The votes are in! Blue Towel Productions’ first ever inductees into the Legion of Super-Heroes Creators Hall of Fame have been decided!
34 nominees were chosen by the people on Facebook and over at legionworld.net (well, 35 if you count Tom & Mary Bierbaum as two people, which for the purposes of voting, I did not). Any writer, artist, editor, letterer, colorist, television producer, actor, etc who have worked on official Legion of Super-Heroes stories were eligible.
As best as I can tell on my poll data (I’m pretty new at all this) we had 87 people vote in the end, if I understand the way this works!
But we are only accepting the Top Five vote-getters as our official inductees.
And here they are!
In 1975, Dave Cockrum moved to Marvel Comics and made comic book history by revamping the X-Men. Fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes, however, will always remember that he had done something similar with the 30th Centuries greatest heroes at DC Comics, just a few years earlier.
Dave Cockrum’s work on the Legion began in 1972 with Superboy #184, at a time when the Legion had been relegated to back-up stories. Cockrum became the regular penciler on the series and continued to do so when the Legion once again started to headline their own series. Working primarily with writer Cary Bates, Cockrum instituted the first significant redesign that the Legion characters had ever had, moving them from the clean-cut look of the Silver Age 1960s to a more dynamic and distinctive pulp / science fiction style befitting the 1970s. As such, characters like Timber Wolf, Shrinking Violet, Lighting Lad and lots more got completely new looks.
Dave Cockrum co-created Wildfire, a hero with a unique look who became one of the book’s most popular characters. His issues also introduced Tyr, a villain with a gun for a hand, and other unique creations such as Molecule Master and the Devil-Fish. Cockrum drew the story in which Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel got married, which included one of the first “wide angle” group shots that the book ever gave us of its sprawling cast.
It’s a tribute to Dave Cockrum’s skill that he is so well-remembered by Legion fans for his work on this title, even though his initial run only consisted of a mere fourteen stories. The visual re-imagining of the Legion continued after he left, with Mike Grell and others, but it was all built on the foundations that Cockrum began.
Keith Giffen made his Legion debut in 1982. Rotating at first with Pat Broderick, he soon became the regular artist for Paul Levitz. Giffen has downplayed his role in plotting these stories, but Levitz has always given him credit, citing their creative syngery and praising Giffen’s imagination and grasp of the material. Giffen worked on the Legion until it was relaunched as a high-end “Baxter” series before transitioning out of the creative team. Still, he helped write and design the initial story arc: an epic battle with the Legion of Super-Villians which featured the death of Karate Kid.
But even after leaving the Legion, he was never far away. He’d regularly return for guest appearances, he did plots and layouts for the Legionnaires 3 miniseries which re-imagined the Time Trapper, and he drew (and seems to have inspired) a funny Legion of Substitute Heroes special. Finally, Giffen returned with Legion of Super-Heroes #50 (September 1988), where he once again worked with Paul Levitz as regular penciller.
Following Levitz’ departure in 1989, Giffen headed up a relaunch which picked up after a five year narrative gap. The new book was an incredibly dense look at a future where everything had collapsed, but in which the Legion was rising again. It was a divisive series, with some decrying its bleak tone, while others praising it as the high point of the franchise. He remained on the book for another few years, finishing in 1992.
Giffen returned to the Legion briefly in 2013, but it is his work as an artist and writer in 80’s and 90’s for which he is best remembered. His art style changed radically through the decades, making him not only the sort of person that some love and some hate; but the sort where some love one era of his creative output, while hating another.
Still, for a solid decade he had such consistent impact upon the Legion that it’s fitting that he be recognized as one of its most influential creators.
It’s hard to think of another creator more closely associated with the Legion than Paul Levitz.
His first run was from 1977 to 1979 (alongside other writers), in which he debuted Dawnstar and the Infinite Man, and killed off Chemical King. Most notably, he wrote the oversized Treasury Edition which married Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and created the first legitimate Legion epic–the five-part Earthwar saga, which featured significantly some of the team’s greatest enemies like the Dark Circle, the Khunds, and Mordru.
Levitz later returned to the Legion in earnest. With Legion of Super-Heroes #284 (February 1982) he began a more-or-less uninterrupted run on the title that spanned 100+ issues and saw the Legion move to a new “Baxter” series with superior paper and printing. Working with artists Pat Broderick, Steve Lightle, Greg LaRocque, and especially Keith Giffen, Paul Levitz turned the Legion into a sprawling science fiction epic. Highlights included the return of the Legion of Super-Villians, a new Fatal Five, the mystery of Sensor Girl, and epic showdowns with Universo and the Time Trapper. With Keith Giffen, Levitz created the most celebrated Legion story of all—The Great Darkness Saga, which made significant use of Darkseid and other concepts from Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” saga.
