@mrrodd
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2023-01-30 00:27:02

    Before The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, or Who’s Who: The Definite Directory of the DC Universe, there was Lore of the Legion.

    First published in Superboy (vol. 1) #202 (June 1074) .which was a 100-Page Giant issue, and concluded in issue #205 (also a Giant issue), Lore of the Legion served as a scorecard for all the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

    The Legion, even though its membership had been capped at 25, was the largest superhero team in either the DC or Marvel universe at the time.  That was a lot of heroes to keep track of, especially for someone like me who had only recently been introduced to the Legion.

    Lore of the Legion served as a fact sheet for all the Legionnaires and some of their ancillary characters.  There weren’t as many details as the later Marvel Handbook and Who’s Who would have, but you still got all the essential info you needed.

    Additionally, all the Legionnaires were drawn by the late Dave Cockrum.  Cockrum had started out as an artist on various fanzines in the 1960s, but had become a professional after serving in Vietnam.  He worked as an assistant for legendary artist Murphy Anderson at DC.  Cockrum was a HUGE Legion fan, and he jumped at the opportunity when DC needed an artist for the team.

    The Legion, far from its heyday in the 1960s, had been relegated to a back-up feature in Superboy.  Cockrum’s first work on the Legion was in Superboy #184 (April 1972), and response from the fans was immediate and overwhelming!  They loved the new art and direction of the series, and by issue #197 the Legion had taken over the book!

    (The cover title read Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, but the indicia still listed the official title as Superboy.  The indicia title was finally changed with issue #222.)

    Cockrum’s tenure on LSH was all too brief, but he had a lasting impact.  He redesigned a majority of the Legionnaires’ costumes, as well as updated their headquarters and equipment.

    Ironically, the first issue that ran theseLore of the Legion fact sheets, #202, was Cockrum’s last.  He quit due to a dispute with DC over having his artwork returned.  He then went across town and started working on an obscure comic book, entitled X-Men, that Marvel was bringing back from cancellation.

    The Legionnaires that Cockrum redesigned were: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Light Lass, Duo Damsel, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Element Lad, Dream Girl, Princess Projector, Shadow Lass, and Timber Wolf.

    Wildfire (originally Erg-1), was a brand new character co-created by Cockrum and writer Cary Bates.  Wildfire made his debut in issue #195 (as Erg-1), and became a member in issue #201. 

    Cockrum had designed numerous other characters that he wanted to introduce into the Legion.  Many of those designs and characters made it into X-Men when he left DC for Marvel.

    This is my favorite era of the Legion, and Dave Cockrum was definitely my favorite artist on the team.  I keep hoping that someday DC will collect all his Legion stories and reprint them in a trade.  Actually, a treasury-sized book would be better, if only to do justice to the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel from issue #200.

    Oh, and before I forget, here are some of the Legion’s ancillary characters: