Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On sale 50 years ago today

Around these parts, there are only two kinds of comics fans: Legion fans, and everyone else. It's weird to think of it that way, but it's true. If you're not into the Legion - regardless of whether it's the Silver Age, pre-Crisis, Glorithverse/TMK, post-Zero Hour reboot, post-Infinite Crisis reboot, animated, or Lightning Saga - it's hard to explain the attraction. But here we are anyway.

According to craigopher over at the Legion Wiki (a never-ending project), today is the 50th anniversary of the day that Adventure Comics #247 went on sale (as also noted on the CBR forums, the DC message boards, and Legion World. In fact, there are lots of anniversary discussions on the DC boards!).

Who knew that what was supposed to have been just another story would grow into the longest-running super-hero team in comics history? As the first super-powered team of the Silver Age (only the Challengers of the Unknown predate them, by a year, but they're non-powered), they're older than the Justice League (1960), Fantastic Four (1961), Avengers (1963), and X-Men (1963). Of course, the Justice Society is older, but they disappeared in the late 40s and didn't come back until the early 60s.

What other significant characters predate the Legion in the Silver Age? Pretty much just the Martian Manhunter and the Flash. Even Supergirl didn't come around until a year later. Did the success of the Legion in 1958, a team of heroes previously unknown, suggest that the time might be ripe for the revival of the Justice Society concept, a team of already-known heroes? And the JLA directly inspired the Fantastic Four (over a famous game of golf by the publishers of Marvel and DC) and the Avengers (using the "gathering of heroes" JSA concept), while it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Legion inspired the X-Men (a team of unknown heroes who band together).

Here's a retro-review of Adventure 247, from the Comic Treadmill:

How this story generated the appeal to signal to DC that the Legion had a - errr - future as a viable ongoing concept astounds me, but I suppose it is further proof that after a lull, the air was right for a new generation of super-hero comics in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

I guess what it came down to is the clear attention-grabbing potential that the idea of a group of heroes from the future with unlimited numbers and varying powers had on the mind of someone reading a Superboy comic. I know the Legion concept took a firm grip on my imagination the first time I encountered it.

So let's hear from some of my lurkers too, to answer these:
1. How long have you been a Legion fan?
2. What was the first Legion story you read?
3. Have you bought an original copy of Adventure 247?
4. What's your favorite era?

For me, my first issue was Superboy 212, cover-dated October 1975. Shortly after that I got a back-issue copy of Adventure 354, the first part of the Adult Legion story. The older issue was from 1967 and they were adults, but the new issue was from 1975 and they were teenagers. Huh? I was hooked already. In 1995 I bought an almost-complete copy of Adventure 247, missing only the centerfold, which I picked up in 2006. My favorite era is the Silver Age/Pre-Crisis timeframe, up until the Five Year Gap.

Bonus trivia: the cover to Adventure 247 has been parodied or homaged at least seven times since 1958.

Long Live the Legion!

33 comments:

H said...

1. Well that's a tough question. The easy answer is from the first issue I read, but the more realistic answer is from the time I started regularly reading the feature beginning with Superboy 217(1976) - not too long after you. I would have started sooner because I was enthralled with the Legion concept, but I feared that the stories would be too Superboy-centric. I wanted a super team from the future, not Superboy and his sidekicks.

2. "The Fatal Five Who Twisted Time" from Superboy 198 (1973) by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum.

3. No and I'm unlikely to since I have several reprints. But I do appreciate the time you left a comment on the Treadmill informing me of the contents of the non-story pages.

4. In order, :
a) The Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen era;
b) The Five Years later era; and
c) The early 1970's

Baal said...

I know I read the Origin Story for Duo Damsel's costume and was already a regular reader when the took over the lead slot in Superboy's book. Anyone else know when that was?

Baal said...

Okay, it took lobger than anyone without OCD would have devoted but I recognize the plot from the story where Mekt's hair goes white so Superboy 172...

Terence Chua said...

1. Let's see, counting back, it would be 25 years, now.

2. My very first memory of the Legion was seeing the house ad for I believe it was Legion of Super-Heroes #259 (1980), the issue with the cover of Superboy flying towards the reader, the Legionnaires in the background declaring that he was leaving the Legion and never coming back. I would have been nearly 10 at the time.

