Saturday, December 6, 2014

Digest Sized Legion of Super-Heroes

by The Metropolis Kid
The 1970’s marked the decade of new comic formats for publishers, especially by DC. They were willing to try a load of new ways to package their great comics to try to grab readers’ attention. The most well-known formats were the Giant Over-Sized Treasury Edition Comics, 100 Page Super Spectaculars, Dollar Comics issues that were triple-sized, and the small digest-sized comics that were “The Biggest Little Buy in Comics!” The digest-sized comics offered 100+ pages of reprinted stories in one smaller format size that made them a great way to get super affordable comics! 96 pages for only 95 cents, how can you beat that?!?!



DC had experimented with the occasional digest- sized comic before, such as the 1972 Tarzan Digest. This digest reprinted some of the old Russ Manning Tarzan comics that were originally published by Gold Key before DC gained the ERB License. Their first ongoing digest-only series was launched in June 1979, entitled Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest. The series proved popular enough that DC would soon launch a second ongoing digest comic series, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest in December 1979. These digests would feature a new theme each month. Sometimes a book would be devoted to a single character, other times a superhero team, and other issues would be devoted to reprinting the most popular stories DC had published over the last year.  In 1982, DC would briefly add a third digest series by revitalizing Adventure Comics, the anthology series that the Legion of Super-Heroes had called home during the Sixties. DC resurrected the title (which had been cancelled in November 1981) and shifted the focus of the long-time ongoing series to a digest-sized reprint book that featured only one new story, typically an 8-10 pager, and Silver Age reprints for the other 80 some pages. The Adventure Comics Digests reprinted the Legion appearances chronologically, starting with their first appearance in Adventure#247, issue #500 was even a 144 page all Legion special, boasting an extra 48 pages. The first digest was issue #491, released on June 3, 1982. The series kept this digest reprint formula for the remainder of the series, until the book was cancelled with #503 in June 1983. By the time that Adventure Comics came to a close, the 13 digests had reprinted the first 34 stories to feature the Legion of Super-Heroes. To put that in context, that is all of the stories collected in the first two volumes of the Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Edition hardcovers plus the two additional stories that are collected in volume 3, which also translates to all but 3 stories collected in the first Showcase Presents phone book sized black and white collection (those 3 tales being the Legion stories from Adventure Comics #319-321). That's impressive!


DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest 
#1 Legion of Super-Heroes (shown above)
Released December 3, 1979 (Cover Date Mar/April 1980)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #247 ("The Legion of Super-Heroes"), 306 ("The Rogue Legionnaire"), 349 ("The Legion of Substitute Heroes"), 352 ("The Fatal Five")
Cover Artist: Dick Giordano
Editor: Jack C. Harris

#8 Legion of Super-Heroes 
Released January 8, 1981 (Cover Date April 1981)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #365 ("Escape of the Fatal Five"), 366 ("Fight for the Championship of the Universe"), 367 ("No Escape from the Circle of Death"), Superboy #198 ("The Fatal Five Who Twisted Time"), 202("Lost: A Million Miles from Home")
Cover Artist: Dick Giordano
Editor: Jack C. Harris

#22 Secret Origins of Super-Heroes
Released March 4, 1982 (Cover Date June 1982)
Reprints a story featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #348 ("And Then There Were None") which featured the secret origin of Sun Boy
Cover Artists: Ross Andru & Mike DeCarlo
Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest
#11 Year’s Best Comic Stories
Released January 8, 1981 (Cover Date April 1981)
Reprints a story featuring the Legion from
DC Special Super-Star Holiday Special Dollar Comic #21
("Star Light...Star Bright...Farthest Star I See Tonight")
Cover Artists: Ross Andru & Dick Giordano
Editor: Julie Schwartz
#24 Legion of Super-Heroes
Released February 4, 1982 (Cover Date May 1982)
Features a new 15 page story ("Murder in Glass") plus reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #357 ("The Ghost of Ferro Lad"), 371 ("Colossal Failure"), 372 ("School for Super-Villains") & Superboy #176 ("Invisible Invader"). Also features profile pictures of all the current Legionnaires illustrated by George Perez.
Cover Artist: Ernie Colon
Editor: Mike W. Barr

