Saturday, July 9, 2016

PRETTY AS A POSTER


It wasn’t until the 70s that comic book posters began to be mass-produced for the public. Before that, fans had to be satisfied with pin-ups inserted within the comics themselves, and many a comic book would have been ruined by young readers tearing the pages out to stick to their walls.

   For Legion fans, the first real poster of their favourite group came with a book called THE SUPER HEROES AND SUPER VILLAINS POSTER BOOK, published in 1979 by Western Publishing’s Golden Book imprint. It consisted of eight posters large enough to hang on a door, one of which was the clean artwork by Joe Staton and Dick Giordano used for SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION 250.
    (The first time Legionnaires appeared on a poster was actually in 1978, with a poster featuring various DC characters that was issued as part of the failed DC Super Stars Society.)



The poster from the SUPER HEROES AND VILLAINS book.

   But if Legion fans were dissatisfied with those offerings, they would have had no complaints with the next poster of the futuristic teens: Keith Giffen’s mega-poster which featured just about every Legion-related character up till then (but curiously missing those featured in the ACTION COMICS back-ups). It was released in 1983, with a small version of it inserted into the trade paperback collection of THE GREAT DARKNESS SAGA in 1989.



The original poster (above) and the facsimile included in the GREAT DARKNESS SAGA book,

   Two more Legion posters followed in quick succession: one promoting the Baxter run of the title in 1984, then the following year a recruitment poster calling for new readers of the book.
    In 1986, a lavish portfolio of 10 pieces of black-and-white artwork by some of the industry’s leading artists was released in conjunction with DC’S HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE set. It included a beautiful rendition of the Legion by Steve Lightle, which was later reprinted and colorized within some collected publications. The artist jam piece attached to the book (which included an image of the White Witch) was also available as a poster in its own right.
   That same year, Mayfair produced a series of game modules and source books devoted to the Legion, and publicized one of them with a poster.








   When not featured as part of the main group, various Legionnaires and Legion-related characters kept popping up in various posters as well around that period: for example, they appeared on posters promoting CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS (1985),  the INVASION! Crossovers (1988), Armageddon Inferno (1991), Darkstars (1992), the Death of Superman saga (1992), and Zero Hour (1994).


An example of a poster featuring Legion-related characters.

    Posters featuring the Legion on their own made a return from the mid-90s: a poster was issued of the Legion “on the run”, drawn by Stuart Immonen, in 1993, and then that same year, another poster promoted the new Legionnaires series by Keith Giffen and the Bierbaums.
    1997 proved a bumper year, with the retail shop release of the Legionflowchart poster; another spotlighting the two Legion titles available per month; and a third depicting the Legion in battle against the Fatal Five, this one featuring lesser-profiled members  such as Gates, Monstress and Kinetix.
   That same year, fans could also grab a poster for the Inferno mini-series, which spotlighted the ex-Workforce member who never could make her mind up if she wanted to be a Legionnaire.






A rare retail poster for the INFERNO mini-series.

   Long, vertical posters seemed be the trend at the turn of the century. Three of these were sold to promote THE LEGION (2002), the Legion threeboot (2004), and Shooter’s return to the series (2007).







   Later on that year came the crème de la crème of all Legion posters: the limited release masterpiece by Alex Ross, initially selling for less than $600, but now worth considerably more … if you can find one.




     The last time the Legion made it into posters came with the release of the ill-fated New 52. To commemorate the occasion, DC released a portfolio of plates depicting all the covers of the 52 new titles, which included the Legion’s own book and LEGION LOST.
   With the Legion tipped to make a return soon in DC’s Rebirth campaign, keep your eyes peeled for possibly another Legion poster.


The Legion posters from the NEW 52 cover portfolio set.

*There are many more Legion-related posters not described here. To see the full list, visit the complementary page to the site.





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





No comments:

Post a Comment