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!