it just me or does that big robot look like Blok?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Trivia 4 answers

Good job to the Legion of Super Trivia Guessers for finally getting the last answer to this quiz.

1. At various points, some Legionnaires used "secret identities" other than their real name or super-hero code name. Who used the following secret identities for any length of time?

  • a - Ultra Boy was known as Gary Crane when he went back to 20th century Smallville in his first appearance. (Superboy 98)
  • b, c, f - When Mon-el, Shadow Lass, and Duo Damsel went back to Smallville to escape Mordru, they took the names Bob Cobb, Betsy Norcross, and Marie Elkins, respectively. (ADV 369)
  • d, e - When Mon-el joined up, he took a couple different code names so that nobody would know it was him, including Legionnaire Lemon (an anagram of Mon-el) and Marvel Lad. (ADV 305)
  • g, i - Star Boy and Dream Girl were known as Sir Prize and Miss Terious when they tried to rejoin the Legion. (ADV 350)
  • h - Element Lad was known as Mystery Lad while he hid his powers from Roxxas.(ADV 307)
  • j - Supergirl was known as Unknown Boy once when she was under the influence of Red Kryptonite (see article here). (ADV 334)

2. Which member of a super-villain team got a statue in the Hall of Dead Heroes?
Mentalla, who had joined the Fatal Five so she could try to bring it down from within, unbeknownst to the Legion. When she died in battle, they gave her a statue. (Legion v3 #26)

3. Who had Yorggian Fever, and what effects did it have on them?
The Durlan who later became R. J. Brande caught it. It had the effect of freezing a Durlan's next transformation, so he became Brande. (As revealed in the "Secrets of the Legion" miniseries)

4. Across all continuities, how many unique members have the Fatal Five had? (count all versions of an individual character as one person - i.e., pre-Crisis Sarya the Emerald Empress, the post-reboot Empress, and both cartoon Emerald Empresses are considered the same for this question.)
I counted nine: Tharok, Validus, Persuader, Emerald Empress, and Mano (the original five); Mentalla, Caress, and Flare (replacements when the Empress led the team with Persuader by her side); and Mordecai (Validus's replacement vs the SW6 Legionnaires).

5. What warning appeared on the box for the Legion Flight Rings offered by DC Direct?
Warning: This ring does not enable the wearer to fly! (see here for a picture)

6. The Miracle Machine - when was its first chronological appearance, whose invasion of Earth was repelled by using it, who tried to steal it, and what finally happened to it?
The first chronological appearance was in "DC Comics Presents" #50, when it inadvertantly split apart Superman and Clark Kent in the 20th century. It was used to repel the invasion of Earth by the Dark Circle (Adventure 367), Ben Pares tried to steal it (Superboy 214), and Brainiac 5 used it to create Omega, after which Matter-Eater Lad ate it (S/LSH 250-251).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Free copy of Adventure Comics 247!

No, not a dream, a hoax, or an imaginary story. I have an extra copy of the original Adventure Comics 247 from 1958 that I want to get rid of but can't figure out how.

Lemme explain.

At the San Diego con in 1995, I stumbled across a reasonably-priced copy of this issue. As a Legion fan, it was my "holy grail" of comics. Here's how I recounted it a couple years later:

I got mine at the 1995 San Diego con, just beating out Jim Drew for the right to buy it. A dealer (Mike Carbonaro) had bought a large collection to sell at SDCC and pulled out the top books to display. They didn't really get a chance to look at everything closely, the guy said. Jim and I passed by the booth and I noticed it in a display case, the first time I had ever seen a copy. It was way more than I wanted to spend for the convention, but I rationalized it as a Congressional "off-the-budget" purchase. I was still wavering, and Jim told me that if I didn't buy it, he would. So I had to buy it. :) Of course, I didn't look at it closely enough until I got home, only to find out that (a) it had been restored (rice paper strengthening the cover, new staples, minor color touchups) and (b) the centerfold was missing. I wound up contacting him and getting a rebate the next year (which I wound up spending on Adventure 267 and Action 267 from him anyway).

(If anyone here was reading Usenet or the LSH-L mailing list in 1995, this is the infamous "milkshake copy".)

So for 11 years I had my copy of Adventure Comics 247, missing a centerfold. Someone sent me scans of what I was missing (a Little Pete gag page, a two-page ad, and the first page of the Green Arrow story), but I was always on the lookout for a spare centerfold from the issue. Of course, those never show up, so I eventually started looking for crappy beat-up copies with the centerfold intact, thinking I'd cannibalize the issue. And whaddaya know, this summer I finally found the right candidate. For the grand sum of $35, I bought a copy that was missing the cover and the first wraparound (which is the first two pages of the Legion story, and two ads) and had a detached centerfold. Score! (The seller threw in a copy of the Silver Age Classics issue too.)

But what do I do with rest of the issue? The pages (that are left) are in decent condition, considering it's nearly 50 years old. If I were to put it up on eBay, the selling price would barely cover my listing fees - per Overstreet rules, it's probably worth about ten bucks.

