Monday, August 20, 2018

Variant Covers part 2

by Bits Boy

We continue our look at Legion-related variants, and we're up to the sixth volume of the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES.

After the revival by Geoff Johns, and the cancellation of the threeboot, the Legion started its new series with a story that picks up with Earth-Man's rehabilitation.

The first six issues featured variant covers by Jim Lee, which, when joined together, formed an interconnected panoramic scene featuring Saturn Girl, Superboy, Chameleon Boy, Mon-El, Timber Wolf, and Brainiac 5.

The first issue also had two variants, featuring the same art in either finished or sketch form.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #1: Two different variants on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #2: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #3: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #4: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #5: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #5: Variant on the right

The 11th issue had a variant cover of sorts. The original cover, which featured Dream Girl carrying a fallen Starman,  had been used in solicitations for the issue, but when the comic was published, a different cover featuring Timber Wolf battling Sun Emperor was used. Both were drawn by Yildiray Cinar.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #11: Unused cover/solicited art on the right

At the close of 2010, DC COMICS: LEGACIES #6 was released, part of DC's retrospective look at their characters' histories.

This issue included a story on the Legion, which was featured on the variant cover, a nice homage to to the cover of ADVENTURE #300.

If you like Keith Giffen's Kirby-esque style, you'll love the story.

Another Secret Origins title was issued in 2011, and just like LSH Vol 6 #11, the covers solicited for one of the issues did not make the cut.

Issue 4 of LEGION: SECRET ORIGIN sported a cover featuring Colossal Boy as the central figure. But in the previews, two different covers had been spotlighted, with Star Boy in Gim's place, wearing either his purple or his white costume.

Artist Chris Batista lamented that the covers were done during a confusing time at DC, when the editorial team did not have a firm direction on the Legion's future.
LEGION SECRET ORIGIN #4: Unused solicited cover art featuring Star Boy on the right

Indeed, this confusion was not helped by a release of the first four chapters of the Blight saga, collected in a book called LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES 100-PAGE SPECTACULAR.

The initial printing had  the sequence completely wrong, running parts 2, 4, 1 and 3 in that order.

DC quickly realized its mistake and instructed retailers to destroy the book, which was replaced by a second printing with the stories in correct order.

To differentiate the two, the new version bore a logo in white, as opposed to the yellow logo of the original book.

LEGION 100-PAGE SPECTACULAR: Recalled version on the left and corrected version on the right

Fast forward a few months, and we come to the crossover event that teamed the Legion with the original STAR TREK crew of the Starship Enterprise .

The six issues of the series each came with two variant covers, except for the first, which had five, four of which are Legion-related. Are you with me? :)

For #1, the normal cover was drawn by Phil Jimenez, while the variant cover (in a 1:4 ration) featured nice Keith Giffen art. The Legionnaires were shown on both.

There were two retailer incentive versions, portraying either Brainiac 5 or Spock, drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez. 

There was also a second printing, which used a mono version of the Keith Giffen piece, while another variant, exclusive to multi-media store Hastings, used a mono version of the Jimenez artwork.

As stated above, the next five issues all came with two variant covers each, which featured some lovely work by the likes of Chris Sprouse, JK Woodward, Jeff Moy, and Mikes Allred and Grell.

If you're a Legion completist, you'll need to find room in your collection for them all.

STAR TREK/LEGION #1: (clockwise from top left) Standard cover; variant; Hastings exclusive; second printing; retailer incentive version

STAR TREK/LEGION #2: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #3: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #4: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #5: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #6: Variants on the right 

Another solicitation cover that was ultimately ditched came around in June 2013, with #19 of the seventh volume of the LEGION's title, during the phase of the New 52.

The cover, drawn by Keith Giffen, showed Mon-El in combat with the Emerald Empress. The previous two issues also featured covers by Giffen, so he must have been commissioned to draw the covers for this particular arc, which marked the end of the Legion.