However, my interest didn't become piqued until a couple of years later, during Chameleon Boy's disastrous mission to Khundia and the reprinting of the early Legion stories in the Adventure Comics digests. Reading the early stories alongside the new ones (together with Paul Levitz's commentary in the digests) cemented my love for the idea of the super-hero club. And the fact that the Great Darkness Saga was going on at the time definitely didn't hurt.

3. No, and unlikely to, really. Maybe one day if I find a decent copy and feeling rich enough...

4. Levitz/Giffen, naturally, with the Shooter/Swan era close behind.

Michael said...

Duo Damsel's new costume was from "Superboy" 193 (Feb. 1973). The Legion took over the lead in that book with issue 197 (Timber Wolf vs Tyr, Sept. 1973).

Terence Chua said...

Ha. Just found and confirmed my memory that it was indeed LSH #259 - cover dated January 1980 and released October 22, 1979, which means I was just exactly 9 years and 3 days old.

Jake said...

The first Legion comic I remember reading was Legionnaires #4, which was an interesting first choice since I was about 8 years old and it featured someone getting their eye gouged out. I was, of course, terrified of the comic and didn't buy the next one. However my father, a fan of the original Legion, convinced me to start reading it after the reboot, promising it was a fresh start and that no one would come along and pluck out my eye if I read it.

I have now, thanks to my father's back-issue buying, read all the issues of the Legion I can think of. However my favourite Legion will remain the Post-Zero Hour Reboot Legion, right up until its cancellation.

I'm not clear on when my father started reading the Legion, but he does own a copy Adventure 247 (that I am only ever allowed to read under his supervision).

Terence Chua said...

Sorry for the multi-posts. I realize I didn't really answer the question which was my first Legion story that I read. While LSH #259 was the first time I was consciously aware of the Legion, my first actual Legion story was LSH #286, "Old Friends, New Relatives and Other Corpses!", by Levitz and Broderick.

Patrick Wynne said...

1. Since 1977.

2. Dunno exactly. The first ones I remember reading were old copies of Adventure 358 ("The Hunter!") and Adventure 363 ("Black Day for the Legion!") in a relative's attic. There were a whole bunch of other Silver Age DC books and I'd read them over and over every summer. The first Legion-related books I read as they came out were the reprints in the late 400s of Adventure. From there I moved to the regular series.

3. Nope. Maybe I'll get one someday but it's not something I'm actively pursuing.

4. Levitz/Giffen and V4

SherylR said...

1. How long have you been a Legion fan? Scarily, most of my life.
2. What was the first Legion story you read? Adventure #300
3. Have you bought an original copy of Adventure 247? Yep, for $5.00 in the 1970's
4. What's your favorite era? V4, the entire second Levitz run and yes, I am enjoying the 3-boot an awful lot.

I'm not a lurker, but you know I'll answer Legion questions all day long:)

Gustavo said...

Well, you made me take a trip down memory lane, and to my Legion Archives for accurateness.

1) Since I first realized there was a Legion, 30 years ago. I was nine.

2) I live in Argentina, so I got myself some old and current ( at the time ) reprints, and in the same week I got what would have been Adventure #372 "School for super villains" ( some issue! ) and Superboy/Legion # 220, " The super soldiers of the slave maker".
The panel with Element Lad converting a tank to nitrogen is one of those memories that I simply cannot shake off, even 30 years later.
3) Nope, got plenty of reprints though, and I do own all the Archives. Here's hoping they even resume Legion Archive Publication.
4) Tough. I have to say Five years later, almost on the same level as Levitz Giffen. And the Grell years left such a mark on me, I cannot ignore them.

Johanna said...

Lurker here!

I've technically been a Legion fan since I first learned to read, which mean I have absolutely no memory of what was my first Legion story.

The thing is, my mother collected Superboy and Legion in the 60s and 70s, and I grew up on her old collection. I'm born in 1981, but it wasn't until I rediscovered Legion a couple of years ago that I finally read anything released after my own birth!