I figured that since November 8th is my one-year blogiversary here at the Omnicom, I'll just give it away as a celebration gimmick. But how and who? That's where you guys come in - I'll let my readers (about 150-200 per day) figure it out. It's not a beg-a-thon and I'm not asking for anything in return. How should I get rid of this issue and who should I give it to? If you want it, tell me why you should get it. Bribery is an option but not a guarantee.

For the winner, I'll also throw in that Silver Age Classics reprint and a CD with scans of the missing pages. Absolutely free, I'll even pay for postage.

To Freedom, Friendship, and Frunt!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mon-el in January

Thanks to ajohns2012 on the Comicbloc boards for the tip. Look who's on the cover of Action Comics Annual #10, on sale in January. So now we have 21st and 31st century appearances of Mon-el. How many times does this guy have to get put into the Phantom Zone, anyway?

Newsarama's got the details on some of the books. In 52, it sounds like we see who Supernova really is in January. On the cover to Action Annual 10, we see what looks like Supernova and Mon-el. Any relation?

Written by Geoff Johns & Richard Donner
Art by Art Adams, Joe Kubert,
Pete Woods, Rags Morales, Kevin Maguire, Eric Wight and Tony Daniel
Cover by Adam Kubert & Joe Kubert
Variant cover by Gary Frank
What do Art Adams, Joe Kubert, Pete Woods, Rags Morales, Kevin Maguire and Eric Wight have in common? No, they’re not the latest rogues in Superman’s gallery!
Rather, they’re just some of the talents DC has assembled to deliver ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #10, the place to catch up on all that’s new to Superman’s world — and to catch a glimpse of things to come in future issues of ACTION!
Retailers: This issue will feature 2 covers that may be ordered separately. The Standard Edition cover is by Adam Kubert & Joe Kubert; one copy of the Variant Edition, with a cover by Gary Frank, may be ordered for every 10 copies of the Standard Edition ordered. Please see the Previews Order Form for further details.
On sale January 31 • 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US

(Click picture to enlarge)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Trvia quiz #4

More trivia...

1. At various points, some Legionnaires used "secret identities" other than their real name or super-hero code name. Who used the following secret identities for any length of time?
a. Gary Crane
b. Bob Cobb
c. Marie Elkins
d. Legionnaire Lemon
e. Marvel Lad
f. Betsy Norcross
g. Miss Terious
h. Mystery Lad
i. Sir Prize
j. Unknown Boy

2. Which member of a super-villain team got a statue in the Hall of Dead Heroes?

3. Who had Yorggian Fever, and what effects did it have on them?

4. Across all continuities, how many unique members have the Fatal Five had? (count all versions of an individual character as one person - i.e., pre-Crisis Sarya the Emerald Empress, the post-reboot Empress, and both cartoon Emerald Empresses are considered the same for this question.)

5. What warning appeared on the box for the Legion Flight Rings offered by DC Direct?

6. The Miracle Machine - when was its first chronological appearance, whose invasion of Earth was repelled by using it, who tried to steal it, and what finally happened to it?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dial V for Vs. System

Been doing a little looking around for information on the Vs. System card game coming soon.

It appears that the game comes out as sneak previews in early December, in time for some gaming tournaments around the country (and even around the world). In those, entrants get some sealed packs to use in the tournament, then they get to keep the cards when it's all over. Then, the cards go on sale in late December and early January 2007.

Here's some information about the Sneak Preview tournaments in Louisville, KY; Detroit, MI; Warren and Cincinnati, OH; Toronto, ON; Birmingham, AL; Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and Jacksonville, FL; Atlanta, GA; and Sydney, Australia. I'm sure there are more.

Supposedly there's an article in InQuest Magazine #140 (see here, post #40), which would be next month's if Wizard's site is to be believed.

Finally, the cheapest I've been able to find a box is $52 per box from The EdgeMan in Dallas, if I'm reading their page correctly. Each box has 24 packs, each pack with 14 cards, or a total of 336 cards per box.

It appears that the entire set includes about 220 cards:
-- 110 common cards
-- 55 uncommon cards (13:1)
-- 55 rare cards (1:1)
-- Complete parallel foil set (1:1)

(Not quite sure what the 1:1 and 13:1 notations mean, though - one per box? One per pack?)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dial A for Animated

So we've got three whole weeks to kill with no new episodes. You get spoiled really fast with a weekly show, this is like four times harder than a monthly comic.

After three episodes, it's clear that the creative staff is playing with us. Booster Gold in the first episode, Lobo and the JLA Watchtower in the third, Interlac being used correctly, the Mission Monitor Board symbols, cameos by Tyroc and Blok on the viewscreens... what Easter Eggs will they come up with next? JK Parkin at Blog@Newsarama noticed that too. The STX Super-Hero Site has stills of Timber Wolf's swearing-in ceremony with the cameos, plus stills from the opening credits showing the Mission Monitor Board symbols.

Lizard_SF has review that was too late to put in the regular column here.

The story gave more characterization to this version of Brainiac...he's a terminal Superboy fanboy. So if the original Brainy was hot for Supergirl, does this mean this version is...ah...running on alternate current? Just how many useful attachments does he have? We also got a bit of characterization for Phantom Girl, which is, let's face it, more than she ever had during the Silver Age.

