- Paperback: 552 pages
- Publisher: DC Comics (April 4, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401213820
- ISBN-13: 978-1401213824
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 10.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes, Vol. 1 Paperback – April 4, 2007
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The bargain-priced, black-and-white Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes, Vol. 1 is a slice of 1960s comics innocence, 550 pages of the beginnings of the 30th-century supergroup. It begins in April 1958 (Adventure Comics #247), when three teens--Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl--travel through time to meet Superboy and invite him to join their "super-hero club" 1000 years in the future. This volume collects that story as well as the various other appearances the Legion made with both Superboy and Supergirl, introducing new characters (Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Triplicate Girl, Phantom Girl) and new concepts along the way (the Legion of Super-Villains, the Legion of Super Pets) (Some of the ideas would be tossed out later, such as the idea that Supergirl meets the children of the original Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl, and there are a couple of mis-references to the Legion being in the 21st century.) Then in September 1962, Adventure Comics officially became "Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes" in its 300th issue and the Legion became a monthly feature. The series was able to indulge in the decade's love of sci-fi, traveling to strange planets and fighting mad scientists and strange monsters (they still used reel-to-reel tape recorders, though, and women's rights still weren't quite developed in the 30th century).
This period introduced the Legion of Substitute Heroes and the Time Trapper, saw the first Legionnaire die in action, and brought in Bouncing Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Dream Girl, and others. This volume runs through June 1964 (Adventure Comics #321), and most of the writing is by Jerry Siegel or Edmond Hamilton, and art is handled by John Forte or Superman legend Curt Swan. Like all Showcase Presents volumes, it's in black-and-white, which helps keep the super-low price but the loss of color lessens the impact of the funky worlds and aliens, and makes it harder to tell the Legionnaires apart. Rabid Legion fans who want the stories in color and on high-quality paper should try the hardback DC Archives series, but it's substantially more expensive. --David Horiuchi
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I appreciate the effort to keep the price down, although I do miss the color!!!
Fans should enjoy the memories _and the transformation_ of our heroes...
That's not their concern. The book is more pure escapist fun than will be allowed in modern comics.
This book collects their earliest adventures beginning with guest appearances in the stories of Superboy and Supergirl from 1958-62. These stories are fairly good. The Superboy stories are particularly welcomed given the dearth of silver age Superboy reprints out there. On the other hand, the Legion can come off as jerks with some really mean behavior, and cruel pranks, though some of its explained by the end of the story.
Also, the editors made the somewhat dubious decision to reprint some stories that were only tangentially tied to the Legion such as a Supergirl story, "Superman's Super Courtship" that has Supergirl trying to play Cupid for Superman and a couple pages are dedicated to her attempt to get Superman hitched with a grown Saturn Woman, little knowing she was already married to Lightning Man. A more important story is Superboy's meeting with Mon-El who would become a powerful legionnaire.
The beginning of the true legion adventures isn't until Page 181 which is Adventure Comics #300. The next 360+ pages collects Adventure Comics #300-#321 with a couple of guest spots in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. At this point, the Legion had no contact with anyone outside of the Superboy/Superman sphere of influence in the mainstream DC Universe.
And what follows are a series of truly enjoyable stories. Having read the early Justice League stories, these are far better. They're definitely plot based stories but they're very well-done imaginative plots. This is aided by the fact that the Legion includes heroes with so many unique powers such as Triplicate Girl who can split herself into thirds, Bouncing Boy who can bounce, Matter-eater Boy who can well eat matter of various types. There are more conventional powers like Lightning Lad's.
The story had interesting concepts and dealt with the death of a hero early on with the passing of Lightning Lad who died to save Saturn Girl. Of course, he'd be back, the book was pretty honest about that too. And it's creepy how the heroes resolved to do that and left him on display like he was Lenin, but still it was interesting.
Another great concept here was the Legion of Subsitute Heroes which come about through a recurring them of the Legion considering new member. The front cover portrays Superboy before an American Idol style panel deciding whether he should be allowed in or not. The Legion rejected many. Some of them formed the Legion of Subsitute Heroes led by Night Girl and a couple days they get into action and save the Legion's bacon, most notably in the Legion's Suicide Squad in which Night Girl saves the day despite her powers only working at night.
The book dealt with Sunboy snapping after too many missions leading to a mutiny and Sunboy having his colleagues put into a ship without food, water, or a significant out of fuel, and the stranded heroes having to figure out how to go from one hostile planet to another to finally get home.
"The Super-Villains of All Ages" is another classic that has the Legion having to fight Hitler, Nero, and John Dillinger who have taken over the bodies of Superboy, Mon-el, and Ultraboy, three of the group's strongest members.
There was only one story that didn't really make any sense within its context and it was the one in which Lightning Lad was believed to have returned as the Legion came upon him returning to life in his Lenin display case. But it turned out to be his sister Lightning Lass who disguised herself as him. This raised a multitude of questions. "Why did she need to disguise herself as her dead twin brother? Why didn't she join the legion normally? How long had she been lying there?"
Another favorite was, "The Legion of Super Monsters" which featured a rejected legionnaire candidate turning his powers to control animals to vengeance and evil as he takes control of deadly beasts throughout the galaxy.
The Legion does have a few bad moments, though most bad or jerky behavior is explained as an attempt to prevent some greater evil such as when Saturn Girl steals everyone's powers so that she'll be the one to fulfill a prophecy about a Legionnaire dying. The Legion's Constitution can be annoying. If a hero loses their power, they're kicked out of the legion immediately no matter how often superheroes lose their powers. This was relaxed in the last story as Bouncing Lad was able to stay a reserve even though he could no longer bounce.
Overall, this was just a great book, despite some of the stories at the front, I have to say that this book is right up there with World's Finest and the Flash, as the best of the Silver Age Showcase books I've read so far.