Sunday, March 15, 2015

Legion Archive 9: Collins & Farmer

Completing the series on the cover art of The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, our last all-new illustration for the series is by Mike Collins and Mark Farmer.

I had no idea who Mike Collins is when I saw this piece. It seems like he was an artist who worked primarily in the UK, but also did DC work in the late Eighties. In fact, at the time this Archive was published he was one of the artists on Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 4). Mark Farmer, likewise, was the regular cover inker with his long-time penciller partner, Alan Davis.

This time out we get another straight-forward "show off our powers" pose, with a little bit of "racing towards the camera" thrown in, too. This is an adorable piece, with all the Legionnaires smiling and heading into the future. Ironically, this is the time when the Legion actually lost their title and Legion fans had little to smile about!

This illustration is noteworthy for three things. First, it is the first appearance of Saturn Girl's pink bikini look, which technically does not appear in any of the stories collected in this volume (she wore something similar to this initially, in red). Secondly, this is the one and only time Legionnaire Chemical King appears on an Archive cover. He's that guy all in green on the far right, if you don't know who he is. And lastly, this is the LAST new illustration to be on a cover of a Legion Archive.

After this one, DC decided to "cut and paste" work by Dave Cockrum, Mike Grell, and James Sherman onto the cover rather than commission brand new work. It had worked for most of the other Archive books, so that is the way they finally went with these, too.

Adventure Comics #377-380
Action #378-387, 389-392

This edition collects the rarest, least-referenced Legion stories, those from the end of their run in Adventure Comics and the first collection of Action Comics back-ups. We get the last Jim Shooter Legion stories for six years, then E. Nelson Bridwell returns, and we get our first Cary Bates stories, too. The infamous "Forbidden Fruit" story about drug addiction is here, as is the Matter-Eater Lad parental problem story, and the "death" of Mon-El that was so important in the Five Years Later re-boot. If you are only going to get one Archive, this might be the one I suggest. Most of the stories have not been reprinted anywhere else.
Artistically we get mostly Win Mortimer, with a side of Murphy Anderson.

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