Finally, the latest issue of "Animation Magazine" (with "Open Season" on the cover, the October 2006 issue) has a one-page feature story (not online) on the Legion show. It's part of their Fall TV Preview coverage. It's a good article, though not spellchecked very well: for example, the show centers on Superman "and 5 [sic] other core members of his group - Lighting Lad [sic], Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Brainiac 5, Bouncing Boy, and Phantom Girl." We do find out that the animation is mostly done at Dong Woo and Lotto Studios in South Korea, mostly the 2D stuff, with some CG effects. The article also includes an image of a storyboard drawing from the opening credits.
Tucker says he's been happy that the team has been faithful to the many different incartions of the Legion. "The fandom is very loyal... they're like country music fans in many way [sic]," says Tucker. "I know these characters have gone through numerous changes. The comic book has stopped and started again and been re-booted. But we've tried to absorb a lot of the comic's continuity in our cartoon. I know the show is supposed to stand on its own, but I'm a comic book fan myself. I just can't help it!"

click to read the article

Note the vertical dotted lines on the storyboard image, a good comparison between the full and widescreen versions.

Compare this to a similar shot from the opening credits (from legionaire.ms11.net):

Dial L for Legion

Dial L for Legion
Over at Robby Reed's Dial B for Blog, he just finished up today a 10-part series on Ira Schnapp. Ira's name might not be familiar to you (unless you're a fan of Silver Age comics), but you're very familiar with his work. Among the items he did while working for DC since the Golden Age were such minor things as the logos for "Superman", "Action Comics", "Adventure Comics", "Green Lantern", "Justice League", "Flash", and "Hawkman", not to mention hand-lettering practically every cool Silver-Age-looking ad up through around 1968. Those are his letters and logos on every cover of Adventure Comics through the late 1960s, including Adventure 247. It's a fascinating story. Check it out starting here and be prepared to be amazed at how may times you say "He did that, too?"

Speaking of Letters
As I mentioned yesterday, you need to have a copy of the Interlac font (or at least the translation table) if you're watching the Legion show, or just want to have something cool to show off. Here's an Interlac translation table at Wikipedia, with a link on the page to download freeware fonts.

And for another comic-related font, go to the HayFamZone to check out OdaBaloon, a freeware font based on the lettering of Ben Oda, who (among many other things) worked for DC in the 1970s and 1980s, including many Legion stories. The font appears to be designed by Ben's son (grandson?) Bill.

Speaking of the 1980s
Over at the Superman Through the Ages forum, the prolific Julian Perez takes a look at Roy Thomas's short run as Legion writer in 1981. Roy only wrote a few issues during the Superboy/Ultra Boy/Reflecto arc.

What is most interesting about these issues is how "Marvel-style" the book feels; a very strange thing for LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. The story is driven by the the feelings and motivations of the characters, instead of having them be reactive out of a sense of duty to things going on around them. The story is driven by Grimbor the Chainsman's desire for revenge at the death of his wife and Phantom Girl's desire to learn about the fate of her beloved Ultra Boy. ...

Roy Thomas also returned Superboy to the Legion.

The problem is that Superboy is a much more significant character to the Legion than I think, Conway and others believe: Superboy is our "point of view" character; not just a cypher who asks "what's that," he's the point of identification with the audience, what John the Savage is to Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD, or what Fry is to FUTURAMA.

Superboy is also significant to Legion history and identity. Legion started off as a Superboy spin-off, after all; the book is very much in the Superman Family along with Supergirl and World of Krypton. Further, Superboy is also something of the "star" of the book: he gets top billing and attention in a way not comparable to anybody since, well, BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS, or perhaps the current popularity of Wolverine in the X-Men.

He's all these things rolled into ONE. So Superboy's contribution to the Legion can't be underestimated. And why Roy Thomas's decision to bring him back into the book was a wise one.

Speaking of the Superman Family
The one and only Chris Sims and his Invincible Super-Blog reviews Adventure Comics 364, the Revolt of the Super-Pets.
Before long, the Super-Pets have beaten the living crap out of the Legionnaires, a fight that ends with Comet kicking their space-ship so hard that it flies back to Earth, which may actually be the Legion's most humiliating defeat ever.
Comet, taking advantage of the fact that he turns into a human being whenver he's around a comet due to a curse by Circe from what's got to be the most complicated Non-Claremont origin in the history of comics, takes the identity of Biron the Bowman whose mastery of the longbow is matched only by the tininess of his shorts!
Invisible Kid even goes so far as to tell the Comet that they recognized him right off when he tried out as Biron the Bowman, but wanted to prove that they could re-earn the Super-Pets' trust. Heck, they even sent Supergirl off on another mission so she wouldn't find out about Comet's dual identity, which, uh, means that the Legion is totally cool with the fact that Supergirl occasionally dates a horse.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Episode 1.03: Legacy

Another good episode from Tucker & Co. This one was written by Scott Sonneborn and directed by Tim Maltby, the first by each in this series.

Interestingly, the very last scene in the episode showed Alexis in prison, tinkering with the head of her robot. Anyone who can read Interlac knows what the name on her prison outfit said. Does the fact that the logo on the side of the Aart Cloud satellite looked like a double L trigger anything in your memory? Or that here's a red-headed contemporary of Clark's who wanted to be friends with Superboy but something happened to push them towards evil, in the process causing them to lose their hair? Sound familiar? Maybe the name "Alexis" itself? I called it back when the episode descriptions first came out, though I figured it would just be a coincidence. Apparently you couldn't have a Superman without one of these family members. Nice job! You don't have to have seen the name, the episode works just fine without it, but it's a clever touch.

