I resisted my love of The Legion of Super-Heroes for years. I looked at the covers, thought they were awesome, but I couldn't get past the whole "boy/lad/lass" thing in their names: "Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Saturn Girl, Element Lad, etc." But they did have cool powers, and they were from the FUTURE. So I was always tempted. And, of course, there were about 8 billion characters to learn about, which was intimidating. Yet there was always something alluring about those shiny 30th Century heroes.
Even before I ever succumbed and picked up my first issue of the series (which was pretty late--I bought the 4-part "Universo" story by Levitz and Laroque which was in the middle of the baxter series, and I'd been reading comics for almost a decade by then), I had purchased some Legion stuff for the DC Heroes role-playing game Mayfair produced. That was a great role-playing game, by the way. Although I don't think I ever actually played it. I just bought every book that came out and memorized the backstories of all the characters and learned their powers and abilities. It was great to walk into a bookstore at some far-away mall (we didn't have a local mall back then) and see a new DC Heroes module or sourcebook on the shelf. What a rush. It's good to be a geek!
Anyway, I finally started picking up the Legion of Super-Heroes comics in the late 1980s, and I bought a bunch of back issues at that time and read it faithfully for a few years until the 5-year gap stories which sounded good to me in theory, but bore so little resemblance to the Legion I'd grown to love that I soon lost interest.
But when I got heavily addicted to the Archive editions last year, I splurged and bought all 12 Legion Archives. And since then, I won a huge 500 comic lot on ebay (all Legion issues--for super-cheap--like 5 cents per issue) and between what I already owned, the Archives, and that ebay lot, I have about 95% of all Legion stories ever published. I still haven't read them all. I've read the 12 Archives, and clumps of stuff between then and now--but I need to set aside a few weeks to get through the rest of the issues. A few months, actually. But the early Archives stuff is so fantastic, I don't think any of the stuff since then can possibly top it.
So this list might be updated once I get totally caught up, but for now, let me present to you THE TOP 10 REASONS WHY THE LEGION RULEZ (WITH A CAPITAL "ULEZ"):
10) Jim Shooter wrote his first issues when he was 13 and he added Karate Kid to the team. Karate Kid's power: Super-Karate!
9) Lighting Lad died in an early issue. No he didn't. It was Chameleon Boy's shape-changing pet Proty who died in his place! Genius!
8) The Legion of Substitute Heroes. They made you laugh and they made you cry. But they kept coming back, didn't they?
7) Interlac. It was like English at first. Then it was like English but with letters FROM THE FUTURE!
6) Tiny little men implanted in the ankle for surveillance. If you read this issue, you will never forget it.
5) Starfinger! Who was actually a brainwashed Lighting Lad with a clamshell helmet! Yes!
4) John Forte. Stiff figures and out-of-scale backgrounds. Yet his art defined the Legion and it is my personal favorite of that era. I like the awkwardly posed figures! They're goofy teenagers from the future!
3) Edmond Hamilton. The greatest of the Legion writers. He's not nearly as famous as he should be. Plus, his wife co-wrote "The Big Sleep" and "The Empire Strikes Back." Nice score there, Edmond.
2) Computo. A giant yellow cash register on wheels (with tentacles)--a sentient computer bent on world domination!
1) Bizarro Computo! Created by Brainiac 5 to defeat Computo. It failed miserably. But how awesome was it while it lasted? As awesome as you can possibly imagine multiplied by infinity! Just take a gander:
Ah, I really do love this stuff.