Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015!

Whether you go dancing tonight....

 ...or go bar-hopping...

 ...or just hang out with friends and family.....

Party like it's 2999....! (No, wait, that's not right...!) 

All joking aside.....just be careful out there. 
If you're drinking, have a designated driver for your space cruiser. 
Or call a Space Cabby to take you home. 
We want you around in 2015!

And here's hoping you have somebody to kiss at midnight! 

Happy New Year from the Legion of Super-Bloggers! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brainiac 5!

According to the 1976 DC Calendar, today will be the birthday of Querl Dox, better known throughout the galaxy as Brainiac 5.
Brainiac 5 was the tenth member to join the Legion of Super-Heroes, and served as Leader during Year Five.
Brainiac 5 is a Capricorn. He can put all his time and effort into a thankless task, but he can trust that adventure, pleasure, relaxation....all that he feels that he is being denied now...will soon be forthcoming.
As an extra bonus, here is an awesome Brainiac 5 cover by the fantastic Steve Lightle!

DC Comics Presents #80

DC Comics Presents #80 (April 1985)
a review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "A World Full of Supermen!"
writer: Paul Kupperberg
penciller: Curt Swan
inker: Dave Hunt
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Gene D'Angelo
editor: Julius Schwartz
cover: Eduardo Barreto (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superman, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy


Monday, December 29, 2014

TOS: Action Comics #267 Group Review

The Legion of Super Bloggers Round-Table Discussion on
Action Comics #267 (Dec, 1960)

title: "The Three Super-Heroes"
writer: Jerry Siegel
artist: Jim Mooney
letterer: Joe Letterese
editor: Mort Weisinger

Mission Monitor Board:  
Supergirl (invited to join), Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid


The Legionnaires themselves


The Legion comes to the 20th Century to meet Supergirl and invites her to apply to join their ranks in the 30th.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Art Institute of Zwen: Fred Hembeck's Colossal Boy

The Legion makes two appearances in Abbott & Costello Meet The Bride of Hembeck by Fred Hembeck. One was just a sight-gag comparing the Legion to a buffalo stampede as "Fred" is trampled by "every cartoonist's worst nightmare: every member of the Legion of Super-Heroes....even Tyroc...!" 
The other reference is more important to the DC Super Star Holiday Special we reviewed last week. In this realm where ALL comic-book characters interact with each other, Colossal Boy tells Invisible Girl/Woman how he feels about being "outed" as Jewish....

Saturday, December 27, 2014

LEGION TOYS: Brainiac 5 (Mattel 12-Pack)

Mattel 12-Pack Brainiac 5
by David Weter

When opening the set for the first time, I was filled with excitement. The figures were all top notch, with great choices for costumes, and fun details.

Then, I came to Brainiac 5 and.... I shrugged.

Brainiac 5, who uses his massive brainpower to atone for his ancestor, the Superman villain, Brainiac.

A key figure in Legion history, and one of the most gifted and inspired characters in the early roster. And, yet, I shrugged.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Hot: Princess Projectra Dreaming by Mike Nasser

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #233 was a treasure trove of hotness and that included this back-up story title 'The Final Illusion' with art by Mike Nasser (also known as Mike Netzer). And the Legionnaire who is the hottest in this tale is Princess Projectra.

In this Untold Tale of the Legion, Projectra is dealing with the fact that Karate Kid has decided to stay in the 20th Century (remember his solo series!). Emotionally distraught, Jeckie enters into a deep fugue state, stuck in an endless dream.

Even asleep, Nasser portrays Projectra in a sensual pose, a look of ecstasy on her face.

In that dream-state, Jeckie is reliving some of her happiest moments with Val, dates at the amusement park, dancing, and generally being young and in love.

I love this panel with Projectra just thrilled to be hugged by Val.

But Jeckie's friends now she can't stay that way. Cham, Saturn Girl, and Dream Girl have to figure out how to wake the Princess.

Nasser sure knows how to draw beautiful women because Dreamy looks ... well ... dreamy here.

And so the Legionnaires realize that they need to show Jeckie that dreams are empty. She must return to reality. So Saturn Girl gently leads the dream to one of a kiss. But that kiss isn't real. And that reality shocks Jeckie awake.