The miracles of Internet have made it possible for me to read up to date, though, and I have no bitterness for any of the reboots. However, for nostalgia purposes, my favorite Legion will always be the pre-Crisis one.

Paul Newell said...

Another lurker!

I've been a fan since about 1975.

First story was a black & white reprint of the Super-Moby Dick of Space.

I'd dearly like to buy an original #247.

And I'm actually a fan of all era's.

Nathan said...

Another lurker here..

1. 23/24 years this year. Though I stopped reading with the ZH reboot. Was tempted by DnA and by Waid, but neither really did it for me. Lightning Saga and Shooter seem to be doing the trick so far though.

2. I think it was DC Comics Presents 80.

3. Nope.

4. Levitz/Giffen and the first three years of V4.

Johnny B said...

Please forgive if I double-post; Blogger seemed to eat the previous comment I tried to post.

Can't resist a Lurker call-out!

1. Off-again, on-again Legion reader since 1972, the Bates/Cockrum era. I had read the LSH before that, but that was the first run which I read with enthusiasm.

2. Adventure #332, "The Super-Moby Dick of Space". I used to think it was #344, the Super-Stalag issue, but looking at the GCD proved me wrong!

3. Are you kidding? Have you ever priced one of those things?

4. The too-short Bierbaum/Sprouse Legionnaires era remains my favorite, closely followed by the Bates/Cockrum run and the post-Zero Hour Archie Legion, because of my beloved, and MIA, Kinetix.

gsdgsd13 said...

One more lurker.

1. On and off since ... 1986 or 1987. Thereabouts. Right after the Crisis.

2. The first I ever read was Superboy and the LSH #248 -- don't remember much of the plot, but the cover featured Mon-El about to pound Sun Boy, blaming him for Shadow Lass's "death." I found it sufficiently confusing that I didn't try the LSH again for 7 years or so, when I picked up the "Tales of the LSH" reprint of LSH #13 -- the Levitz/Lightle "election" issue. I was still confused, but hooked.

3. No -- in about 1988, the comic shop I frequented had a copy for $150, and I looked at it longingly on a regular basis, but didn't have the cash. That's the closest I've come.

4. Either Levitz/Giffen round one (which I got to by backtracking) or the Giffen/Bierbaum "Five Years Later" era -- toward the end of that, when it was coming out biweekly, two weeks was too long to wait for an issue.

Matthew E said...

1. I guess since the end of the pre-Levitz2 Reflecto story.
2. No idea. When I was little I read a collection that included the story where Invisible Kid and Chemical King had to stop an invisible thief, and the one with Saturn Lad and Prince Projectur. Also around this time I read the Bouncing Boy/Duo Damsel wedding story. But really my memory's hazy. The first one I bought for myself was the one where Blok joined the team.
3. Nah. I don't care about rare editions or anything; the Archive is good enough for me.
4. Up until recently I would have said the first thirty-some issues of Five Years Later, but I'm not sure that my esteem for the DnA run hasn't increased to the point where it's in the top spot now.

Trylon7 said...

I have been a Legion fan since about 1962 when I read The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy in Adventure 301. What a goofy story! Perhaps not the best place to start following the Legion canon, but that's where my love for the Legion began. I did purchase a really nice condition Adventure 247 in the mid 70's at a comic shop in Peoria, Illinois for $18. That was the most I had ever paid for any comic book up to that time and for several years after that. I didn't have some of the other early Legion issues, but I had to have that one. It turned out to be a pretty good investment. Now I have every comic the Legion has ever appeared in. My favorite era is the Curt Swan era, especially the Curt Swan/ Jim Shooter era. I also really like the Forte era and Giffen/ Levitz era. Heck, I like 'em all!

Duke said...

The first issue I can recall buying with my own money was Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #217 (July, 1976), in which Tyroc joined the team in, "The Secret Villain the World Never Knew!" Apart from feuling my Tyroc fetish, this issue also featured the first appearance of Absobancy Boy, better known today as Earth-Man. I was about eight and a half years old at the time.

Somewhere around that same time I also got DC Super-Stars #3 featuring a reprint of the Adult Legion two-parter from Adventure Comics #354-355.

