Today’s post is a coda to the Great Darkness saga in Legion of Super-Heroes: one of DC’s best-selling comics in the early 80s. In previous posts, we saw the god of evil enslave a whole race of super-men to assault the galaxy. Two dozen Legionnaires and their allies were pitted against the might of Jack Kirby’s arch-villain.
The final section of the deluxe edition of the trade collection is comprised of two more issues.
The Origin of the Universe File: Howard Bender pastiches Curt Swan in a flashback tale that picks up on a reference in the first annual. The story attempts to explain why there are no Green Lanterns on Earth: Universo, the Legion’s hypnotist foe, is a Lantern gone rogue.
In the Legion’s present day, it seems Darkseid’s curse is coming to fruition as Light Lass quits. The story also introduces Circadia Senius, an insect time travel expert who will continue to appear even in the New 52.
What Do You Do on the Day After Doomsday?: the Legion experiences tragedy as Cosmic Boy’s family become victims of an arson attack. This plotline will lead to the introduction of Magnetic Kid, Cosmic Boy’s kid brother.
Other plotlines in this issue focus on the developing romance of Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet , the cure for Matter-Eater Lad and the loss of Chameleon Boy’s powers. Sun Boy’s characterisation as a womaniser will begin here – and end in his betrayal of the Legion’s values in the 5YL series. Horribly, his daddy issues will subsequently lead to disfigurement and insanity. (Depressingly, perhaps worse was yet to come in the New 52)
Giffen designs a sexy new outfit for Projectra and dresses Shadow Lass in her new Perez costume for an ominous visit to the Science Asteroid ( as per the cover of Adventure 354- but it all works out happily in the end). That institution’s security chief , Queeg, is an octopoid creature and perhaps a product of the design process that created Brotlbex the Senses-Stealer. This was a totally alien Legionnaire proposed by Giffen and one which looked like a slimy sea cucumber .
Queeg is more recognisable as a sentient being than Brotlbex but non-humanoid Legionnaires Quislet and Tellus are a couple of years away.
In a few issues time. Levitz would return to the Adult Legion story in LSH 300 and find a way to unshackle the series from it. Funnily enough, I never felt it was that much of a burden but that’s probably because it’s still such a favourite of mine.
Having rehabilitated and elevated Darkseid, Levitz’s storylines for the master of Apokolips continued in two Legion annuals focusing on his curse :
It transpires that the rampaging, lightning-generating behemoth Validus is the son of Garth and Imra, snatched into time and mutated by Darkseid. Although parents and child are ultimately reunited and the baby restored to normality, the 5YL series revealed that Darkseid couldn’t be bargained with and the child Garridan was secretly a plague carrier.
This was yet another instance of the phenomenally ” Unlucky Streak” experienced by Lightning Lad – but his biggest secret was still to be unearthed…
The complexity and history of the Legion’s fantasy world blended with the soap opera elements, the bizarre humour and the visual inventiveness of its creators seem to me to be the key elements in its success. Later this year I hope to explore quite why lightning didn’t strike again in the New 52.
Still to come: more Bicentennial issue of Batman Family.
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