But this is a 'hot' post, not a review. Look at how these two melt into each others' arms. And Jeckie sure seems ... aroused.

Projectra doesn't make my short list of the most attractive Legionnaires. But this story showcased how someone might call her the hottest.

For completeness sake, and because of my penchant for Kara, I thought I would share some Nasser Supergirl hotness as well, this from Adventure Comics #450, a Martian Manhunter story. Supergirl is beautiful in that whole story. Go here to see more.

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #15

Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: He who damns with faint praise

It has been 4 months since I started to review the 5YL Legion book on this site. For me it has been a bit of a revelation. You see, I loved the book when it came out. But now, rereading the first year of issues again ... this time wearing the hats of both fan and reviewer ... I think I achieved a new level of appreciation. Because I suddenly was reading this book from a new vantage point. It wasn't just a Legion book, it was an experimental Legion book. It was daring, creative, and risky. It shook up a mythology that had become stale, making it seem like something dark and grim to fit into the climate of the day but in reality keeping its core intact. And, looking back at it from the safety of decades of time, I can better appreciate everything that the creative team of Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon were trying to do.

But how could it maintain that innovative nature?

Legion of Super-Heroes #15 is a fine issue. It starts a great arc that (re)introduces a bitter Legion villain. It begins a brutal series of issues showing that the reformed Legion, while a bright inspiration, isn't quite bright enough to burn away the darkness. There is still war. There are still conquerors.

But this was the first time in rereading these issues that I felt the title was JACB ... just another comic book. The creative team remains the same on the cover but Giffen only does a couple of pages of art. The war pages are done by newcomer (at the time) Brandon Peterson. Gone are the 9 panel pages. It is, as if, the book was greater than the sum of its parts. Change something, like the art or page layouts, and the book seems smaller ... duller.

Is it still a great story? Yes. Do I love this run? Yes. But boy, looking back at issues 1-12 took my breath away. This didn't invoke that response.

The opening pages show the team getting used to being in their new headquarters on the Talus planetoid. There isn't enough power. It is a scrapyard of buildings, ships, and technology. This isn't the shiny beacon of hope that has housed the Legion in the past. And the constant short circuits and power fluctuations are maddening. Still, it feels fitting for this new dingy universe.

The opening sequence of Brainy reviewing the health of the newly emerald-infused Celeste and investigating the whereabouts of Ultra Boy is done by Giffen.

I really love this page as Brainy continually says Laurel or Rond in the place of someone else. He clearly still cares for Laurel and she (and her relationship with Rond) is worming her way into his mind. This small little dialogue is great showing that Querl has emotions and can still be derailed.

But the main plot is about the Khunds. They are aggressively attacking and conquering worlds in the United Planets. And they are using a new weapon ... the Red Terror ... to basically roll over the forces of these outer worlds.

The Red Terror is a gas which incapacitates anyone who breathes it in. Imagine Scarecrow fear toxin on steroids. The opposing armies fall to their knees in terror and the Khunds simply walk in. And to show this, we see the Khundian forces take over Orando (now back in 'regular space') in moments. Jeckie, no longer Sensor Girl, but acting as Queen, is trembling on the throne.
This is one of the missteps for me with 5YL. Sensor Girl was a way more interesting character than Princess (now Queen) Projectra. We never learn why or when in the 5 year gap she shed that identity.

Now even without the Red Terror, I think the Orandian army and their 'muskets' would not have been a threat. Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight. At least the Khunds are led by an honorable man, General Kiritan.

The UP has heard that the Khundian army has been whipped into a religious frenzy because their goddess, the Demon Mother, has manifested. With worlds rolling over before the Khundian armada, the UP asks the new Legion to lend their presence to the defense. It seemed just a little early. I mean, they just got back together a few issues ago. And that was just in the context of beating Roxxas. Are they already a recognized entity? Are they powerful enough to be a vanguard for the UP? I almost wish there was one more 'adventure' solidifying they were back before sending them to the front.

I did like this scene. Cos pulls the team together and asks them if they should help fight the Khunds. He wants a vote. But this Legion knows it's right. Laurel Gand says it outright in that middle panel. Wonderful.
Not everyone is heading to the front.

