|This is the time period Lobo becomes popular, so he's on the cover a lot. But I feel like the interiors are always making fun of him!|
The core team is soon supplemented by an army of cops, and there are also a number of characters who come and go, giving the book a rather sprawling cast. They're a rather diverse lot, with different reasons for doing what they do, and different perspectives on how it ought to be done. Subplots weave in and out of the book over time, as different aspects rise and fall in prominence gradually.
|Lobo, Lyrissa Mallor, Stealth, Garryn Bek, Strata, and Vril Dox. Three of the six core members are women, which was a bit surprising, especially as Strata is not traditionally feminine.|
And L.E.G.I.O.N.'s transition of creators in more interesting than most. Leaving out fill-ins, you have a number of distinct creative eras: [there's rarely consistent inkers, so I've omitted them here]
- #1-12: Keith Giffen (plots and breakdowns), Alan Grant (scripts), Barry Kitson (pencils)
- #13-18: Alan Grant (plots and scripts), Barry Kitson (plot and pencils)
- #19-24: Alan Grant (plots and scripts), Jim Fern (pencils)
- #25-39: Alan Grant (plots and scripts), Barry Kitson (plots and pencils)
- #40-48: Barry Kitson (plots, scripts, and pencils)
- #49-60: Barry Kitson (plots and pencils), Mark Waid (scripts)
- #61-70: Tom "Tennessee" Peyer (plots and scripts), Arnie Jorgensen (pencils)
|The best part about this fight is that Captain Marvel is so gosh-darn nice that he turns out to be nearly impossible for even Lobo to provoke.|
And indeed, the real peak of the book is the second Grant/Kitson period and the Kitson solo period (issues #25-48), where it the book "grows the beard." This is where they finally nail all the characters, and where they learn to balance subplots against the overarching plots. (In the first eighteen issues, it felt like each issue often saw eight different subplots advance in a minuscule fashion.) In these issues, Lobo fights Captain Marvel, a set of R.E.C.R.U.I.T.S. is introduced, a new villain starts to dismantle L.E.G.I.O.N. from the inside, the core team has to go on the run from their own troops, the L.E.G.I.O.N. discovers it's propping up a genocidal regime on one of its client worlds, and Green Lantern gets in a fight with Lobo.
To top it all off, Kitson is just a great artist, especially when paired with a good inker (Mark McKenna, on issues #4-18, was probably my favorite): he does excellent facial expressions, which aids immeasurably in making the characters come to life, and his storytelling is always clear.