Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Good-bye to Legion of Super-Heroes (v3)

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) made its debut in May, 1984. I was in college when it came out, and I distinctly remember walking more than 10 blocks from campus to the closest book-store I knew to pick up my copy.

This first issue was a big deal because it was one of DC's first "direct market" comics. That means that it would not be available via the then-regular distribution system that got comic-books into places like 7-11s, grocery stores, Targets, or, yes, news stands. So if I wanted a copy, I needed to go to a specific store to find a copy.

By the time the series ended in 1989, "direct market" was the acceptable mode of distribution, and "news stand" comics were a thing of the past.

The entire run of this series (63 issues plus 4 annuals) was written by Paul Levitz and edited by Karen Berger. That means that the Legionnaires and their supporting characters all acted basically the same for five years, as only two people were in control of their destinies for that time. On the other hand, there were no particular changes to these characters, so if you didn't like how Levitz and Berger treated Brainiac 5, for example, there was nothing you could do to find a different, more charitable version.

In those same five years, Paul and Karen worked with only four "permanent" pencillers on the series: Keith Giffen, Steve Lightle, Greg LaRocque, and Curt Swan. Oddly enough, Keith sandwiched the series, drawing the first two issues and then most of the last fourteen. As for inkers, Mike DeCarlo stayed the longest with 41 issues, followed by Larry Mahlstedt with 20 issues and Al Gordon with 7 issues.

As for guest artists, the series was honored to have the likes of Bob Smith, Pat Broderick, Ernie Colon, Colleen Doran, Gene Colan, Mike Grell, Dave Cockrum, and Kurt Schaffenberger among the many talented artists who helped bring the future to life.

The covers for the series were handled by seven talented men: Steve Lightle (43 issues), Keith Giffen (7), Greg LaRocque (7), Ken Steacy (7), and one each by Bill Sienkiewicz, John Byrne, and Brian Bolland.

The sixty-seven stories that comprises The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) can generally be broken down into six distinct story arcs: The Legion of Super-Villains' Attack & Its Aftermath (1-13); The New Members & the Mystery of Sensor Girl (14-27); The Return of Universo (28-35); The Return of the Time Trapper & the Final Fate of Superboy (36-50); The Breakdown of the Future & the Legion (51-63).

During the series' run the Legion had three Leaders over four terms: carry-over Element Lad, elected in LSH(v2) #306;  Element Lad was re-elected  in #12; Polar Boy was elected in #36; Sensor Girl was elected in #60.

And by the way....these five covers are what I consider five of the best of the run.

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