On the face of it - as written for the target 6-11 year old audience - it's about a spoiled rich kid who throws a hissy fit when she doesn't get what she wants. But for the rest of us (those of us over the age of 11), it's a surprisingly complex story interweaving the Legacy aspect of Superman, Alexis, and Brainiac 5. All of them have direct or ancestral ties to the present-day DC Universe, and each of them is affected in some way by the past. Superman has to live up to the reputation he'll acquire in his future but the Legion's past, Brainy has to live with the reputation his robotic ancestor created in the past, while Alexis apparently has no idea of her ancestral legacy while inadvertantly recreating the circumstances which led to that legacy.

Can you imagine Paris Hilton as a super-villain?

First things first: here's an Interlac translation table at Wikipedia. Looks like you might need it for future episodes! There is a link on the page to download freeware fonts.

More downloadables: the hi-def widescreen torrent and the normal fullscreen torrent.

Some video clips at LegionWorld.


  • Rokk Krinn at Comic Book Revolutions
    This was another great episode! I am really digging this show. They have really done a great job with developing the personalities of the various Legionnaires. The chemistry between the Legionnaires is well done. We get plenty of excellent dialogue.

  • Matthew at Legion Abstract
    The first thing you have to know is that this episode, perhaps the entire series, was created specifically to appeal to me personally. I don't know how the show people got to know me so well, or why they decided that I was the most important part of their audience, but I certainly don't quibble with their decision.

  • Jeffrey Bridges at Superman Homepage
    Now we're talking.

    I still feel that the Timber Wolf episode was a bit of a misfire, but for all the ways that episode let me down this one made up for it.

  • Luagha liveblogs the episode, the first of the series that she's watched.
    You know, while I liked the episode, and I got the messages and all of that... it requires a very young Superman who makes childish mistakes, and that is okay. Just like I often beg for characters to do something smart in movies, I was begging for Superman to invite Alexis along to fight the Scavengers. ...If you're complaining about having no friends, make some. Be inclusive. Or if you can't, explain why .

  • David Alexander McDonald at wyldemusick thinks they've jumped the shark already with this episode.
    While it isn't what I'd consider an ideal version, I've been willing to allow Legion Of Superheroes a certain degree of leeway in the hopes that it will grow into something exceptional ... That series of thuds was an anvil dropping, hitting a teeter board, flipping the show up and over, and right across the snout of Bruce The Shark.

  • Van at Van's Universe
    The third episode deals with responsibility and the legacies that 3 characters in the show carry. Superman will one day become the greatest superhero of all time... But he's really caught in a tug-of-war between Alexis and Brainiac 5 as a nod to the triangle between Superman, Lex Luthor, and Brainiac.

  • The FortressKeeper at the Fortress of Fortitude
    The Keeper is adding his voice to those praising the new Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon.

    Like the late, lamented Teen Titans, the LoSH have been updated for a new generation yet retain the sense of fun - and much of the history, surprisingly - of the classic DC comics characters.

  • PDG at Serenity
    You’d think that 1000 years later, Alexis would maybe know about her ancestor’s relationship to the Man of Steel, no?

Forum Reviews:
LegionWorld, ToonZone

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tucker interviews in the news

There's an article out there, titled "'Legion of Super Heroes' soars onto Saturday-morning TV" and written by Bill Radford (who writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette) that has hit the Knight-Ridder-Tribune wire, with a nice interview with Legion producer and head honcho James Tucker. So far it only appears to have been published in two papers in the midwest, the Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel and the Belleville (IL) News-Democrat. Radford, who has his own comic blog "The Gazette Comics Fan", wrote last month about interviewing Tucker.

From the interview:

"The thing is that the Legion is in a quandary, because they can't tell [Superman] everything he needs to know about himself or they will create a whole bunch of time-paradox issues. So it's kind of like they're letting Superman discover who he is on his own."
Phantom Girl, whose mother is president of the United Planets, comes from a privileged class but is determined to get by on her own merits. "When we were auditioning, I told the actresses to think of Gilmore Girl, not Valley Girl," Tucker said. "She's real smart, very resourceful."
Other Legionnaires will appear during the first season of 13 episodes, Tucker promises. "Realistically, we couldn't show every single Legionnaire who could be in the Legion at one time."

The future portrayed in "Legion of Super Heroes" is an optimistic one, sort of a `50s attitude with space-age trappings, Tucker said. "There's only so many ways to do the future, I'm finding."

Meanwhile, Tucker was also interviewed by Arune Singh of ComicBookResources. In a much longer article, "James Tucker spoke with CBR News about the hit series, the villains to come, continuity, and what to expect in the near future...of the future."

