Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Baxter Legion aka LSH v3

It was 1984. The vast majority of comic-books were sold in bookstores or on news-stands (Google it) or at places like 7-11. I once bought a Legion comic at Target. But time's they were a'changin. There was suddenly something springing up all over the country called "local comic book stores." This would lead to something called "Direct Only Market."  Books sold directly to the point-of-sale meant no middle-man distributor. No returned covers for unsold books. More profit for the publishers.

DC wanted to get their feet wet with this possible gold mine. So they chose two of their best-selling titles to lead the vanguard by "Going Direct." New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes would each be split into two separate titles: the ongoing newsprint versions, and a new title with higher-end, better quality paper. This paper was called Baxter paper, and these comics became known as "The Baxter series."


So Legion of Super-Heroes (volume 2) ended with issue #313, becoming Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes from #314. Legion of Super-Heroes (volume 3) started with a new #1 on the better paper with better printing and at a higher price. For one year Tales presented new stories, so that those fans who did not have access to the Baxter series could still get their monthly Legion fix. Then after one year, this series began reprinting the LSH(v3) stories. It ceased publication in 1987 with issue #354, a reprint of LSH(v3) #29.

The Baxter series initially carried over the then-current creative team, Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen. Giffen left after the first story arc, the return of the Legion of Super-Villains. Steve Lightle made his Legion debut here, then did most of the covers ever after the interior art was taken over by Greg LaRocque.


It was during the Baxter series that Light Lass returned to being Lightning Lass, a new Starfinger made his debut, five new Legionnaires joined, the Fatal Five returned, the mystery of Sensor Girl played out, Universo took over the United Planets, and, most infamously, the Legion began to face the post-Crisis continuity without Superboy and Supergirl. 
 After four years, Levitz was planning to leave with issue #50 when Keith Giffen came back and convinced him to stay one more year. This was a nice book-end to the series, as their collaboration led to "the Magic Wars" storyline and the last issue of the series. This controversial story arc ended the Legion continuity in a very dramatic way, seting up Giffen's follow-up Legion book, popularly known as "The Five Year Later" era.
The Legion of Super Bloggers will be reviewing this series starting next week. We will cover all 63 issues plus the annuals, specials, and Tales issues that occur during its continuity. We chose this title for several reasons: 1) as Legion books go, 63+ issues is relatively short! 2) it's well remembered; 3) it still stands up pretty well to re-reads; 4) it's not collected past the first few issues; 5) it has a huge effect on the 5YL and Adult Legion series that come later.
We want to introduce you, the newer fan, to stories that you might come across in Discount Bins that we want you to pick up and enjoy. And we want to remind the older readers just how great some of these stories were...!
Long Live the Legion!

8 comments:

  1. Excited that you are going to review this era. This was the time period that I read the Legion and I remember some of the stories very fondly.

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  2. I agree, some AWESOME stuff in the Baxter series, most of which I read as Tales of the Legion because: Small Canadian town

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  3. It was a great run, not entirely derailed by the loss of the Legion's history. The highlight for me was the Universo Project.

    Now, did I miss the byline here?

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    1. Martin, not sure if you mean the byline to the review....if so, we Bloggers haven't decided if we are going to put our names on the reviews or not. For the record, the Baxter series will be by me. :-)

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    2. I mean the bylines for individual posts. A little 'posted by' at the bottom leaves room for Bleeding Cool-style ambiguity. Let's have proper attribution at the top, full name, as Clarity King, that well-known Legionnaire, would wish.

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  4. I was a legion fan before the Baxter series ... but I feel I fully immersed myself in the property here. My name is sprinkled in the letter columns and I loved the Sensor Girl mystery right up until the reveal.

    I look forward to these reviews and expect my comments!

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  5. The Baxter series definitely picked up and thrived on the tone that stories like the Greatest Darkness Saga introduced and made the mainstay feel of the series, paving the way for not only future Legion stories, but the "more adult" themed direction DC would take their universe in following the Crisis. Can't wait to read along and reread the series as Russell covers it.

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