Friday, May 10, 2019

Keith Giffen Autographs

Keith Giffen was a guest at Terrificon a couple of years ago and I knew that I was going to have to meet him and thank him for his impact on my comic life. Given his work on multiple eras of the Legion, there is no doubt that he is one of the most impactful creators in my comic fandom. Toss in JLA, the Doom Patrol, the Heckler, etc, his work is all over my collection.

But one of the things I wanted these autograph posts to be about is the hard decision of what comics to get signed. And had Giffen been charging for signatures, which comics would make the cut. (Luckily, Giffen wasn't charging at all so I was able to double dip on the second day of the con.)

I brought a smattering of his early '80s Legion (see next week's post) given that run is still considered by many as the high water mark for the team.

But let's face it, I am a 5YL guy. And I wanted to thank him for 5YL. And I wanted to get his signature on key 5YL issues. So if that was the goal, what issues would you bring?

It is easy to pick Legion of Super-Heroes #1.

And I thanked him for the run as I put this issue in front of him. As I have said here, I feel my reviews of the early 5YL issues on this site are my own personal high water mark of blogging/social media.

On to the other books.

One of the issues I brought was Legion of Super-Heroes #4.

For one, I just love this cover. I am not a Mon-El guy. But there is something about this cover with him cracking his knuckles while looking about as beefy as I have seen him that is amazing.

But it really is the inside story that made me bring this. You might recall that at the end of this issue, Mon-El finally kills the Time Trapper. But in doing so, he has rewritten history. Everything we thought we knew, all the things we love the Legion, is no longer true.

For continuity freaks like Legion fans, this was daring.

And then I put down Legion of Super-Heroes #5.

In this issue, the Time Trapper-less universe, Mordru has risen to power unabated and rules the universe with an iron fist.

In one issue, the Bierbaums and Giffen were able to show us what that universe would be like, (re) introduce us the the rebels in this universe (familiar names, Legionnaires). And then ends this issue with a grand spell re-writing the universe again. This time Glorith is in the place of the Trapper. A Legion forms, but not the one we are used to, and subtle other changes click into place.

In this era of arcs built for trade, this 'done in one' Crisis event is a creative tour de force.

How could I not get this signed.

I also brought Legion of Super-Heroes #6.

In the aftermath of the universal reset, we are dropped back into the story of the newly formed Legion trying to save Mysa from Mordru.

One thing I love about 5YL is how creatively risky it was. Giffen et al rewrote Legion continuity, twice, in two issues.

So what do they do in the aftermath? Put out an issue which is half in text. An issue where Rokk defeats Mordru with diplomacy and linguistic legerdemain.

I love this issue.

But the issue I knew I would need to bring, the issue that would be the one issue I would get signed if Giffen limited his signatures, would be Legion of Super-Heroes #12.

This issue has the team finally come together. But it includes this moment where the Legion contemplates killing Roxxas only to have Jan talk them down. More than Roxxas would die in that room if they killed him. In a time when grim and gritty was king, in a universe which was dystopian, it would be easy to darken the tone. And yet, instead, the Legion rises above and becomes the light to guide the galaxy.

It is, for me, without a doubt, the most important moment in the 5YL run.

Amazingly, Giffen said it was the Bierbaum's decision. He would have had them kill Roxxas.

In retrospect, I wish I brought Legion #38, the The End issue. I wish I brought one that was more Laurel-centric.

But these were the issues I felt encapsulated the 5YL experience, so these were the ones I brought.

Which 5YL issues would you bring to Keith Giffen to get signed?


  1. I loved 5YL when it was unfolding, but now it's just the beginning of when the Legion got away from the glory days of early Giffen (clean & shiny), and Levitz at his peak. An artist has every right to expand his skill set and experiment (and I enjoyed some of Giffen's tangents), but give me the LoSH in a 4 or 5 year span around either side of issue #300.

    Also, thanks for the stories behind the stories, they are fascinating!

  2. The problem I always had with the 5YL Legion is that his characters all looked alike. (Especially without the distinctive costumes.) Not a problem with his earlier work when he was teamed with Levitz.