Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Creature/WildCard Preview pages +LOSH homage

Note: Sorry this post is late. I'm involved in a rather complicated Sharepoint site Deployment for Microsoft, so feel free to blame Microsoft. :)

Following up on Monday's Paladin pages preview, I thought I'd show a couple of new pages Jerry Hind's has turned in for the upcoming Creature/WildCard story that will soon be appearing in Flashback Team-Up.

This first image is the splash page where UltraxThe Unconquered makes his grand appearance...notice the excellent details Jerry put into the crowd behind Ultrax. Also, check out the Counselor coming out of the space ship. Notice how the colors of both aliens uniforms seem to match. Really nice touch by Jerry on that! Jerry thinks of all these details I (and Chris) just don't think about. He's really quite brilliant!

This page shows two recent battles between Ultrax and the champions of other planets he's invaded...

Now, if you look carefully at the bottom half of the page, AND you are a fan of the old Bronze Era Legion of Super-heroes, I think you'll see a couple of familiar *faces.* It sort of looks like Ultrax is giving the Mon-El of that world a huge beatdown!

That single panel is pretty much an allegory for how the legion has been treated since Crisis On Infinite Earths. :(

start RANT tag...
What we can learn from the Legion of Super Heroes' decline in popularity and how it relates to comics in general...

It's funny because in many ways, what has happened to the LOSH over the years is really representative on a grander scale to comic books in general.

In the 60's, with innovative story telling and the introduction of a wide cast of characters, Jim Shooter managed to give readers a long run of stories that to this day cast a huge shadow on all writers who take a turn on the title. But as the Silver Age began to wain, so did the popularity of the title.

That was until Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell stepped up as artists on the title, reenvisioning the costumes of the classic characters, and bringing a slick look to the comic. This inspired the writers to bring their A game to the title as well. So in the 70's the book started to climb again in popularity (up until Grell left, then it sort of wandered a bit...)

Then in the 80's Keith Giffen and Paul Levitz reignited the Legion with the Great Darkness Saga. What they did wasn't so much a total shakeup of the legion or their mise en scene, but a nudge forward into recognized DC Continuity. Really, examine the Great Darkness Saga and specify the one exact moment where it completely outstrips the previous 20 stories before it...I argue, it's ONLY the inclusion of Darksied that makes that story special

After that story, we have one where Karate Kid is killed, and then Princess Projecta kills to avenge him. Then the series sort of meanders its way into oblivion...

So, back to my original hypo, Levitz and Giffen *really* only ignited some fire in the Legion by realigning it with the DC Continuity. After that card was played, they had to resort to a round of deaths to keep readers excitement going.

DC Countdown analogies can begin now. ;)

- Jim


Richard said...

I've been looking forward to Flashback Team-Up for a variety of reasons...and seeing these pages by Jerry only magnifies that sense of keen anticipation.

The Legion is a topic to which I have devoted much time and thought over the years...and as a hardcore fan of the series through the Sixties and Seventies, I can't say what about that Levitz/Giffen run ignited so much interest among people who weren't already reading the book. But clearly something did happen there, and the Great Darkness saga was the catalyst: I couldn't find a copy of the concluding issue anywhere in New York when it came out. Before then it would have been unheard of for a Legion issue to sell out so quickly.

My own feeling is that Levitz brought to the book what Roy Thomas brought to the Marvel Universe a while earlier: he was an unashamed fan of what had gone before (Jim Shooter wasn't, not really) but always looking to see how he could build on the past, not just repeat it. Bringing back Computo or the Dark Circle or the Dominators wasn't the sole *point* of a story...but doing that in the course of telling a good story made the series feel more interconnected and organic, without alienating new readers. He definitely held the original fan base -- he was one of us -- but also welcomed those who weren't.

Jim Shelley said...


I agree with everyting you say, except the Jim Shooter wasn't a fan part - why do you say that?

Richard said...

Shooter often said he was inspired to send his first submission to Mort Weisinger at age 13 because he was reading an issue of Adventure Comics and thought the story was particularly bad and he felt he could do a lot better. Weisinger liked Shooter's first effort and bought it immediately, so Shooter was clearly right that his work was of professional quality.

(And by chance, it just so happened that Shooter's first submission arrived at the very moment Weisinger was losing both Edmond Hamilton and Jerry Siegel and needed a new regular scripter for the Legion, so when it turned out Shooter could produce more stories reliably...well, the rest is history.)

Now, when it comes to whether or not Shooter was a Legion fan...obviously he was reading the book, and we know he loved the concept, but I always got the impression he saw it as unfulfilled potential and didn't think much of the actual stories in previous issues. He's never mentioned any particular Legion stories before his time that he really liked. And in all the years he wrote the Legion, there were only two or three times he used any villains or supporting cast members created by other writers. (Years later, he was still complaining that Weisinger had forced him to do a Super-Pets story against his wishes...)

Jim Shelley said...

You know, maybe it was the fact that he brought so many new things to the table rather than rehash old stories, that made his run so successful?

Also, I think that every comic book needs a 13 old muse...

Meeks said...
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