Cham is using his mercantile powers to work with someone named Orlak. Orlak is a Khundian double agent, selling information and technology. These weapons are alien to the Khunds, gifts of the Demon Mother.

Can you trust a Khundian informant?

Giffen and the Bierbaums do a good job of conveying just how insane and chaotic this war is. The setting changes every other page or so, showcasing just how stretched thin the UP is.

Cham is gathering intel.

Vi and Ayla, meanwhile, are boots on the ground on Venegar trying to hold back the Khundian invasion. And we learn very quickly that this is serious business. Vi's right leg is blasted by a Khundian weapon. It will eventually be amputated. And the Red Terror gas is cause for immediate retreat. Venegar falls.

This is all too easy for the Khunds.

And things are getting worse. Even though they are walking over their opponents, the Khunds are working all the paths the victory. On Talok VIII, they are luring the Hill people to join the Khunds and overthrow the City people. Why not let the people of a United Planet world tear themselves apart instead of losing Khundian troops.

 It is fascinating to see the variety of cultures on all these worlds. Orando was more feudal in nature. Talok VIII is almost nomadic.

Again, the honor of General Kiritan precedes him. He will keep his word and let the Hill People run the world for the Khundian Empire.

And once more it is knowledge of Talok VIII and the politics of that world that show that the history of the Legion is not only known but utilized. The Hill tribes!!

The weapons of the Khund and their apparent military might is making this whole thing look grave. But finally it looks like the UP has something it can use to even up the odds. The Khunds are over-extended. They need pluridium for their starships and they need a supply near the front. That means the next world to fall will either be Talok VIII or Xolnar. And the UP will be ready.
Given the prior scene, it seems that Talok VIII is the obvious target.

It turns out that the leader of Talok VIII, the new Shadow Champion, is Grev Mallor, Shadow Lass's cousin. And his wife is Lady Memory, the former high priestess of the Hill tribes and enemy of the Legion.

There doesn't seem to be too much love here. This seems to be a marriage of convenience of politics. She basically laughs at him and his worries as she lounges in their bed.

And then ... out of the blue ... they show up!

Mon-El and Shadow Lass! Or should I say Valor??

It had seemed that Giffen and the crew were uninterested in using these characters after the universal rewrite and re-rewrite. Remember, in a text piece, these two went into deep space to explore.

To be honest, I wish they stayed away. The Valor story is even more convoluted now. And we have Laurel Gand now!

Well, it turns out that the Talok VIII business is something of a feint.

The Khunds invade Xolnar, an arctic planet and current site of the United Planets Military Academy. This academy is basically the new Legion Academy. Chuck Taine and Luorno Durgo run it. And old friends Power Boy and Nightwind are their drill sergeants.

This isn't the academy though. This is a very real threat. Alas, poor Nightwind, we barely knew ye.

How the heck is the UP going to survive?

And what about Earth in all this?
The Dominators' rule has been exposed. They have been running things from the shadows. But now, with the curtain lifted, they may as well run things the way they want. No more niceties.

So the Legion is finally reformed. But they have little chance to pause and let out a sigh. We are suddenly in the middle of an intergalactic crisis. And all this while the Dominators close their fist around Earth even tighter.

The text piece in the issue is the announcement of the wedding between Lady Memory and Shadow Kid. These pieces deepen the lore of the Legion by adding context beyond the panels.

Time to damn with faint praise.

This is a really good issue. Giffen and the team again shows that they know Legion history inside and out, weaving in old enemies and minor characters to build this Five Years Later universe. With the team finally together, why not make a big splash and have them save ... well ... everyone. And judging by the letter columns, fans were champing at the bit for something just like this.

But this is the first issue, taking place in 'the present' that didn't have Giffen on art, that didn't have the 9 panel format. This was the first issue where we weren't learning what happened in the 5 year gap, that we weren't watching the team come together. Instead, we have a mission, a standard story. Squint away the 5 year differences and this could have been an issue in the prior Baxter series. It felt ... safe.

