Wednesday, November 11, 2020

LSH v4 #39 annotations: In the Beginning....

Annotations for Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #39


Notes:
  • Cover: “Beginnings”, as compared to last issue’s “The End”
  • Page 1: welcome new penciller Stuart Immonen!
  • Page 7: on the ship it reads “Ark 2” in Interlac
  • Page 9: Two Brainiac 5s and two Element Lads 
  • Page 12: Lightning Lad isn’t the only one who got a personality transplant in the SW6 chambers, so did Sun Boy and Matter-Eater Lad
  • Page 12 panel 5: the reference to “space happy” is from when Sun Boy had a breakdown in ADV 318
  • Page 14: switch pencillers from Immonen to Giffen
  • Page 15 panel 5: On Gallan, that’s Leland McCauley III, aka dear old dad, last seen in LSH v3 #17
  • Page 15 panel 8: That’s Dev-Em, last seen on April 11th (ADVSUP 478) as the moon blew up
  • Page 15 panel 9: That’s Shagrek, formerly of the Taurus Gang, last seen in ADV 374 (his only appearance, not including a flashback to a not-previously-seen fight back in issue 10); he should be in green like all the other characters in the collection
  • Page 16 panel 1: that’s Elvo the swordsman (in purple and yellow), and Dartalg master of the blow gun (in green), both formerly of the Wanderers. Last we saw them, they were in their cloned forms, flying through a space warp with the rest of the team (WAND 13) as Elvar and Dartalon. But we did see the clone version of Dartalon way back in issue 2 in an advertisement. They should be all in green, like the other characters.
  • Page 16 panel 2: who’s the woman with the skirt?
  • Page 16 panels 4-7: Now we know what happened to Cham, RJ, Kid Quantum, and the Proteans when McCauley and the Emerald Eye hijacked the ship at the end of issue 33. They’ve been gone a month, leaving on May 8.
  • Page 16 panel 6: The Heckler has a cameo here
  • Page 16 panel 9: the Emerald Eye is keeping them all in stasis
  • Page 18: Ultra Boy and Ferro Lad are waiting (in vain) for Valor, who left in a Time Bubble at the end of issue 37.
  • Page 19 panel 5: I don’t know who that is in stasis
  • Page 20 panel 9: If you notice, this panel looks different from the previous one – Tom Bierbaum said it took Giffen so long to do his art for this issue that his style literally changed between page 20 and 21 (the lawyer in page 20 panel 9 is a Photostat from page 21). We briefly see Giffen’s “March Hare”/“Trencher” art style.
  • Page 22: the quick release of Cham, RJ, the Proties, and KQ seems awfully sudden, as if Giffen wanted to wrap it up before he left
  • Page 22 panels 7-9: compare and contrast McCauley father and son with RJ and Cham
  • By the way, remember when Imra was kidnapped in issue 37? That was May 22, more than 2 weeks ago. And Cham was missing for a month, since May 8. I guess nobody’s too concerned with missing Legionnaires?

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Legion sales data for issue #9

Comichron has done their number crunching dealy thing with Diamond and Lunar/UCS data and produced approximate sales charts for September 2020, which includes Legion #9. Still impacted by the Covid shutdown and DC's change in distributors, Comichron has managed to put together some approximate sales numbers for September's books, which, while not exact and calling the sales within a range, is better than we had last month.

Issue 9 was part 2 of the all-star artist lineup. How did that impact sales? Let's see... 

For September, LSH v8 #9 tied for the #62 book overall, with sales somewhere between 27,000-32,000. (I'll use the midpoint of 29,500 here for simplicity.) Other books it tied with in that same range were Joker/Harley Criminal Sanity #5, Batman/Superman #12, Miles Morales Spider-Man #18, Star Wars Bounty Hunters #5, Wonder Woman #763, and Marauders #12. It was tied for the #20 book for DC. Although there were two different covers, they are not broken out here because they were the same price and retailers could order as many as they wanted of each (not limited variants).

Batman 3 Jokers #2 was the top-selling book for the month, selling between 190k and 225k copies (midpoint 207,500).  

Other books that sold higher than LSH in August: 10 different Bat-books (Batman, Joker, Harley, Batgirl, Nightwing, Catwoman), 3 Death Metal, 2 each of Justice League, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and 1 each of DCeased, Batman/Superman and Strange Adventures (the usual suspects, with the extra sales for WW based on her "when is the movie coming out" factor).

So here's what our table looks like now, with the limited insight into sales. Not sure we can trust the issue 8 sales just yet, but issue 9's sales still look remarkably consistent with what we've seen for the entire run so far, both book numbers and relative DC numbers. Interestingly, the market is selling more issues but of fewer titles: there were 25% fewer titles in September compared to March, right before the shutdown, but unit sales are up by about the same amount.

