Sunday, December 23, 2018

CHRISTMAS WITH THE LEGION


Art by Gary Frank.

It's that time of the year again! As has been chronicled in the comics, Christmas is still celebrated in the Legion's time. Which, arguably, is a hard sell because with the known galaxy consisting of so many different lifeforms and races, it's odd that this observance of the holiday period should continue to hold such prominence, secular or otherwise. 
    But let's not let that spoil our festive fun. In this special yuletide edition of the blog, we feature several pieces of art and commissions commemorating Christmas with the Legionnaires!


Here's a great piece by former Legion artist Chris Batista. When it snows during Christmas, Polar Boy is course the Legionnaire most associated with the weather. And note little Proty in the picture!


Chris did actually draw an official Legion story with a Christmas holiday theme. it appeared in the DCUniverse Holiday Special of 2010. Here's the last panel of the story!




Here's a lovely whimsical look at how Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel would celebrate Christmas, drawn by artist Colin Fawcett. As the couple kiss under the mistletoe, they are surrounded by their son who has inherited Luornu's original triplicate powers, and some of his dad's bouncing potion.




Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar were the names of the three wise men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. In this homage to the cover of ADVENTURE COMICS #247, Daniel Maine shows the the Legion of Super-Kings refuse membership to Santa. 



In 1980, Christmas wrapping paper licensed from DC Comics was released, featuring artwork by Dick Giordano. An assortment of characters were shown celebrating Christmas, including members of the Legion.




Fred Hembeck LOVES Christmas. Between the covers he's done for COMIC SHOP NEWS and plenty of sketches he's drawn over the years, he's illustrated many Legionnaires enjoying the holiday season. Here are a few:









Fred is always happy to accept commissions, and his rates are extremely cheap! You can contact him here




Another prolific artist is Gene Gonzales. He's probably drawn more Legion-related sketches than any other of his peers. In this piece, he uses Antennae Boy to illustrate the carol "Do You Hear What I Hear?"



Inspired by the Christmas covers of the Saturday Evening Post, Gene Gonzales drew this beautiful rendering of Ivy receiving a tree from her mentor Kent Shakespeare. Ivy was one of the children on the world of Quarantine and had the power to communicate with plant forms. At one stage she was destined to be a bona fide Legionnaire, even being included on a Legion poster.


Meet Kid Christmas! If Santa was a super-Hero, would he qualify for Legion membership? Gene Gonzales thinks he would.




This piece originally ran in the now defunct WIZARD magazine. It's a great take on the FINAL CRISIS series by Brian Douglas Ahern, in a clever play on the 12 Days of Christmas. "Legionnaires" shown include Milking Maid, leaping Lord, Prince Piper and Dancing Damsel.



The 1978 DC Comics Calendar featured the Legion for the month of December.  A glorious Jim Sherman spread detailed the Legion's battle against the Toyman, disguised as Santa,  amid Christmas decorations in the city.



Jeff Moy is best known for his long run on the Legion series. Here he draws two fan favorites enjoying the festive season: Monstress and Kinetix.



Laura Duffie draws the speedster XS having a grand time on the ice. The character has of course appeared on the CW show The Flash recently.


And here's XS again, representing the Legion in this montage of carolling heroes by Sergio Aragones.



Speaking of the CW shows, here's Luca Fantasia's sketch of Supergirl giving Mon-El a Christmas gift. The show has so far featured several Legionnaires and there is reason to believe the whole team will show up in a future season.



Steve Lightle is fondly considered one of the Legion's best pencillers. This whimsical piece shows Bouncing Boy dressed up as Santa while evading pointy Christmas stars.


Boop boop be doop! Steve Lightle also helped create Quislet, the energy being which could animate objects. Here, Violet Tanganelli shows the character putting some life into a snowman.





Former Legion scribes Tom and Mary Bierbaum used to send out personal Christmas cards in the form of illustrated Legion tales with a Christmas theme. This one (above and below) shows how Christmas is spent on Matter-Eater Lad's home of Bismoll.

The Bierbaums sent another Legion card in 1990, spanning four pages. It was based on the 5YL Legion and you can see them here.



The piece above is by talented artist Agnes Garbowska. She gives the seasonal scene a charm that has become the trademark of her work. Click on it to view it in greater detail.



Have you checked out Greg Fox's Legion blog? Best known for the syndicated comic strip Kyle's Bed and Breakfast, Greg also includes amusing strips about Legion life on the site. He drew Ultra Boy in a yuletide greeting because his costume bore the colors of Christmas.

And that's it for this year. I hope you enjoyed that visual look at Christmas and the Legion, which is a timely opportunity for me to wish all blog readers Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays. I'll be back in 2019 with more musings and articles of interest to the Legion collector, and I hope to have you with me.

I'll leave you with another gorgeous Christmas gift from Gene Gonzales.






Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.



















Wednesday, July 4, 2018

COVER VERSIONS PT 3




This third part of a discussion on Legion-related variants turns the spotlight on issues that were not specifically marketed as variants, but have been regarded as such by some collectors.

