Santa was good to Legion fans in 1963: Three comics cover-dated December 1963 contained four stories with Legion content.

Adventure 315

December 1963

 

"The Legionnaire's Super-Contest"

Having learned of the existence of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, the Legionnaires decide to accept one of the Subs into the Legion. A series of competitive tests will determine which Sub earns a place as a Legionnaire.

Each of the Subs is given a seemingly-impossible test, but they use their ingenuity to triumph -- except Stone Boy. During his test, the monster he's supposed to subdue endangers a nearby village; Stone Boy asks Saturn Girl to terminate the test in order to save the innocents.

When all the scores are totaled Stone Boy emerges as the winner, thanks to his selflessness. But he surprises everyone by turning down a spot with the Legion, on the grounds that he doesn't want to leave his friends in the Subs. Dag thus became the first person in history to turn down an offer of Legion membership.

This story is also remarkable for a throwaway on the Legion's Universe Monitor, which shows pictures from many different planets, including Earth, Tree World, Wind World, and a torus-shaped Ring World...seven years before Larry Niven's masterpiece.

"The Titanic Boy of Steel"

A rather slight Superboy/Red Kryptonite story in which Colossal Boy masquerades as Superboy in order to preserve the Boy of Steel's secret identity.

 

Action 307

December 1963

 

"Supergirl's Wedding Day"

One of the few good-looking Phantom Zone villains, Tor-An, escapes from the Zone and seduces Supergirl. His nefarious plan is to marry her: "As the wife of a criminal, you'll be disgraced forever! And since Kryptonian law forbids divorce, your cousin Superman will always be related to a super-villain."

Fortunately, Comet the Super-Horse and the telepathic Atlanteans discovered Tor-An's fiendish plot and alerted Saturn Girl, who came back through time to impersonate Supergirl. The marriage ceremony proceeds, but since the bride is an imposter, the whole thing is a sham. Tor-An is teleported to the future, where he waits in a Kryptonite cage until Superman and Supergirl can get around to putting him back in the Phantom Zone.

Ah, for the days when any DC female could impersonate any other DC female with a wig and some make-up!

 

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 73

December 1963

 

"Jimmy's Inter-Dimensional Romance"

Jimmy Olsen gets himself in trouble when he attracts the attention of a super-powered woman from another dimension. Fortunately, Superman and Ultra Boy manage to get him out of the situation.

One assumes that Jimmy and Jo slipped off together for some torrid lovemaking, but apparently the attraction didn't last, because next month Jo was back in the 30th century messing around with Tinya....

There were two comics cover-dated November 2003 with Legion content.

The Legion 24

November 2003

"After Dark"

 

In this Spotlight on Umbra issue, Umbra returns to Talok VIII to deal with an ancient evil, and in the process confirms that she deserves to be the world's champion.

 

 

 

Superman & Batman: Generations III #9

November 2003

"Century 27: A Soldier's Story"

 

No Legionnaires actually appeared in this story, but a Legion Time Bubble figured prominently.

Four comics cover-dated November 1988 had Legion content:

Legion of Super-Heroes 52

November 1988

"Rites of Passage"

 

Polar Boy struggles with the demands of Legion Leadership. On Braal, earthquakes hit during a ceremony honoring Magnetic Kid -- with Lightning Lass and Tellus, he tracks the quakes to a renegade Gil'Dishpan. On Daxam, doctors stabilize Mon-El's condition but can't heal him from his injuries...and Shadow Lass reveals that she's bound herself to Mon forever, in Talokian tradition that required her to cut off a finger. On Earth, a confused and questioning Blok runs across a mysterious little man. 

 

Wanderers 6

November 1988

"Down These Mean Canals"

 

In search of work, the Wanderers arrive on the watery planet Shakarta. Despite themselves, they manage to capture a gang of smugglers and foil their plans. The group winds up getting medals instead of money.

