Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Legion of Super-Heroes(v3) #1 (1984)

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 3) #1 (Aug, 1984)
title: "Here A Villain, There A Villain..."
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
penciller/plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)
reviewer: Bilingual Boy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Dream Girl, Star Boy, Colossal Boy, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Shrinking Violet, Light Lass

Lightning Lord and other unseen members of the Legion of Super-Villains, Micro Lad, Radiation Roy, Ol-Vir, Zymyr

The story opens in an atmospherically creepy castle on an as-yet unnamed planet in the middle of a thunderstorm. The Legion of Super-Villains is in the midst of making a blood oath: they stand over a stone calendar-like tapestry decorated with all of the Legionnaires' icons and swear to each kill one Legionnaire. Lightning Lord speaks of "signs" as he swears to kill Lightning Lad.

On the planet Ventura, Dream Girl and Star Boy are off-duty trying to enjoy themselves. Star Boy is trying to calm her nerves, as she recently had a premonition that a Legionnaire would die. Their reverie is interrupted by Micro-Lad and his gang, attempting to steal funds to help support his planet's "independence" group. The couple stop all of his men, but call in Shrinking Violet to capture the leader. She beats him to a bloody pulp, but as soon as she lets him go he begins to glow and then suddenly disappears.

On Winath, retired Legionnaire Light Lass is enjoying herself when she is savagely attacked by Radiation Roy

On Daxam, a group of Legionnaires are helping Mon-El restore his planet's landscape after the recent subjugation by Darkseid when they receive an alert that there is trouble on the prison planet Takron-Galtos. They rush there and find a young Daxamite named Ol-Vir freeing prisoners and committing sacrificial rituals for Darkseid's benefit. Mon-El is especially disgusted by his fellow Daxamite's obvious insanity and blood-lust. However, as the Legion surrounds Ol-Vir he, too, glows and disappears. The Legion realizes that he (and other prisoners) are being teleported away (by Zymyr, off-screen this issue), but they are not fast enough to stop them.

As the first part of a multi-part epic AND as a brand-new first issue this story hits all of its marks, running on all of its cylinders. Each scene change is via Paul Levitz' clearly written "Encyclopedia Galactica" captions, so we know immediately where we are. Dialogue that tells us what is going on sounds natural to my ear, not painfully obvious (example: "I feel great being back...I wish Timber Wolf would have come with me..." and "Still worried about that bad dream?") The plot moves quickly and you get the feeling that pieces are being put on the board for a very specific reason. The art, too, is wonderful. Keith Giffen can drastically veer between ultra-serious and slapstick (see panel showing Timber Wolf's humorous(?) reaction as Exhibit A) but in general he stays on the serious side. He also bounces between the "light" and the "dark" well. Inker Larry Mahlstedt probably should be praised for his part in all this, keeping the shadows heavy in the more-foreboding scenes (check out that great scene with Light Lass!) and the lines crisp in most of the other scenes, such as when Colossal Boy and his wife move out of the HQ into their own apartment. Also, colorist Carl Gafford does a great job with what is really only wavy lines or Kirby crackle. The paper is the more expensive "Baxter" type and that allowed Giffen, Mahlstedt, and Gafford to go crazy. The work here is obviously a labor of love. The story ends with me definitely wanting to read more.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Wildfire, Blok, and Dawnstar appear on the cover but do not appear in the story.
  • The stone tapestry belonging to the LSV features every living Legionnaire's Monitor Board logo, including reserve members Light Lass, Bouncing Boy, Duo Damsel, and Supergirl.
  • Earth President Marte Allon announces her resignation in this issue and calls for new elections.
Reprinted in the TPB Legion of Super-Heroes An Eye For An Eye

MILESTONE: This is the first ever all-new Legion of Super-Heroes #1. Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 1) was a reprint series that lasted four issues in 1973. The Legion of Super-Heroes series from which this series sprung was originally called  Superboy, so never had a Number One issue as "Legion."


  1. Milestone: The birth of my crush on Ayla Ranzz.

    1. Yeah, she spends the rest of this story arc in her Winath pj s on. Hubba Hubba

  2. I have always liked Ayla, in all her incarnations.

    But her strength in this arc and her reclaiming her lightning powers clinched it. She is awesome.

    Milestone: The birth of MY crush on Ayla Ranzz

    As for this arc, there is definitely a nice dark undercurrent throughout as the villains basically win throughout most of this story.

  3. I think it's awesome how she uses her lamer lightness powers in combination with martial arts in this issue, showing there really are no bad powers, only unimaginative power-users/writers.

    I had only started reading Legion, and in fact, read the Baxter run in the Tales of reprints because my town didn't have a comics shop. So I had about a year's run of new Tales (the Jurgens issues) give or take a couple of prior issues, before this stuff hit. I liked the newsstand book well enough (good Dawnstar material and so on), but the LSV arc knocked it out of the park. So great. Intense. And there would be no going back for me.

  4. Whatever happened to Larry Mahlstedt, anyway? The last new credit I can find for him was in 2000.

  5. I don't know by I hate asking those kinds of questions for fear of the answers.

  6. Larry Mahlstedt was my favorite LSH inker by far. He and Bruce Patterson made so-so art good and good art beautiful!

  7. Great recap Russell. I think that these early issues of the Baxter series still stand as some of both Levitz's and Giffen's best comics work in their long illustrious careers.