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!

Late comics and fill-ins

Rich Johnston at Lying in the Gutters has an interesting "amber" rumor/story last week, regarding late comics at DC. (The emphasis in boldface is mine; I wrote this last week but forgot to post it.)

There's been a lot of fuss of late about late comics. How they damage publishers, retailers, brands and consumer loyalty. Well, DC are taking a stand and it's gong to be brutal for some.

Sources close to freelancers inform me that DC Comics has a new in house policy for pencillers. Aside from very specific contracted creators (such as Jim Lee), any penciller contracted to work on a monthly book must deliver complete turnaround of 22 pages of work in four weeks. Not a month, four weeks. If that schedule isn't maintained, they'll pull pages and assign them to other creators. And you may run short of future work. A reduction in quality is more acceptable than a reduction in quantity.

Specific examples I've been given include the recent issue of "Wonder Woman" was half Dodson and half Ron Randall. Also why Koi Turnball was dropped from "Jack Hawksmoor." And it has been pointed out that there are already three fill-ins on the new "Legion" schedule.

Creators are also being dropped from exclusive contracts over this new regime. Expect certain publishing vultures to swarm.

Three fill-ins? It's Manapul/Livesay on issues 37 through 40, Lopresti/Ryan are doing issue 41 with Manapul/Livesay back on 42 (the latest issue solicited). Maybe he's confusing the LSH31C book with this one; I sent him a note, but he never replied.

Via THE BEAT, which also has some lively discussion, as does Occasional Superheroine (neither of which mention the Legion book, but offer good discussion nonetheless).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Action 862 sneak peek

Superman Homepage has a sneak peek at the first five pages of Action Comics 862. That's part 5 of the 6-part story. Bring in the Subs! The cover to this issue has the subs most recently known as Chlorophyll Kid and Stone Boy, plus former reject Rainbow Girl and someone who is either Fire Lad or The Mess. This one's got an alternate Keith Giffen cover.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wonder Con '08: Day 2

From the DC Universe panel at Wonder Con:

Via CBR:

Didio regarding the “Legion of Superheroes” 50th anniversary: “we'll come up with something, I promise.”

Via Newsarama:
Plans for the 50th Anniversary of the Legion of Super-Heroes? "You will see the Legion of Super-Heroes, you will see the Legion of Super-Heroes, and you will see the Legion of Super-Heroes in the DC Universe #0"

Hmmm... that sounds suspiciously like "The Legion of Three Worlds" to me...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wonder Con '08: Day 1 - Perez on the Legion soon?

WonderCon in San Francisco is this weekend. Here are the juicy Legiony news tidbits from today's DC Nation panel:

Via Technophobiac Sci-Fi:

Superstar artist George Perez may be going into the future for his next project. The artist, best known for his work on 1980s universe-ending saga Crisis On Infinite Earths provided the cover for May's DC Universe: Zero, which DiDio said "may lead into what he's doing next". The stars of that particular cover? Futuristic teen super-heroes, the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Via Comic Book Resources:
DiDio said he did “not know how to answer” to the question of whether the Legion from “Action Comics” will be getting its own series.

DiDio indicated that the cover art of “DC Universe” #0 “shows what George [Perez] might be doing next.”

Via Newsarama:
Will readers see any more of the Legion that's currently in Action Comics? DiDio deferred to Wayne who said it was as if there were two or three Legions operating.

Elaborating on "DC Universe" #0, DiDio said that the one-shot issue is more than just a bridge between "Countdown to..." and "Final Crisis" proper, but also lays the groundwork for "Green Lantern: Blackest Night", the upcoming Wonder Woman story, and more. To do this, the various artists were brought on.

DiDio pointed out the Perez artwork in the cover to #0, adding that the characters pictured give a hint to what Perez will soon be working on.

"This is the launching pad for everything that is to come," DiDio said.