 

 

 

Who's Who in the LSH 7

November 1988

"Cadets" and reference features

 

The popular gossip show "Nik's Piks" shows a preview of a new holo called "Cadets," loosely based on the Legion, followed by interviews with cast members; Zaton Glissand, the Legion's costume designer; and Wynn Allon, father of Colossal Boy.

We pull back to see Wynn and Marte Allon watching "Nik's Piks," and then they go off to join a full-page spread of Legion parents and relatives.

The reference pages cover everyone from Time Trapper to Zoraz.

The wraparound cover of this issue has pictures of nearly 200 Legionnaires and supporting characters.

 

Who's Who Update '88

November 1988

reference features

 

Profiles of the Wanderers and Wildfire.

There was only one Legion comic cover-dated November 1973, but at least it contained two stories:

Superboy 199

November 1973

 

"The Gun That Mastered Men"

The Legion thought they were done with Tyr, but alas no: his semi-sapient gun escaped, and now is on a mission to free its owner. Until, that is, it spots someone with even greater power. When the nefarious device latches onto Superboy and overpowers his will, the other Legionnaires are hard-pressed to defeat the thing.

 

"The Impossible Target"

A solo Bouncing Boy adventure, in which Chuck comes face-to-face with Adam Orion, the son and namesake of the Legion's old adversary The Hunter (from Adventure 358). Chuck defeats the villain in a very Bouncing Boy type solution, proving again why he deserves to be a Legionnaire.

 

Three comics cover-dated November 1963 had Legion content:

Adventure 314

November 1963

"The Super-Villains of All Ages"

 

A Legion reject named Alaktor steals a time bubble and goes back in time to gather the "super-villains of all ages": Adolf Hitler, John Dillinger, and Nero. (Dillinger seems an odd choice, especially compared to the other two...but as we know, historical records are incomplete, and maybe those were the three worst Alaktor could find.)

Anyway, Alaktor brings the baddies to the 30th century and transfers their minds into the super-powered bodies of Superboy, Mon-El, and Ultra Boy -- and it's up to the Legion to defeat them.

Incidentally, this was the first appearance of Ronn Kar (also rejected) -- and if there was ever an argument for a Legion of Substitute Villains, Ronn Kar is it.

 


 

Action 306

November 1963

"The Maid of Doom"

 

A slight Supergirl story with Legion cameos. Supergirl develops a touch of death, and her foes rejoice.

Mon-El and Brainiac 5 have small appearances, but this is primarily a Supergirl story.

 

 


 

Superman 165

November 1963

"Beauty and the Super-Beast"

 

This is one of those stories that make you wonder about the Legion's unhealthy obsession with Superman. Saturn Woman and Proty II have nothing better to do with their lives than to go back to the 20th century to help Supes defeat the Superman Revenge Squad with an elaborate ruse involving the sorceress Circe and a supposedly-magical curse.

In those days, it seemed that the Legion (teen and adult) spent most of their time watching Superboy/Superman on their Time Viewer, ready to spring into action every time his secret identity was threatened, criminals got the jump on him, or he just wanted to engage in one of his elaborate super-hoaxes.

In time, the Legion outgrew its obsession, and in the new Headquarters there's no trace of the emergency lever to summon Superboy from the past. But I have to wonder how many Legionnaires snuck into the time-viewer room late at night to peek in on adolescent Superboy's solo sexual adventures, or Clark and Lois's honeymoon night....

 DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia

by Steve Korte, illustrated by Art Baltazar

foreword by Geoff Johns.

 

I've actually had this since a week after the last issue of Legion of Super-Heroes, but didn't get around to cataloging it until now. Set in the Tiny Titans/Super-Pets universe, this 130-page book is a delight from cover to cover. Drawing on exhaustive knowledge of the DC Universe, it establishes a whimsical pet for just about every major DC hero or villain. And the kicker is, many of them are based on canonical sources.

The Legion connection is two-fold. First, there are the pets of several Legionnaires. Chameleon Boy has Proty, and Brainiac 5 has Computo -- then the three founders get their own pets: Cosmic Boy's magnetic critter Zinkk, Lightning Lad's electric Sparklzz, and Saturn Girl's telepathic Tarvos. The more conventional Legion of Super-Pets are also represented: Krypto and Beppo belonging to Superman, and Comet, Streaky, and Whizzy belonging to Supergirl.

