Monday, March 29, 2021

Who Drew It Better? Tales vs Baxter #20-24

By Siskoid and Russell
Continuing our comparison of the covers of the Baxter version of The Legion (volume 3) and their reprints one year later in Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The stories were exactly the same, but each issue had a brand new cover. So we go back to the age-old question: Who drew the better cover?
Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #20
(by Greg LaRocque & Larry Mahlstedt)
Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #345
(by Joe Brozowski & Greg Brooks)

Russell: There's nothing wrong with either of these covers; I like them both. The main difference of course is that LaRocque is presenting just the threat of Tyr, while Brozowski is showing the actual attack. I really like the colors on the Tales cover, but the overall design is more pedestrian; I mean, we've seen millions of scenes like this before. On the other hand, is there a small bit of sexism present in the Baxter edition, what with overly chauvinistic Tyr threatening the two female Legionnaires? I very slightly give it to Tales this time. 

Siskoid: He's about to get his ass handed to him, so I don't think it's sexist. Rather, it pictures female Legionnaires flying into action, whereas Tales has Phantom Girl in a cliché caretaker role and Element Lad as the hero. That second cover just makes me wonder how Jan is using his powers there. The original has cooler surprint, I'm giving it to Larocque.

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #21
(by Greg LaRocque & Larry Mahlstedt)
Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #346
(by Kevin Maguire & Larry Mahlstedt)
Russell: This choice very simply comes down to what you prefer in your covers: action shots (LaRocque) or "poster style" shots (Maguire). I just love the "this issue has it all!" type covers, and LaRocque does a great job with his assignment. My favorite part is the look of calm on the Emerald Empress' face as she wades into the chaos. And I get a kick out of Lighting Lass fighting the Persuader, but all we see are their respective hands. So I pick LSH #21, but I do appreciate the composition and coloring of Maguire's version. 

Siskoid: Not a big fan of either, to be honest. The Empress' pose is awkward in the original, with weird foreshortening on the arm, while the second has those garish Christmas colors. It's my one chance to give points to Kevin Maguire so I'm gonna do it (though it would probably look better in black and white).

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #22
(by Greg LaRocque & Larry Mahlstedt)
Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #347
(by Curt Swan & Joe Rubinstein)
Russell: May I admit that I don't really care for either of these covers? I never liked the LaRoque "splinter face" on LSH #22 for the simple reason that it doesn't truly represent what happens in the issue. What does a dead end have to do with five characters' faces being shown as shards of glass? I do like the skill involved, though, especially how Tellus is shown prominently and Sensor Girl & Brainiac Five share their chins. On the other hand, with Tales #347 I get my wish: this is an actual scene from the story, but it is just done in a very dull way. I definitely would have given Curt Swan extra points if this had featured Tellus instead of Wildfire. As it is, I give a very weak Yea to LSH #22.   

Siskoid: Well, Swan's poses are dynamic, especially for him, and I like the lighting there on the Legionnaires, but I also think the original cover is unusual and cool. So Larocque gets my vote. It's fun and well done, and is an original way to do a group shot.

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #23
(by Steve Lightle)
Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #348
(by Ron Frenz & Dick Giordano)
Russell: This is probably going to surprise some people who know I am a huge Steve Lightle fan, but I'm going to pick Tales #348 this time. The colors and waves better represent the Phantom Zone to me, for one thing. And I just don't think vines coming out of a cracked Mon-El head makes that much sense. Of course, on the Tales cover it looks like Tellus is actually attacking poor Mon-El, so that's not great, either. Still, additional minus points to the colorist of LSH #23 for not using purple or gray as the background color; who here has overlooked poor Invisible Kid way in the back? I like to think that the colorist(s) learned from their mistakes, which is why we get the stark black-and-white colors on Tales. 

Siskoid: Ron Frenz doesn't do a bad job, but Lightle creates a more nightmarish image and he's still at the top of his game here. No, you can't know it's a scene happening in the Phantom Zone, but the cover can be more metaphorical; I don't mind that at all.

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #24
(by Greg LaRocque & Larry Mahlstedt)
Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #349
(by Curt Swan & Danny Bulanadi)

Russell: Although I give points to Curt Swan for doing something abstract for the Tales cover, I have to pick LSH #24 for its in-your-face drama. The poses of Element Lad, Brainiac 5, and especially Sensor Girl just work for me. Although I love the coloring and overall layout of the Tales cover, no matter how long I look at it I just can't tell who all the Legionnaires shown are! Plus the two Legionnaires directly above Sensor Girl's shoulders kinda creep me out. 

Siskoid: Ew, those two mis-matched eyes give me the willies too! I like how he uses Sensor Girl's cape, but really, the original is where it's at. It's one of those covers that appeared at the back of Who's Who that made me jealous of the kids who had access to the direct market. Dramatic and colorful.

So that's our penultimate installment of Who Drew It Better. What did YOU think? Do you agree with us, or do you think we're totally off? Let us know in the comments! 


  1. Generally speaking I like the first ones better.

  2. The Greg LaRocque ones do it for me in all of his match-ups, which is surprising, because a lot of the time his interior work has wonky anatomy.

  3. Tales 347 looks much better to me than the Baxter version, which just seems a mess.