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review 2020-05-26 21:23
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 9
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 9 - Jim Shooter

This volume collects issues mostly from 1969, which was also the year that the Legion stories were pushed from the lead feature of Adventure comics to a second-stringer in Action comics.

 

The stories however...a lot seems to have happened in the volume I had to skip due to costs. Action-wise, certainly, but character development is happening and the stories are taking on more stakes. These issues are sharper and (relatively) heavier-hitting. This includes the first "drug" storyline printed in a comic book after the comics code authority banned the subject - writers got around the censors by making the story about "toxic fruit". That story, as well as an earlier one where a criminal apprehends mind drugs that were for United Planets study only featured great psychedelic art. These issues also see the beginning of new costumes, open romantic relationships and dating stories for legionnaires, and other signs that these babies are growing up!

 

The Legion very easily could have been cancelled after the switch in venue, but they carry on stronger than they ever were before. The only blah note was the constant referring to the women as "doll". The women have always been treated as equals in 'Legion' stories, and it doesn't go away, but I could really do without the late '60s lingo in the 31st century.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Volume 10'

 

Previous: 'Volume 8'

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review 2020-05-09 20:01
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang
Superman Smashes the Klan - Gene Luen Yang,Gurihiru

Adapted from the 1946 'Superman' radio serial on 'The Clan of the Fiery Cross', 'Superman Smashes the Klan' is great fun and offers a message of hope for those confronting intolerance.

 

Author Gene Luen Yang, most famous for the middle grade graphic novel 'American Born Chinese', offers a detailed essay in this edition on the origins of the famous serial and its direct influence in defeating a revival of the Ku Klux Klan in postwar America.

 

The Lees are moving from Chinatown into the heart of Metropolis' residential area. Dr. Lee has been hired by the Health Department (a private company) on a top secret project and looks forward to integrating his family into modern American life. He encourages his wife to speak only in English and they have had their children take on "American" names.

 

The night after the Lees move in, the Klan burns a cross in their front yard, attracting sympathetic and negative responses. The Daily Planet's most valued reporters are on the story, of course. 

 

Roberta Lee is a great character, shy and prone to motion-sickness, she is nonetheless brave and stands up for what's right for herself and her family. She doesn't like the idea of leaving their old lives behind, but a piece of advice from her mother about how to make new places home ends up helping Superman as well. During this conflict Superman is increasingly dealing with challenging visions and memories of his childhood. How different is Superman willing to be in order to be his best self?

 

A timely and important story, appropriate for all ages.

 

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review 2020-04-11 16:00
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 7
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 7 - Pete Costanza,Jim Shooter,Curt Swan

I've said it before and then went and splurged on volumes anyway, but 'Volume 8' is notoriously high-priced. Some mixture of the notoriety of its stories and the scarcity of its edition makes it sell for three or four times the cover price. I'll be circling eBay for awhile before one comes up at a price I can live with. I mean, if I spend all that money on one book I can't buy other books!

 

Not that I'm reading much these days. It has been a struggle since this crisis began.

 

First of all, this volume had the best introduction so far: Tom Peyer treats these issues with irreverence and good humor while praising the strides the series makes. 'TEEN BEAT IS COMING!' indeed. It also felt that these issues, published mostly in 1967, were beginning to reflect in earnest the restlessness of youth and the political turmoil that was beginning to boil over. On the surface these issues and villains are as silly as they ever were, foiled at the last minute by a clever plan or a deus-x-machina. The issues are beginning to say something, however. It feels like there's something at stake and the characters are taking on real personalities.

 

I have a couple collections from the 80s I could look into, but I hate to abandon continuity at this point. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm gonna cave before May!

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Vol. 8'

 

Previous: 'Vol. 6'

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review 2020-04-09 21:48
Legion of Super Heroes Archive, Vol. 6
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 6 - Jim Shooter,Curt Swan

It is difficult to cry foul over spoilers for a 50 year old comic book, but the back cover of this Archives collection features two covers that show the death of a Legion member in no uncertain terms. This was a big deal, as before no Legionnaire has stayed dead before. This character, I believe remains dead to this day in most continuities. He's the Legion of Super-Heroes' Uncle Ben. Some characters need to stay down to inspire the rest.

 

Anyway, spoiler or not, I enjoyed these issues. Set 1,000 years in the future these teen heroes have crazy gadgets at their disposal, embrace their wealthy benefactor - and even give him special attention, and give only the glimmer of acknowledgement that the girls can have part in story-lines other than fawning over boyz. It's only a glimmer, but it's a start. These issues would mostly have been published in 1966 after all.

 

 

My highlight was the issue where Superman is called to the future and visits the grown-up Legion, many members have retired, but we pay them a visit. It's a cavalcade of male pattern baldness and housewives. This had to be another fan-mail inspired issue, but it was pretty funny. Saturn Girl was the only one to refuse to give up her day job just because she got married.

 

A new team of super-villains, the Fatal Five, are introduced and they offer a lot more possibilities than the Legion of Super-Villains (though they will be back). Interestingly, three major events in Legion history are reversed - not ret-conned, but "fixed" by events in the story for no reason other than the authors and illustrators got tired of reading angry fan mail. The result is three members are returned to the Legion and someone gets their flesh arm back. Fun.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Vol. 7'

 

Previous: 'Vol. 5'

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review 2020-03-28 21:34
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 5
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 5 - Jim Shooter,Curt Swan

The comics are easing into this business of long-range story-telling, but boy, is it difficult for the writer's sometimes. They want to just wave a hand and have Kal-El or Invisible Kid give a panel's worth of exposition on what could have been an interesting story in itself. Of course, dealing with their vast cast of characters was an obstacle. Many heroes are on perpetual missions off-planet.

 

Highlights of this volume were Braniac 5's invention of the giant Computo and his large robot friends that involved a lot of death. The moral question of Star Boy's self-defense, and the female heroes having to deal with being accused of being too in love with Superboy to have a clear head to vote on leadership. They do have a few moments of glory however, particularly Phantom Girl in response to a traitor in the Legion and Saturn Girl in a prison camp.

 

I'm kind of in love with these comics and might keep going and pay collector's prices for future volumes (#8 and 11-13 are particularly pricey), once the whole economic instability thing goes away.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Volume 6'

 

Previous: 'Volume 4'

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