(Yes, they remembered Whizzy from Action 287. That's the level of research that went into this book.)

The second Legion connection comes through the SCPA -- the Space Canine Patrol Agency, one of the weirder alternate versions of the Legion. [Although Renfield suggested that the SCPA -- a present-day group of aliens with powers that largely paralleled those of the Legion -- is actually the pre-Crisis L.E.G.I.O.N.]

All the regulars are here: Bull Dog, Chameleon Collie, Hot Dog, Mammoth Mutt, Paw Pooch, Prophetic Pup, Tail Terrier, and Tusky Husky. But that's only the beginning. There's also the feline auxiliary of the SCPA, the Space Cat Patrol Agents: Atomic Tom, Crab Tabby, and Power Puss. In addition, the SCPA's major foes are also represented -- yes, the Phanty Cats, the evil feline pets of Phantom Zone villains, exiled to the Zone along with their masters. (In this version, the SCPA itself was responsible for putting he evil kitties in the Zone.) The Phanty Cats are even given names: General Manx, Nizz, and Fer-El.

Whimsical and yet surprisingly comprehensive, this book contains just about every animal companion that ever appeared in DC Comics...as well as many who didn't. Yes, Ch'p and G'nort are here, as are Ace the Bat-hound, Lobo's space dolphins, Wonder Woman's kangaroo, and...yes..Super Turtle!

 

Two very different comics cover-dated October 2008 had Legion content:

 

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #17

October 2008

"Thanagarians at the Gate"

 

This comic tie-in with the short-lived WB tv series was a lot better than people remember. In this issue, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, and Young Superman respond to a distress call from a merchant spaceship. They find the vessel beset by Thanagarian space pirates who already have Bouncing Boy, Shrinking Violet, and Timber Wolf as prisoners.

The Thanagarians take the Legionnaires' flight rings. But Brainy, who invented the flight rings, reveals that in proximity, he can control the rings remotely. The pirates are defeated...but the other Legionnaires are left suspicious of Brainy's abilities and intentions.

 

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1

October 2008

"Legion of 3 Worlds Book One"

 

This was the big kahuna, the Legion story that all Legion readers had been waiting for, the celebration of fifty years of The Legion of Super-Heroes. Ostensibly the series was part of the lamentable "Final Crisis" event, but really it stood on its own.

This series reconciled the Legion's convoluted, multiply-rebooted history and the multiple incompatible versions of the Legion that were floating around at the time, and set the stage for a multiverse that contained all Legion variants.

The story is epic and contains everyone who was ever a Legionnaire -- but it focuses on the three major versions of the Legion: the original Legion (reincarnated here in a retro version), the post-Zero Hour reboot (eventually revealed to be the Earth-247 Legion), and the "teenage rebellion" aka Threeboot version (revealed to be the Earth-Prime Legion). 

I'm not going to attempt to summarize this saga, I'll merely say that it was (and possibly still is) the greatest Legion story of all time. 

The Legion #23

October 2003

Dream Crime Part Five

 

The "Dream Crime" saga came to an end with the Legion's triumphant defeat of Universo through the agency of Cub, the son of Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl. The boy, who had been aging at an accelerated rate, burst his protective quantum shell and overloaded Universo's mind long enough for Saturn Girl and the Legionnaires to get the drop on him.

Once again, this was a quintessential Legion story, where the villain is ultimately defeated by teamwork and the contribution of the weakest, most insignificant heroes.

Dreamer joined the Legion at the end of this issue, and Universo was confined on Steeple under the delusion that he was a menial worker in a diner run by R.J. Brande.

