Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #1

The Legion of Super-Heroes (1984) #1 cover
Cover by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Published and © by DC, August 1984

Title: “Here a Villain, There a Villain …”
Synopsis: With the Legionnaires spread around the galaxy on various business, Lightning Lord gathers the new Legion of Super-Villains.

Writers (plot): Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen
Writer (script): Levitz
Penciler: Giffen
Inker: Larry Mahlstedt

Review: Under attack from an array of new publishers targeting the emerging direct-sales market, the Big Two moved into the Post-Bronze Age with very different strategies. Where Marvel experimented with low-selling books like Ka-Zar, DC went all out: Baxter-format relaunches of their top books, including The Legion of Super-Heroes. The results here are top shelf. Paul Levitz delivers a complex story, featuring the blend of sci-fi, superheroics and character drama that defined his Legion run. Keith Giffen is early into his José-Muñoz phase; the transformation was shocking at the time, but looks much better in retrospect. A fine series debut.

Grade: A

Second opinion: Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: Keith Giffen’s new style looks awfully good on the upscale Baxter paper.
Not-so-cool factor: His old style might have looked even better.

Character quotable: “And each of us has now the burden of leaving one Legionnaire a rotting corpse.” – Lightning Lord, bad big brother
A word from the writer: “Since (this issue) was going straight to the shops, the assumption was that it was for readers who were a bit older and more versed in our material, and we wanted to lead off with a major storyline.” – Paul Levitz, in the introduction to “Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye for an Eye,” September 2007

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on May 29, 2009.

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