WHITMAN

The Western Publishing Company's Gold Key brand ended in 1979, with the company turning its focus to the more profitable Whitman bagged comics line, sold as non-returnable items through department and other general stores.

    DC and Marvel licensed their books through Whitman so that they could have their books in two- or three-pack formats sold in department stores, where Whitman had an exclusive deal. 
    These went on sale through 1979 and1980.
    For many years, fans have debated whether these oddities should be classified as variants. But one thing is clear: because of their limited distribution, the issues are scarce and have proven to be much in demand.
    The Whitmans have for a long time been regarded as secondary prints and treated as such. But it's worth noting that DC Whitmans are not reprints. They were printed at the same time as their newsstand counterparts. 
    Only in the past few years has the value and collectible worth of these issues risen, particularly as some are so rare that less than 10 copies of the issues exist.
    Altogether, there were 13 issues of SUPERBOY which received the Whitman branding treatment: #244, #245, #246; #247; #248; #251; #252; 253; #254; #255; #256; #257; and #258.



A typical Whitman bag of comics.

SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: Some Whitman versions.

SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: Some Whitman versions.

   Another four issues of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (formerly SUPERBOY) were also found in three-packs:  #261; #263; #264; and #266.
    The real gem here is #264. It is estimated that less than 100 copies of this issue exist, making it one of the rarest DC Whitmans around, and almost impossible to secure.


The extremely rare Whitman print of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #264 is on the right, pictured next to a more common variant.

OTHER VARIANTS

Then there were issues which featured logos inside the UPC boxes, which would normally include bar codes. These were limited to distinct retailers in comic packs or multipacks. 

    During big multi-issue crossover events, the direct sales issues often also featured different  logos in the boxes: for example, the ZERO HOUR and ARMAGEDDON books.
    These are by and large ubiquitous and surely only the most compulsive of completists would endeavour to collect them all.


Issues with differing UPC boxes.

On the left is an issue with a ZERO HOUR logo in the box.

    Finally, there's one more different sort of format that some collectors hunt: comics with advertising inserts for Mark Jewelers

    In the mid 1970’s DC and Marvel comics started to include a four-page, heavy paper stock color insert from this company in many of their comics. It is believed they were distributed near US military bases, both at home and abroad, to reach out to servicemen so that they could purchase jewelry and engagement rings.
    These inserts appeared in about five per cent of most newstand comics from 1972 to 1986, which of course included many Legion-related issues.
    The inserts don't really add to the aesthetic appeal of the comics and if anything, probably makes them less attractive, but like all collectibles, these “variants” are worth only as much as a collector is happy to pay for.
    In general, demand is low for these issues, and they can sell for about the same price as guide or just slightly more.


An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.


Do you know of any more variants we may have missed? Do tell! Remember to also check Parts 1 and 2 for images of all the covers we've listed.





Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

COVER VERSIONS PT 2



We continue our look at Legion-related variants, and we're up to the sixth volume of the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES.
    After the revival by Geoff Johns, and the cancellation of the threeboot, the Legion started its new series with a story that picks up with Earth-Man's rehabilitation.
    The first six issues featured variant covers by Jim Lee, which, when joined together, formed an interconnected panoramic scene featuring Saturn Girl, Superboy, Chameleon Boy, Mon-El, Timber Wolf and Brainiac 5.
    The first issue also had two variants, featuring the same art in either finished or sketch form.


LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #1: Two different variants on the right


LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #2: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #3: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #4: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #5: Variant on the right

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #5: Variant on the right

    The 11th issue had a variant cover of sorts. The original cover, which featured Dream Girl carrying a fallen Starman,  had been used in solicitations for the issue, but when the comic was published, a different cover featuring Timber Wolf battling Sun Emperor was used. Both were drawn by Yildiray Cinar.
    
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 6 #11: Unused cover and solicited art on the right

    At the close of 2010, DC COMICS: LEGACIES #6 was released, part of DC's retrospective look at their characters' histories.
    This issue included a story on the Legion, which was featured on the variant cover, a nice homage to to the cover of ADVENTURE #300.
    If you like Keith Giffen's Kirby-esque style, you'll love the story.
    
DC COMICS LEGACIES #0

    Another Secret Origins title was issued in 2011, and just like LSH Vol 6 #11, the covers solicited for one of the issues did not make the cut.
    Issue 4 of LEGION: SECRET ORIGIN sported a cover featuring Colossal Boy as the central figure. But in the previews, two different covers had been spotlighted, with Star Boy in Gim's place, wearing either his purple or his white costume.
    Artist Chris Batista lamented that the covers were done during a confusing time at DC, when the editorial team did not have a firm direction on the Legion's future.
    
LEGION SECRET ORIGIN #4: Unused solicited cover art featuring Star Boy on the right

    Indeed, this confusion was not helped by a release of the first four chapters of the Blight saga, collected in a book called LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES 100-PAGE SPECTACULAR.
    The initial printing had  the sequence completely wrong, running parts 2, 4, 1 and 3 in that order.
    DC quickly realized its mistake and instructed retailers to destroy the book, which was replaced by a second printing with the stories in correct order.
    To differentiate the two, the new version bore a logo in white, as opposed to the yellow logo of the original book.


