Saturday, November 8, 2014

Limited Collectors' Edition C55




Guest Review by Rob "I Hate The Legion" Kelly
After my coverage of LIMITED COLLECTORS' EDITION #C49, the first Legion of Super Heroes treasury comic, turned out to be the most popular post on this blog to date (I'm assuming), I was asked to return and write a follow up, about the second (and final) LSH treasury, LIMITED COLLECTORS' EDITION #C55! This time, DC eschewed moldy reprints and presented an all-new story, told by the-then LSH creative team, Paul Levitz and Mike Grell!

Grell pulled out all the stops for the wraparound cover, using the widescreen format to present our heroes in a massive, Star Wars-esque battle. I distinctly remember buying this comic off the stands in August 1978, and I'm betting it was the cover that sold me. Inside, after a one-page text piece detailing the team's publishing history (written by E. Nelson Bridwell, it's safe to assume), we are presented with a story called "The Millennium Massacre", which kicks off with Superboy on his way to a wedding!


The Boy of Steel's good cheer is quickly interrupted when he makes his way to the 30th Century only to find everything is different. He sees the familiar Legion HQ, but the area all around it looks like a military camp. Some armed guards threaten to attack him, leaving Superboy utterly confused. After not recognizing him, the guards open fire, forcing him to crunch their flying craft into a small ball and rendering the guards harmless. Just then, some familiar faces arrive--Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy, and Ultra Boy, who do recognize their teammate, but demand to know why he's acting so strange! After fighting off an attack by some beings Sun Boy calls "The Lunarites", Superboy and the rest head into the LSH HQ, where they are met by Princess Projectra. Superboy tries to explain to her his confusion, but she too has no idea what he's talking about, explaining that their world has always been one of war and death! Starting with the dissolution of the U.N. in 1978(!), nations began fighting with nuclear weapons, sinking the planet into an endless series of catastrophic wars, which followed humanity even as they traveled into space. Superboy is of course aghast at all this, but manages to put it all aside because, heck, there's still a wedding to attend!

…It sure was nice of the Legion to invite Levitz and Grell to the ceremony!

Anyway, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad are married and head off on their honeymoon. Unfortunately, the Lunarites attack again, this time grabbing their ship, which forces the rest of the Legion to attack. The Lunarites leave a massive radiation cloud behind them, which could kill or, at the very least, take away the powers of the Legionnaires, leaving them to fume as the Legion-nappers get away. Current LSH leader Wildfire instructs the others to get into the team's fleet of spaceships to follow, but Superboy stops him, arguing that the larger problem is the altered timeline. Wildfire is less than convinced, which causes a schism among the team members.


What follows in the story's remaining 40(!) pages is a literally world-and-time hopping adventure that features multiple alien races, a trip back to New York City circa 1978, the Legion having to don hepcat 1970s fashions, the Time Trapper, and Wildfire and Superboy at each other's throats. I'm not going to spoil it for you, because if you're a Legion fan (and I assume you are, because you're here!) you should pick up this book. And since it has never been reprinted, to read it you have to find a copy of the original treasury. Which is all to the good anyway, because penciller Mike Grell took full advantage of the increased size and story length, coming up with inventive page and panel layouts, having some of the action almost bursting off the page. The only negative thing I can say about the book is that DC saw fit to get Vince Colletta to do the inking. Here, he scrubs the grittiness that was showing up in Grell's work at this point, robbing it of its distinctive look and a fair amount of its vibrancy.

Bonus feature-wise, the book comes with a two-page Legion pin-up by Grell, plus an 8-page "Origins and Powers of the Legionnaires" feature that is a nice precusor to Who's Who. All in all, a better package than the previous Legion treasury, and a must-own for fans. DC was phasing out its treasury editions by this point, so this was the Legion's last shot at widescreen, oversized glory. It's great that they went out on a winner.


10 comments:

  1. That's Grell on the right, yes? The idea that he has/had the same facial hair as Warlord and Green Arrow is... fitting, somehow.

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  2. Yes, Grell is on the right. He has been clean-shaven for the last few years, however.

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  3. I have a somewhat glaring error to point out: according to DC's time travel rules at the date of publication, two versions of the same person cannot exist in the same time. They handwaved away Mon-El by using the Phantom Zone, but shouldn't Superboy have become a phantom upon entering 1978 with the adult Superman?

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    1. Superboy had to stay in the time bubble with its "time-stasis field" while the others were out and about.

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  4. One assumes the Superman of 1978 was on a Superman Squad mission in another time period at the time.

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  5. Since this was just linked, I will add that to Legion fans, this is known as TDT , or That Damned Tabloid, since it is hard to find in decent condition (or for a decent price!)

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  6. For some reason, the original owner of my copy cut Phantom Girl out of the profile pages at the back.
    :-(

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  7. I think you should have completed the entire plot of the issue. First, it has never been reprinted and it is very hard to locate for those trying to read it. Second I would have liked to get your comments on the revelation of the Time Trapper's identity, that is so contradicted 20 years later.

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  8. DC robbed us the opportunity of a reprint of this issue when they decided to discontinue the DC Archives. It should have been in the Legion Archives vol 14 (last one was vol 13).

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