I remember pickin up the book because it featured on the cover all of the characters I had just recently fallen in love with, only to open it up to something entirely different, which also rocked my world.

Newsstand distribution was spotty in central Maine at the time, and I missed many an issue, but with issued #230, featuring the first (and only?) reference of moopsball, I managed to get every issues up until the hardcover/softcover experment that brought us LSH v.3 and Tales of . . .

Managing to get every issue was solved when I got a new bike I could troll around town on to every corner market. However, when LSH when direct sales only, I could not make the 45 minute trip, by car, when I had one, to the nearest comic book shop.

I do not have an original copy of Adventure Comics #247 and don't expect to, in part because I think I have most every reprint, with and without Brainiac 5. My real hard-to-find back issue push at the moment is to get the first of the twice-told tales (from Adventure Comics 191 and 195) which were recycled into Adventure 290 and 282.

My favorite era's are
1. immediatly prior to Levitz/Giffin, LSH v.3 #282 through the end of the series in #313, excepting the abortive Omen & Prophet non-epic

2. 60-cent Giant era, through Earthwar. So that, what, S/LSH #231 to 245, or there abouts.

3. Late Adventure era, #340 to 380, but especially the Shooter/Swan issues.

4. Reboot from Zero issues to the T20/T30 split. I still say that series was ruined when the creators jumped ship on plans for Kinetix, since fans figured it out, and sprang Emerald Vi on us.

5. Sort of a tie between current Shooter issues, which I am really enjoying, the early LSH v.2 books, which were right at my personal golden age, the early and pre-Adventure books

Bill S. said...

1. Since 1984.
2. The first issue of the Baxter series. The cover was just so strange to me, and I just loved the fact that there were all these characters and history. Those days you could get a lot of the old issues in 25 cent boxes, so I did what I could to try to catch up with it on my 10 year old budget.
3. Nope, but I did buy the archives.
4. Levitz-Giffen, 5YL/Glorithverse.

Rivers said...

1. Since the Sixties. I remember regularily buying Adventure, Superman, Flash and Green Lantern. I moved away from comics in high school and rediscovered the Legion in college in the middle seventies during the Cockrum and Grell runs. Been hooked ever since.
2. The first story I remember is "Sun Boy's Lost Power" from the early Adventure run.
3. Never owned Adventure 247. I probably have every reprint.
4. My favorite era has to be the first Jim Shooter run. Karate Kid and Nemesis Lad. His Agatha Christie tribute. Pure gold.

Mike said...

I've been a Legion fan (like most, I'm sure) since my very first Legion story, which was a tattered copy of Adventure 310 ("The Doom of the Super-Heroes") that I read in a barber shop when I was about eight years old. I was thrilled to later find out that it was also the first Legion story Paul Levitz read. What sold me was the concept that heroes could die (back then, I actually thought they stayed that way!)
I have not bought an original Adventure 247, and I don't expect to. I've read the reprints and like most "first" stories, the promise is there, but not as thrilling as what came after.
I'm a sucker for the Grell through the Levitz/Giffen era (when I was actually collecting on a monthly basis). I stopped collecting in the late '80s (darn college) and then started again around 2000, so I missed all those "Archie" Legion stories. I'm really loving the current Legion (especially with Shooter).

Tim said...

1. I've been a Legion fan since I started reading comics at the tender age of five. The year was 1965. I remember thinking team books were the best to buy because I could see more heroes for less money! Hey, I was a poor kid!

2. My first exposure to the Legion was Adventure Comics #330: "The Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire!" The current Action storyline has me feeling very nostalgic about this. I bought it at my local Gray Drugstore with a quarter I found on the street.

3. I have a very, very battered copy of Adventure 247 for which I traded a stack of Spider-Man comics in the 70's. It was a good deal.

4. I'll always have a special place in my heart for the Dave Cockrum era, short-lived as it was. The costumes he designed were so daring and unusual. I think Phantom Girl's kind of traumatised me.

The Glorinthverse was the only era I really disliked. And yet, I continued to collect every issue. Such is my devotion.

Anonymous said...