Prior to this, there was energy and vibrance and ... and newness in this series. Back matter and 9 panel grids. Text pages of Rokk beating Mordru with conversation. Universal rewrites and humor issues. It was just an explosion of creativity.

I love this series. And I even love this arc.

But I don't know if this series ever recaptures the zeal and creativity of that first year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!!

Merry Christmas from the Legion of Super-Bloggers!!  

This is wrapping paper that I purchased waaay back in 1980. I would buy anything that had Aquaman on it, so it was a definite purchase when I saw it, but take a close look....there are Legionnaires in that group shot! What the....!?!?

This confused me! DC enthusiast that I was (*and am) wanted to know why, in lieu of Justice Leaguers or Teen Titans, we had Legionnaires!
So...if you have a back-story idea to explain why Mon-El, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, and Dawnstar are there in the Hall of Justice on Christmas morning, leave a comment below! We'll see if we can reach a consensus as to what they're doing there. Maybe we can guess what Brainy is giving Kara...or is it what Kara has given Brainy?!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Super-Star Holiday Special

Super-Star Holiday Special (DC Special Series # 21) (Spring 1980)
a review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage and Kyle "Metropolis Kid" Benning
title: "Star Light, Star Bright, Farthest Star I See Tonight!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
inker: Dick Giordano
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Adrienne Roy
editor: Len Wein
cover: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Wildfire, Lightning Lad, with brief appearances by Mon-El, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, Sun Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Colossal Boy

It's Christmas Eve 2979, and Superboy arrives to spend Christmas with his pals in the Legion. Mon-El is on guard duty (due to the recent destruction to the Legion HQ, all of their security has not been fully re-installed). Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad have volunteered for monitor duty, and Phantom Girl and Wildfire are also hanging around. The five of them are hoping to settle in for a little bit of down time, checking in with other Legionnaires and what they are doing on Christmas Eve. Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, and Sun Boy are shown in Japan celebrating Christmas there. Chameleon Boy is on duty around Durla. Colossal Boy is with family, celebrating Chanukah instead of Christmas. Superboy bemoans the lack of tinsel and an "old-fashioned" Christmas in the high-tech future when he hits on the idea to use the Legion's advanced technology to try to find the star that blazed over Bethlehem at the first Christmas.
Leaving Mon-El behind, the others board a Legion cruiser and head off into the cosmos. Lightning Lad plots a course as to where the star should be, but all that they find there is a "lonely little planet." Saturn Girl stays on the cruiser while the others check out the scenery. Wildfire helps pink dolphin people harvest plankton that grows on the surface of the ocean. Due to the ever increasing cold in the atmosphere the water is freezing around their food supply before they can eat it, so Wildfire uses his powers to melt the largest blocks of ice for them. Elsewhere, Lightning Lad and Phantom Girl find land-dwellers burning their own crops to try to stay warm. They save one of the creatures who falls into the fire, but can't make the world warmer. And elsewhere again, Superboy helps tie bird-peoples' nests to their trees, so the cold winds will not blow them loose and destroy them.
The Legionnaires get together to compare notes and realize that the planet's ice age is dooming its inhabitants. Superboy thinks to use their Legion telepathic plugs for the three races to communicate with each other.  Wildfire and Lightning Lad creates a cave dwelling around a hot spring river on the shoreline. When Superboy returns he has all of the creatures with him. They have agreed to work together for mutual survival. The water dwellers will grow their plankton in the warmed area and share it with the land-dwellers. The land-dwellers will keep the fires burning to keep the area warm. The bird-people will bring wood from their original forests to provide fuel for the fires. With warmth and shelter, the races will survive until the United Planets can investigate and plan an actual evacuation.
On their way home, the Legion discusses whether The Star led them to this disaster or not. Wildfire doesn't want to believe, but cheerfully goes along with Superboy's belief as he decorates an old-fashioned Christmas tree with tinsel.

