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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 15

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Great Darkness Saga (courtesy of Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen).


Probably the most notable aspect of the Great Darkness Saga is just how well Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen developed the drama of the storyline. It was very much a slow burn as things slowly got progressively worse until, well, all hell broke loose at the end of the story.

Larry Mahlstedt was Giffen’s inker at the time, and the duo produced some strong, dynamic and characterization-filled artwork.

After some small references in the issues before, the storyline began proper in Legion of Super-Heroes #290, as some mysterious powerful “dark” creatures keep popping up around the world capturing items of power, with the Legion trying (to no avail) to stop them at each opportunity.

Here’s one such altercation…

In the next issue, the situation continues to deteriorate, and the mystery of WHO these “dark warriors” are becomes a bigger issue, as it APPEARS as though the dark creatures are actually powerful beings from the past – beings that have been long dead for years (centuries in some cases).

The Legion are getting their asses handed to them repeatedly, and as #291 ends, things look pretty damn bleak…

Levitz really knew how to work the drama!

Also, the action in the series is top notch. Here is a battle from the next issue, as we learn more about the “master” of the dark creatures…

It’s really striking just how accomplished of a storyteller Giffen was (and is still, of course).

That leads to the penultimate issue, where the Legion get their first real victory of the story, just in time for them to learn just how screwed they really are…

What a reveal!

The impact of that reveal was a lot bigger back when Darkseid was not such a popular villain for people to use.

And that, of course, leads into a dramatic last issue that has all the drama and action you would expect from the previous issues. It is impressive to see a story slowly build and have the conclusion be truly worth the slow burn.


I was a Marvel zombie when I picked up parts two and three of this storyline as a favor to a neighbour who was out of town and needed me to pick up her comics.

After I gave them to her, of course I had to keep collecting to see how the story unfolded. It pretty much convinced me that DC could indeed be good, excellent in fact.

Great storyline, great action, and you’re certainly right about the effective drama. Slow burns don’t get much better!

I wonder if the top panel, second last excerpt, was influenced by that Vader shot in ESB?

One part I really love too is one of the last scenes in the final comic where the Daxamites are all coming back to get their revenge on him.

I’ve always had a soft spot for 70’s-80’s Legion and have wanted to read this forever.
DC needs to reprint it now!
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Great read!

Whenever I see earlier Legion stuff like this I’m amazed anew at how completely DC managed to destroy that franchise’s marketability.

I didn’t know Dr. Strange guest-starred in the Legion

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 16, 2010 at 3:15 pm

A classic.

If only the two stayed together on this book for many more years.
Alas, it was not to be …

i remember how shocking it was to see the big master villian behind all the mess the Legion was in turning out to be Darkside espicially when he can even cause some one like Brainiac five to be chilled and scared.

This was my introduction to Darkseid. I was totally unaware of him before this as I grew up on Marvel comics starting in 1977 and was convinced that DC was far inferior. My best friend was more open-minded to DC and gave me a bunch of old Legions to read and I started buying the Legion and the Teen Titans (I was a fan of Perez) at about the same time. I think the first Legion issue I bought was the second part of this storyline and I was hooked until I stopped buying comics in 1989. Great stuff. Within a couple of years of this I was buying mostly DC. My Marvel purchases had declined to just a few books as most of the writers and artists I liked deserted to other companies.

I really hope they rerelease the collection soon to tie into Levitz’ return.

I read the TPB of this, but TBH I didn’t really like it. And and the big villain reveal was ruined by the front cover.

Yes, this was my first exposure to the Legion and Darkseid, and it was an absolutely great storyline. At the time, I think that the only DC title I was reading on a regular basis was Teen Titans. After this, of course, the DC explosion occurred and most of the best comics of the 1980s – indeed, probably the best comics ever – were produced by DC. It’s ironic that, while Marvel was certainly very good during this era, it never produced comics with the same impact as the various DC titles that came out during the 1980s. (With the exception of Miller’s Daredevil).

The 1980s really were the golden age of comics.

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