I first encountered the LSH in a random issue of Who's Who; which had several pages of the LSH, LSV, and other groups. (This would have been late 1985; I THINK I got the book as a stocking stuffer). I though the idea sounded interesting and made a note to keep my eyes open for them later if I saw something cheap. Sometime in the next year or so I found a copy of Adventure #370 at a swap meet and was amazed; the first Mordru story is still one of my 10 all-time favorite comics. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to be able to honstly say my first issue of LSH was a Shooter-Swan story, even if I hadn't been born when it was first published.

I've been a fan since then; even though it was a while before I started collecting new issues regularly. I hit a good source for 70's-early 80's issues before I got the new series; my budget was tight and the fancy format was expensive.

I've never bought an Adventure 247; the one time I had actually budgeted the money to do so a chance to get a Sugar & Spike 1 came along. I suspect I'll get one eventually, it's one of only two issues I'm missing in the original.

I really can't pick a favorite era. If I absolutely had to I would say Shooter-Swan, but that's just out of a hat more or less right now.

Eric Gimlin

Tom Galloway said...

1. Since the answer to #2...

2. Adventure #359, part one of The Outlaw Legion. Usenet types may recall my mentioning (several times) that I managed to miss part two, and didn't get to find out how the heck the Legion got out of a combination of being jailed, injured, and on-the-run from the entire planet outlaws for over a decade.

3. Nope. And at this point I'm unlikely to. With the exception of some comics with substantial sentimental value (see Adventure #359...and I guess my copy of #360 : -)), at this point I'd gladly exchange the vast majority of my comics for electronic copies (yes, I know a lot's available. Problem is, I do tend to respect copyright and little if any of DC's titles are available electronically from them).

4. Adventure, particularly Shooter/Swan (The Golden Age of comics is a single digit...) and Levitz run 2.

Anonymous said...

1. How long have you been a Legion fan? Age 7 and up and my loyalty never wavered.

2. What was the first Legion story you read? S&LSH#219. A couple of decades later I had Mike Grell autograph it. He was blown away by this worn out original that was handed to him. He flipped through the book and cringed at his old artwork and and then autographed it for me.

3. Have you bought an original copy of Adventure 247?
No. But I do have an original copy of Adventure #300.

4. What's your favorite era?
I have enjoyed all the Legion eras but my most favorite is the Great Darkness Saga. It was masterful LSH storytelling. The LSH long rich history made that story possible.

5. What do you love about the LSH?
The Fatal Five are the coolest original villain group in comics. a) The LSH are responsible for F5 coming together. Genius.

b) The adventures of Superman as a boy in the future was an amazing concept to a 7 year old and it captivated me.
c) The 30th century was a permanent setting like the 20th century setting. Not just a brief stopping point in a Time Travel story.
d) As a little girl I gravitated to the LSH because of the strong female characters.

LLL

-Lauren

vik-thor said...

another lurker here:

I have been a Legion fan for long time, and truly do not know exactly how long, but at least 30 years. Sometime in the early 70s I believe. I remember getting one walking from school to a friends house. We bought it at a poolroom and news-stand. (looking in the Grand Comics Database, I think it might have been issue 202, June 1974, because of "The Wrath of the DevilFish".)
May also have been Issue 210, August 1975, "Soljer's Private War".

(I remember playing with a cousin (who was probably about 5 years older than me), he would play Batman (his favorite) and I played various Legionnaires.)

No, not bought an original Adventure #247 issue.

Favorite eras:
Giffen/Grell (Cosmic Boy's bustierre costume.)
Some of the Magic Wars/5 years Later.
Some of the reboot. (Kinetix, with her original power, and Gates, only the 2nd truly nonhumanoid Legion member.)

Spiderboy12 said...