Three comics with Legion content were cover-dated October 1988:

Legion of Super-Heroes 51

October 1988

"The Trial of Brainiac 5"

 

Brainy is tried by his Legion comrades for the murder of Jaxon Rugarth. As the trial goes on, we see everyone coping with the aftermath of the battle against the Time Trapper. Eventually, even though Brainy is acquitted, he resigns from the Legion. He leaves his force shield belt with Luornu, formerly Duo Damsel and now Single Sis.

 


Wanderers 5

October 1988

"The Children's Hour"

 

The Wanderers find the source of all the little demons that have been plauging them, and also learn the tragedy in Clonus's past.

 

 

 


Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes 6

October 1988

"The Wonders of Metropolis" and Reference Pages

 

Oli-3 Queen treats us to a guided tour of 30th century Metropolis, and then reference pages give the scoop on characters from Sden to Timber Wolf.

 

Superboy 198

October 1973

"The Fatal Five Who Twisted Time"

 

The Legion takeover of Superboy's comic continued with this underrated tale of the Fatal Five.

Tharok is out of prison and the Fatal Five are on the rampage. Emerald Empress, Mano, and the Persuader travel back to 20th century Smallville to install a device known as a time-sorter. Legion Leader Mon-El sends a team (Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy,Element Lad, Karate Kid, and Princess Projectra) to aid Superboy in tracking them down. Meanwhile, the 30th century Legionnaires prepare to deal with Tharok and Validus.

However, Legion Headquarters and all inside it disappear. The time-sorter, now concealed in Smallville, has rewritten history to prevent the Legion from forming in the first place.

The Legionnaires in the past confront their enemies and there's a tense countdown until the moment the time-sorter's effects become irreversible. Fortunately, the Legionnaires are on the job, and Karate Kid destroys the machine with two seconds to spare.

In the 30th century, Legion Headquarters reappears around Mano and Tharok...and it turns out that they're standing in the exact position of the Legion jail.

 

This was a nice transition between Superboy's dominance and the Legion's. The story started in Smallville as a Superboy story; the Legion didn't even appear until the second half of the story. Better than any other, this issue marks the handoff from the Boy of Steel to the Teens of Tomorrow.

There were two comics cover-dated October 1963 that had Legion content, both of them significant to the Legion mythos.

 

Adventure 313

October 1963

"The Condemned Legionnaires"

 

When female Legionnaires begin to fall sick with a mysterious crimson virus, a villain calling herself Satan Girl claims responsibility and threatens to kill them all.

Supergirl, newly arrived from her own time, is immune to the effect, and tries to protect the girls from Satan Girl. But Satan Girl has all of Supergirl's powers and none of her vulnerabilities.

Supergirl takes the Legion girls to various hiding spots that only she knows, to no avail -- Satan Girl knows everything Supergirl does.

In the end (you're way ahead of me, I know), Satan Girl turns out to be a red kryptonite induced evil duplicate of Supergirl (who didn't see that coming?). When the red K wears off, Satan Girl merges with Supergirl and all is well. 

The tale is something of an epic, all-hands-on-deck story; it includes the Substitutes and the Super Pets, and it takes place on many planets of the 30th century.

 


 

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen 72

October 1963

"The World of Doomed Olsens"

 

A strange alien called The Collector spirits Jimmy Olsen away to the planetoid Gion-El, where poor Jimmy is menaced by what seem to be hostile versions of previous transformations (Jimmy had this habit of transforming into odd and bizarre forms): Elastic Lad, Wolfman Olsen, Porcupine Olsen, Giant Turtle Olsen, that kind of thing.

In the end (you're way ahead of me again), it all turns out to be a prank by Superman and Legion, with Legionnaires standing in for Jimmy's bizarre transformations. (Who didn't see that coming, especially with such a great hint: "Gion-El' is an anagram of "Legion"?)

If stupid Colossal Boy hadn't talked instead of making grunting sounds, Jimmy would never have figured the whole thing out, and would be dead from fright. Way to spoil everyone's fun, Gim!

Anyway, the occasion of this prank was Jimmy's (or, rather, Elastic Lad's) induction into the Legion as an Honorary member, a ceremony which took place in the 30th century, and which gave fodder to Legion trivia contests forever after.