But for that month, DC decided to publish books with novelty gatefold covers, which flipped open to reveal little surprises … in this case, it was Mon-El losing an arm to the villain.

JJ Kirby was summoned to provide the cover, with Giffen presumably tied up with other assignments by that time.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 7 #19: Unused Giffen cover on the right

Come 2014, and we have another one for the dedicated completists.
BATMAN/SUPERMAN #13, published in August, featured a variant cover to commemorate Batman's 75th anniversary.

Drawn by Dan Jurgens, it depicted the Composite Superman, the entity that possessed the powers of all the members of the Legion.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN #13: Variant on the right
Shortly after this came SUPERGIRL Vol 6 #37, released in February, 2015, with a variant cover by the late, great Darwyn Cooke.

The image of Supergirl riding Comet, alongside Krypto and Streaky, has become somewhat of a classic, used on shirts and other licensed merchandise, and also formed the basis of a set of action figures. The three animals are of course members of the Legion of Super-Pets. 
SUPERGIRL Vol 6 #37: Variant on the right

That same year, SUPERMAN Vol 3 #40 was published, in which the Man of Steel explores his humanity. 
It came with three variant covers, one of which featured Superman and some Legionnaires taking on the might of Validus. Beautifully illustrated by Gary Frank, the image nevertheless had absolutely nothing to do with the story inside.

SUPERMAN Vol 3 #40: Variant on the right

Of course the big event of 2015 was CONVERGENCE, and there was a generous supply of variant covers for the plethora of titles which accompanied the saga.

The two-month storyline involved both the weekly Convergence mini-series and 40 two-issue comics that focused on various DC heroes pulled from the pre-New 52 history.

All 40 mini-series featured variant covers illustrated by artist/designer Chip Kidd, which drew much criticism for simply being tweaks of pre-existing imagery.

The variants for the  SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION books from Convergence used an old Ernie Colon drawing of Saturn Girl, showcasing either side of her face for the issues.

CONVERGENCE: SUPERBOY/LEGION #1: Variant on the right

CONVERGENCE: SUPERBOY/LEGION #2: Variant on the right

Convergence seems to have proven to be yet another failed attempt to consolidate the DC Universe. Considering the various Crises on Multiple Earth events, Zero Hour, the New 52, Countdown, Flashpoint, and even the current Doomsday Clock, it's a wonder whether any fan knows exactly which universe is being written about at any one time.

Perhaps Legion-lovers can find more solace in the world of Looney Tunes, where the classic Legion has been shown to cross paths with the characters from the animated series.

The LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES/BUGS BUNNY pairing proved to be enormously popular among readers, with its satirical look at the classic Legion and all its idiosyncrasies.

It's clear DC realizes this is the Legion fans want, yet somehow cannot bring it back without shooting themselves in the foot. There's never been a clear reason given why the Legion was so wantonly devastated in the last series, and then vaguely repositioned on some parallel world.

The Looney Tunes crossover came with two different covers, distributed equally.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES/BUGS BUNNY #1 : Two different covers
And that brings us up to date with Legion-related variants. If you feel we've missed any, please let us know. When the Legion makes its welcome return, there will, in all likelihood, be a variant cover or two.
But wait! Where's Whitman?  See Part 3!

Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.


  1. Not to be a Negative Lad... But while I enjoyed this display of alternate visions of the Legion, those Jim Lee covers are eyesores worthy of jail time on Takron-Galtos!

  2. That DCU Legacies story was one I'd never seen before. Thank you.

  3. I love the Jim Lee Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf covers. Brin has always been one of my 5 favorite Legionnaires, and I first encountered Imra in that uniform, so it's a favorite (though she has definitely matured past it in her life).

    The Bugs Bunny/LoSH covers are fantastic too!

    The Star Trek/LoSH pairings are a cool idea, but the images are too static. I enjoyed the story though.

    And last but not least, I can appreciate what Giffen has been doing lately, but I'm not a fan of his "chunky puffy Kirby" style on the Legion.