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It's OK, I'm a Senator

Legion Recollections by Tom Bierbaum

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My Favorite Story: Adventure #350-351
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        Lately I've convinced Emma a couple times to let me read her Legion Archives stories as her bedtime reading and she's starting to get pretty interested in the 1960s incarnation of the group.

       One thing that really struck me was the tension between the elements found in the more sophisticated Legion stories and the elements that, I think, made the early Legion work best.  The perfect example is going from Nelson Bridwell's "The Forgotten Legionnaires"/"The Devil's Dozen" two-parter to "The Sun-Eater" two-parter.  One is a goofy, non-sensical story and the other is possibly the greatest Legion story of all time, yet I find myself more drawn to re-reading the goofy story than the all-time classic.

       I think the big limitation to the Sun-Eater story was something Shooter regularly did (perhaps at the request of Curt Swan):  limiting the story to about five Legionnaires.  How depressing to be stuck for two full issues with just a small handful of characters in a concept where the over-population of heroes is one of the primary attractions.  I happen to love Ferro Lad, but it's still tough to stay excited about two full issues with other characters that mostly don't excite me.

       Contrast that with the "Forgotten"/"Devil's" two-parter in which, to begin with, we see virtually every Legionnaire in the form of those little figurines that appear a couple times in the story.  Then, I think literally every member participates in the story.  Then there are a couple classic Legion flashback scenes in which additional unrelated cases are depicted.  Then there's the addition of Sir Prize and Miss Terious to the team.  Then there's an important role for the entire Legion of Substitute-Heroes.  Then there's an important role for the Legion of Super-Pets (whom I never liked, but you should have seen Emma's eyes light up).  And after all of that, there's even a roll for ex-Legionnaire Bouncing Boy!  And the introduction of White Witch!

       So of course the story was too crowded and didn't make a lick of sense.  But how great to see all those costumes and all those powers, so beautifully depicted by Curt Swan.  And a story that bounced from planet to planet, era to era and dimension to dimension.  And even introduced one of the most important figures in Legion continuity, R.J. Brande.

 


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