Coming up Saturday:
1:30-3:00 DCU: Countdown to Crisis— Dan DiDio, senior VP—executive editor DCU and Bob Wayne, VP—sales are joined by Mike Carlin, senior group editor—DCU, Jann Jones, senior coordinating editor—DCU, Kurt Busiek (Superman), Darwyn Cooke (Will Eisner’s The Spirit), Jim Lee (All Star Batman & Robin), and others for a panel that’s not to be missed. The Sinestro War has passed, the Countdown is nearly over, and a Final Crisis looms! What lies ahead for our favorite heroes? Find out here! Room 104

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coming Distractions: May 2008

Hmmm, I guess I missed the April solicitations. Here's what's coming out in May 2008, arranged chronologically:

Written by Grant Morrison & Geoff Johns
Art by George Pérez, Tony Daniel, J.G. Jones, Aaron Lopresti, Ivan Reis, Philip Tan and Carlos Pacheco
Cover by various
This is it! The greatest DC characters! Your favorite writers and artists! Everything leading to Final Crisis and beyond starts here for just 50¢! Take a journey through the past and present of the DCU, and witness the emergence of the greatest evil in the universe — and the stunning return of a force for good! You dare not miss DC Universe: Zero!
Retro-solicited; on sale April 30 • 32 pg, FC, $0.50 US

Note the cover... lots of Legionnaires in the blue and white sections. Looks like the Lightning Saga Legion.

Written by J. Torres
Art and cover by
Alexander Serra
A distress call from a stranded United Planets’ ship pits the Legion against a gang of rogue Thanagarian pirates – and they’re not exactly carrying on Hawkman’s heroic legacy!
On sale May 14 32 pg, FC, $2.25 US

Based on the cast, it looks like they're still in Season 1 continuity.

Written by Keith Giffen
Art by Lee Garbett & Trevor Scott
Cover by Ivan Reis & Trevor Scott
Universes collide! The Justice League vs. the Authority. The Legion of Super-Heroes vs. Stormwatch. The Justice Society vs. Tranquility. When opposites meet, chaos reigns!
On sale May 21 • 2 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

They're not on the cover, though.

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and covers by J.G. Jones
Witness the historic start of the final chapter in the Crisis trilogy that could only spring from the mind of Grant Morrison — Final Crisis, featuring stunning art by J.G. Jones (52 Covers)! Worlds will live and heroes will die in this epic tale spanning the beginning and end of the DC Universe!
The entire Multiverse is threatened as the mysterious Libra assembles an army of the DCU’s most terrifying super villains. But what is the ultimate plan, and who will live to find out?
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers by J.G. Jones that will ship in approximately 50/50 ratio. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale May 28 • 1 of 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

Not sure if or how the Legion is in this, but Karate Kid has been part of "Countdown" and the Lightning Saga Legion is on the cover to DC Universe: Zero (above), so it's here just in case.

Written by Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Art and variant cover by Dale Eaglesham
Cover by Alex Ross
The beginning of the end of the ever-growing Justice Society starts with a new storyline! In the first chapter of "Gog," meet Earth's future savior — the one, true Gog — as he offers the Justice Society of America something many of the members can't refuse. But the controversial goodwill threatens to splinter the team, and it's up to Alan, Jay and Wildcat to hold it together.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (with a cover by Alex Ross), retailers may order one copy of the Variant Edition (with a cover by Eaglesham). Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale May 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Starman should appear.

Written by Jim Shooter
Art and cover by Francis Manapul & John Livesay
The war against the powers from beyond the fringes of the universe forces the Legion into the most terrifying fight of their lives on Rimbor, homeworld of Ultra Boy — where he's wanted for murder!
On sale May 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Gary Frank & Jonathan Sibal
Superstar artist Gary Frank joins writer Geoff Johns for an epic story teaming Superman with an adult version of the Legion of Super-Heroes, originally presented in Action Comics #858-863! When he was a boy, Clark Kent was isolated and alone until he met this teen team from the 31st century. Today, it's been years since Superman saw his childhood friends. Why haven't they returned to visit him? What's become of the symbol of Superman in the future? And just why is the future so dangerous for Superman? They warned him away, but now he's determined to help his friends — even if it means his life!
Advance-solicited; on sale July 9 • 168 pg, FC, $24.99 US

Reprinted in hardcover (not a trade paperback).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Caption contest 7: Oh noes, it's the Time Trapper!

