Hello. I’m Alex Jaffe, better known in our Community as @HubCityQuestion. My personal mission: to take on any question you have about the DC Universe -- no matter how granular, obscure, or strange -- and present you with an answer. As a faithful steward of the truth, I’m here each week to address these inquiries. Should you be interested in getting your own case heard in our next column, you may do so by voicing it in this thread in our Community. And every week, I will be here to address the most intriguing of these cases to the best of my ability. All YOU need to do is ask...The Question.
“Who has written the most Legion of Super-Heroes stories?”
That’s no small order, Misfit. While I may have covered the number of main line ongoing Legion of Super-Heroes issues in a previous column, the actual number of Legion comics including ongoing spinoffs, limited series, and one-shots totals well over 1,000 issues. So rather than scraping through every single story ever to feature the Legion, I took a closer examination of every writer to lead an ongoing Legion title and tally up their full credits, including any limited series, one shots, or guest spots which fall under their purview. Here are the top 10 most prolific chroniclers of the 30th and 31st centuries.
#10: Gerry Conway — Co-creator of Firestorm and much of his wildly imaginative rogues gallery -- and don’t you forget it. When it came to the Legion, he was mostly a fill-in writer for our #1 writer, and took over for a short time when they left the title. He wrote 39 issues.
#9: E. Nelson Bridwell & Cary Bates — One was DC’s self-appointed “continuity cop.” The other was the pre-eminent Superman writer of his time. Together, they put out 39 ‘Legion of Super-Heroes’ stories between 1970 and 1980.
#8: Geoff Johns — Chief Creative Officer of DC from 2010 to 2018. If you keep up with modern comics, he’s probably written some of your favorites. Johns reintroduced the Legion to Superman’s supporting cast for his run on ‘Action Comics,’ and continues to bear a torch for them through the events of ‘DC Universe: Rebirth’ and ‘Doomsday Clock.’ Across his many projects, he’s written 44 issues featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes.
#7: Jim Shooter — Remarkable for the fact that he began writing ‘Legion of Super-Heroes’ for DC when he was only 13 years old. You can thank Shooter for such characters as Karate Kid, Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra, and the Fatal Five. Between 1966 and 2009, shooter wrote 58 issues of the Legion.
#6: Tom & Mary Bierbaum — Like Jim Shooter before them, Tom and Mary were a couple of Legion super fans who were handed the reins to the Legion itself. The Bierbaums handled practically every Legion title from 1989 to 1993, just before the big reset of ‘Zero Hour.’ Their run spanned 60 issues.
#5: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning — In late 1999, Dan Abnett took over the Legion books with experienced Legion artist Andy Lanning. Together they introduced the ‘Legion Lost’ concept, centered on a faction of Legionnaires stranded in the modern era, therefore tying part of the Legion more closely to the rest of DC continuity. Their partnership on LoSH lasted for 64 issues.
#4: Keith Giffen — Keith Giffen wrote the Legion for a significant amount of time, but is just as well regarded by Legion fans for the many more issues he drew. Giffen worked on the Legion in some form or another from 1984 all the way up to 2016, and has written some 68 issues.
#3: Mark Waid — A prolific writer as well as a venerable comic book scholar, Waid has cited Jim Shooter’s run on ‘Legion’ as “a blueprint for everything I write.” And a significant portion of that has been Legion of Super-Heroes. Waid is responsible for no fewer than 95 tales of the Legion.
#2: Tom McCraw — When you think Tom McCraw, I hope you think of Legion. Like Giffen and Lanning, McCraw was best known as a Legion artist before he was put on writing duties. He may have retired in 2002, but under his tenure he put out 133 issues of the Legion of Super-Heroes as author.
#1: Paul Levitz — Aside from his legendary editorial tenure at DC, Paul Levitz’s name is practically synonymous with the Legion of Super-Heroes. And for good reason: Levitz is responsible for 239 adventures of the Legion. From the Bronze Age and up through the New 52, Levitz has always led the charge to adapt the Silver Age flavor of the Legion for brand new audiences.
And now, with the upcoming ‘Millennium’ relaunch, the writing duties fall to Brian Michael Bendis. Give him 10 or 20 years, and he may just catch up with the most prolific Legion writers.