It's actually hard to select just a few quotes from this hugely informative interview. Among the topics:
  • The "near universal positive fan response" to the show, a nice surprise to Tucker.
    "I wasn't expecting the fan reaction to be so positive," Tucker told CBR News. "I was thoroughly prepared to stay away from the message boards for the duration of the series, but I couldn't help myself and peeked the Sunday after the premiere. One of the most gratifying things about the positive response has been the amount of parents who say they are enjoying the show with their kids. 'Legion' is the perfect property to do a light-hearted, child friendly take on and I'm glad we didn't over think the premise or mess around with the formula too much."

  • What it's like to be a member of the Legion
    "I suppose Legion is the idealized version of teenhood in a structured high school setting, which is something that was a particularly good fit for the kind of show KidsWB has wanted for a while."

  • What about RJ Brande and the Legion's origin?
    Tucker said that fans would get a proper origin story. "The origin to the team will definitely be addressed down the line. As I stated before, I wanted the audience to get to know the characters as people without all the background stuff up front."

  • An introduction to the characters, for those who aren't familiar with the cast. An interesting bit of insight into Brainiac 5:
    "Brainiac 5, in our continuity, comes from the planet Colu founded by Superman's oldest foe, Brainiac. He's aware of his dark ancestor and hopes to make amends by doing good deeds and forging a friendship with the Man of Steel before he realizes what their connection will be in the past."

  • What about all the other Legionnaires we've seen glimpses of?
    "For the first season, we'll be dealing with the core group specifically and develop their story arcs and toward the middle and end of the season you'll see more guest stars. At the point we start the Legion, it's actively growing,"

  • Bring on the bad guys!
    "I don't want to spoil any surprises by spoiling what villains we see," he said, "I will say that a couple are traditional Legion villains with slightly new spins. A couple are Superman specific villains created for the show who have their origins in Superman's past. Some of the villains are doppelgangers for Superman's rogues gallery."

  • How did the show come about?
    "When I was brought in during the middle of the last season of 'Justice League Unlimited,' 'Legion' was being developed for another network and Alan Heinberg [Of 'The O.C' and 'Young Avengers' fame] was doing the writers bible for it," explained Tucker. "Originally, we solicited outside artists to take passes on the characters. Eventually, I came up with the final look of the team after literally thousands of drawings. Hopefully, some of the original takes will end up as an extra on the DVD or perhaps I'll be able to put them on a blog. Ultimately that studio passed on the show and at the 12th hour we pitched it to Kids WB since they were looking for a Superman-centric show to tie into the 'Superman Returns' movie.

  • Why has the show hit a lot of the notes that hardcore Legion fans would want in such a show? Tucker is a long-time fan of the Legion.
    "For me, I started with the Cary Bates/Mike Grell era and stayed with it up thru the great Levitz run. I can't say any particular era appeals to me most, but the more traditional takes, especially the Shooter/Swan era, seem the most fertile ground for the kinds of stories we want to tell on the series."

  • Is this version of the Legion related to the one we saw in earlier episodes?
    "I didn't go into this show hoping to link it up with what we did in 'JLU,' because it needs to stand on it's own and draw in new fans who ultimately will grow into the 'JLU' version if they haven't seen it yet... I'll let the fans make the connections since they see things that we as the creators don't see."

  • About the animation style:
    "Ultimately you have to design the show based on what overseas studio will be animating it. You can't create a complicated or overly stylized show for a studio that's not used to doing that kind of show. So I knew that I couldn't stray too far from what was done either in 'Justice League' or 'Teen Titans.' ... I tried to fit my style somewhere in the middle and push certain things like the body proportions in different directions."

  • What about merchandise?
    Tucker told CBR News that action figures and video games are being "considered," but couldn't comment on specifics, or provide a possible timetable for rolling out these products just quite yet.

  • Just what does Tucker do on the show, anyway?
    "The job description of producer is a hard one to qualify," explained Tucker. "Just speaking for myself, I oversee and approve every area of the show including character designs, backgrounds, color, voice direction, scripts, editing and the final sound mix. This is of course taking into consideration the input of my three directors, the story editor and the network, all of whom have a hand in the process. Ultimately though, it's my responsibility to pull it all together."

  • Finally, why should we watch the show?
    "I think it's ultimately an optimistic, upbeat show about the making of the world's greatest hero and how he learns to fulfill his destiny with the help of teenagers just as amazing as he is. It's a classic coming of age story."

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a LOT more in the CBR story, so check it out.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

TV ratings, 9/23/06 (LSH episode 1.01)

First, a digression.

When I was a kid, and September rolled around, I'd get the new TV Guide when it was time for the new season to start, and I'd plan my TV viewing. I'd circle the shows that I wanted to watch - no time for channel surfing, even though back then there were only five channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and two independent stations that showed reruns). Well, you couldn't surf because there were no remotes, you had to actually get up to change the channel, if you weren't already sitting right in front of the TV set.

Now kids have more channels to watch, but there's still Saturday morning cartoons on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and CW. Add cable stations and you add Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network. But it's still a business, first and foremost. TV shows have their fans, but if the series isn't making enough money for the network, they pull it in favor of something else. And if they figure out a way to make more money than the previous series, they'll do that other one.

Thus, Teen Titans and Justice League are not renewed, but the Legion gets a show. A lot of people are upset at that, at least the ones that post to the internet about it. But look at the diminishing returns for Time Warner (DC's corporate parent). JLU ran for 5 seasons, Titans for 3. Most animated series only last 3 seasons, long enough to get the right number of episodes for syndication. The last two seasons of JLU were a bonus, then.