Oh noes! The Time Trapper turned the Legion into little kiddies, and now they're eating his getaway craft. He thinks that things can't possibly get worse...

What happens next?

Sorry, I couldn't resist this one (thanks to icanhascheezburger for the lolification).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Don't hold your breath for action figures

Action Figure Insider has this from their monthly Q&A with Mattel:

Q1: Legion of Super-Heroes figures ?!? Any word at all ?!? 2008 is the 50th anniversary of the debut of the Legion. Is Mattel going to do ANYTHING in conjunction with the anniversary?

A: While we do have access to the characters from LOSH, we do not have any specific plans to do figures specifically for a 50th anniversary celebration. We look forward to announcing LOSH figures in the future.

Caption contest 6: Kissing Contest

The kids want Star Boy to join in their 31st century version of spin-the-bottle. What does he say in reply?

(By the way, do you think this panel is the origin of the Spark/Chameleon romance from the post-Zero Hour reboot run?)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Magic 8-Ball, will we see a third season of the Legion cartoon?

Magic 8-Ball says "Outlook not so good".

If you'll recall, at this time in 2006, we had already heard casting news and the voice actors had started recording episodes.

At this time in 2007, we had heard that the animators were already working on episodes, and then a few days later KidsWB! sent out a press release announcing (among other things) the official renewal.

This time in 2008? Nothing. Haven't seen anything in my Google alerts, haven't see anything at the animation sites, and at least one industry insider isn't optimistic. It's not just the Legion, though, it could be the entire slate of what's currently on Saturday morning (Tom & Jerry, Batman, Scooby Doo, etc.).

Hope I'm wrong, though, I'd like to see a third season.

Legion valentines, 2008 edition

Scott at Polite Dissent has another round of Legion-related valentines this year (for the third year in a row). Here are two of them; go there to see the rest (plus the 2006 and 2007 versions).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Trivia #20 answers

The answers to the all-singing, all-dancing, all-Karate Kid edition of the trivia quiz....

1. When Karate Kid originally joined the Legion in "Adventure Comics" #346, it was the first time he met them but it was not the first time they met him. Explain.

Karate Kid was in the 20th century battling the Lord of Time (long story), and he brought some Legionnaires back to fight him (issues 12-13 of his own series). Unfortunately for him, it was the Legion from before he joined. As Duke noted, they were wearing flight rings but Lightning Lad still had both arms, which places the Legion between Adventure 329 and 332.

2. On his way back from having spent time in the 20th century, traveling to his home timeline in the 30th, where did Karate Kid stop over? What revelation was made that ties in with "Countdown" and "Final Crisis" as a result of that stopover? And for what event did he come back to the 30th century just in time?
He stopped off in Kamandi's time, where it was revealed that the Great Disaster timeline was an alternate future than the one the Legion was in; previously, it had been speculated that they were both from the same timeline. In Kamandi's timeline, the Great Disaster happened; in the Legion's timeline, it didn't. (See Kamandi #58-59 and Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2). He got back to his own 30th century just in time to help Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy take on Mordru at the end of Earthwar after the rest of the Legion had been defeated.

3. Who stayed behind to watch the HQ during the wedding of Karate Kid and Queen Projectra?
Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy, in LSH v2 Annual #2.

4. Why did Karate Kid leave the Work Force?
As Reboot said, "He thought McCauley was defiling the Anomaly, destroyed Evolvo's machine, knocked out Evolvo and ran & claimed asylum with the Legion." Duke put it slightly differently: "KK lost his reserved demeanor when Leland McCauley tried to explot a poor, helpless space anomoly." I think it was this issue:

5. Where, with whom, and why was Karate Kid stranded during the "Legion Worlds" storyline?
He was stranded on Steeple with the comatose Ferro. He chose to stay when a black hole cut the planet off from traffic, supposedly for a decade but it was actually a lot less.

