STAR-STUDDED COMICS #4 and the Birth of the Liberty Legion

STAR-STUDDED COMICS was a long-running fanzine of the Silver into the Bronze Age that specialized in fan-created comic book stories. It was originated and published by a threesome of fans who became known as the “Texas Trio”: Buddy Saunders, Howard Keltner and Larry Herndon. It ran for 18 issues from September of 1963 to the Summer of 1972 and featured the work of many young up-and-coming fan cartoonists, including Jim Starlin, Dennis Fujitake and Dave Cockrum along the way. But perhaps its crowning achievement was this fourth issue, in which the trio and friends brought together a myriad of their own solo super heroes to form the Justice Society-esque Liberty Legion.

The entire story was structured and set up like an issue of ALL-STAR COMICS or LEADING COMICS (where the Seven Soldiers of Victory had held their get-togethers.) Like in those titles, the heroes in the featured team had previously appeared in solo adventures, so this brought together not only the characters but their creators. In the approved Gardner Fox manner, the heroes all became aware of a menace in the opening chapter, split up in order to cope with its many facets in solo chapters for most of the book, then came back together to finish off the menace as a unified front.

The six members of the Liberty Legion included the Defender, Doctor Weird, Astral Man, Mercury, the Changeling and Powerman, and while each hero didn’t get an entire chapter to themselves, they did pair off along the way. Herndon and Saunders wrote the entirety of the story, with Ronn Foss illustrating the opening, Buddy Saunders illustrating the second chapter with the Defender and the Changeling, ‘Grass” Green drawing the third part starring Doctor Weird and Mercury, Biljo White handling the fourth installment concerning Powerman and Astral Man, and Howard Keltner contributing the art on the wrap-up chapter with all of the heroes in attendance. It was a jam effort of the highest magnitude.

It also proved to be the only Liberty Legion story ever produced. A second one had been started at one point, but never made it to completion.

Still, the Liberty Legion was remembered by fans–and none better than Roy Thomas, who went on to work as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics. When Roy was looking for a name for the homefront team of heroes he intended to assemble in the pages of his WWII-era series THE INVADERS, he remembered the name and gave it to that collection of almost-forgotten Timely super-stars. Not a bad legacy, all things considered.

ADDITION: Roy reached out to me to let me know that he’d actually come up with the name Liberty Legion independently, when he was simply a fan and young reader. He had used it twice on his own homemade comics back in the 1950s, and repurposed it for the team in the 1970s.

And here are images of Roy Thomas’ two earlier Liberty Legion fan stories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s