But do you make more money off the 6th year of a series or the 1st? Clearly, season 1 of the Legion should be more profitable than season 6 of JLU - you've got a whole new series to adapt into merchandise and licensing, for one thing, so now you've got two series worth of goodies to foist upon young impressionable minds. And can you keep a series going when the creative staff says it's time to move on to something else? I'll be as unhappy as anyone in a couple of years when the Legion series is finally cancelled, but as they say, that's show business.

So, that being said... A few weeks ago I found a site that mentioned a place called Cynthia Turner's Cynopsis, a television industry newsletter. Among its editions is a version geared towards so-called "Children's Television" and related issues like marketing, licensing, and ratings. And this week they finally posted the Nielsen ratings for the Saturday morning shows.

For those not familiar, the TV industy uses "Nielsen ratings" to measure viewing audience. See the Wikipedia entry for more. Nielsen ratings are given as a pair of numbers, a "rating" and a "share". The rating number is a percentage of the total number of houses with TV sets who are watching the show, and the share is the percentage of TVs in use at the time. One ratings point is equivalent to about 1.1 million viewers, and a given rating can represent different shares based on when the sample was taken (there are fewer sets on at 3 a.m. than there are at 8 p.m.).

OK, now to the good stuff, enough with the preamble (and subsequent ratings discussion will only be the good stuff, none of that fluff I just wrote). As I mentioned, there are five broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CW/KidsWB) and three cable networks (Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney Channel) that program for kids on Saturdays, typically from around 7 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. One problem I had when comparing the ratings is that in some markets the shows are not on at the same time, so comparing shows in a given time slot might not reflect everyone's schedule, but I went with the most common time. Here's the raw data, as presented on the 10/2/06 CynKids edition.

(No, I don't know why Blogger puts in this huge blank space before the table. Anyone know how to fix it?)

NICKELODEONFairly OddParents 4.51910:00
DISNEY CHANNEL Handy Manny 2.41010:00
CARTOON NETWORK Fantastic Four 2.0910:00
CW (Kids' WB!) Legion of Super Heroes 2.0810:00
FOX (4Kids TV) Yu 1.9810:00
ABC That's So Raven 1.6710:00
NBC (Qubo on NBC)Veggie Tales 0.0010:00
NICKELODEONFairly OddParents 5.02210:30
CARTOON NETWORK Teen Titans 2.41110:30
CW (Kids' WB!) The Batman 2.21010:30
DISNEY CHANNEL Handy Manny 2.1910:30
ABC That's So Raven 2.0810:30
FOX (4Kids TV) Viva Pinata 1.7710:30
NBC (Qubo on NBC)Dragon 0.1110:30

Now, the Legion has a respectable rating and share for its time slot. It is the highest rated non-cable show in its slot. In the 10:00 a.m. slot, 61% of the TV sets were tuned to cartoons, and the 8 share means that of that 61%, 8% of all TV sets on at 10:00 a.m. were watching the Legion. The seven networks programming in that slot (CBS doesn't, for whatever reason) have a combined rating of 14.4, meaning that over 15.8 million people were watching those networks. The Legion's 2 share means that about 2.2 million were watching.

Think about THAT one - About 40,000 bought the last issue, while 2.2 million people watched the Legion its first weekend. That's as many copies of the various Legion comics that have been sold, cumulatively, since about September 2000. As many people watched that one episode on one day as bought the last six years worth of comics.

Note that Teen Titans, currently in reruns, is still doing pretty well, second in its time slot at 10:30, just ahead of the new season of The Batman. And at 10:00, the Legion is just edged out in share by the new Fantastic Four cartoon on Cartoon Network.

So what would TimeWarner want, a new season of Teen Titans that might get fractionally higher in rating or share, or a new series that essentially doubles what Titans is getting?

More next week, and I'll keep track of the ratings over the season.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Linkdump, Sept. '06

My belated monthly column on some of the things I saved up to write about but never got to.

  • Tim Callahan, on "10 Reasons why The Legion of Super-Heroes RULEZ! (WITH A CAPITAL "ULEZ"):"
    7) Interlac. It was like English at first. Then it was like English but with letters FROM THE FUTURE!

    6) Tiny little men implanted in the ankle for surveillance. If you read this issue, you will never forget it.

    1) Bizarro Computo! Created by Brainiac 5 to defeat Computo. It failed miserably. But how awesome was it while it lasted? As awesome as you can possibly imagine multiplied by infinity!

  • Legion Lost: Devon at Seven Hells tries to understand from the rest of us just what it is about the Legion. Read the comments section, too, for the replies from Legion fandom.
    It's lost on me. The adoration. The numerous books, websites, fansites and blogs devoted to its existence.

    It all just seems so quaint to me how hopped up folks get about something that hasn't even happened.

    I just don't get The Legion of Super-Heroes.

  • This wouldn't be a good Legion Linkdump without Chris' Invincible Super-Blog. Read his latest Profile in Courage: Evillo.
    Yes, while he was certainly the most deadly threat to menace the Legion in the pages of Adventure Comics #351, Evillo never quite caught on like, say, the Fatal Five, or even the Time-Trapper. And why?