6. How many different versions of Karate Kid has Batman met?
By my count, three: the pre-Crisis version, the current post-Infinite Crisis version, and the Lightning Saga version.

7. When Karate Kid was unmasked as Trident in the "Lightning Saga" storyline, what was significant about the name he gave as his identity?
He gave the name Wes Holloway, which was the name of the protagonist of writer Brad Meltzer's novel "Book of Fate".

Bonus question: How does Karate Kid (the Legionnaire) tie in with the movie of the same name?
The producers of the movie paid a fee to DC for use of the name. But recently in "Countdown", Karate Kid was asked if he was inspired to take his name from the movie.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Legion in San Diego

Just announced: the list of themes for this year's San Diego con, including confirmation that the Legion will be represented in programming:

• 50th Anniversary of the Legion of Super-Heroes
It looked like just another issue of Adventure, but in it was magic. Adventure Comics no. 247 showcased three strange new super-heroes on the cover with Superboy: Cosmic Boy, Lightning Boy (soon to be "Lad"), and Saturn Girl, grilling him from behind what appeared to be a game show desk. That single stand-alone story, by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino, featuring a "super-hero club" of teenagers begat a literal legion of characters, one whose popularity and endurance has survived the test of time.

(Hat tip to Scott)

Summer party planning

A couple of summer party events to start thinking about...

1. If you're interested in joining us in Las Vegas for the annual "Legion of Super-Gamblers" weekend, let me know. A group of 8-10 or so of Legion fans get together every summer for a long weekend of gambling, partying, and socializing. This year we've chosen the weekend of Thursday July 17 through Sunday July 20, or whatever part of that you choose to show up. Anyone who joins us is welcome to hang out with us as much or as little as they like. We've got a private Yahoo group (no spammers allowed!) to discuss the details, so if you think you might be able to make it, I'll get you set up. Nothing like Vegas in the summer, I hope you can handle the heat. This will be our 12th annual trip, with people flying in from places like New York, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Houston, Seattle, and Phoenix, among others.

2. Which brings me to the second item... who's planning to go to San Diego this year? The Comic-Con is the weekend of Wednesday July 23 through Sunday July 27. Not coincidentally, the Vegas and San Diego weekends are back to back this year, so that those traveling from points east can make one long trip if they want instead of two long weekends. This is the 50th anniversary of the Legion, and although I have no firsthand knowledge of any programming, I'm sure that'll be part of the convention programming.

I haven't been to the convention since the 2002 season, and from reading about it each year, it gets bigger and bigger. If anyone scores a convention hotel room for relatively cheap this week and is possibly looking for a roommate, let me know!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Trivia Quiz #20

This edition of the trivia quiz is dedicated to Carl Douglas. Today, grasshoppers, we will discuss that cat who is as fast as lightning, Karate Kid. In fact, he was a little bit frightening, but he fought with expert timing.

1. When Karate Kid originally joined the Legion in "Adventure Comics" #346, it was the first time he met them but it was not the first time they met him. Explain.

2. On his way back from having spent time in the 20th century, traveling to his home timeline in the 30th, where did Karate Kid stop over? What revelation was made that ties in with "Countdown" and "Final Crisis" as a result of that stopover? And for what event did he come back to the 30th century just in time?

3. Who stayed behind to watch the HQ during the wedding of Karate Kid and Queen Projectra?

4. Why did Karate Kid leave the Work Force?

5. Where, with whom, and why was Karate Kid stranded during the "Legion Worlds" storyline?

6. How many different versions of Karate Kid has Batman met?

7. When Karate Kid was unmasked as Trident in the "Lightning Saga" storyline, what was significant about the name he gave as his identity?

Bonus question: How does Karate Kid (the Legionnaire) tie in with the movie of the same name?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Legion v5 sales, plus the Action Comics run

Over at THE BEAT, they've got the latest sales figures, which are pretty interesting. It covers the first Shooter/Manapul issue, with a nice big sales bump. We'll see how well they can sustain the sales. At the bottom, we also look at the "Superman and the Legion" storyline in the Action Comics run.

