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It's OK, I'm a Senator

Legion Recollections by Tom Bierbaum

Recollections of Legionnaires #15
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For about the prior six issues we'd been interweaving several plot threads and I think we were kind of intentionally leaving this psychological study for a clean issue where we could really try to explore the themes of this adventure in one self-contained story.



The set-up occurred several issues earlier, when Live Wire angrily hurled lighting bolts at an unruly mob in the Acapulco dome and critically injured a male teen in the audience, causing his mind to erupt in an explosion of mental energy. That vortex of energy has sucked in the Legionnaires Brainiac 5, Apparition and Gossamer, and they’re locked inside facing some kind of intense emotional turmoil. At the end of #14, the team of Invisible Kid, Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, Andromeda and Live Wire is about to plunge into the vortex to try and rescue the trapped Legionnaires.

The plan is to have Saturn Girl link the minds of the rescue team so they can all join together to resist the mental torture that’s overcome the others, allowing the rescue team to guide the stranded Legionnaires out of the vortex.

But as soon as they entered the vortex at the end of #14, they found themselves being dragged down the gullet of an enormous reptilian creature and that’s where #15 begins.

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Cosmic Boy
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   The Legion apas I belong to have regular "topics of the mailing" and sometimes I figure it's of interest to post the thoughts those past topics elicited in me. In this case, Apa-LSH a couple years ago looked at Rokk Krinn, Cosmic Boy...



    In my early days, there probably wasn’t a member of the early Legion that me left less interested than Cosmic Boy. I didn’t mind his unusual pink costume but it barely registered among the bolder uniforms of his teammates. Also, I wasn’t particularly interested in magnetism as a power. And I’d been reading the Legion for 10 years before I realized he’d ever been team leader, much less the first leader.
     Coz did grow on me a bit through the Cockrum years, as Dave identified him (negatively) as someone who wouldn’t change and update as the others were going for flashier looks. I kind of liked Rokk being a link to the early days of the Legion as the group was rocketing into a gleaming Star Trek-esque universe. 



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Recollections of Legionnaires #14
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Once again, the issue starts off on a great note with a gorgeous Adam Hughes cover, this one not related to the content of the issue, but rather a general group shot showcasing Andromeda and also featuring the three founders, plus Brainy, Vi. Triad, Ultra Boy and the shoulder of Computo. It’s as good a depiction of the spirit and visual appeal of the team as you’re ever likely to see.



The issue opens where #13 concluded, with the revelation that the strange chains that have been stymieing the Legion through their adventures in the Paris dome are the work of Grimbor the Chainsman.

I always felt Grimbor’s ability to uniquely counter each LSHer’s power with his chains was convenient and credibility-stretching, but since it had been established and was accepted, I figured we could use it here as a way to put the Legionnaires into a real jam. We also threw out a nub of an explanation for how Grimbor accomplishes the virtually magical capabilities of his chains – they operate on the “frequency” of each Legionnaires’ power, which not only allows him to negate those powers, but to “reach into” each heroes’ nervous systems.  That doesn’t really mean anything, but it does seem like it could possibly be a kind of physical reality to super-human powers that might be discovered and explored over the next 10 centuries.

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40 Years of Enduring Keith Giffen -- Link
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Here's the link to the recent roast of Keith Giffen, "40 Years of Enduring Keith Giffen," Aug. 20 at the TerrifiCon in Uncasville, Conn. WARNING: Definitely not safe for work -- lots of colorful language.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2-M1UD8THw

If you're a fan of Keith's work, Legion-related or otherwise, or if you're a non-fan, or you're ambivalent, I think by the end of the 45 minutes or so, you get a pretty good feel for his multi-facted personality and what it's been like to work with him.

I'd never met Marc DeMatteis and had never talked with Colleen Doran about her relationship with Keith, so it was pretty amazing to hear their accounts. I practically could have written Marc's comments (one of his anecdotes is virtually identical to a comment I had in my prepared remarks [most of which were cut because time was running short]) and Colleen's experiences being helped into the business by Keith are very similar to ours.

You'll also get a ton of insight into the Levitz-Giffen years -- how their collaboration started and how they worked together.



Participants include Keith, Paul, Marc, Colleen, Scott Kolins and moderator Spencer Beck, who helped organize the con and has been an industry figure for many years (we first met him in the early '90s, when he was representing Curt Swan.

Recollections of Legionnaires #13
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This issue starts with one of our most memorable covers of the run, Adam Hughes’ great shot of Tenzil discovering that he’s been turned into a girl, with a great set of reactions in the mirror behind the new Matter-Eater Lass. A super piece of artwork that very effectively presents a key twist of the issue. It certainly makes me wonder how glorious some of the scenes might have been if we’d been lucky enough to have Adam still doing a lot of the interior art. As it is, the issue was penciled by Frank Fosco, who had a very different touch, but one that was great for this issue.



