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Monday, July 04, 2005

My Collection - LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES [1989 Series]

Legion of Super-Heroes [1989 series]

52 issues [1989 - 1994]
1 - 50, 60 - 61

One of many, many books of the title, this is the one that started by Keith Giffen and Tom and Mary Bierbaum right after Paul Levitz's long run, jumping ahead five years in the continuity (during which the team broke up and the universe went to hell and people started to wear trenchcoats and jackets) and telling the story of the reformation of the Legion. I was reading the end of the Levitz version, and read this one from the start, but actually dropped it a few issues in. I forget why, exactly, but about a year in I picked up an issue again, liked it, read the first few again and liked them more this go-round and started picking up the book regularly, plus the back-issues I'd missed. Kept reading it after the creative change with #50, though the writing in that run was lacking, and until shortly after the complete reboot they did after ZERO HOUR when I'd finally had enough. The only books from that run I kept were the two from the crossover leading into ZERO HOUR, which was a severely flawed but sometimes fun finale to the LSH. Tried it a few times after, never that impressed and didn't keep any of those. The book finally ended in 2000, to be replaced with another Legion book, which was then cancelled and replaced with another Legion book, which will someday be cancelled and replaced with another Legion book.

I'll probably keep what I have, but definitely not look for any back-issues to fill in the gap.

The fifty issue Bierbaum run (with Giffen co-writing up to the last year and drawing about half the run) is pretty uneven, but I think it mostly holds up well as a continuation of the Legion. There seemed to be quite a bit of editorial shifting which resulted in a few changes of direction, especially regarding the ties to the present DC universe and Superman. Giffen's art could be maddeningly vague and dense at times, but overall it worked. A few of the fill-ins weren't quite as good, and I never really warmed to Jason Pearson during his stint as regular artist. Stuart Immonen drew most of the last year (and beyond), and his work was much more to my liking.

Some of the best issues:

#1 is still a great example of comic book storytelling in a complex continuity, with a lot of echos of the past, hints of the future and a solid understanding of what makes the Legion work. Probably my favourite single issue of the run, one of my favourite Legion stories ever.

#11 proves that the best way to handle a character named Matter-Eater-Lad is to not take him too seriously. So they make him into a lawyer.

#41 is a good clean slate issue after they blew up the Earth, and also sets up the spin-off book LEGIONNAIRES, with some good art by Immonen and Chris Sprouse.

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