Tagged: Adventure Comics

Another ‘Legion’ Ends

Another ‘Legion’ Ends

DC Comics told Newsarama that the current Legion of Super-Heroes title will end with the publication of issue #50.

Dan Didio, DC Senior VP and Executive Editor, explained "I thought that [writer] Jim [Shooter] and [artist] Francis [Manapul] have done a terrific job with the series, and ’50’ seemed like a really nice number to bring this series to a conclusion."

Jim Shooter broke into comics by writing for the Legion in Adventure Comics when he was only 15 and created many of its now famous characters and villains. When he was asked about the book’s cancellation, he remarked, "It’s a drag, but I get to finish most of my story. It would have finished in Issue #54, but Issue #50 is going to be a 30-page story, and I’m hoping people will be intrigued enough that they’ll want to finish the story …. I understand new comics sales are not doing so well right now. Which is weird. Just look at this crowd. Everyone seems so excited about comics."

This current Legion series came about as the second attempt to completely reboot the characters from scratch (nicknamed the "threeboot" by fans). Originally tackled by Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) and Barry Kitson (JLA: Year One), the new series was meant to bring in new fans since the Legion had been doing poorly on sales for some time. In an interview I held with Mark Waid soon after the book’s launch, Waid commented that DC had believed it to be necessary to "throw out the baby with the bathwater" since other attempts to bring in new audiences, such as the critically-acclaimed Legion Lost story by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, had failed to increase interest in the team. This strategy had been used before of course. In the late 1980’s, the Legion stories were pushed forward five years to show the characters now as all being older and dealing with a harsher, crueler future than they had been used to. And in the early 1990’s, after the crossover Zero Hour, the Legion had been re-booted from scratch, altering their names which were now considered hokey (Lightning Lad become Livewire, Element Lad became Alchemist, etc.).

In the reboot, Waid brought back the original code-names that not been used since the early 90’s (changing Livewire back to Lightning Lad, Apparition back to Phantom Girl, etc.), yet altered many of the characters and re-interpreted their powers and nature. Originally, Colossal Boy had been a young man who could grow to great heights. In Waid’s continuity, he was actually from a society of giants and, in his mind, his power was that he could shrink to Earth-man proportions (thus, he often argued his name should really be "Micro Lad"). Waid also changed the book to be less a group of heroes bound by a need for justice and more about the Legion representing a movement towards social change, directly challenging their society that had become obsessive about social taboos and maintaining routine, predictable behaviors at all costs. Whereas the original team had often cried out "Long live the Legion," Waid’s team would grin sarcastically as they shouted "Eat it, grandpa!"


Jim Shooter: Long as well as tall

Jim Shooter: Long as well as tall

With the announcement that Jim Shooter is returning to a regular writing gig on Legion of Super-Heroes, he takes over a different title as well: he’s the man with the longest writing career currently writing a comic series.

Jim’s first comic, as we all know, was Adventure Comics #346, cover dated July 1966. Taking over Legion means that his career as a comics writer now spans over 41 years. But did you know that Jim laid out those early Legion stories as well as writing them?

Dial S For Shadow

Dial S For Shadow

Over here on ComicMix, we’ve been talking about The Shadow a lot recently – prompted by Denny O’Neil’s fine columns and Robert Greenberger’s first-rate interview with Shadow pulp reprint editor / publisher Anthony Tollin. Without belaboring a point, I’d like to refer you to another remarkable effort concerning comics’ most influential icon.

There’s this really great site called Dial B For Burbank. It’s operated by “Robby Reed,” who had previously run an equally amazing site called (wait for it) Dial B For Blog. I bet you thought I was going to say it was called Dial H For Hero; no, that trademark was owned by some publisher. Dial B For Blog had all kinds of wonderful articles about comics, my favorite being an in-depth look at classic letterer / logo designer Ira Schnapp, inventor of most of DC’s logos and house ads from about 1940 until the mid-60s. Schnapp also lettered title cards for silent movies and chiseled the words on the front of the New York Public Library. Robby also did some amazing production work, much of it of a satirical nature – to wit, the Adventure Comics cover shown here, with the genuine Ira Schnapp logo intact.

Let’s just assume “Robby Reed” is his real name.

More recently, Robby shifted his attention to The Shadow and launched the aforementioned Dial B For Burbank. All the effort, all the research, all the amazing production skill we saw on B For Blog is here… and more. Robby also added a 10 part video documentary called The Shadow Knows covering all aspects of The Shadow, from the pulps to radio to comics to the movies to television. He might have missed the short-lived newspaper comic strip; there’s only so much you can squeeze into 124 minutes.

Uncovering rare photographs and selecting some of the best artwork from George Rozen, Edd Cartier, Jim Steranko, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kaluta and others, his documentary pretty much gives you the full story – not only of The Shadow and his pulp creator Walter Gibson, but of his many predecessors, successors, and imitators. Interviews and voice-overs from such folks as Gibson, Tollin, and Shadow performers Orson Welles, Bill Johnstone, Brett Morrison, and Alec Baldwin abound.

It’s a stunning effort. All the more stunning: it’s free.

You can download it from the Dial B For Burbank website; each of the 10 chapters in a quality sufficient for quality DVD burning, or in a lower-resolution QuickTime version.

If he sold this effort for, say, twenty bucks on DVD I would give it my highest recommendation. For free, well, heck, he’s not going to pay you to watch it, so that’s as good as it gets.