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Comic Legends: Why New Imperial Guard Members in Dark Phoenix Saga?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventy-fourth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I'll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

In honor of the release of my new book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, on April 15th, every legend until that point will be about the X-Men!

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week's legends.

COMIC LEGEND:

John Byrne added new members to the Shi'ar Imperial Guard during the Dark Phoenix Saga so that he wouldn't be stuck with the "Imperial Guard = Legion of Superheroes" set-up.

STATUS:

Basically True

As you may or may not know, before he became the artist for the X-Men, Dave Cockrum was the regular artist on the Legion of Super Heroes feature in the pages of Superboy. He famously re-designed a number of the Legion's costumes to bring them into the modern times (well, the past times for them, but modern times for us)...

So when he was drawing X-Men with writer Chris Claremont and they needed an Imperial Guard for the Shi'ar Empire, Cockrum came up with the idea of making each member of the Imperial Guard an analogue for a member of the Legion of Super Heroes (Gladiator was Superboy, Oracle was Saturn Girl, Fang was Timber Wolf, Mentor was Brainiac Five, Hobgoblin was Chameleon Boy, Tempest was Lightning Lad, Starbolt was Sun Boy, you don't need me to explain each and every match, right?)...

Okay, so years later, the X-Men famously had to fight the Shi'ar Imperial Guard for the life of their friend, Jean Grey, in the classic X-Men #137 (by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin). While a number of the original members of the Imperial Guard showed up (Gladiator, Oracle, Starbolt), roughly half of the assembled Imperial Guard in the story were brand-new members, from Warstar...

to Earthquake...

to Hussar...

to Manta...

Why two members of the team have names specific to Earth is beyond my understanding.

Anyhow, when he was deciding on which Imperial Guard members to use and planning on introducing new members, John Byrne was annoyed at having to be stuck adapting the Legion of Super Heroes. Byrne wasn't a fan of the series and since he didn't follow it, he wasn't looking forward to having to adapt the "new" members of the team that had joined since X-Men #107 for Byrne's new additions to the team. Then, it occurred to Byrne, he realized that he didn't actually HAVE to follow the set-up established by Cockrum. If he didn't want to, why should he?

So he went off and just created four new members on his own, without using the Legion as his inspiration. I say "basically true" in the status because it seems clear that, even had he stuck with the Legion motif, Byrne probably was going to introduce new members of the Imperial Guard no matter what, so it wasn't like his main purpose was just to come up with non-Legion members of the team, ya know?

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Was Sean Connery almost going to appear in Die Another Day?

OK, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week's covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don't even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

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See you all next week!

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