 

There were four comics with September 2003 cover dates that included Legion content. Three different Legions were featured:

 


The Legion 21

September 2003

Dream Crime Part Four

 

With most of the Earth 247 Legion under Universo's control, the four remaining free Legionnaires go on the offensive against him...only to wind up captured and under his spell.

 

 

 


 

JSA 50

September 2003

Princes of Darkness Part 5: The Last Light

 

A double-sized issue in which the Justice Society continues its struggle against the forces of darkness, culminating with a climactic battle with a young (but already merciless) Mordru.

 

 

 


Justice League Adventures 21

September 2003

Sanctuary

 

The animated Justice League comes to the aid of a telepath named Kayla Ardeen, who is pursued by the Dominators.

In the last panel, Kayla tells the Justice League that their heroism might someday inspire a Legion out among the stars. Five members of the New Kids Legion are pictured.

 

 


Superman & Batman: Generations III 7

September 2003

Century 26: History Lesson

 

An Elseworlds version of the Legion played a part in this 12-issue series.

The only Legion content in this particular issue was Saturn Girl's skeleton and a Legion Time Bubble.

 

 


 

During the Legion's 30th anniversary year, there were no fewer than seven comics with a September date that had some kind of Legion connection:

 


Legion of Super-Heroes 50

September 1988

"Life and Death at the End of Time"

The capstone of an era, and a major turning point for the Legion.

In the wake of Superboy's death, four of the Legionnaires who loved him best embarked on a mission to the end of time to destroy the Time Trapper. Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Mon-El, and Saturn Girl had kept their conspiracy secret from the Legion until now.

With them went Jaxon Rugarth, the Infinite Man, and Brainy's friend Rond Vidar -- now revealed to be a Green Lantern.

The conspirators succeeded in destroying the Time Trapper -- for now. But the cost was tremendous. Rugarth was gone. One of Luornu's bodies was killed, Mon-El was battered nearly to death, the other Legionnaires were badly bruised. And the conspiracy left huge divisions among the Legion.

 


Legion of Super-Heroes Annual 4

September 1988

"Secrets Within the Star"

"Private Lives: Sunset, Sunrise"

The Annual had two stories. In the first, the Legion finally had its showdown with the new Starfinger, a man named Char Burrane who had a surprising connection to Colossal Boy.

The second story was a short one focusing on Dream Girl and her new infatuation with Atmos...an infatuation that left her puzzled and yet excited.

 


 

Adventures of Superman 444 - September 1988 - "Parallel Lives Meet at Infinity..."

Superman 21 - September 1988 - "You Can't Go Home Again"

These were two parts of a six-part Superman adventure that saw the Man of Steel bouncing back and forth through time at the whim of the Time Trapper. In two different 30th century eras, Superman met the Legion.

Of course, this was the post-Crisis Superman, interacting with a Legion that had been insulated from the effects of the Crisis. For Legion fans, these appearances did nothing but raise further questions.

 


Wanderers 4

September 1988

"...The Short Path to Hell"

The Wanderers had their own comic, with a run of 13 issues. In this issue, the Wanderers deal with a pursuing Controller, a baby vampire creature, and an age-old mystery involving rogue controllers and a strange human woman.

 

 

 

 


 

Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes 5 - September 1988 - "Headquarters of the Super-Powered and Famous" and reference features

Who's Who Update '88 #2 - September 1988 - "Mordru"

DC used to publish various editions of Who's Who as references for readers.

In issue 5 (of 7) of Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes, we were treated to a tour of Legion Headquarters by Phantom Girl, hosted by Harmonica Dadesque of Metropolis Tonite. After that, reference pages covered everyone alphabetically from Mordru to the Science Police.

And Who's Who Update '88 #2 had a reference page on Mordru.

 


Meanwhile in 2013, the Legion's 55th anniversary year, their sole comic was cancelled. Not that I'm bitter or anything....