#33 Secret Origins of the Legion of Super-Heroes
Released November 4, 1982 (CD February 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #327 ("The Lone Wolf Legionnaire"), Superboy #172 ("Brotherly Hate"), 195 ("The One-Shot Hero"), 221 ("The Trillion-Dollar Trophies"), 233 ("The Infinite Man Who Conquered the Legion"), 240 ("Dawnstar Rising")
Cover Artists: Keith Giffen & Mike DeCarlo
Editor: Nicola Cuti

#35 Year’s Best Comic Stories
Released January 6, 193 (Cover Date April 1983)
Reprints Legion of Super-Heroes #286 ("Old Friends, New Friends, and Other Corpses")
Cover Artists: Ed Hannigan & Dick Giordano
Editor: Nicola Cuti




#44 Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Released October 6, 1983 (CD January 1984)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics 319 ("The Legion's Suicide Squad"), 320 (The Revenge of the Knave from Krypton"), 321 ("The Code of the Legion"), 322 ("The Super-Tests of the Super-Pets"), 323 ("The Eight Impossible Missions"), and Lois Lane #50 ("Lois Lane's Luckiest Day")
Cover Artist: Gil Kane
Editor: Nicola Cuti
#50 The Year’s Best Superman Stories
Released April 5, 1984 (Cover Date July 1984)
Reprints DC Presents #59 ("Ambush Bug II")
Cover Artist: Kurt Schaffenberger
Editor: Nicola Cuti


#52 Year’s Best Comic Stories
Released June 7, 1984 (Cover Date September 1984)
Reprints Legion of Super-Heroes #305 ("Violet's Story")
Cover Artists: Paris Cullins & Dick Giordano
Editor: Nicola Cuti
#57 Legion of Super-Heroes
Released November 1, 1984 (Cover Date February 1985)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #324 ("The Legion of Super-Outlaws"), 325 ("Lex Luthor Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes"), 326 ("The Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires"), 327 ("The Lone Wolf Legionnaire"), 328 ("The Lad Who Wrecked the Legion"), 329 ("The Bizarro-Legion")
Cover Artist: Pat Broderick
Editor: Nicola Cuti
#61 Year’s Best Comic Stories
Released March 7, 1985 (Cover Date June 1985)
Reprints Legion of Super-Heroes #308 ("Guess What's Coming to Dinner?")
Cover Artist Pat Broderick
Editor:Nicola Cuti


 
#64 Legion of Super-Heroes
Released June 6, 1985 (Cover Date September 1985)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Superboy #117 ("Superboy and the 5 Legion Traitors"), Adventure Comics #330 ("The Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire"), 331 ("The Triumph of the Legion of Super-Villains", 332 ("The Super-Moby Dick of Space"), 333 ("The War Between Krypton and Earth"), and 334 ("The Unknown Legionnaire")
Cover Artists Paris Cullins & Robert R. Smith
Editor:Nicola Cuti


#66 Superman Team-Up Action
Released August 1, 1985 (Cover Date November 1985)
Reprints DC Presents #13 ("To Live in Peace...Nevermore!")
Cover Artist: Dennis Jensen
Editor: Nicola Cuti



#67 Legion of Super-Heroes
Released September 5, 1985 (Cover Date December 1985)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #335 ("Starfinger"), 336 ("The True Identity of Starfinger"), 337 ("The Weddings That Wrecked the Legion"), 338 ("The Menace of the Sinister Super-Babies"), 339 ("Hunters of the Super-Beats"), Superboy #124 (:The Insect Queen of Smallville"), and 125 ("The Sacrifice of Kid Psycho")
Cover Artist: Karl Kesel
Editor:Nicola Cuti

#69 Year’s Best Team Stories
Released November 7, 1985 (Cover Date February 1986)
Reprints Tales of the Legion #320 ("Triangle?")
Cover Artist: Joe Staton
Editor:Nicola Cuti









Adventure Comics 

#491 Released June 3, 1982 (Cover Date September 1982)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #247 (" The Legion of Super-Heroes") & #267 ("Prisoner of the Legion of Super-Heroes")
Cover Artists: Keith Giffen & Romeo Tanghal
Editor: Dick Giordano



#492 Released July 1, 1982 (Cover Date October 1982)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Action Comics #267 ("The Three Super-Heroes") & Superboy #86 ("The Army of Living Kryptonite Men")
Cover Artists: Keith Giffen & Mike DeCarlo
Editor: Dick Giordano








