Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes Key Issues Part 10

I did warn everyone from the get go that the Legion of Super-Heroes is pretty massive when it comes to it's universe. Many of the keys, however, are pretty minor or just not all that cared about in the current market.

The keys in Part 10 are pretty much over-looked, whether for good reason or not. Dunno, as I've stated earlier that I don't know much about the Legion.

This group appeared to have a pretty big fan base back in the day though. Okay, this Part 9 link will bring ya back if need be. As for more Legion of Super-Heroes key issues, you'll find them below.

1st Paul Levitz script on Legion

If there is a writer that many Legion fans point to concerning fan-favorite stories, Paul Levitz is definitely mentioned a lot. Not just quite often, but a lot!

Levitz would not only expand the Legion universe, but he would incorporate many of the already established villains and connect them in truly ambitious story arcs for the Legion which brought a larger scope and depth to the mythos. He would work on the Legion titles from 1977 to 1979 and 1981 to 1989.

This issue is his first story for the Legion, and although he is a fan-favorite writer for the series, this issue seems to be over-looked in the market currently. For die-hard fans of the Legion, this key issue should be considered. Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #225 was published May, 1977.

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1st appearance of Dawnstar

Paul Levitz and Mike Grell created Dawnstar from the planet Starhaven, and apparently the citizens of her world are from Native American descent. It seems that a portion of the Anasazi tribe were abducted by aliens a long time ago and placed on Starhaven.

Dawnstar is a metahuman, and the unknown aliens who abducted her people did genetic experiments on them. This character can track beings or objects light years away and can fly and survive space for long periods of time.

She would end up being a prominent member of the Legion and would join in issue #229. Superboy #226 was published April, 1977.

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Title changes

Wow, the Legion has equal billing with Superboy during this time and the title of series changes from Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes to Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Soon, the title would change again to just Legion of Super-Heroes, knocking off Superboy from it.

Not a huge key issue or anything, and this comic was published September, 1977.

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1st Sklarian Raiders
1st appearance of Infinite Man

An all-female group of space pirates? Oh, hell yeah! That's something I want to see on the big screen. So the Sklarian Raiders are from the technologically deficient world of Sklaria who basically travel the galaxy and steal technology and high tech equipment for their homeworld.

These Sklarians believe that the United Planets are hording the proper knowledge and technology that could benefit their planet. "You will not give, I'll take!" (Godfather III). Sorry had to put that in there since this group and their motives remind me of  that line in the movie.

Infinite Man is another creation by Paul Levitz and James Sherman. Professor Jaxon Rugarth is the lucky one who volunteers for Rhond Vidar's experiment to test his theory that the fourth dimension has a circular structure.

So Rugarth is propelled through the timelines of so many dimensions so many times that his mind snaps from the strain, but a new powerful being emerges with the knowledge of the past and future. Rugarth somehow is also able to draw energy from the ceaseless flow of time, and he becomes Infinite Man.

Not a very prominent villain or character for the Legion, and this comic was published November, 1977.

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Marriage of Lightning Lad & Saturn Girl

Another All-New Collectors Edition makes it on a key issues list on Total Comic Mayhem. This time it's the marriage of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and it would be the 2nd marriage for the Legion.

Not exactly a major key, but apparently this marriage would produce Validus and his twin brother Graym Ranzz. This All-New Collector's Edition C-55 was published March, 1978.

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1st appearance of Shvaughn Erin
Earthwar story arc begins

Expanding on the Science Police's presence in the Legion universe is the first appearance of Shvaughn Erin who is the Science Police Liaison Officer to the Legion. She would be a major supporting character in the Legion stories.

Erin would develop a romantic relationship with Element Lad. In later stories it's revealed that she is a transgender character and reverts back to being Sean Erin, a male.

Aside from the 1st appearance, this comic begins the Earthwar story arc that is a fan-favorite written by Paul Levitz. The Earthwar saga is the first ambitious Legion event that sees the potential of what all these supporting characters and villains can bring to the Legion universe on a grander scale.

In this story arc, the Legion are desperate to stop an intergalactic war involving the United Planets, the Khunds, the Dominators, the Dark Circle and the sorcerer Mordru. This would be the first big Legion story event that would become a fan-favorite written by Paul Levitz but it wouldn't be the last. The story would finish in issue #245.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #241 was published July, 1978.

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1st appearance of Omega

Created by Jim Starlin, Paul Levitz, and Dave Hunt, Omega was created by Brainiac 5 as he entered a period of insanity later revealed to be induced by Glorith. Brainiac 5 used the Miracle Machine (first appearance in Adventure Comics #367) to create a living embodiment of all the hate within the cosmos.

This is Omega, and he faces the Legion in this issue and the next. The next issue would see Omega destroyed when Matter-Eater Lad eats the Miracle Machine. Brainiac 5 would be sent to an asylum and Matter Eater Lad would be put into a catatonic state after consuming the Miracle Machine.

April, 1979 is the publishing date for Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #250.

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1st League of Super-Assassins
1st appearance of Blok

Legion of Super-Hereos, Legion of Super-Pets, Legion of Substitute-Hereos, Legion of Super-Rejects, and now the League of Super-Assassins.  This League consists of five members from the planet Dryad who are tricked by the Dark Man into thinking the Legion are trying to destroy their home planet.

