Contents: Legion of Super-Heroes stories from Adventure Comics #369 (June 1968) to #380 (May 1969) and #403 (April 1971); Action Comics #378 (July 1969) to #387 (April 1970) and #389 (June 1970) to #392 (September 1970); and Superboy #172 (March 1971), #173 (April 1971), #176 (July 1971), #183 (March 1972), #184 (April 1972), #188 (July 1972), #190 (September 1972), and #191 (October 1972)
Key Creator Credits: Curt Swan, Jim Shooter, E. Nelson Bridwell, Win Mortimer, Cary Bates, Dave Cockrum, George Tuska, and others
Key First Appearances: Mordru, Chemical King, Marte Allon, Tornado Twins (Dawn and Don Allen), the Wanderers
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 3
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 5
Overview: Welcome back to the 30th Century! In the future, everyone speaks Interlac, which makes things easier when we are meeting new alien races every other issue. The United Planets is led by President Marte Allon, and security is provided by the Science Police. But for those larger than life threats that occur on a regular basis, there is the Legion of Super-Heroes, a group of teenage heroes with unique powers and abilities.
This is an interesting transition era for our teenage heroes. Jim Shooter brings his legendary run to an end during this era, but not before introducing a few more core characters into the vast Legion universe.
- Mordru becomes one of the Legion’s main villains – a magician intent on conquering the universe.
- Chemical King finally joins the team in Adventure Comics #372. We were first introduced to him in Adventure Comics #354, where a memorial room to deceased Legionnaires foretold a death of a Legionnaire that did not even exist yet. finallyWho are the Legion’s most fearsome villains? Find out in this book with the debut of the Fatal Five, the Sun-Eaters, Universo, and the Dominators!
- We meet the above-mentioned President Allon, who also happens to be the mother of Gim Allon, who we know as Colossal Boy. That connection proves to be both helpful and hurtful for the Legion in the years to come.
- Timber Wolf officially joins the team after graduating the Legion Academy.
- The twin children of Barry Allen and Iris West make their first appearance not in the pages of The Flash, but in the 30th Century. And they seem to have inherited their father’s abilities.
There is a lot of action going on here, either in full-length stories or eight-page back-up features. Put your Flight Ring on and dive into the future.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: I wish I was more behind this book. Don’t get me wrong, I love this book. I think Jim Shooter’s take on the characters is one of the most important runs on the Legion in their 50+ year history. My hesitation for this collection is how the Legion got relegated to back-up status in the late 1960s. After a long run of being the lead or sole occupant of Adventure Comics, their run came to an end and the book was given over to Supergirl. After that, the Legion became an eight-page back-up feature in Action Comics and Superboy. Now having read ahead, I know that the Legion ends up usurping Superboy’s book, as we will see in the next Showcase Presents volume. But the eight-page stories lead to smaller casts of characters per story, as well as limited character development during this time. If you are a Legion fan, get the book. If you are a casual fan, you may get frustrated by the last 200+ pages of the book. Buyer beware!
Footnotes: Adventures Comics #403 is a giant-size reprint issue, collecting four classic Legion stories. In addition, there is a three-page feature of new costume designs for Legionnaires submitted by readers, and a two-page diagram of the Legion headquarters. Those two features and the cover are included in this collection.
Class is in session at the Legion Academy beginning in Adventures Comics #372.
If you like this volume, try: Legion of Super-Heroes animated series, which aired for two seasons on Saturday mornings from 2006 to 2008. Following parts of the storyline that we all know by now, the founding members of the Legion travel to the 21st century to recruit a young Superman* to travel with them to the future and learn how to become the greatest hero ever. The two seasons each contained 13 episodes, and many familiar stories and characters made appearances. Watching this can be a little bit of a challenge. Both seasons are available on DVD. Season 1 is available for Amazon Prime members to watch for free, but season 2 is only available to purchase by the individual episodes. For those wanting to introduce the Legion to a younger generation, this may be the gateway into the future.
* At the time this show was on the air, there was an ongoing legal dispute between DC and the Jerry Siegel estate over who owned the rights to the Superboy concept. To avoid any conflicts, Clark is always referenced as Superman.