From THE BEAT's data below, you can see that the last three Waid/Kitson issues (#28-30) were roughly constant, halting a slow downward slide that has pretty much characterized the series run as a whole (notable exceptions: adding Supergirl increased sales on the series, while the Adam Hughes cover increased sales only on that issue). In March, the title was delayed a week and came out in April, that's why there are two listings for that month.

There was no sales bump for the Bedard/Calero issues (#31-36), and the sales slip went back to normal. Due to the massive buzz on the creative team change to Shooter/Manapul, though, the sales jumped way up.
12/2006: Supergirl & LoSH #25 — 33,288 (- 2.1%)
01/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #26 — 32,342 (- 2.8%)
02/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #27 — 31,387 (- 3.0%)
03/2007: –
04/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #28 — 31,525 (+ 0.4%)
04/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #29 — 30,906 (- 2.0%)
05/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #30 — 30,767 (- 0.5%)
06/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #31 — 30,385 (- 1.2%)
07/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #32 — 29,826 (- 1.8%)
08/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #33 — 29,315 (- 1.7%)
09/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #34 — 28,294 (- 3.5%)
10/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #35 — 27,370 (- 3.3%)
11/2007: Supergirl & LoSH #36 — 26,814 (- 2.0%)
12/2007: Legion of SH #37 — 45,803 (+70.8%)

Here's what the sales author Marc-Oliver Frisch said about the jump:
With the December issue, the new regular creative team of writer Jim Shooter and artist Francis Manapul took over the series, whose title reverted back to The Legion of Super-Heroes in the process.

The fact that sales go up for the return of Shooter, who wrote a fan-favorite run on the property in the late sixties, probably doesn’t come as a great surprise. But the degree of the increase is unexpected. It’s been a while since a simple creative team change prompted this kind of reaction. And, let’s be honest, Shooter’s past merits notwithstanding, putting his name on a book in 2007 was a bit of a gamble, commercially. For now, though, it seems to be paying off for DC.

There’s a variant cover edition, but stores were able to order it separately, without the usual 1-for-10 string attached.

Shooter also wrote a fan-favorite run in the mid-70s, too.

To compare with the last big sales jump, LSH v5 #15 had 31,649 sales while issue 16 with Supergirl "1001 Years Later" was at 54,826.

The Bedard/Calero issues took sales under 30K, the lowest in the current series. The last time sales were regularly above 30k before that was sometime in the early 1990s (unfortunately, sales data between 1984 and 1995 is not reliable or available).

Meanwhile, over in Action Comics, here are sales for the last few issues:
07/2007: Action Comics #852 — 50,294 (-34.3%)
08/2007: Action Comics #853 — 49,694 (- 1.2%)
08/2007: Action Comics #854 — 48,455 (- 2.5%)
08/2007: Action Comics #855 — 55,536 (+14.6%)
09/2007: –
10/2007: Action Comics #856 — 53,815 (- 3.1%)
10/2007: Action Comics #857 — 51,401 (- 4.5%)
10/2007: Action Comics #858 — 54,596 (+ 6.2%) [59,031]
11/2007: Action Comics #859 — 54,572 (- 0.0%)
12/2007: Action Comics #860 — 56,254 (+ 3.1%)

The Legion arc started in issue 858, and the increase to that issue shows the increased orders after the fact. (I think it's a second printing.)
The “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” arc resulted in another small sales increase in December, plus 4,435 additional units of issue #858 sold. Not many of DC’s books not involved in crossovers are doing well at present. Action Comics is clearly catching on now.

Anyone got a spare Action 861 with the Grell cover?

By the time I got to my local comic shop this week, they were sold out of their allotment of the variant Mike Grell cover for Action Comics 861 (they said they had about 6 or 7 copies). Does anyone know if their store has any left? I'll pay "regular" prices but I'd rather not pay eBay scalper prices if I don't have to.

Let me know via email if you can help. Gracias!