The story opens where #12 left off, with a team of six Legionnaires getting zapped into nothingness by a strange Dominator girl who was being attacked by an anti-alien mob in Paris. The girl mistook the Legionnaires for more attackers and with a gesture, caused them to melt away into smoke.  This spooks the mob and they quickly disperse, and the little girl escapes.
We then find the Legionnaires “re-integrating” and figuring out they’ve been teleported by the little girl. The bad news is, she logically teleported them where she thought they belonged, a jail cell.

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Adventure #350-51: The Outcast Super-Heroes / The Devil's Dozen
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From a recent "Topic of the Mailing"  discussion in Apa-LSH...

For a story that’s come to symbolize for me the nostalgic kid-appeal of the original Legion, it’s surprising to realize in retrospect that I didn’t see either part of this story until I was about 16 and got a back issue of Part 1. And then I didn’t see Part 2 until I was 18 and it was reprinted in Superboy / Legion #205. So the story really didn’t deliver that good ol’ Legion “sense of wonder” in my childhood, it sort of retroactively gave it to me in my teen years as I was looking back fondly on what comics had meant to me in childhood as a good way to feel some comfort as I headed toward the stressful transitions of high-school graduation and college. 




Ironically, our copy of #205 was missing several pages (I think including the explanation of why they needed the odd ingredients for Miss Terious’ spell), so the very crowded, complicated story became virtually impossible to follow. It took a few more years to track down a copy of the full issue and see how all the weird pieces of the story fit together.  The reality of the full story didn’t quite measure up to the wondrous yarn I was envisioning based on the partial version I'd read in #205, but that was OK -- I’d already fallen in love with the story.

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Recollections of Legionnaires #12
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The issue starts with one of my favorite Chris Sprouse covers, a shot of five Legionnaires surrounded by an angry mob, trying to protect a little Dominator girl, with the phrase “Earth for Humans!” scrawled above the scene.  I don’t know if anyone used “Earth for Humans” ahead of us, but if so, I was unaware of it and in this case I came up with the phrase based on the right-wing anti-immigrant rhetoric of the time, where some were saying America should be for “Americans,” and that translated well into the mob sentiment we were envisioning for this story.



The issue opens with Inferno under fire at the gates to the Paris dome, which have been mysteriously closed off by strange chains impervious to Inferno’s powers.


The Legionnaire is suddenly tackled and saved from a blast by a comely young Science Police officer, and Dirk wastes no time flirting with the attractive and heroic lass.

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Recollections of Legionnaires #11
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Our story picks up on the Proty planet, where Matter-Eater Lad, Catspaw, Dragonmage and Shrinking Violet have crash-landed.  They’ve helped the Protys invade another crash-landed ship, in which we find the long-lost (and presumed dead) Legionnaire Kid Quantum.



The issue sports a nice cover by Chris Sprouse, showing Kid Quantum and those other Legionnaires triumphantly flying out into space with a beautiful multi-colored planet in the background.  My objection to the cover is that it shows a hale and hearty Kid Quantum in a Legionnaires uniform, serving as a pretty major spoiler that the character not only survives the major challenges he faces in this issue but becomes a Legionnaire. And to compound the spoil, they featured the cover artwork at the end of the previous issue, so on the very page after we reveal KQ’s existence, we essentially tell the readers he’s going to become a member. I’m sure our guys felt they could boost orders a little if they promised readers that they were going to see the arrival of a new team member but it’s certainly frustrating as a writer to have future developments tipped so far in advance.


At any rate the story takes us back to that moment the Legionnaires discover Kid Quantum in that mystery second ship, with the kid hooked up to an assortment of alien equipment.  It looks like the very life is being drawn out of him.

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Recollections of Legionnaires #10
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We pick up the story from where it left off last time, with Legionnaires Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, Catspaw and Dragonmage crash-landed on a strange world where Catspaw and Dragonmage are finding people from their pasts mysteriously showing up in the present and M-E Lad is finding, to his delight, that Shrinking Violet is behaving amorously toward him.  But at the end of #9, Tenzil stumbles across a second Shrinking Violet out in the weeds, dazed and regaining consciousness.


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Recollections of Legionnaires #9
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With this issue we move into a stretch where Chris Sprouse and Adam Hughes are teaming up on the penciling, splitting up the pages of the issue, and we coincidentally start weaving multiple storylines through the next few issues It’s a bit of a change of pace after a tight opening six issues versus the Fatal Five and then a couple standalone fill-in issues.



This was about at the point we were finding out sales had dropped quickly enough after #1 (a pretty typical pattern) that our outside chance of staying on the book beyond our contract was disappearing and our mandate if we wanted to stick around was to create some highly promotable storylines to try and juice sales.

In retrospect, we should have really made a dramatic move to introduce twist after twist to the series, which is probably the only way we could have kept ourselves around, but there’d been some emphasis on introducing new members and we asked if we should tell those stories before taking off in any other dramatically new directions and was told that sounded like a good idea so in our minds, that’s what we did. And you folks can decide for yourselves if in the seven remaining issues we did a reasonable job of giving them the kind of promoteable twists and turns they were looking for.

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