LEGION 100-PAGE SPECTACULAR: Recalled version on the left and corrected version on the right

    Fast forward a few months, and we come to the crossover event that teamed the Legion with the original STAR TREK crew of the Starship Enterprise .
    The six issues of the series each came with two variant covers, except for the first, which had five, four of which are Legion-related. Are you with me? :)
    For #1, the normal cover was drawn by Phil Jimenez, while the variant cover (in a 1:4 ration) featured nice Keith Giffen art. The Legionnaires were shown on both.
    There were two retailer incentive versions, portraying either Brainiac 5 or Spock, drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez. 
    There was also a second printing, which used a mono version of the Keith Giffen piece, while another variant, exclusive to multi-media store Hastings, used a mono version of the Jimenez artwork.
    As stated above, the next five issues all came with two variant covers each, which featured some lovely work by the likes of Chris Sprouse, JK Woodward, Jeff Moy, and Mikes Allred and Grell.
    If you're a Legion completist, you'll need to find room in your collection for them all.


STAR TREK/LEGION #1: (clockwise from top left) Standard cover; variant; Hastings exclusive; second printing; retailer incentive version

STAR TREK/LEGION #2: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #3: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #4: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #5: Variants on the right 

STAR TREK/LEGION #6: Variants on the right 

    Another solicitation cover that was ultimately ditched came around in June 2013, with #19 of the seventh volume of the LEGION's title, during the phase of the New 52.
    The cover, drawn by Keith Giffen, showed Mon-El in combat with the Emerald Empress. The previous two issues also featured covers by Giffen, so he must have been commissioned to draw the covers for this particular arc, which marked the end of the Legion.
    But for that month, DC decided to publish books with novelty gatefold covers, which flipped open to reveal little surprises … in this case, it was Mon-El losing an arm to the villain.
    JJ Kirby was summoned to provide the cover, with Giffen presumably tied up with other assignments by that time.


LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES Vol 7 #19: Unused Giffen cover on the right

    Come 2014, and we have another one for the dedicated completists.
    BATMAN/SUPERMAN #13, published in August, featured a variant cover to commemorate Batman's 75th anniversary.
    Drawn by Dan Jurgens, it depicted the Composite Superman, the entity that possessed the powers of all the members of the Legion.


BATMAN/SUPERMAN #13: Variant on the right
    
    Shortly after this came SUPERGIRL Vol 6 #37, released in February, 2015, with a variant cover by the late, great Darwyn Cooke.
    The image of Supergirl riding Comet, alongside Krypto and Streaky, has become somewhat of a classic, used on shirts and other licensed merchandise, and also formed the basis of a set of action figures. The three animals are of course members of the Legion of Super-Pets. 
    
SUPERGIRL Vol 6 #37: Variant on the right

    That same year, SUPERMAN Vol 3 #40 was published, in which the Man of Steel explores his humanity. 
    It came with three variant covers, one of which featured Superman and some Legionnaires taking on the might of Validus. Beautifully illustrated by Gary Frank, the image nevertheless had absolutely nothing to do with the story inside.


SUPERMAN Vol 3 #40: Variant on the right

    Of course the big event of 2015 was CONVERGENCE, and there was a generous supply of variant covers for the plethora of titles which accompanied the saga.
    The two-month storyline involved both the weekly Convergence mini-series and 40 two-issue comics that focused on various DC heroes pulled from the pre-New 52 history.
    All 40 mini-series featured variant covers illustrated by artist/designer Chip Kidd, which drew much criticism for simply being tweaks of pre-existing imagery.
    The variants for the  SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION books from Convergence used an old Ernie Colon drawing of Saturn Girl, showcasing either side of her face for the issues.


CONVERGENCE: SUPERBOY/LEGION #1: Variant on the right

CONVERGENCE: SUPERBOY/LEGION #2: Variant on the right

    Convergence seems to have proven to be yet another failed attempt to consolidate the DC Universe. Considering the various crises on multiple earth  events, Zero Hour, the New 52, Countdown, Flashpoint, and even the current Doomsday Clock, it's a wonder whether any fan knows exactly which universe is being written about at any one time.
    erhaps Legion-lovers can find more solace in the world of Looney Tunes, where the classic Legion has been shown to cross paths with the characters from the animated series.
    The LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES/BUGS BUNNY pairing proved to be enormously popular among readers, with its satirical look at the classic Legion and all its idiosyncracies.
    It's clear DC realizes this is the Legion fans want, yet somehow cannot bring it back without shooting themselves in the foot. There's never been a clear reason given why the Legion was so wantonly devastated in the last series, and then vaguely repositioned on some parallel world.
    The Looney Tunes crossover came with two different covers, distributed equally.


LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES/BUGS BUNNY #1 : Two different covers
     And that brings us up to date with Legion-related variants. If you feel we've missed any, please let us know. When the Legion makes its welcome return, there will, in all likelihood, be a variant cover or two.
    But wait! Where's Whitman?  See Part 3!




Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.