OATHS OF OFFICE
“Do you know how many versions there are of the Lantern oaths?”
But of course, Zatanna — just don’t ask me to recite them backwards.
The first oath comes from Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, in ‘All-American Comics #16.’
“And I shall shed my light over dark evil,
For the dark things can not stand the light.
The light of… the Green Lantern!”
In 1959, Hal Jordan debuted with an oath of his own in ‘Showcase’ #22. Say it with me, now:
“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!”
While this is the standard Green Lantern Corps form of the Oath, history has shown that there is room for customization within the ranks. Variations we’ve seen include:
The plant-based Green Lantern, Medphyll:
“In forest dark or glade beferned
No blade of grass shall go unturned
Let those who have the daylight spurned
Tread not where this green lamp has burned!”
The '90s hotshot who makes even Guy Gardner look well behaved, Jack T. Chance:
“You who are wicked, evil and mean,
I’m the nastiest creep you’ve ever seen!
Come one, come all, put up a fight!
I’ll pound your butts with Green Lantern’s light!
The contemplative Barin, who like Alan Scott before him eschews rhyming entirely:
“In this place of black and grey and dark,
The Green Lantern shall be my light, my hope, my strength.
All that is good is all I defend.
I shall not falter.”
Kho Khari, the first Green Lantern chosen from the vicious, warlike Khunds:
“Against dishonor and traitor’s flight,
I stand beside my clan to fight.
With dying breath I claw and bite,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!”
The unstable Sodam Yat, plagued by a millennium of trauma as the last Green Lantern of the 31st century:
“In brightest day, through blackest night,
No other Corps shall spread its light.
Let those who try to stop what’s right
Burn like my power, Green Lantern’s light!”
And my personal favorite, the blind but sound sensitive Rot Lop Fan, from a planet without even the concept of light, who had to rewrite all the rules in order to join as a brother of the Corps:
“In loudest din or hush profound,
My ears catch evil’s slightest sound.
Let those who toll out evil’s knell,
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!”
Additionally, the Alpha Lanterns, a controversial sort of Internal Affairs division for the Green Lantern Corps, have an oath of their own:
“In days of peace, in nights of war,
Obey the laws forever more.
Misconduct must be answered for,
Swear us the chosen—the Alpha Corps!”
The number of Lantern Oaths exploded during Geoff Johns’ tenure on ‘Green Lantern,’ introducing a variety of Corps of every color.
The first introduced was Yellow, the Sinestro Corps Oath:
“In blackest day, in brightest night,
Beware your fears made into light.
Let those who try to stop what’s right,
Burn like my power, Sinestro’s might!”
When Sinestro’s deputy Arkillo briefly took over as chief of the Corps in its founder’s absence, he tweaked the original oath to substitute “Sinestro’s might” for “Arkillo’s.” A small change, but I’m counting it as two.
Next was the rage-based Red Lantern Corps:
“With blood and rage of crimson red,
Ripped from a corpse so freshly dead,
Together with our hellish hate,
We’ll burn you all, that is your fate!”
There are, however, two versions of this as well, as this rather gruesome oath was toned down significantly when the Red Lanterns were introduced as the principal antagonists in ‘Green Lantern: The Animated Series’:
“With blood and rage of crimson red,
We fill men’s souls with darkest dread,
And twist your mind with pain and hate,
We’ll burn you all, that is your fate.”
The Blue Lantern Corps was appropriately given a much more soothing credo for the troubled times to come:
“In fearful day, in raging night,
With strong hearts full, our souls ignite.
When all seems lost in the War of Light,
Look to the stars, for hope burns bright!”
The Star Sapphire Corps was given an oath which reflects their ability to draft others into their ranks:
“For hearts long lost and full of fright,
For those alone in blackest night,
Accept our ring and join our fight,
Love conquers all with violet light!”
The enigmatic and isolated Indigo Tribe has an oath as well, but one which has never been translated into English. We can only speculate based on context clues to its true meaning:
“To lorek san, bor nakka mur
Natromo faan tornek wot ur
Ter Lantern ker lo Abin Sur
Taan lek lek nok — Formorrow Sur!”
