Oh, did I forget to mention that another reason I liked the Legion is because they had 20 members? Yep; they really were legion. Those characters shown above by Dave Cockrum are most of the leads, but there are a good ten more characters not shown here, and that doesn't even consider the Legion of SUBSTITUTE Heroes, who appeared often. So those characters I learned about in #212? They were almost all absent from #213! I'm sure it took me awhile to figure out who all them were. Whenever I read that the Legion mythos was hard to "break into," though, I just shrugged. I never had any problem picking the stuff up as I went along, but maybe that was because I started with a story that was so accessible.
I think one reason that DC used Superboy as a "hook" was because none of the other characters were anybody, and didn't tend to appear in every issue. So until the group proved their worth to the comic-buying audience, Superboy's name stayed on the mast-head. The book's name was changed legally to Superboy AND the Legion (#231) in 1977 and then two years later his name was dropped completely: they booted him out, as "his" book was renamed Legion of Super-Heroes with #259.
During all this Mike Grell left and was replaced by James Sherman (who later designed the MLB logo) and then a long list of different "permanent" artists. Paul Levitz came in as the lead writer and tried to make the Legion book into more of a space opera and less of a "Super Friends in Space." He did a pretty good job, in my opinion. His run's highlight was the most ambitious LSH story arc up to that time: the Earthwar Saga, where the evil alien race in the LSH continuity (The Khunds) lead an all-out attack on Earth (they fail, by the way). During his run he also wrote the first Legion wedding as well as a death of a Legionnaire: Chemical King, one of my favorites, died to prevent the beginning of another World War (seven, I think it was). :-(
After Levitz left, the series fell into one of its "valleys" again. There were a few good stories, but in general this era was marked by silliness (The Genie of Space), mistakes (Brainiac 5 Goes Insane?), and just plain bad (the whole "death" of Ultra Boy and the debut of Reflecto). This was not a good time to be a Legion fan.
Then, in 1982, Paul Levitz came back to the book. He announced that he was determined to do a *better* job than he had done before. He brought with him two stellar artists, Pat Broderick and Keith Giffen. Although Broderick left after only a few issues, Giffen stayed. Together they ushered in what all LSH fans consider to be one of the best runs in the history of the series. They kicked off their run with one of the all-time best Legion stories ever, "The Great Darkness Saga." If you haven't read it and you like science fiction and super-heroes, and this article hasn't completely befuddled you, and you perhaps recognize the famous face shown here, then you definitely should read it.
|All of the Legionnaires before the Levitz era ended|
(click on it to inflate it ala Bouncing Boy)
I kept reading for a few years, but my heart was no longer in it. The Legion I had loved was gone. When the series was re-booted by DC in another attempt to fix their convoluted continuity, I dropped out. I've come back a few times and dipped my toe in the water, but in general when I need a Legion Fix I read the LSH Archives collecting *all* of the Silver Age and Bronze Age stories, or I read my own back-issues. Although the Legion is set in the future, for me their best days are in the past.
LONG LIVE THE LEGION!
(and yes, I recognize ALL of these characters, haha,
click on it to Colossal Boy size it)