After Levitz left the series in 1989 (and stepped into increasingly senior positions with DC Comics), the Legion went through multiple reboots and revamps. This eventually led to a return of a variation of his 1980’s team, and Levitzs third stint as regular writer starting in 2010. This included various side-series, before DC’s New 52 caused it to once again relaunch. This version of the Legion finally ended in 2013, which concluded Paul Levitz’s direct involvement with the book.
Paul Levitz’s strength as a writer was arguably not developing new characters (although of course he did), but rather making outstanding use of those others. Many of his stories are looked at as being the definitive takes of those concepts, often outshining the original.
Jim Shooter is better-known for many things in the comic book industry than the Legion of Super-Heroes, but it will always be the place where he got his start.
Famously, Shooter was only a teenager when he began his professional writing career, landing a regular job writing the Legion when he was only 14. His first published story appeared in Adventure Comics #346 (July 1966), where he debuted four new Legionnaires–Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, Ferro Lad and Nemesis Kid (who was quickly revealed to be a traitor). Immediately, Shooter introduced a new degree of characterization to the Legionnaires, with his heroes developing more distinct voices and personalities than had been seen before.
Shooter continued to be the main writer on the Legion until around 1969, during which time he created an astounding array of concepts and characters that are considered by many to be iconic to the Legion. This includes heroes and villains such as Shadow Lass, the Fatal Five, Universo, the Sun-Eater, the Khunds, the Dominators, the Dark Circle, Dr. Regulus, Mantis Morlo, Chemical King, Black Mace, the Legion Academy, the Controllers and Mordru the Merciless. He also significantly revamped the Legion of Super-Villains, and wrote what is easily the most influential “Adult Legion” story ever (DC actually spent many years staying faithful to that story as the Legion continued to grow up).
Jim Shooter returned to the Legion in 1975. He continued to contribute scripts for the next couple of years, creating characters like Grimbor and Charma. In his last issue from that era, he introduced Pulsar Stargrave, a powerful new threat who was revealed to be Brainiac 5’s father (although that origin was rebooted almost as soon as Shooter was gone). Jim Shooter returned again to the Legion in 2008 during the “Threeboot” continuity of the Legion. Sadly, his story there ended up being curtailed, with a rushed ending (by someone else) which failed to wrap up all the plot threads before the series was rebooted once again.
Curt Swan’s legendary status in the comic book world goes well beyond his involvement with the Legion of Super-Heroes, but he is still one of the earlier and more significant contributors that the series has had.
As a regular part of the creative team behind the Superman range of comics, it’s no surprise that Swan turned up on a number of early Legion stories, back when the team were guest stars for Superboy, Superman and Supergirl. His first Legion story was in Superman #147, from 1961, which introduced the original Legion of Super-Villains. He also drew the tales which saw the debut of the Legion of Super-Pets, Ultra Boy, and the Brain Globes of Rambat!
When the Legion got their own series starting in Adventure Comics #300, Swan was right there providing covers, something he went on to do for nearly the team’s entire run in that title. Starting in Adventure Comics #340, Swan started to also serve as the Legion main penciler, often over layouts provided by a young Jim Shooter, who had become the Legion’s regular writer. In this capacity, Curt Swan helped to create such iconic parts of Legion lore as Computo, the Luck Lords, Universo, the Devil’s Dozen, the Fatal Five, the Sun-Easter, Shadow Lass, Mordru, and more.
Curt Swan’s artwork was not flashy, but it was rich and full of emotion. He did strong work with facial expressions, which added to the increased depth in characterization that Jim Shooter was bringing to the title at the time. He became a beloved figure in the history of the Legion, so much so that later writers Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw actually had him appear as an inspirational teacher who was helping several Legionnaires in an alternate reality story, in 1997, which came out shortly after Swan’s death.
And that is that! Congratulations to the inductees! And thanks to everyone who nominated or voted. Please let us know what you think, and stay in touch–we will look at adding to these worthy names sometime next year.
Incidentally, for the interested, the next highest vote getters were Mike Grell (27 votes), Otto Binder (19 votes), Steve Lightle (17), Ed Hamilton (12), and Tom & Mary Bierbaum (11).