    Because he is quite possibly the single most ineffective super-villain ever.

    Take, for instance, the fact that he runs a gang called The Devil's Dozen, which is a lot more impressive before you find out that there are only four members.

  • I remember the future: Here's a really well-written essay by SubZero on what it was like growing up in Germany, reading the Legion books.
    When I was a little boy there was this comic magazine in Germany called MV Comics which introduced me for the first time to the 31st century, home of the Legion of Super - Heroes. MV Comics was an anthology, which was a very common concept in my youth but which has almost completely disappeared now. ... Seems that everybody has forgotten that long before Peter Parker came along there were some teenaged superheroes. In fact there were so many of them they called them the Legion. ...

    Even if there was some hokey or weird stuff in the earlier comics there is one thing that has not changed over the years : the idea and the spirit of the legion that there is strenght - not only in numbers - but also in diversity and that a society can grow through the differences of different races and different cultures. The general idea was that everyone can be special.

  • Brian Cronin at Comics Should Be Good over at CBR has a list of the Top Five Characters With Magnetic Powers. Someone we know is in the top 5, and the top two generated a LOT of comments.
    Cosmic Boy once had a costume with a big old-fashioned spaceman helmet on it.

    He also had a costume that was practically flesh-colored, making him appear like he was running around naked.

    And yet, he STILL managed to be a kickass leader for the Legion of Superheroes.

  • Famous writer (and new blogger) Jack Pendarvis has discovered an amazing scientific breakthrough.
    Based on statistical analysis I can state with total accuracy that the Legion of Superheroes is therefore the primary inspiration of our great modern fiction writers - a startling discovery!

  • Ye Olde Comic Booke Blogge tries to make some sense of Unknown Boy, the Unknown Legionnaire Who is Unknown to the Legion. Of course, trying to make sense of early 60's Legion stories is difficult enough to begin with.
    The story is all a big flashback, triggered when the Legion lands on a planet called Protea, and find a statue erected to Unknown Boy, prompting Superboy to be taken "back in memory to the greatest mystery-adventure in the Legion's history!" Assuming that statement is true--while I didn't bother to look it up--I can only assume this was one of the first three Legion stories ever written and the other two really sucked.

  • In looking into the 52 series, the Absorbascon has a couple of entries (of course!), both on the Dominators. In the first, Scipio recalls how the Dominators were introduced to the 20th century during the Invasion! miniseries.
    As a result of Invasion, an appearance by the Dominators is literary shorthand for "alien concern over Earthers developing superpowers". And given that Mark Waid is writing Legion at the same time as participating in 52, I'm sure it's not a throwaway but a real connection...

    but exactly what I can't yet imagine.

    In the second entry, he walks us through the introduction of the Dominators into Legion mythology in 1967.
    The Legionnaires do what any sensible person called upon to escort endangered ambassadors would do: take a short-cut through the Tenth Dimension. You know, the Tenth Dimension, which has never been mentioned before and will never be mentioned again. Try to keep up, will you?

  • Steve Wacker, as I'm sure you heard, left DC for Marvel, and the internets broke in half. After things calmed down a bit, Wacker appeared over at Newsarama for a statement. No news yet as to who will take his editor's slot on the Legion book.
    The reality is there was absolutely no contention or animosity between DC and me when I gave my two weeks notice. Both Dan [Didio] and Paul [Levitz] were kind enough to talk to me about staying, but also shook my hand at the end and said they understood the decision and why I made it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

S/LSH issue 22 reviews

Well I missed the issue 21 reviews last month because I was on vacation, and I'm late with this because of the new cartoon last weekend. So without further ado, here are the reviews from last week's issue of Supergirl and the Legion - as always, presented in no particular order (except for how they show up on my search feeds).

  • Matthew at the Legion Abstract provides another well-written, cogent analysis, and liked the issue.
    It started and ended in one issue. I believe a new reader could have picked it up and not been lost. There was a decent amount of action and, as always, wonderful characterization. This is exactly the sort of thing I want more of.

  • Rokk at the Comic Book Revolution, on the other hand, has a different viewpoint:
    The writing continues to be average at best. The dialogue reads stiff and slightly generic at times. There is very little chemistry between the characters and that is a fatal flaw for a title like the Legion of Super Heroes. The magic of the Legion of Super Heroes has been all of the interesting characters and how they interact with each other. That incredible chemistry that Levitz was able to create between these characters has been totally lacking during Waid’s run on this title.

  • Tenzil Kem, Rokk's co-writer at the Comic Book Revolution, disagrees:
    Taken as it is, I think this comic is doing well, and someone that is a fan of characterization and soap opera in their action comics would do well to try this comic. Just be sure a few back issues are handy.

  • Thor at Geeks United notes the inconsistencies between Kara in the Legion and in her own book:
    In fact, everyone has been a little different since Supergirl joined the team. Evil clone, anyone? I've been reading both Supergirl titles, and Kara's really messed up, and with the LSH, she's just too...cute. Hope there's an actual story in the next issue.

