If you’re a fan of Silver Age DC, you’ve probably read one or two stories featuring this team of future based super-powered colleagues known as the Legion of Super-Heroes. Debuting in Adventure Comics in 1958, from the very beginning the Legion where a fun and exciting addition to the DC Universe.
As one of a handful of original and new DC teams debuting in the Silver Age moreover, the Legion, unlike say the ‘Challengers of the Unknown’ or the ‘Doom Patrol,’ were continuously published throughout the Bronze and then into the modern age.
In this post I’ll look at Legion keys. If DC ever greenlights a LSH movie, and in my opinion that would be an interesting way of combining the offbeat humor of Shazam and the sheer colorful spectacle of Aquaman, you’ll be glad to know which comics featuring this futuristic super-group are worth seeking out.
Since there’s a lot of ground to cover, let’s get down to business.
The story in this issue begins with a common LSH trope. Strangers show up from the 30th century and know more about Clark Kent than anyone else. Including the fact that he’s Superboy. Later, the same plot device was used with Supergirl, Linda Lee, standing in place of Clark. I’m not going to lie, this book is goofy. But it’s goofy in the best Silver Age sense of that term. Simultaneously very fun and inadvertently funny, it’s worth reading just to see how people in 1958 pictured the future. This isn’t only the first appearance of the Legion from the future however, it also tells their origin and shows their first meet up with Superboy and it’s also one of the most under-valued DC Silver Age books around. On November 15, 2018 a certified 7.5 graded copy of this 1958 comic sold on Heritage for $10, 200.00. Sounds expensive? Compare that to a 7.5 copy of Showcase #4, the first Silver Age Flash (FMV = $76,000.00), Showcase #22 the first Silver Age Green Lantern (current FMV = $20,000.00), or even Brave and the Bold #28, first Justice League (current FMV = $15,000.00), and you’ll see that the Legion’s debut is much more affordable. Moreover, none of the above listed books featured brand new heroes. In 1958 the Legion were a completely original team, they’ve been around for sixty years now, and when you take all that into account, I think you’ll agree that their debut comic sells for a relatively low price.
If the first appearance of the Legion is too expensive for you, why not try their second. You see, it wasn’t long before the Legion came to dominate Adventure Comics. Along the way, new members would join, old members would change names and there would even be a death or two. But all the while the wacky time travel stories of the group remained great fun to read. The second appearance of the LSH can be found for under $1, 000.00 in 8.0 certified grade. Most recently a 6.0 copy sold on eBay on January 14, 2019 for $274.99. Looking at returns on the GoCollect.com analyzer shows that, over the last twelve months, almost all returns are positive and in double digits. Best returns have been on 3.5 copies (positive +48.5% after 2 sales) closely followed by 8.5 copies (positive +38.9% again after 2 sales). The last auction of an 8.5 copy, in November of 2018 on ComicLink, sold for $1, 427.00.
The Silver Age adventures of the Legion were characterized by change. New members were abundant and the team’s appearances quickly expanded out from the pages of Adventure Comics and into other books, like Action Comics. This little known comic is the third appearance of the group and the first time the Legion meets Supergirl. It also introduces a host of new members who would become mainstays. On February 6, 2019 a copy of AC #267 in 7.0 condition sold for only $249.99. This is an affordable Legion key: maybe the third time is the charm when it comes to the Legion?
In the Bronze Age, the Legion finally got their own comic. This book was short-lived but the returns have been impressive and it’s a sleeper key given that, as the first ever standalone Legion comic, it will probably be highly sought out if a movie ever happens. Think of it this way, in that event DC greenlights a Legion movie the Silver Age keys (above) would quickly escalate to unreachable prices. In the meantime, this comic can be found in certified 9.8 for all of $200.00 with prices on any grade lower than that selling at ridiculously affordable levels. For example, a 9.4 certified copy of LSH #1 sold in August of 2018 for all of $29.00. Returns, long term, have been highly mixed. That just says that now is a great time to get a high grade copy.
Superboy had introduced the LSH to the world, but it wasn’t long before the Legion started to become more popular than the boy of steel. Inevitably the Superboy comic gave in to fan pressure and was simply re-titled Legion of Super-Heroes. This Bronze Age comic can still be found in near pristine 9.8 condition for under $100.00. Returns have been strong however, and 9.6 grades are up (positive + 17.2%) since 2017. Returns on 9.8 copies have increased +59% since 2009 but sales have been too few to really infer whether this comic is either highly sought out or in any way currently popular, with anyone other than Legion enthusiasts and completists that is.