Superboy 197

Sept 1973

Timber Wolf: Dead Hero, Live Executioner

 

With this issue, the Legion stopped being an occasional backup feature in Superboy and took the lead spot. The book's cover title was changed to "Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes," but in the indicia it remained "Superboy" for a while longer.

Superboy is summoned from Smallville to the Legion's time for a surprise: the triumphant return of Timber Wolf from his presumed death six months earlier. (Don't remember Timber Wolf's heroic death? You're not alone -- this was the first Legion readers had heard of it.)

It turns out that Brin was saved by Tyr, who appears here for the first time. Tyr brainwashed him and programmed him to murder the President of Earth. He is foiled by Mon-El and Superboy.

Tyr's real purpose come clear after the Legionnaires cure Brin...in a bit of double-brainwashing, Tyr also programmed Brin to trigger the Legion's self-destruct system. [The Legion needed a self-destruct system because this is before the time Brainiac 5 took up his hobby of destroying Legion Headquarters buildings.]

Brin regains self-control and tackles Tyr, then deactivates the self-destruct. When he and Saturn Girl get back to Tyr, they find that Tyr's gun-hand has detached itself and fled. We last see it in orbit, plotting the destruction of the Legion.

 


While Brin's supposed death was a bit of a cheat, it's still a decent story that introduces a powerful new opponent for the Legion. 

Adventure #312

Sept 1963

The Super-Sacrifice of the Legionnaires

 

A classic story that fans had been awaiting all year.

The Legion takes on its greatest mission, vowing to find a way of bringing Lightning Lad back to life. Legionnaires scatter to all corners of the universe, following legends and folktales. Their efforts all come to naught (including Superboy, who brings a small star to shine on Garth's lifeless body).

It's Mon-El who provides the key to the puzzle, based on technology from his homeworld Daxam. Garth can be resurrected...but the only problem is that some other living being must transfer their own life-force to him, thus dying themselves.

The Legionnaires decide to allow fate to decide. Standing above Garth's coffin on the world of perpetual lightning, they will each hold up a steel rod. A bolt of lightning will be the catalyst for transferring the life-energy; the first one hit will be the one who gives up his life for his friend.

Saturn Girl games the system, substituting a lighting-attracting duralim rod for the steel one so that she is guaranteed to be the sacrficial lamb. (This isn't just Imra's love for Garth...she also figures it's karma, since he sacrificed himself to save her.)

There comes one of the most iconic tableaux in Legion history, a powerful image that served as cover for this issue. Sure enough, Saturn Girl's rod is struck, she crumples to ground dead, and Lighting Lad sits up.

There's a (somewhat) happy ending, though: turns out that Proty, Chameleon Boy's shapeshifting pet, whacked Saturn Girl on the head and took her place, giving its life to save her and resurrect Lightning Lad.

There's a lot to be said for this story, and it certainly took its place as a classic in the hearts and minds of Legion readers. Many years later, during the Zero Hour event that rebooted the Legion, the creative team behind the "End of an Era" storyline polled Legion fans to find their most iconic images of the team -- the cover image of Adventure #312 was one of the half-dozen that made the cut.

 


Decades after this story appeared, in the Giffbaum "Five Years Later" Legion, the creative team decreed that the process had actually transferred Proty's mind into Garth's body, so it was Proty and not Garth who continued as "Lightning Lad." This is one of those fannish "oh, I know, wouldn't it be cool if..." ideas that doesn't stand up to scrutiny -- why wouldn't Proty admit what happened, why did he behave like Garth for so long, and why did he have Garth's memories? Certainly Ayla, if no one else, would have been able to spot the change?

Never mind; the Giffbaum Legion is an alternate version with its own different history (a history that included Kid Quantum, Valor, and Laurel Gand as Andromeda). In that version of Adventure #312 and following stories, no doubt "Garth" did behave differently, and Proty had his reasons for masquerading as Garth. (Undying love for Saturn Girl, coupled with jealousy of her love for the real Garth, springs immediately to mind.)

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Legion statuette images and some costume variation images created by Jim Gallagher, based on Curt Swan's sketches.

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