#493 Released August 5, 1982 (Cover Date November 1982)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #282 ("Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes") & Action Comics #276 ("Supergirl's Three Super Girl-Friends")
Cover Artists: Keith Giffen & Romeo Tanghal
Editor: Carl Gafford




 #494 Released September 2, 1982 (Cover Date December 1982)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Superboy #89 ("Superboy's Big Brother") and Superman #147 ("The Legion of Super-Villains")
Cover by Keith Giffen & Frank Giacoia
Editor: Carl Gafford









#495 Released October 7, 1982 (Cover Date January 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #290 ("The Secret of the Seventh Super-Hero") & #293 ("The Legion of Super-Traitors")
Cover Artists: Ross Andru & Dick Giordano
Editor: Carl Gafford





#496 Released November 4, 1982 (Cover Date February 1983)

Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Action Comics #287 ("Supergirl's Greatest Challenge") & #289 ("Superman's Super-Courtship")
Cover Artist: Gil Kane
Editor: Carl Gafford






#497 Released December 9, 1982 (Cover Date March 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Superboy #98 ("The Boy with Ultra-Powers") & Adventure Comics #300 ("The Face Behind the Lead Mask")
Cover Artist: Gil Kane
Editor: Nicola Cuti






#498 Released January 6, 1983 (Cover Date April 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #301 ("The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy") & #302 ("Sun-Boy's Lost Power")
Cover Artist: Gil Kane
Editor: Nicola Cuti




#499 Released February 3, 1983 (Cover Date May 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #303 ("The Fantastic Spy") & #304 ("The Stolen Super-Powers")
Cover Artist: Gil Kane
Editor: Nicola Cuti






#500 Released March 3, 1983 (Cover Date June 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #305 ("The Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire"), #306 ("The Legion of Substitute Heroes"), #307 ("The Secret Power of the Mystery Super-Hero"), #308 ("The Return of Lightning Lad"), #309 ("The Legion of Super-Monsters"), #310 ("TheDoom of the Super-Heroes"), #311 ("The War Between the Substitute Heroes and the Legionnaires"), #312 ("The Super-Sacrifice of the Legionnaires"), #313 ("The Condemned Legionnaires") & Jimmy Olsen #72 (The World of the Doomed Olsens")
Cover Artists: Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt
Editor: Nicola Cuti
#501 Released April 7, 1983 (Cover Date July 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #314 ("The Super-Villains of All Ages" & #315 ("The Legionnaires Super-Contest")
Cover Artists: Ed Hannigan & Paris Cullins
Editor: Nicola Cuti







#502 Released May 5, 1983 (Cover Date August 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #316 ("The Renegade Super-Hero") & #317 (The Menace of Dream Girl")
Cover Artists: Ed Hannigan & Klaus Janson
Editor: Nicola Cuti



#503 Released June 2, 1983 (Cover Date September 1983)
Reprints stories featuring the Legion from Adventure Comics #318 ("The Mutiny of the Legionnaires") & Jimmy Olsen #76 (Elastic Lad Jimmy and His Legion Romances")
Cover Artists: Ross Andru & Josef Rubinstein
Editor: Nicola Cuti







Remember, this was an era where Trade Paperbacks and Collected Editions were almost non-existent. While Marvel had published a few collected editions through Fireside books, DC only published three comic collections with Fireside in the late 1970's, America At War: The Best of DC War Comics, Heart Throbs: The Best of DC Romance Comics, and Mystery in Space: The Best of DC Science Fiction Comics. In addition to those three collections, DC also published Superman: From the 30's to the 70's, Batman: From the 30's to the 70's. Shazam: From the 40's to the 70's, and Wonder Woman. That's right, DC only had 7 collected books available at the time that could have been considered Trade Paperbacks. All of the other reprints of past stories came via series like these Digest Reprints....or special series like the DC 80 Page Giants and 100 Page Super Spectaculars, but those series are a tale for another time.

As always, thank you to Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics for the On-Sale Dates and cover images for all of the above books.  Check out Mike’s great website at Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.

If you would like to learn more about Digest Comics, be sure to check out Rob Kelly’s incredible Digest Comic blog at http://digestcomics.blogspot.com

1 comment:

  1. I always bought the reprints of the Silver Age stories, because my personal Legion collection started with Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell. I never bought the "Best of the Year" digests because I already had those Legion stories, and didn't care so much about ones I didn't have, like Jonah Hex or Swamp Thing.
    Nice review, Kyle!

    ReplyDelete