Blok is a super being that possesses a body made of stone with incredible strength and durability. He could also absorb certain types of energy, making some super powers completely ineffective on him. Blok would eventually join the Legion as a prominent member.

Much of the other League of Assassin members are quite minor characters. Titania is a super strong female with increased invulnerability, and her strength rivaled that of Mon-El and Superboy.

Silver Slasher is Ki-Lan, a female with a metallic, enhanced body and razor sharp fingers. She was could also able to spin her body at great speeds, giving her the strength and hardness to cut through almost anything.

Lazon or Chey-Nu can turn into any form of light, and Mist Master can turn into any form of gas or vapor.

Neutrax sits in a flying chair and has lost the use of his legs. He, however, has the ability to neutralize the powers of others for short periods of time.
Supposedly, the League of Super-Assassins were based on X-Men characters. Blok was based off of Colossus, Mist Master based off of Storm, Silver Slasher is based off of Wolverine, Neutrax inspired by Professor X, Titania based on Thunderbird, and Lazon based off of Sunfire.

After their battle with the Legion, many would go on to become members of the Legion of Super-Villains. July, 1979 is the publishing date for Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #253.

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Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes has Whitman variants with issues #244 through #248. Overstreet notes them as low print runs and issues #244 and #245 have no issue number on the cover. 

The Whitman variants are still relatively cheap even in high grades. I don't think the market cares for them all much yet and who knows exactly what it means by "low print run" concerning the Superboy Whitman variants.

Also, the Legion of Super-Heroes first self-titled comic was a 4 issue series back in 1973. I did not include them because all those issues reprinted earlier Legion stories. There were no new stories in that reprint series.

As for this key issues series, there will only be a few more parts left (like two or three) and I will start being a bit more selective of the keys featured. Many of the ones in Part 10 are pretty much bargain bins and not that in demand, and I'm assuming it will be that way from here on out in terms of the next batch of keys.

That does not mean there aren't ones to consider here. Blok, Shavaughn Erin and Dawnstar do become prominent members of the Legion or supporting characters with a lot of appearances henceforth. 

I'll leave that up to your consideration. Part 11 is coming soon.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes Key Issues Part 9

Finally and definitely within the Bronze Age of Legion of Super-Heroes key issues, and to be honest, Part 9 isn't really all that spectacular in terms of key comics. There are some interesting tid bits behind the scenes, however.

Anyways, this Part 8 link will bring you back if you missed it. If not, hope you enjoy Part 9.

Wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel

It was bound to happen in the Legion, and finally Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are the first among the team to officially get married. Not a big key unless you like the wedding of characters, but it won't be the last wedding for the team for sure.

Well, at least this Legion of Super-Heroes key issues isn't all about 1st appearances. Actually, there is an interesting story that is related to this issue.

Apparently, Dave Cockrum left DC Comics over a dispute concerning ownership of his original artwork produced for this issue. The pages supposedly in dispute was the double splash page featuring the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel.

DC refused to relinquish the pages and Cockrum left after issue #202. Superboy #200 was published February, 1974.

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1st appearance of ERG-1 as Wildfire
1st appearance of Infectious Lass
1st appearance of Porcupine Pete

Although initially denied membership into the Legion at first, ERG-1 makes his comeback in this issue because fans called for it. However, the creatives had to give him a more appropriate name than the generic ERG-1.

So enter Wildfire and he would save the butts of the Legion and prove his worthiness. Wildfire would officially join in the next issue of Superboy.

However, two more new applicants of the Legion aren't so lucky, and they are Infectious Lass and Porcupine Pete.  Both are created by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum.

Drura Sehpt is Infectious Lass from the planet Somahtur, in which all the inhabitant's bodies are homes to colonies of microorganisms. So basically she infects others with diseases while remaining immune to them.

Needless to say she ends up joining the Legion of Substitute-Heroes as does Porcupine Pete. Peter Dursin was born different and with rough skin that later developed into quills.

As Porcupine Pete, he can release them as flying projectiles. Not exactly major characters, and April, 1974 is the publishing date for this comic.

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Lightning Lass gets new costume
1st Mike Grell comic work
Last Dave Cockrum issue

Mike Grell first worked on the comic strip Brenda Starr for the Chicago Tribune, but Grell had no prior experience drawing for a monthly comic book. Grell recalls he got the job drawing for the Legion of Super-Heroes because he was there at the right time.

He walked in the editor's office asking for work right when Dave Cockrum was leaving the series. As mentioned before, this was over a dispute concerning the return of his original artwork, and Dave Cockrum would go to Marvel to change X-Men history and revitalize the team into one of the most popular comic book super-hero teams ever.

Mike Grell started on the Legion of Super-Heroes inking for this issue. By the next, he would take over pencils.

Lightning Lass or Light Lass would get a new costume in this issue as well. Many fans mistake this redesign as a Dave Cockrum redesign but that is a mistake.

