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Author Topic: Things I love about the Shooter/Swan Legion  (Read 5386 times)
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Council of Wisdom
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« on: September 14, 2006, 08:40:43 AM »

The Shooter-Swan Legion in ADVENTURE COMICS was a weird, in-between comic, with elements of the Weisenger worldbuilding and gimmick-centered stories, and the Schwartz obsession with science fiction. It was also an in-between book, moving between DC-style old-school heroism, and Marvel style subtle "hip" dialogue and "counterculture" vibe, consisting of evil grownups and sympathetic monsters.

Shooter-Swan Legion wasn't Weisenger or Schwartz, or DC or Marvel. It was something else, and it was really extraordinary.

Has anybody else noticed that Curt Swan drew Computo and the Computoids IDENTICAL to the Computer-Tyrants of Colu? Is it entirely possible that Brainiac 5 might have based their design on the creatures that came from his old home planet? (Maybe when ferretting about, he also explains why Computo went so schizo on him, too - the same essential flaw went wrong with both of them).

Has anyone else noticed that in the 30th Century, at least according to Swan, it seemed that 17th century style weaves and pompadours seemed to be all the rage, especially for women? Princess Projectra's "Marie Antoinette" look is classy, especially considering she's royalty, but what about Night Girl? She looks like a cross between Beyonce and that secretary with the beehive hairdo from STAR TREK.

In ADVENTURE COMICS #352, Cosmic Boy uses his magnetic powers to power a "Mento-Helmet" to contact alien heroes. A MENTO-HELMET! It even LOOKS like Mento's Mento-Helmet from the Arnold Drake DOOM PATROL! Maybe Dayton Industries finally started selling that thing?

That's not the best part, though. Look five panels below that on the hero from the planet Anv.

Is that...Vapor Man? From the Alex Toth GALAXY TRIO? The colors are wrong, but...

I really, really liked the way the entire male roster letches after Dream Girl. At the vote to give her membership, every single male member voted YES, and every female member voted NO! If there was any problem that I have with the Shooter/Swan Legion, it is that every Legionnaire got one girlfriend/boyfriend apiece, very neatly. Where were the love triangles and rivalries? The Dream Girl thing was the closest we ever got, and even she had a steady boyfriend in the person of Star Boy, who in a future of Caucasians, somehow was the Judge Reinhold whitest of all. I have no idea what geographic region of Earth Star Boy was from, but I'm betting Canada.

The male members infatuated with Dream Girl actually is very reminiscent of the way the original X-Men simultaneously fought over Marvel Girl - yet another Marvel influence on the most "Marvel" of DC's Silver Age books.

The thing I like best about Dream Girl is that she ISN'T wrong. The way she sees it is the way it is, and it requires a lot of writer courage to be able to work with and write something like that.

The best of the Shooter/Swan tales was the Adult Legion Story, which explained what happened to the Legionnaires when they grew up: they got kind of dumpy looking. I mean, nearly everybody is going bald. Brainiac looks creepy and weird as his ancestor did, and the previously cute Element Lad, like Steve Urkel, grew up to be a large, threatening linebacker of a man. The only guy that looks better is Timber Wolf, who grew up to be very debonair and is sporting a stylish 'stache.

Incidentally, the Adult Legion is the first appearance of the "Superman entirely in shadow except for the glowing red eyes and S-Shield" look that would become the favorite of knucklehead artists come the 1990s. Check out the scene where the Assassin strikes.

In ADVENTURE #359, Swan really outdoes himself, for the first time showing us the Legion's cities by hovercar.

I have an idea on how the Legion can eliminate deadly and dangerous space monsters. DO NOT have the monster be slugged by physical powerhouses like Superboy and Mon-El.

STEP 1: Have everybody stay back, and Saturn Girl zap its mind.

STEP 2: If Step 1 doesn't work, THEN send in the muscleboys.

Who's the Legion's "It Girl?" Every guy has a different opinion, but for me, it would have to be Shadow Lass. Papa Julian likes him the mochachinas!

Also, has anyone else noticed that except for Supergirl (who was BARELY a member, really) the Legionnaires didn't have any physically powerful female characters? I mean, compare that to teams that have Ms. Marvel or the Valkyrie or Wonder Woman. It reminds me of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, where all the women on the show were pretty much "mommies," either doctors or shrinks.

Brainiac has blonde hair and green skin. Has anyone thought to notice how strange something like that would actually look in real life?

The Persuader seriously needs to ditch that "pumpkin" helmet of his. He looks very scary without it, at least the way Swan drew him; bald, with a creepy ex-con/carnival folk face. The Persuader is the one character that I strongly feel was "sanitized" for comics. In real life, crooks and Mafia types are unbelievably unappealing and fearsome. Just LOOK at him letching after Projectra, or the way he brutally pounded Cosmic Boy and demanded that he "crawl like a punk!"

I HEART Colossal Boy's Giant Guns.

"Wait, a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
Council of Wisdom
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Silver Age Surfer

« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2006, 05:55:09 PM »

Yowza, there's a lot in that post.

I actually only followed the Shooter Legion through the end of the Sun-Eater, but I think he did have a better grasp on how young men and women might act.

That said, I think that what defined the Legion for me was already introduced by Hamilton, the sci-fi, the sense of serialization, and continuity  (things like the Time Trapper, or who was really Starfinger, etc.) and even the idea of the "boys" gaga for Dream Girl.

It is strange that one of the only woman with super strength only made it to the Substitute Legion, Night Girl -- who was actually pretty powerful since she could throw a shadow bomb to enable her powers.
Jimmy Olsen Fan Club
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2007, 01:10:06 AM »

There was so much to love about the Shooter/Swan legion.  For one thing the Swan art, especially in those larger panels where he could really let go. Among my favorites was the issue where the Fatal Five attacked Legion Headquarters, basically demolishing it. Swan's astounding art was really on display there. He had a way of lending density and weight to objects that most comic art doesn't achieve. Also his way of structuring panels, placing figures in unusual poses and heroic stances was outstanding.
As for Jim Shooter his first run on the Legion remains its seminal story arc. He introduced all kinds of new ideas and members while also adding characterization in a subtle way. He found ways to move a story along, build suspense that modern writers frankly don't have a clue about. For instance, many modern writers build suspence, structure story around some big loud event..10,000 people attacking Legion H.Q. or moon blows up or member killed. Shooter/Swan era stories had more dialogue, more story detail. No comparison really.
Last Son of Krypton
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 04:17:49 PM »

That was definitely the best run of the Legion.  Great storytelling combined with great art.  What followed in Adventure was a disappointment in comparison.

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