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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 163

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 take a look at Jim Shooter’s original Legion of Super-Heroes run from Adventure Comics #346-380!

Enjoy!

The 14-year-old Shooter got his run started with a bang in Adventure Comics #346, as he introduced THREE significant new members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, namely Princess Projectra, Karate Kid and Ferro Lad (Sheldon Moldoff drew his first issue).

This led into the revelation that fellow new member, Nemesis Lad, was a SPY!!

Shooter’s next major arc was Adventure #352-353, drawn by Curt Swan (Shooter would do rough layouts for his early issues – some artists would use them more than others), which both introduced the Fatal Five (who the Legion must bust out of prison to help defeat the Sun-Eater)…

AND had the first permanent death of a Legionnaire, as Shooter’s recent addition to the team, Ferro Lad, sacrifices himself for the sake of everyone else…

Shooter next introduced the Adult Legion…

Then he introduced Shadow Lass to the team for a re-match against the Fatal Five…

Then he invented the Dark Circle (recurring Legion foes)…

and in Adventure Comics #269, he introduced Mordru!!!

That’s one heck of a run and he still had eleven issues to go!!!

Shooter kept the book filled with inventive action tales and he really did a great job populating the Legion universe with new and interesting characters, both good guys and bad guys.

And all before he even turned 18 years old!!

Crazy.

17 Comments

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 13, 2010 at 6:21 am

Not only that, but Shooter was actually doing storyboards/layouts of the pages, because that’s how he thought you wrote comics!

Good choice! This was an amazingly fertile run whose content would influence Legion stories for decades to come.

The Fatal Five and Mordru must be among the most popular recurring villains in Legion history, surpassing almost all others for longevity (the only rival who springs to mind is the Time Trapper). Later writers built on them, expanding their histories (sometimes brilliantly, as Levitz did with Validus – one of the peak moments in Legion history, to my mind), but the Shooter versions were both solid enough to support such development, and exciting enough to make one eager to see it.

The Adult Legion story hung over the mythos like the Sword of Damocles for hundreds of stories, as step by ever-so-gradual step they’d move closer to the future as shown in that story. Relationships bloomed in accordance with revealed marriages. It even revealed the death of Legionaires we’d never previously seen, and when later writers followed through by introducing, say, Chemical King, there was a frisson of doom experienced by readers with long memories.

As for Ferro Lad and the Sun-Eater, this was close to myth-making. The Legion had it over the JLA in that you could never be sure that all the heroes would survive. (Yes, Red Tornado was”killed” around the same time, but he kept getting better! ;))

A hugely influential run that is still great fun to read today! Bravo!

The most incredible thing is really Shooter’s age. Does anybody know how he got the job? It’s really hard to imagine DC (or Marvel) letting a 14 year old kid write one of their books.

I’m a big Legion of Super-Heroes fan, and where I would say that Paul Levitz is the one who wrote the crowning moments on most Legion characters and concepts, it is clear that it JIm Shooter who actually laid the foundations that Levitz and others built on. He certainly created a ton of characters and concepts, especially most of the key villains that the Legion has faced (the Khunds, Nemesis Kid, Mordru, the original Fatal Five, Universo, the Dark Circle, Dr. Regulus, the Sun-Eater, and although he didn’t create the Legion of Super-Villains, he developed them in a number of important ways).

My favorite story that’s not mentioned here is the Universo two-parter which had the Legion as fugitives and Universo as the earth-president. Not only an incredible use of just about every Legionairre (or was it in fact all of them?), but it was such a good concept that when Levitz re-made it during his celebrated run (The Universo Project) it turned into one of his best stories as well.

kisskissbangbang

June 13, 2010 at 8:34 am

Shooter also created The Parasite for a Superman story he wrote, though he was killed off at the end (The Parasite, of course, not Superman).

Shooter is so unfairly underrated. I hope his upcoming Gold Key revamps are good, and last for a while.

Not only that, but Shooter was actually doing storyboards/layouts of the pages, because that’s how he thought you wrote comics!

Yeah, that is a really funny aspect of his run. I mentioned it, though, right?

Not a big Legion fan, but that stuff looks awesome. The Sheldon Moldoff pages remind me of Mike Allred, especially the second. Guess it should be the other way around.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Yeah, you did mention it, Brian…but it’s worth mentioning twice!

(Or, in other words….whoops!)

Shooter is outstanding at creating characters. He’s also got a real gift for storytelling, especially in terms of plots. Dialogue? Not his strongest area.

It’s a hell of a run he put together on LSH back in the day, and I really enjoyed his return to it (sadly, it was cut short via DC editorial direction and Shooter’s own stubborness). He had a great fell for this kind of cosmic scale storytelling and it was a lot of fun.

If you ever get a chance to meet and talk with Shooter at a convention, do it. He’s remarkably open about his work and career, and will talk about method and structure and all sorts of interesting stuff. Fascinating guy.

If you ever meet Jim Shooter at a con, he’s one of the most accessible folks out there. When he signs something for you, he’ll flip through it and tell you stories about each page and how it came about.

One of the underrated greats.

Ethan Shuster

June 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I never really read any of the Legion, so I have some more inane commentary here… First, it’s amusing to see a character say, “So say we all,” the “amen” of the new Battlestar Galactica. Also, I often wonder if title of the movie “The Karate Kid” was somehow inspired by the comic character. Could be a coincidence, I suppose, but maybe a comic fan was involved in making the movie.

And by the way, Legionnaires… the name “Nemesis Kid” should have tipped you off. :)

Ethan Shuster, I’m not sure if the name was actually inspired by the LEGION character, but the makers of the KARATE KID did have to get DC’s permission to use the name. As a side note, it is interesting that the current remake is retaining the name, despite the fact that the new film shows the eponymous hero learning Kung Fu.

Matthew Johnson

June 14, 2010 at 8:33 am

To tie two threads together, while the makers of the original Karate Kid movie paid DC for the right to use the title, there’s strong evidence that DC didn’t actually own that trademark… because Shooter was too young to sign a binding contract when he created the character. Shooter chose not to sue so there’s no way to be sure how a suit would have gone (he hadn’t disclosed his age to anyone at DC, so a judge might well have ruled that the contract was binding despite his being a minor.)

The question still remains, how did Shooter get hired being that he was only 14 years old? Who can reveal this Legendary question?
DFTBA

Pete Woodhouse

June 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Mort Weisenger (spelled right?) hired Jim not realising he was so young. I wasn’t until later he knew when he phoned Shooter and wanted him to visit the DC office – whereupon Jim fessed up. I think he had to take his mum with him from Pittsburgh!
P.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a Shooter comic I’ve really liked! He sounds like he was a solid editor and nice enough guy but I can’t stand his writing! It’s very heavy-handed, talky, and boring all the while trying not to be any of those things! All that said, this is definitely some of his better stuff.. and at 14 years of age! I still think it’s heavy-handed and talky but I can hardly accuse it of being boring! Oh and !!!.

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