Like Saturn Girl, the redesigned costume was submitted by a fellow comic fan who was another female reader of the series. Carol A. Strickland is the fan who designed the new Light Lass costume, and she has been credited with the contribution though not at first.

Not that well-known, however, and deserves an honorable mention. According to her site, she had designed Light Lass' new costume off of Cockrum's Lightning Lad redesign, and even received a letter from Cockrum stating that he had already redesigned Lass' costume but liked hers better.

Of course, Cockrum was on his way out and the credit to Carol Strickland got lost in the shuffle. Tom and Mary Bierbaum, who were fans of the Legion and also members of The Legion Outpost like Carol, would be the future Legion writers to give Carol the printed credit she deserved.

I thought it was a cool story, and neat that the Legion creatives gave fans such opportunities to contribute and feel a part of the comic series they loved so much. Superboy #202 was published May, 1974.

Death of Invisible Kid
Mike Grell art begins on series

Dream Girl has a premonition that one of the Legion members will die, and Invisible Kid is one who gets the ultimate smack down from Validus. As with most deaths, Invisible Kid or Lyle Norg will come back with all the continuity reboots, so no real big deal there.

Superboy #203 sees comic artist Mike Grell take over drawing for the series, and it was published August, 1974.

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Origin Karate Kid

I think this is the first origin of the Karate Kid, but not 100% sure. Anyways, it's in this issue where Karate Kid learns that his father was the infamous Black Dragon and that his adoptive father White Crane (Sensei) is the one who killed him.

Jim Shooter writes this tale. August, 1975 is the publishing date for Superboy #210.

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1st Legion of Super-Rejects

Oh, jeez, they've got the Legion of Substitute-Heroes and now there's a Legion of Super-Rejects? Getting ridiculous here a bit. So basically, these guys are members who were rejected because they had duplicate powers with already existing Legion members.

So they formed this lame group to try to battle those Legion members who had the same powers they had. So basically, Magno Lad the same powers as Cosmic Boy, Phantom Lad the same phasing powers as Phantom Girl, and so on.

First appearances of Calorie Queen, Magno Lad, Phantom Lad, Micro Lad, Esper Lass, and Chameleon Kid in Superboy #212. Magno Lad, Esper Lass, and Micro Lad went on to join the Legion of Super-Villains.

Calorie Queen? Pretty dumb name, but she is Tayrn Loy from Bismoll like Matter-Eater Lad, and she does reappear in future Legion stories unlike Chameleon Kid and Phantom Lad. October, 1975 is the publishing date for this comic.

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1st appearance of Tyroc

This character has an interesting and kind of funny story to it, because the creator Mike Grell hated the character of Tyroc. In an interview Grell mentioned that he had previously tried to introduce black characters but had been continually snubbed by then editor Murray Boltinoff.

"I kept getting stalled off...and finally comes Tyroc," Mike Grell recalled. "They might as well have named him Tyrone. Their explanation for why there were no black people [in the Legion] was that all the black people had gone to live on an island. It's possibly the most racist concept I've ever heard in my life...I mean, it's a segregationist's dream, right? So they named him Tyroc, and gave him the world's stupidest super-power."

He was not the only creative to have been appalled by the character. Jim Shooter, who had previously tried to introduce Ferro Lad as an African American super-hero in the Legion but was denied, also said,  "I always wanted to have a character who was African-American, and years later, when they did that, they did it in the worst way possible....instead of just incidentally having a character who happens to be black...they made a big fuss about it. He's a racial separatist....I just found it pathetic and appalling."

Even fan-favorite and legendary Legion writer Paul Levitz had reportedly admitted to dodging the character as long as possible during his long run on the comic series. So who is this Tyroc?

Tyroc is Troy Stewart and was the only superhero who lived on the island of Marzal. The island was entirely populated with black citizens and the island was even located in another dimension. They were extreme isolationists, and in Tyroc's initial first meeting with the Legion of Super-Heroes, Tyroc and the citizens of Marzal were not happy with the intrusion.

Tyroc had the power of  reality warping screams. In his initial appearances his scream could create portals into other dimensions, destroy objects and create force fields.

Later, his power was just reduced to a sonic scream like that of Banshee of the X-Men or Black Canary. Paul Levitz thought his power was stupid as well.

Despite the controversy surrounding this character by certain creatives, Tyroc is the first black super-hero to join the Legion in issue #218. He is also one of DC's first black costumed super-heroes. Superboy #216 was published April, 1976.

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1st appearance of Pulsar Stargrave 

Another creation by Jim Shooter with co-creator Mike Grell, Pulsar Stargrave is a Legion villain and from Colu like Brainiac, Vril Dox, and Brainiac 5. Pulsar has the ability to harness and control stellar energy and is on par in terms of power with powerful Legion foes such as Mordru and Time Trapper.

Post-Crisis, he is referred to as Mr. Starr and is from the 20th century instead of the 30th century. Superboy #223 was published January, 1977.

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Most of the Bronze Age key issues in Part 9 might be over-looked in the current market but they are hard to find in high grade online. So if you're a fan, it's probably a good time to snag 'em up while they're still cheap. The PREVIOUS link below will bring you back to Part 8.

Continue to Part 10 by clicking the link below.