LSH v8 sales and rank

Issue

Total sales
(all covers)

overall #

DC #

#1 book

1

75,611

10

3

138,434

2

35,653

50

17

117,926

3

34,732

44

15

167,377

4

30,675

51

18

190,568

5

29,058

59

18

142,089

6

TBD

23

17

TBD

7

TBD

41

18

TBD

8

Est. 38,000

46

22

Est. 300,000

9

Est. 29,500

Tie 62

Tie 20

Est. 207,500

More data as it becomes available....

Monday, November 02, 2020

LSH v4 #38 Annotations: That's Great, It Starts with an Earthquake, Birds and Snakes and Aeroplanes

Annotations for Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #38


Notes:
  • Cover: My first thought was that this was the end of the series. I wonder if the color palate for this cover of volume 4 #38 is supposed to be reminiscent of the colors for volume 3 #38, the death of Superboy?
  • Page 3: The Tokyo sinkhole opens up 9 days after the destruction of the underground chambers. We’ll see on the next page that they want this to be May 24 – let’s ignore the 9 days part and just go with May 24, which is the day after last issue’s baseball game.
  • Page 4: Says that the chambers were detonated on May 15 (echoing what the Sourcebook says), but we know that can’t be correct because May 15 was given in issue 34 as the date that King Jonn declined the adult Legion’s offer to help from off-world. The two Brainiac 5s arrive in Tokyo on May 25. But recall that adult Brainy got to Earth the day before (last issue) while young Brainy was in Metropolis with some of the other SW6 Legionnaires sending Valor back in time.
  • Page 5: May 26, the Brainys report that the Earth is doomed. The Interlac talks about the proton jelly and an estimate of how much time is left.
  • Page 9: June 3, the domed cities take off; of the 480 with domes, 102 take off, and 100 make it to orbit (losing Barcelona, Spain; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
  • Page 13: 95 cities successfully link up (losing Chongqing, China; Dakar, Senegal; Dresden, Germany; Nairobi, Kenya; and Santiago, Chile)
  • Page 16: 94 cities make it to the Bgztl Buffer Zone (losing Seoul, South Korea). The Eyth Incident of ’73 was the planetary system that Lucifer Seven threatened to destroy if his demands were not met. His demands were not met, so he destroyed the system (as seen in Secrets of the Legion 1).
  • Page 18: that looks like Death – notice the ankh around her neck, the umbrella, and the scarab.
  • Page 21: The second appearance of Death of the Endless outside of Sandman. They basically had to get Neil Gaiman’s approval for this after her appearance in Captain Atom #42.
  • Page 23: June 4 is the Great Terran Disaster

Sunday, October 25, 2020

LSH v4 #37 Annotations: The 37th Inning Stretch

Annotations for Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #37


Notes:
  • Cover: 
    • The blue circle and black stripes on the white background is suggestive of a 1930s-era Norman Rockwell painting
    • The title at the top refers to the then-popular movie "A League of Their Own" about female baseball players, but in IOKIAS Tom Bierbaum says that this was written before that and it was an editor's choice to add that caption.
  • Page 1: Neuezer’x (“New Zerox” on Naltor), Lalasa, Holdren
    • Regarding most of the player names in this issue, in IOKIAS Tom says “There were lots of "in-joke" references in this issue because we had so many baseball players we had to name, but for once, we weren't making references specifically to friends of ours from the Legion apas but to friends of ours who were baseball fans from the 1980s baseball apa "National Pastime" (though most of those members also happened to be Legion fans, which is where National Pastime drew much of its membership).  It was neat to give those Legion/baseball fans a role in DC's 30th century that was so ideally suited to their dual interests, and we heard from a couple of those fans that they really enjoyed being included in the issue.” I made those names bold here.
  • Page 6 panel 1: Game 7 of the Galaxy Series, Greenberg Park, recall that the Dreamers won the pennant back on May 1 in Annual #3. This issue's baseball story was inspired by the Metropolis Metros/Naltor Dreamers game in ADV 366, according to IOKIAS.
  • Page 7: Wechsler, Ani Acker
  • Page 11 panel 2: Flynn
  • Page 12 panel 1: Ambassador Jeryl (last seen in SLSH 249)
  • Page 14 panel 4: That’s Mac the Knife from the late 1980s McDonalds commercials in the audience
  • Page 14 panel 5: Looks like Kid 'n' Play on the balcony, two late 80s/early 90s rappers
  • Page 16 panel 1: Uoolph
  • Page 16 panel 4: that’s Ivy (last seen in issue 20) and Garridan (last seen in Annual 3) on Quarantine
  • Page 16 panel 7: Wilton Wyke
  • Page 19 panel 4: Offutt
  • Page 23: SW6 Valor takes an old time bubble back to 2978, when the Legionnaires were cloned. I haven’t read ahead, but from some fan-published chronologies it appears like it's going to be a while before we see him again. And don’t forget that we have three Valors right now in the DCU:
    1. The 20th century version, which grew out of Invasion and Eclipso and his own series, who was later put into the [Bgztl/Buffer/Stasis/Phantom/something] Zone by Glorith
    2. The adult version of #1, who spent 1000 years in the [something] Zone and then 20 years in the 30th century with the Legion
    3. The younger version of #2, who spent 1000 years in the [something] Zone and then 3 years in the 30th century with the Legion before being put in suspended animation by the Dominators and then being revived as part of the SW6 batch.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Legion sales data for issue 8

