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It's OK, I'm a Senator

Legion Recollections by Tom Bierbaum

"2995" Mayfair Sourcebook: Karate Kid Through Timber Wolf
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Continuing our reminiscences of the “Legion: 2995” Mayfair Sourcebook Mary and I wrote back in about 1992...

KARATE KID: A very brief entry for a hero who didn’t play much of a role during our run. We get a brief obituary of the original Val’s demise and a quick sense of his exploits (nearly defeating Valor [in place of Superboy] when applying for membership).  The highlight of this little section is Elizabeth Holden’s haiku in Brainy’s voice, speculating that Val continues to probe for the “fatal flaw” that will allow him to defeat his “endless sleep.”



SHADOW LASS: Again an abbreviated entry for a hero who didn’t have a big role in our run. And unfortunately for Tasmia, her “Legion Groupie” entry was written during the “cool cat” phase of that magazine, though we do learn through the hip lingo of that era that her highest priority is Talok VIII’s safety, she sees herself as a Zuunese Black Tiger and enjoys “showing off” boyfriend Valor but feels she falls in love “too easily” (no doubt a reference to what was back then the fairly recent development of her initially falling for Brainy when she first teamed up with the Legion).Read more...Collapse )

Recollections of The Heckler #4
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Again, perhaps our best issue, certainly one of them, and the one that most directly pays tribute to Warner Brothers cartoons with the introduction of a villain named Bushwack’r, who, Wile E. Coyote-style, spends the issue setting traps for the Heckler that have a way of backfiring.

The cover sets this up nicely with the Heckler considering an obvious trap that tries to snag him with the tantalizing warning “Do Not Press This Button,” when clearly doing so will drop three huge bolders on his noggin.



The title page includes another trademark narrator rant, this time relating to an apparent complaint somebody lodged about the Heckler not appearing on the title page of a past issue.  This sets the narrator off on a diatribe about how when the old Mrs. Kravitz dies, you fan-boys out there just have to accept the new Mrs. Kravitz. By this point, the narrator is in no mood to think of a fitting title for the story so the official title of #4 is “Let ’em Make Up Their OWN Stupid Title!”

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2995 Sourcebook: Element Lad Through Ferro Lad
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Here are some notes on our "2995" Legion Mayfair Sourcebook. We're currently in the section covering Legionnaires, who are listed in the order they joined...



ELEMENT LAD : Picking up in our “2995” Mayfair Sourcebook in the member sections with Jan Arrah / Element Lad, which includes some insightful entries, one of Jan explaining to Shvaughn why he went off alone during the Five-Year Gap to meditate on Trom (largely because he was so shaken by the decline of the Legion and the failure of the Earth population to stand up for the team.
Then Jan’s journal entry after he’s rejoined the Legion shows him perhaps feeling a little guilty that he felt he had to physically remove himself to Trom to work out issues that were happening entirely in his head when there was so much actual physical catastophe occuring. And he now views the enormous challenges being thrown at the Legion as no longer  impediments to his spiritual journey but the reason for his journey and the means of his enlightenment.

LIGHTNING LASS: The section on Ayla / Lightning Lass  includes a clue to what I see as her primary hidden conflict, which is a strong desire to pull together in harmony her pretty dysfunctional family, which had included through her younger years the butthead version of Garth (pre-Proty) and the damaged Mekt, who would become the villain Lightning Lord. Though it took some strange twists to get there, by the 2995 Legion, Ayla was living her impossible dream, with Garth having been upgraded with Proty’s noble personality and Mekt truly reformed thanks to the very effective rehabilitation techniques of the 30th century. Interesting, too, that Ayla perceived the incident on Korbal that gave them their lightning powers as the catalyst that messed up Garth and Mekt, though my feeling is that our Garth’s jerkiness predated any impact the lightning attack and subsequent powers may have had on his psyche. I do more sense Mekt’s journey to villainy may have been hastened by the great powers he was granted, or by damaging side effects of those powers.
Ayla writes to Vi explaining how idyllic life has been since Ayla left the Legion and joined Garth and Imra on Winath. What a contrast to the war-is-hell existence of Violet during the gap. But Ayla promises that a little bit of heaven awaits Vi when the war is over and they can be united on Winath.

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Recollections of The Heckler #2
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Regular readers will recall that I’m currently alternating recollections of our “Legion 2995” Mayfair Sourcebook with issues of “The Hcckler,” and this time, “The Heckler #2” is up.



The cover introduces our villain of the issue, the Generic Man, and there’s a cover blurb that appropriately declares “Cover Blurb!”

The title page continues in that spirit with “Logo” and captions reading things like “a catchy opening sentence asking a provocative question that doesn’t really have much to do with the story you’re about to read…” and “Title.”