  • The Original Losing Loser's at the seebelow LJ community isn't happy about the art, and as for the writing:
    Anyway, the book is typical Mark Waid insofar as it has some really good parts (especially the teen-soap angle, which Waid is really getting the hang of), some okay parts (the Super-Dominator fight, with a decent cliffhanger), and some bad parts (the increasingly incomprehensible youth-rebellion/Legion politics storyline).

  • Steph Barton at the ComicBloc forum starts the discussion:
    You know, I really enjoyed this series when it first came out and although the war dragged on a few issues too many I hoped that the energy and fun would come back into play and we would learn more about the Legion.

    However, I feel like this series has been treading water since the war ended and even though the first few issues with Supergirl in it came close to recapturing this fun the run has quickly switched back to neutural (or so it seems to me).

    I dunno, it just feels like Waid has no idea what he wants to do and the entire series has just been treading water for a long time now, and the its not established enough to be treading water at this point.

  • Chris Sims at the Invincible Super-Blog
    Another fine issue from Waid, Kitson, Bedard, Dekraker, and the rest, this time focusing largely on the perpetually lovelorn Karate Kid. Alas, Val, the path of a face-kicking future space teen badass is a lonely one indeed. Just be glad you're not being punched to death on your honeymoon. Yet.

  • Syphre Zero at the CBR forums has a theory about the connection between the two versions of Supergirl (her solo title and the Legion). Read more for the details.
    After thinking it through, I have figured out the connection between the two, and more importantly, the creative reasoning behind it. This can be demonstrated using things we already know about Kara and making a couple of safe predictions. Follow along. ... The sole reason for One Year Later and Supergirl's appearance with the Legion was to make a legitimate sex object of the Minor of Steel.

  • Paul Semones of the Comics Glutton explains why he's dropping the title.
    I was drawn to checking out the title by the Teen Titans crossover two years ago. Once sampled, I decided to stick with this unfamiliar future world on the strength of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s storytelling abilities. ... But with the increasingly sporadic contributions of Kitson, the price hike and the dropping of the extra-pages-for-no-extra-charge model, my interest has waned. Supergirl’s addition to the roster? It’s actually contributed to my loss of interest.

  • Jeffrey Bridges at SupermanHomepage.com reviews the issue:
    This book just felt like a jumble. I've only been reviewing since Supergirl joined the team with Issue 16, and not once in that time do I remember seeing or hearing mention of Sun Boy. So after no less than six issues suddenly the leader of the Legion mentions they've had a deficiency without him? ... It seemed very random and tacked on, especially when there are so many concurrent storylines running that didn't get a single mention here. ... [T]his sub-story hasn't been worth a single mention in six issues and why would you wait that long between parts of a story?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Episode 1.02: Timber Wolf

Update 10/3: Lots of new stuff, after the cut.

Whew! A new issue and a new episode makes for a lot of Legion links. Let's get to them, starting with episode 1.02 of the animated show. This one introduced Timber Wolf. My favorite moment: after Saturn Girl wakes up from unconsciousness, she berates Lightning Lad for making a mess of the rescue. "It wasn't going to hurt me. If you hadn't charged in (her eyes go wide and her hands start flailing) fists a-zapping, I would have told you that!"

Next week: episode 3, Legacy. After that, it's three weeks of reruns (the pilot episode Man of Tomorrow, followed by two reruns of Timber Wolf).

Update 10/3
Interestingly, my hit count stats spike up on Saturday and drift downwards the rest of the week, hitting the low point (my normal readership) on Friday. Then another spike. Gee, you think the animated show might have something to do with that?
  • Comments from thtadthtshldntb at the comiXtreme forum ("I wish Mark Waid would watch it. It is so far truer to the pre Crisis LoSH than anything he has managed to put out yet."), Lyle Masaki at Crocodile Caucus ("Based on one episode, I worry that the Legion’s first venture outside of comics doesn’t have a key part of the concept."), Jeffrey Bridges at SupermanHomePage ("Kids wouldn't have noticed the problems I did, but as an adult who expects coherent storylines ... it just failed to deliver for me."), thecomicman ("more to the point, lets talk about what they did wrong, in no particular order."), Reed Solomon's Zone of Surly Geekery ("As the founder and corrupt chief financial executive of the Cosmic Boy death league, I was pleased to find that he won't be a major character in the series."), Kristian, showing off his Legion tattoo ("I get chills when I watch the Legion roll call at the bottom of the screen in the opening.") and Arune Singh ("it’s just a fun show for anyone who likes superheroes").

  • Some more forum reviews at rec.arts.comics.dc.lsh on Usenet, Andy at GamersCircle ("for a person of my “seasoning”, this WB adaptation is just a little to young for me.") and ClassicX on the tivocommunity forum ("Not ground breaking, but a good way to waste time while I wait for my wife to shower.").

  • The best reviews written by a stuffed bull can be found at Bully's Comics. In this edition, he reveals Seven and a half things Very Good Things about the new Legion cartoon.

  • Finally, here's one by El Scoob ("Pretty enjoyable, if not an actual home run. I think I might really enjoy this show.") that I missed the first time around. I have several automated scripts that do searches for me and present the results in an RSS feed, that's how I get all sorts of wacky stuff here. But for whatever reason, either I missed El's review or it never showed up in any of my feeds. But don't worry, I didn't neglect you!

Tomorrow: reviews of the new issue.