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Collecting the Legion 019: Flight Ring Village

The popular, unofficial name for this piece is "the Flight Ring Village promo". I think it's fairly rare; the hard-core collectors seem to all have one, but I don't recall ever seeing one for sale or auction. I had several extras but they're all gone now. This particular pamphlet was regular cover stock folded in half, black and white on one side and color on the other. It also has some apparently never-before-seen (or reprinted) Giffen/Gordon art.

It's 1989, or rather, 2995. Do you know where your Legion is?

As a tease for the upcoming relaunch of the Legion into what would be the fourth series to have the title "The Legion of Super-Heroes" in 1989, following Paul Levitz's culmination of the Magic Wars storyline in the last issue of the third series to have the title "The Legion of Super-Heroes", we began to see a little of what was in the works. Fan-favorite Keith Giffen would plot and pencil while newcomers (but long-time fans) Tom and Mary Bierbaum would co-plot and script, along with Al Gordon on inks.

"There were three of them. Three teenagers. And they had a dream." There's a black and white shot of the three founders in their Silver Age finest (though it looks like someone other than Giffen or Gordon touched up the lightning bolts on Garth's chest), set against a starfield.

Open it up and the first thing that strikes you is the Legion HQ, battered, bruised, smoking, much like the neighborhood around it. A developer's sign in the corner prominently reads "Coming Soon: Flight Ring Village, financing available."

I remember thinking "why would they give up the HQ like that? At least the Subs got the old upside-down rocketship one, they should have dibs on this one too."

A sidebar tells the story of the Legion, how "they wanted to build a force for good... a team of champions and comrades from worlds far and wide who... would bring order from intergalactic chaos." The Legion became legend, and as they grew so did their deeds, and so did the collective might of their opponents. "And still the Legion grew. Until one day.... it grew up."

Along the way innocence had been replaced by reality, the dream by red tape. "They had lost a dream and had no idea how to get it back."

Now, that sounds like it would have made a cool story.

The back page, again in black and white, contains the understatement "A lot can change in five years."

While the premise had promise, the devil is in the details, some of which were hinted at. The Magic Wars (at the end of Levitz's run) left the Legion without funding, purpose, support... or heart. Chaos reigned. Some Legionnaires have become renegades, some imprisoned, some are dead. "And only one of the few remaining heroes remembers what it was all about, what the Legion once represented. Operating in a universe where there is no order... he has a new Legion to build."

I don't recall if my radar went off at that. I mean, here's a group of people who spent the last 10-20 years of their lives living, working, fighting, loving, and dying together. And after the Magic Wars, they all - every single one of them but one - give up? The Legion was left without heart? In retrospect we can see what the bit about renegades and imprisonment meant. Who expected what happened to the UP? I was willing to give it a try. It was the Legion, after all. A minor shakeup now and then was good for a series, right?

But this isn't the time or place to discuss the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the Giffen/Bierbaum series...

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