Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Volume One
Thank goodness KC pays attention to these kind of things, because I didn’t realize that this hardcover collection is “continuing directly from the Legion of Super-Heroes Archives“. Sadly, don’t expect quite that level of quality from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Volume One.
It reprints Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #234-240, the 10-page Legion story from DC Super-Stars #17, and All-New Collectors’ Edition C-55, the infamous wedding tabloid (where Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad get married), but it doesn’t have any text at all explaining or contextualizing this work. No introduction, no afterword, heck, one of the stories doesn’t even have its original appearance information included. Although credits for each story are given in the table of contents, the first one is deducible to be from DC Super-Stars #17 only if you read the copyright indicia. There’s no title or label on it.
This feels sloppy, as though they knew fans would want to see the tabloid (previously difficult to find and expensive when you did) finally easily available, but they couldn’t bother to spend $50 or $100 to get someone to write an introduction that explained the stories that made up this collection. (Although they did bother to run four pages of ads for other reprints in the back.) Another oversight: only the wraparound cover from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #238 is included. That’s because it reprinted Adventure Comics #359-360 from 1967, but you won’t learn that from this book.
Sure, it’s fun to re-read these goofy late-70s stories from the “pink bikini” Legion era. (It’s so named in my mind after Saturn Girl’s ridiculously out-of-character skin-baring outfit. And in the first story, shy Shrinking Violet appears in her green (?) costume that features a fork in her cleavage (?) and an arrow pointed at her crotch (!?). Later, we see Cosmic Boy’s topless bustier outfit.) My objection is simply that, given the price and DC’s positioning of this volume as continuing a well-respected reprint line, the quality of the presentation should have been higher, with at least a little background information included.
The book starts with the Composite Legionnaire, a monster combination of Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lad, and Colossal Boy created when a space dragon explodes at them. These stories, typical of their era, feature teammates yelling at each other, cutaways to character angst, people calling each other “Lover”, fantastic pseudo-science, forgettable single-issue villains (the all-women Sklarian space pirates, the Titanian psycho-beast, Worldsmith, crazy rich man Arma Getten, Grimbor the Chainsman), and large lumps of societal questions slopped onto the adventures to give them “meaning”.
The only extras are four pages of Paul Levitz’s notes from the time: the story pitch for the Collectors’ Edition and character notes for Princess Projectra and Saturn Girl.
This is “My Legion”. I know I read the Composite Legionnaire, and if I didn’t own the wedding tabloid, I had regular access to it. (The first issue I can be sure I owned – bought off a spinner rack as a Circle K! – was the one where Tyroc frames himself to catch a bomber. Ah, comics!)
I may have been too harsh. Perhaps the only people in the audience for this are those who already know and have read the stories and so don’t need the context. I’d hate to think of the Legion as trapped in time, though, never to be seen again in new stories.
“Trapped in Time”. I see what you did there…
If Fighting American can make a comeback, there is always a chance. But the Legion’s large cast and focus on relationships seems a hard sell in today’s “Widescreen Action” market.
Maybe they need a Netflix series?
The biggest text on the back of the book says “Love in the 30th Century”, so they appear to be playing into it.
Speaking of the text on the book, the small descriptive text on the back cover was obviously chosen for the uniqueness of the font rather than its readability. It’s fine (well, okay) for display type but not very appropriate for smaller body text.
I kinda feel like DC had more of an exceptionally strong graphics sensibility in the past than it does currently. Still better than other places…
Glad the material was collected at last, though.
It should have been in Interlac, with a poster for translation.