Comichron has done their number crunching dealy thing with Diamond and Lunar/UCS data and produced relative sales charts for August 2020, which includes Legion #8. Recall from last month that while we still don't have actual sales numbers yet, we do have rankings relative to all the other books from all distributors combined.

Issue 8 was part 1 of the all-star artist lineup. How did that impact sales? Let's see...


For August, LSH v8 #8 was the overall #46 book for the month and the #22 book for DC, selling 84 copies (both covers combined) for every 100 of Avengers #35 (recall that Avengers or JLA is their index book). Normally around #17-18, there were three new #1s on the list (3 Jokers and two Death Metal), plus Wonder Woman snuck ahead with the movie covers. This issue was the first of the series in which the variant cover was on regular cover paper and not cardstock.

Batman 3 Jokers was reported by Jim Lee to have sold over 300,000 copies, making it the #1 book overall for the month. It sold 656 copies for every 100 copies of Avengers #35. A little math shows that if 656 copies of B3J per 100 copies of Avengers is equivalent to 300,000 sales, then 84 copies of LSH is equivalent to around 38,000 copies sold - which would make it the highest selling issue since #1. Maybe the all-star artist thing really did bump up sales a lot! 

Other books that sold higher than LSH in August: 10 different Bat-books (Batman, Joker, Harley, Batgirl, Nightwing), 3 Death Metal, 2 each of Justice League, Flash, and Superman, and 1 each of Batman/Superman and Strange Adventures (the usual suspects).

(Incidentally, DC had the top 5 books for the month, which only happens occasionally; most recently, March 2019 which had Detective #1000 and Doomsday Clock, and back in 2011 with the intro of the New 52 line.)

So here's what our table looks like now, with the limited insight into sales:

LSH v8 sales and rank

Issue

Total sales

(all covers)

overall #

DC #

#1 book

1

75,611

10

3

138,434

2

35,653

50

17

117,926

3

34,732

44

15

167,377

4

30,675

51

18

190,568

5

29,058

59

18

142,089

6

TBD

23

17

TBD

7

TBD

41

18

TBD

8

Est. 38,000

46

22

Est. 300,000


More data as it becomes available....

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Great Timber Wolf Yada Yada Annotations (issues 1-5)

Annotations for Timber Wolf miniseries

  • Issue 1 went on sale 10/6/92, same day as LSH v4 #36. Issue 5 went on sale 2/2/93. In between, we had Valor #2-5, LSH v4 #37-41, L.E.G.I.O.N. #47-50, and Legion Archives vol. 2. The week after Timber Wolf #5, Legionnaires #1 came out.
  • It's OK, I'm a Senator: None, as the Bierbaums didn't write the miniseries
  • Legion of Substitute Podcasters episode 624 (September 28, 2020)
  • Timeline: June 1992

Turns out there's really not a lot in this miniseries to annotate. Timber Wolf was spun out of LSH v4 Annual #3 into his own 5-issue miniseries in 1992-93, which featured Aria (from the Quiet Darkness storyline) and a new government group of metahumans called Point Force, in a story by Al Gordon (writer/inker) and Joe Phillips (penciller). At the end of the annual, when Brainiac 5 found that Brin Londo had gone back in time, he wrote in his journal:

“The 20th century being that we Legionnaires (including Brin) assumed the Timber Wolf name was taken from has now been proven to be Brin Londo/Timber Wolf himself… It would now seem Brin’s involvement in 20th century history was quite pivotal at certain junctures. And as quaint as it might sound, Brin/Timber Wolf has now seemingly fulfilled his destiny.” 

It did not set the comics world ablaze.