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"2995" Mayfair Sourcebook: Valor Through Matter-Eater Lad
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Regular readers may recall that I’m currently alternating in these “Lore” entries between issues of “The Heckler” and sections of our dense “2995” Legion Mayfair Soucebook, so this issue, we’ve got a second chunk of “2995” to cover, and I’m currently in the character section, still covering some of the early Legion inductees.

I'm pulling these from my apa zines of a couple years ago and for some reason, all the early Legionnares prior to Valor do not seem to have made it into any of my zines. I feel certain I drafted comments on that section of the sourcebook and will keep an eye out for them, but for now, I'll pick up the Sourcebook where I picked it up in the apas...




VALOR: A good retelling here of what Valor accomplished in the 20th century that has made him such a legend (the creation of the “Sentinel Worlds” or “Gandian Worlds” that account for most of the Legion’s humanoid races whose members all possess a common super-power), of how his personality got taken over and weakened by his descendent Eltro Gand (the clue that clearly hinted at the Proty personality that had taken over Garth) and the basic personality of Lar Gand / Valor – truly noble and quite uncomfortable with his quasi-god-like status in the 30th century.



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Heckler #1
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Here's a change of pace for this blog. Since I've covered most of our Legion issues, I'll occasionally post memories of work on other projects, in this case, the short-lived but beloved series "The Heckler."

If you’ve never read the series, you might be interested if you enjoy humorous takes on super-heroes, though this is not a spoof of a super-hero, nor is it camp or a series of fan-boy comic-book in-jokes (I believe there's one, and only one, very minor Legion reference throughout the six issues). Rather, it’s an off-beat, humorous romp that is more of a Warner Bros. Cartoon in tights than any sort of satirical take on super-heroes.
       
(And if you’re at all tempted to try “The Heckler,” track down some copies. Believe me, they’re very cheap.)




I suspect the origin of the project was that Keith Giffen knew our status on the Legion wasn’t all that secure and wanted to give us an alternative project in case we got bounced from that title. And if that was the case, we mucked up his strategy completely by choosing that exact time for me to quit my staff position at Variety and take the plunge and try to make comic scripting our primary income (though the actual trigger was when I told Mary I was going to miss the San Diego Con for about the fourth year in a row due to Variety work commitments and she just said at that point enough was enough and we needed to make a stronger commitment to the comic-book business).  Keith had repeatedly told us the comic industry was too challenged and crazy to voluntarily enter it when you had other well-paying options, but we ignored that sage advise – we were just having too much fun writing comics to keep doing it as something we squeezed into our spare time.

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Ferro Lad
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Here are my thoughts on Andrew Nolan, Ferro Lad, as discussed a couple years ago in the Legion apas Apa-LSH and Interlac, when he was the topic of the mailing. And if you read to the end of the post, you'll get a world-premiere look at a never-seen-before original Curt Swan pencil drawing that's been haning in my office since the early 1990s. But for now, some thoughts...

When my younger brother Carl first discovered the Legion in 1972, I was very pleased to explore with him a group that I’d been a fairly casual fan of up to that point. I’d read maybe a dozen Legion stories by then, almost all from the group's very early days. But within a few weeks, we tracked down a back issue of Adventure #347, “The Traitor’s Triumph,” and here I found a masked character that mostly occuped the background, Ferro Lad, a Legionnaire I’d never heard of before. 


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2995 Legion Sourcebook, Part 1
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I've now covered all the regular issues of our time on the Legion and Legionnaires, so next up, I thought I'd start covering our work on the "2995" Legion Sourcebook from the Mayfair gaming folks. I'll probably also start posting entries on our series "The Heckler," but we'll leave that to a later date [Wow, hard to believe I've gone eight months between posts on this blog -- I've certainly let work and my efforts in the apa take over my schedule].)

At any rate, let’s start out with a little background on the Sourcebook.

The Mayfair folks decided they wanted to do a Sourcebook during the “Five Years Later” Legion and offered the assignment to Mary and I. We were a little reluctant because we didn’t know the second thing about their role-playing game, but the editor, Ann Goetz, felt confident the Mayfair folks could cover the stats and any other necessary game info and let us write entries that addressed the characters, their backgrounds and the Legion universe.

What she envisioned was an entire Sourcebook comprised of the kind of direct-source text pages that were a favorite aspect of the 5YL run of the book – documents seemingly taken from actual 30th century sources that were like historical materials rather than regular expositional storytelling.

That sounded like something we could have fun with – I really preferred writing as if we were reporters or historians or commentators of the 30th century rather than taking the voice of an omniscient narrator telling the story in so many words to the readers.

It’s an approach that Paul Levitz pioneered with his “Encyclopedia Galactica” entries and Keith really picked up on the idea during our 5YL run and had us laying in all kinds of details regarding the radically changed Legion universe through a wide range of 30th century source materials.

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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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