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Collecting the Legion 012: The Intergalactic Vigilante Squadron

One of the interesting things to look at in the Overstreet Price Guide (or Overpriced Street Guide, depending on who you ask) is the how prices have risen over the years. In the first edition that I bought (vol. 11, 1981-82) you'll find "Adventure Comics" 247 in mint condition for a mere $320. By 1983 it was up to $600, in 1986 it was $1200, in 1990 it was $1600, and by 1999 (the most recent one I have) it had shot up to $4600. That's an appreciation of over 14 times the original cost.

So why do I bring this up on my regular "Collecting" feature night? Well, two of those issues (really one and a half) featured new Legion art on the cover.

First up, by the early 80's the Overstreet book started to have interim price guides, so that people could more accurately keep track of prices more than just once a year. The first issue of "Overstreet's Comic Book Price Update" was apparently printed in mid-1982 as a supplement to the Guide volume 12. The next year, as a supplement to volume 13, they got Keith Giffen to do a Legion cover. Giffen was just transitioning to his "new" art style, as you can see with some of the bold lines, shadows, and blacks on the cover. It shows Shrinking Violet (shrunk), Wildfire (normal size), and Colossal Boy (colossal), all reading a copy of "LSH (v2)" #301. Up 9% since the previous edition, "Adventure Comics" 247 books at $600 in Mint condition and is "Hot" in the marketplace. This is the "half" issue.

OK, so who is the Intergalactic Vigilante Squadron?

The answer is nobody special, though Overstreet might have you think differently. While it's not illegal to sell a book of data that's public knowledge, it is illegal to copy someone else's version of that data. So some mapmakers put in fake streets so that they can tell if someone is using their map, there are fake entries in the phone book, and there are fake entries in Overstreet. Volume 16 (1986-87) was the first to have a notation for "Adventure Comics" 237, ten issues prior to the Legion's first appearance, saying "1st Intergalactic Viglante Squadron [Legion tryout]". Well, the IVS did appear in that book, but I've been told by people who have the issue that it's not a Legion tryout, it's fake info planted there in case anyone tries to copy the data. Don't add it to your anal retentive lists.

We're more aware of the 1999 version of the Guide, with cover art by Alex Ross. He recreated the cover of Adventure 247 in his photorealistic style (along with Avengers #4 on an alternate cover). This time, though, Overstreet had a web site and a montly magazine (Overstreet's Fan) that tried to compete with Wizard, the new upstart in the price guide business. In mid-1998, they had a feature on the creation of the two covers, complete with preliminary art and photos. The original website has long since disappeared (along with Fan magazine) but it lives on as part of the Web Archive though some of the photos aren't there anymore. Fortunately, I saved copies of the Legion-related ones (plus I threw in a couple others). There's Ross' preliminary sketch, a photo of a friend in the Superboy pose (used for reference for lighting cues), the pencils of the final version, the painted final version, and the final painting with the Overstreet logo.

Of course, that wasn't the first time Ross painted the Legion, but that's another topic for the future....

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