While in the 20th century, not only was Timber Wolf's involvement NOT pivotal, he literally made no other appearances outside of this miniseries, and was back in the 31st century a mere 6 months after the end of his title. It was obvious that DC had high hopes for the series, and just as obvious that it didn't catch on. But it was early enough in the cycle that Timber Wolf was able to get a card in the 1993 DC Cosmic Teams (Skybox) set as one of the "New Breed", along with Valor.

In fact, Thrust and Point Force disappeared after this series, too, though Thrust got an entry in Who's Who Update '93 #2 (see below). Let's assume they all didn't make it out of Zero Hour alive; if they had, they were small enough and obscure enough to have been cannon fodder for the Event Leviathan series which streamlined DC's shadowy government organizations.



Brin’s next appearance is in Annual 4, the Bloodlines story: Timber Wolf is accidentally pulled back into the future (along with Jamm and a Bloodlines monster), and he never mentions Aria. I haven’t read further ahead to see if he mentions her after this. The annual was published the same day as LSH v4 #47, which we won’t get to in the podcast until around April 2021, so if Timber Wolf is your favorite Legionnaire, you’ve got about 7 months (podcast time) until we see him again.

Speaking of Aria, Al Gordon took her immediately from the Timber Wolf miniseries over to Image Comics, where she changed her name from Gemini to Skylark and helped out Wildstar and Savage Dragon. Given that Zero Hour was a couple of years away and - although nobody realized it at the time - the Legion was going to be rebooted so if we lost track of Aria, well, no big deal, as DC wasn't going to use her anyway. Gordon kept the look of Aria and the "step between God and Man" thing and she said she was from 1000 years in the future, so yeah, it was Aria over at Image. 

I guess that means that Aria is the only survivor of the 5YL timeline! She survived by hopping over to the Image Universe.

Aria can probably go hang out with Enya Wazzo of R.E.B.E.L.S., the female Inferno from the Reboot, and Infectious Lass (left behind at the end of the Team 13/Architects and Morality story) and create a super-team, since all of them went back in time and were left behind by the Legion. (I stole this joke from someone but don’t remember who, sorry!)

Notes:

  • Issue 1 is lettered by “Coffin N. Cord”, which is obviously a pseudonym. I asked Todd Klein on Facebook whose work it was, he said that it's John Workman, who probably did it as a joke.
  • In 2009, letterer and logo designer Todd Klein had a 5-part series analyzing the various Legion book logos over the years. About the Timber Wolf logo, he wrote in part 4: 
    • In 1992 another mini-series featured TIMBER WOLF, perhaps chosen for his similarities in some ways to Marvel’s Wolverine. I thought the logo was the solo work of Alex Jay, but Alex emailed to say: “Please give credit to Curtis for the Timber Wolf logo design. He provided two sketches with his notations. He left it up to me to work out the details…” Curtis has gone all the way to create an organic, scratchy, dangerous logo that matches the character’s look and personality.
    • This logo makes an appearance on the Timber Wolf “cover” collage on LSH v8 #9.
I'm presuming that sales figures are the reason that this was quickly walked back and Timber Wolf sent back to the 30th century. I don't have total sales figures, but I do have figures from one of the several distributors in 1992-93, Capital Cities. That’s the only distributor we have numbers for from that era, and there were several other distributors at the time (including Diamond, which was the biggest, but we don’t have their sales numbers). We also don’t know what share of the market that Capital Cities had, so we can’t estimate total sales, only relative sales within the distributor.
  • We do have Capital Cities data on other Legion issues cover-dated Nov 1992:
    • Valor #1 – 29,600
    • Timber Wolf #1 – 22,000
    • LSH v4 #35 – 13,750
  • And for March 1993, the last issue of Timber Wolf:
    • LSH v4 #41 – 14,100
    • Valor #5 – 13,800
    • Timber Wolf #5 – 12,400
Remember, though, these are numbers for only one of many distributors and we don't know what Capital Cities' market share was (if we did, we could scale these up to get total estimated sales).

Monday, September 28, 2020

LSH v4 #36 annotations: The Terra Mosaic finale

Annotations for Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #36


Notes:
  • Cover: Just who has been waiting to see the battle between Bounty and Sade? 
  • Page 2 panel 1: Note that Tyroc has monitor duty yet again
  • Page 7 panel 1: Horton Plaza was, until it was demolished in 2020, an outdoor mall in downtown San Diego a few blocks from the convention center where they had a “fast food of all nations” food court
  • Page 9 panel 1: Bounty has left Metropolis and arrived in London.
  • Page 14 panel 4: So Bounty has been possessed this whole time. That came out of nowhere!
  • Page 16 panel 3: Brainy Sr putting it out there that the older Legion might be the clones, if Giffen has his way….
  • Page 23 panel 3: Mrs. Allen’s son and daughter, Don and Dawn (executed 3/27, issue 17)