That leaves us with the Orange Lantern from the core (corps?) seven, whose oath was left a mystery until the very end of Geoff Johns’ run in 2013. For those who have awaited lo these many years for the sacred oath of Larfleeze, sole guardian of the Orange Battery, wait no longer:
“What’s mine is mine and mine and mine
And mine and mine and mine and mine!
In 2009, Johns’ ‘Blackest Night’ event introduced us to the Black Lantern Corps, with an oath of their own:
“The Blackest Night falls from the skies,
The darkness grows as all light dies.
We crave your hearts and your demise,
By my Black Hand, the dead shall rise!”
If the contrasting White Lantern Corps comes with an oath, we know it not.
The Rebirth Era has so far given us two additional oaths. ‘Green Lanterns’ introduced the “Phantom Ring,” a highly dangerous artifact which can emulate the powers of any ring on the emotional spectrum for anyone who wields it, regardless of their worthiness or merit. Its oath:
“In desperate day, in hopeless night,
The Phantom Ring is our last light.
We yearn for power, strength and might,
I seize the ring, that is my right!”
The other is for the Ultraviolet Corps, an invisible band on the light spectrum discovered by Sinestro and wielded as a deadly force by the Legion of Doom:
‘By shield of day, and shield of night,
We feed and grow, beyond all sight.
Your darkest self shall be our knight,
Wield the sword of unseen light!”
So to answer your question, that’s twenty oaths!
POINT OF ORDER
@helloimjoey1 and @Awesome_Squid ask:
“I was wondering what order to watch the DC animated movies in. What’s the difference between the DCAU and the DCAMU? Which movies are in the DCAMU and which aren’t?”
The “DC Animated Universe” refers to the collective animated works overseen by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini between 1992 and 2006, all of which take place within a shared continuity. DC Universe, as a streaming service, proudly hosts the vast majority of stories set within this universe, including (but not limited to):
*‘Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero’
When this shared universe came to a conclusion with the finale of ‘Justice League Unlimited,’ Bruce Timm helped launch a line of animated films which continues to this day, with two or three new animated titles arriving on video each year. Originally, each of these movies existed in isolation from one another, with rare exceptions. But in 2014, most of DC’s video releases began to tell an ongoing story which -- at least at first -- took many of its cues from the then current “New 52” version of continuity. (For more on The New 52, see my previous column breaking down the different eras of DC Comics.) This has become known as the DC Animated Movie Universe, or “DCAMU.”
Most of the stories in the DCAMU are based on pre-existing comic book storylines, but with changes that vary from subtle to surprising in the purpose of telling an evolving story about a larger world. If you’d like to catch up on this active and ongoing version of the DC Universe, many of the stories involved can be found right here. Below, I’ve provided a complete accounting in chronological order, along with various tie-in content which has been released.
*‘Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox’
[A sort of prologue to the DCAMU, ‘Flashpoint Paradox’ sets up some context for the ongoing shared universe to come.]
*‘Nightwing and Robin’
[Short film which accompanies the video release of ‘Throne of Atlantis, set during the events of the film.]
* ‘Justice League Dark’
* ‘Teen Titans: The Judas Contract’
* ‘Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay’ (Movie)
[This film’s prologue is set immediately after the events of ‘Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.’]
* ‘Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay’ (Comic)
[Comic book sequel to the events of the movie.]
*‘Constantine: City of Demons’
[Originally a streaming webseries which began in March of 2018, ‘Constantine: City of Demons’ was eventually recut into a feature film.]
* ‘The Death of Superman: Part 1’ (Comic)
[Comic book prequel to ‘The Death of Superman.’]
*‘The Death of Superman’ (Movie)
It should be noted that the upcoming movie ‘Wonder Woman: Bloodlines’ will be the first prequel film in the DCAMU series, set before the events of ‘Justice League: War.’ Until now, the internal chronology and release date chronology of the DCAMU has remained more or less in sync. But as this cinematic universe of the small screen expands and evolves, it may bring with it increasing complexities.
But not to worry. After all, that’s what I’m here for. If any version of DC history ever becomes too much for one fan to bear alone, they can always ASK… THE QUESTION.