Monday, August 11, 2014

Superboy and The Legion of Super-Heroes

There is something funny about the Legion of Super-Heroes: sometimes they are the luckiest kids in the galaxy, and sometimes they can't catch a break! They appeared with absolutely no fanfare in a throw-away issue of Adventure Comics in 1958. For four years they were nothing special, the kids who stopped by to say hello to Superboy, Supergirl, or Superman, but who had no home of their own. Then, from 1962 until 1968 they occupied Adventure Comics, and was one of DC's better selling titles. They looked like they would go on that way forever (into the 31st Century, atleast), until the fickle finger of fate threw them a curve. As suddenly as they were given Adventure Comics it was taken away from them, given to Supergirl. They tried to squeeze 26 members into a back-up in Action Comics, but everyone knew that was not going to work. In the fall of 1970 they found themselves homeless again.

Then, in the spring of 1971 they appeared in the back pages of Superboy for the first time. And the world of comics was ready for another bolt of lightning.

It started simply. Maybe these initial Legion stories were scripts that had already been ordered for Action Comics. Or perhaps they were stories that writer E. Nelson Bridwell wanted to tell (the origin of Lightning Lord, the origin of Invisible Kid). Either way, things began to happen. Because, you see, the Superboy issues with the Legion back-ups started to sell better than the Superboy issues without them! Fans wrote in begging for more Legion stories. Adventure Comics editor Mort Weisinger had kicked the Legion out of that book to give it to Supergirl, but Superboy editor Murray Boltinoff was looking for anything that would sell comics. He kept the series and kept looking at the sales numbers.
And then an artist named Dave Cockrum came to DC and *wanted* to draw the Legion. Within two or three stories the ingredients gelled and a miracle occurred. The Legion stories gradually became more exciting, more fun, and more engaging than the lead Superboy (solo) feature. Eventually, after more than two years, editor Murray Boltinoff made the fateful decision: with issue #197, the Superboy logo would now read: Superboy Starring The Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion was back!
No one reading comics in 1973 could possibly have guessed what was eventually going to happen. The book that started as Superboy in 1949 had become Superboy Starring The Legion of Super-Heroes. But it didn't stop there. From #231, it legally became Superboy And The Legion of Super-Heroes.  And then with issue #259, it became just, plain, The Legion of Super-Heroes. The group that had been kicked out, now turned around and did the kicking, bumping Superboy out of his own book!   
This banner will feature all of the stories told during this era, chronologically, from Superboy #172 (March 1971) until Superboy And The Legion #258 (Dec 1979).  This is the Dave Cockrum, Mike Grell, Jim Sherman, and Jim Starlin eras of the book, with stories by Cary Bates, Jim Shooter, Paul Levitz, and Gerry Conway. There are a lot of great stories during this run, and we here at Legion of Super-Bloggers look forward to turning you on to them! 

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