Occasional lurker. I tend to read lots of boards, and post very little. In any event:

1) Legion fan since 1973.
2) First story I'm sure I read was Superboy #199, which started me reading the LSH at the age of 12. The LSH has been the only feature I've read continuously since 1973. I may have read a story before I bought that comic, however; I certainly don't recall the Legion being a new concept to me at the time.
3) No. I've bought original copies of all but about 10 issues of Adventure 300-380 (including a cheap, tattered copy of #300) and every Legion feature appearance since then (not necessarily every LSH appearance). My intertwined collection of Superboy and Legion comics is the prize of my collection. But I have no original copy of Adventure Comics 247.
4) Several favorites. Shooter's run in Adventure Comics. The Bates/Cockrum/Shooter/Grell period in Superboy, the period I started reading. Levitz/Giffen before the Prophet/Omen fiasco. First 2-3 years or so of LSH v4. The DnA period, especially "Legion of the Damned", "Legion Lost", and the first 18 issues or so of "The Legion."

Jim Drew said...

1 & 2.I don't know how to separate "Legion fan" from "first issue you read". First one I read was "The Brigadoon Syndrome" (Tyroc leaves) in LSH #265 (1979). I was unquestionably a fan with Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes in 1980. Was there ever a more perfect ramp up on *everything* you need to know about the Legion?

3. No, but I nearly bought the copy that Michael did buy. ("If you don't buy it, I will.")

4. Favorite era is Levitz with Lightle and LaRocque.

Bonus: you can add another parody cover to your list, Special Education #2 (released in Feb 2007, based on a web search). Unfortunately, not even the GCDB has a reference to it. I'll try to dig up my copy and send you a scan.

mspote said...

<< 1. How long have you been a Legion fan? >>

Only since September 2006, when my son and I started watching the animated series. I really enjoyed the first season (the second season has, alas, been a tad too dark for both our tastes). Still, the show has prompted us to read more of the Legion in print -- and even spurred me to pick up the Legion HeroClix starter game for us to play together!

<< 2. What was the first Legion story you read? >>

We started with Showcase Vol. 1 and have read it all the way through once and are now on our second reading. Looking forward to the second volume coming out soon!

<< 3. Have you bought an original copy of Adventure 247? >>

No. And probably won't. :-)

<< 4. What's your favorite era? >>

I don't know much about the LSH's eras yet, but, as I said, I like the animated series. The Silver Age is fun for me to share with my kid, and has enough internal continuity and development to keep me interested. Right now I'm reading "Eye for an Eye" TPB as my first intro to later Legion stories.

What else should a Legion newbie read as quickly as possible?

Brad said...

1. 36 years or therabouts
2. Legion of Super Heroes #210 "Soljer's War"
3. No, I've read a reprint though, I'm not that rabid of a collector and the early Adventure era stuff, while fun isn't really something I'm THAT into.
4. The Giffen/Bierbaums 5 Years Later run was probably my absolute favorite was sad to see it go. It hasn't been as good since.

MaGnUs said...

Long Live The Legion!!!

1. I've been a Legion fan probably since 1992.

2. I first saw the Legion as guests in a couple of Superman Silver Age stories; but their first comic I read was one of the first of the second Starfinger's intro-arc.

3. No, I wish I could....

4. Levitz/Lightle-Giffen era.

Anonymous said...

1. How long have you been a Legion fan?

I remember, in 1964, while on a family vacation, reading a comic with the Legion. It must have been an Adventure. I don't remember what the story was, but I do have a very vivid memory of reading it.

When I was a child, one of the sons of a family that we visited had comics stacked up all over his room. When we went to visit, I'd spend nearly all my time in there, reading. I never owned any of my own.

In 1974, as a young divorced mother, I went to the 7-11 a couple of blocks from my house, and noticed their comic rack. I went, "oh, wow, the Legion!" and promptly bought the current issue -- the one one with Lana, and that master guy with the helmut. The one where he was having them build a space ark, and he wanted to breed them.

So I've been a fan since I was 10, but only collecting since I was 20 or 21.

2. What was the first Legion story you read?

I don't know, but it had to be one the Adventure ones from the 60s.

3. Have you bought an original copy of Adventure 247?

No, but I have at least one reprint. Makes me laugh every time, LOL. Sigh. I'd love to get one someday.

4. What's your favorite era?

Starting with the earliest, and up through the Wildfire and Dawnstar stuff. I stopped seriously collecting the new stuff in the late 80s; I plan on getting this new series, 'cause I've heard good things about it.

Laurel