This is a nice little sentimental story. I like how Superboy shows up in the future and, not seeing the "traditional" Christmas decorations, thinks that nobody celebrates Christmas. Really, Clark, is Christmas a *universal* holiday? When I was in Japan it was just another working day, literally. So it's not even a universal holiday on Earth! It just doesn't make sense that Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad (being from three different planets) "celebrate" Christmas at all. This story would have made more sense if 1. the Legionnaires addressed that idea (ARE they all Christians?) OR 2. all the Legionnaires mentioned were actually from Earth, so the idea of a shared culture is atleast there. Frankly, I think it would have been cool if Karate Kid, Sun Boy, and Colossal Boy had been included instead of these members, as each of them are from Earth.
Besides that, though, I liked how Superboy "dragged" the others off on a "wild goose chase" that ended up saving all of those lives. This type of innocence or exuberance or whatever you want to call it seemed to vanish some when Superboy left the Legion.  And that is too bad.
The art, though! Jose Luis Garcia Lopez is awesome. All of his characters are individuals AND damn fine looking! It's a shame that he never drew another Legion story.

The first time I would have read this story was in a beat up old copy of Christmas with the Super-Heroes #1 (regular comic issue size, not to be confused with the treasury comics of the same name) that I had scored at a garage sale when I was probably around 8-10 years old. By this time I was a huge fan of Superboy and the Legion, and so this tale instantly stuck out as my favorite of the collection, despite the five other great stories that were also reprinted, including the first Frank Miller Batman story (also one of the stories that first appeared in DC Special Series #21), "Silent Night of the Batman" from Batman #219, and "Twas the Fright Before Christmas" Superman story from DC Comics Presents #67. I have since acquired the original issue, DC Special Series #21 (man I love those DC Dollar Comics Giants from the late 1970's and early 1980's) because, well to be honest, this story is so great it deserves to be cherished in as many formats as possible ( I also have the digest and trade paperback reprintings). 
The idea that the members of the Legion from other planets might not celebrate Christmas never crossed my mind in my youth, I guess now I would just "no-prize it" as since the Legion was based on Earth, and grew up idolizing Superman, they adopted his Earth-culture and holiday celebration. Superman has a long history of saving Christmas, so naturally those exploits and adventures would have been recorded and then studied by the Legion in the future. I'm really dating myself here, but my only exposure to Hanukkah at this age probably would have been limited to the Adam Sandler song, but it was neat seeing Colossal Boy celebrate another popular holiday that I knew of, but didn't fully understand or comprehend. Another case of the diversity in the Legion shining through for the better and broadening the horizons of its readership. 
Ever since I first read this story, it has become a mainstay and must-read in my yearly Christmas comic read list and it remains among my top 5 all-time Christmas capers. I just can't speak highly enough about the innocence and wonder that this story carries. Even now as an often-times cynical comics curmudgeon, this story takes me back to being a small child, caught up in the magic of Christmas. The Legion goes on a quest to find the Christmas star, and in doing so, saves countless lives and spreads hope to so many people. This year with all of the turmoil around us, that story might resonate even more, that we may take the time to spread hope and make a positive impact on our fellow man. I hope you all enjoy the full story below, and if you have a chance, go out there and snag a hard copy of the story for your own, and hopefully it will become a treasured part of your holiday reading list like it is for us here at the Legion of Super-Bloggers. 

Science Police Notes:  
  • This story takes place between Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #251 (the destruction of the Legion HQ) and LSH (v2) #259 (Superboy quits the Legion). 
  • This is the only Legion of Super-Heroes story ever illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (Praise Be His Name.) Although he drew a Legion cameo in DC Comics Presents #2 and a Star Boy-Dream Girl back-up story in LSH (v3) #55, this is the only full-blown Legion story he ever did.  
Reprinted in the Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #11 (1981)
Reprinted in Christmas with The Super-Heroes #1 (1988)
Reprinted in the TPB DC Universe Christmas (2001)

MILESTONE: This story "outed" Colossal Boy as Jewish. He is shown toasting with his family while a menorah is clearly shown in the foreground. Oddly, he is wearing his costume but not a kippah. This scene made Colossal Boy the first Legionnaire to be directly linked to a specific religion.

As an extra added bonus, and as a Christmas present from all of us here at Legion of Super-Bloggers to you our fans, here is this beautiful, ultra-rare story in its entirety!
Merry Christmas, everybody!

From all of us here at the Legion of Super-Bloggers, 
have a safe and happy holiday season, and thank you for all of the support in 2014.