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It's OK, I'm a Senator

Legion Recollections by Tom Bierbaum

Dirk Morgna / Sun Boy
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When I was a kid, Sun Boy was kind of a middle-of-the-pack member for me, which seems odd given his brilliant red-and-yellow costume, the kind of thing I’d normally be drawn to, but I suppose it may have been a little “too flashy” for my tastes.



But one thing I’ll say is that he was as endemic to my vision of what the Legion should be as anyone, in part because I really liked the symmetry of there being a Sun Boy and a Star Boy and partly because he was the quintessential Legion member who was immediately identifiable with a self-explanatory name and power.

“My” Sun Boy was a really good guy, kind of modeled on the teens I knew who were “big men on campus” but very principled, honorable guys. They may have been the sports stars and gotten the girls, but they were also good guys you admired.

By the time we were dialoguing Keith’s Legion, the character had evolved a little bit and was becoming a bit of a cad. We could have tried to take a stand and pulled Sun Boy back toward what I’d once envisioned him as, but it wasn’t one of our top priorities and at some point we were going to have to accept that some of Keith’s storylines were going to be darker and less uplifting than what we might have done ourselves. So very early on in our sketching out the series with Keith, when he asked what I thought of Sun Boy essentially being the corrupt collaborator with Earthgov, I didn’t see a big reason to object.  If somebody was going to fill that role, I’m not sure I could have suggested a better candidate.

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Recollections of Legionnaires #8
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We got to work on another very enjoyable fill-in issue, this time with Colleen Doran, who we’d come to know pretty well through our mutual membership in Interlac and then subsequent meetings at cons over the years. As was the case with Chris Sprouse and Adam Hughes, Colleen was a joy to work with, very much in synch with the spirit of the series and willing to go above and beyond the call to illustrate our complicated tale filled with exotic settings and scores of characters.


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Chemical King
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Here are recollections from a discussion in a recent issue of Apa-LSH:  I didn’t ever think a lot about Chemical King one way or another, not finding much to catch my interest in his name, visuals or power.  I never took chemistry in school, so didn’t have the background to really know what could be done with his abilities or to get especially interested in the general topic. 



I did like the look of the character as Cockrum drew him in the ERG-1 story (the guy in green above) and was starting to get into him a little bit at that point, but Cockrum left and the very few CK depictions after that didn’t do much for me.

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Recollections of Legionnaires #7
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I’ve been looking forward to discussing this issue, the Legionnaires Atlantis story, which was a real favorite and is certainly an issue that has some interesting anecdotes behind it.



It was great to work with Adam Hughes, though let me make it clear that we also couldn’t have been more thrilled throughou all our other "Legionnaires" issues benefiting from the brilliant pencils of Chris Sprouse. We certainly enjoyed the best of both worlds having Chris as our regular artist and Adam doing some fill-in work.

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Shrinking Violet
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I didn’t give much thought to Violet in the early days. Her power wasn’t very exciting and she may have had the single least interesting costume among the early Legionnaires. And while a couple of the female members caught my eye, as a rule, I wasn’t as interested in the girls as the boys back then.

I had mixed feelings about the Cockrum makeover, which certainly converted her into a much more eye-catching, sexy Legionnaire, but for me it was hard to think of this as the same character. I was wowed during the 1976 Winter Olympics by Dorothy Hamill and realized her short dark hair and short skating skirt were reminiscent of Violet’s early look.  I came up with a version of Violet with Hamill’s fashionable short haircut and a light green dress with a skating cut that I really liked.




And I think I probably influenced the 1980s return of Violet to that kind of look because in the same letter to Keith in which I sent the Element Lad costume that became Jan’s new look in the 1980s (the magenta and black costume with the white Interlac "E"), I included a couple other suggestions, including my Hamill-esque Violet. I don’t think it was too much later that Keith designed a short hair / short skirt look for Violet that was certainly a lot different than what I suggested, but I’d guess was influenced at least subconsciously by my suggestion.
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Recollections of Legionnaires #6
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Our six-issue Fatal Five arc comes to a climax with the re-constituted Five attacking the capitol of New Earth, while the villainous team’s patron, Leland McCauley IV, off at his estate on the planet Gallàn, discovers to his dismay that there are two Emerald Eyes and two Emerald Empresses.



Issue 5 ended with the Cera Kesh version becoming enraged by the incompetence of McCauley’s trophy-girlfriend Empress, so Cera invades Gallàn and incinerates the rival Empress.

Cera says she’s the true Empress, somebody with the kind of dreams and emotional fury that the Emerald Eye feeds on. She dismisses McCauley as someone who thinks he can simply purchase the power of the Eye. But McCauley is able to grab mental control of “his” eye and uses it to mount a counter-attack against Cera.

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Gary Owens
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I was sorry to hear of the passing of Gary Owens ("Laugh-In's" on-screen announcer, voice of "Space Ghost"), a genuinely nice guy who befriended me when I was the new reporter at Daily Variety in the early 1980s, insisted that I send him one of my (admittedly amateurish) cartoons because he wanted to add it to his collection, considered me a colleague because I'd worked a bit in radio and kept me on his Christmas card list for years. One of the really nice guys in the entertainment business.

Spider Girl
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I found Spider Girl mildly interesting in her original appearance as a failed applicant but never thought too much about her as one of the many members of the Legion of Super-Villains.

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I’ll have to give it some thought and see if anything comes to mind as to what the impetus was for bringing her into the Terra Mosaic, but it was probably Keith’s idea. It would also make sense if somehow Mary and I suggested it since she quickly took on a personality Mary and I have always liked, the smart-aleck, flirtatious female super-thief. The unpublished story we wrote for “New Talent Showcase” featured a team called “Woofer & Tweeter” (prose versions of their exploits ran through the apas back in the mid 1980s) that featured just such a female thief and her hapless male partner, and we were working on another similar project that kind of blended that idea with the great Japanese series “Cat’s Eye” (which was about three sister thieves who constantly outsmarted the boyfriend / cop of the middle sister).  And then we created yet a third female super-thief in a series called “Catnip” for Joe Addams' “Triple Play” comic back in the 1990s.
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Recollections of Legionnaires #5
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Issue 4 ended with the formation of the new Fatal Five under the auspices of Leland McCauley IV.  We open #5 with the new team having just found out that McCauley has recovered the infamous former leader of the original team, the half-man / half-computer Tharok.

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We tried to ratchet up the character somewhat, giving him a powerful physique and portraying him as “half psychotic killer, half ruthless cyborg.” Usually I’m not real pleased to see a Silver Age character turned darker and grittier like this, but in the case of Tharok, I think it’s in the spirit of the original Fatal Five, which was supposed to be a collection of five of the truly most ruthless and deadly villains and I felt like Tharok could use a little more heft to hold his own in this group of villains.

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Recollections of Legionnaires #4
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Issue 4 continued the storyline where we were introducing the readers to a new Fatal Five, and in this issue we focus on the insecure teen, Cera, who’s just become the new Emerald Empress.
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We ended #3 seeing the Emerald Eye transform frumpy Cera into the smokin’ hot Empress and we start #4 with Cera taking the Eye for a “test drive” out in space beyond the domed cities of New Earth.  She flashes back to the torments and insults she suffered from Live Wire and Inferno the previous day when she applied for Legion membership and botched the attempt. 
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Now that she’s suddenly found herself with great powers thanks to the Eye, she knows exactly what to do with them.
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