My name is Steven Howell Wilson, and I do a lot of different things…

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I’ve written fan fiction and published fanzines. I’ve assumed the role of custodian for my friends who created a fanzine called Contact. I founded a convention called Farpoint, which has run for over two decades. I’ve been a comic book writer for DC Comics (Star Trek and Warlord) and a comic reviewer. I run Prometheus Radio Theatre, and we put out a (mostly) weekly podcast. I’m publisher for Firebringer Press, and a contributor to Crazy 8 Press. Finally, in the mundane world, I’m a recovering librarian, an IT Director and a consultant. And yes, I do all this because I’m allergic to work. I figure as long as I look busy, I won’t have to perform actual labor. It’s worked for nearly half a century so far…

Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Bizarro-Legion” (Adventure Comics #329, February, 1965)

For some months, Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney took over writing and drawing the Legion’s adventures. It’s a pleasure to see Mooney’s pencils on the Legion, and, while a Bizarro story does not exactly fit the tone fans were probably looking for, Siegel at least takes the time to mention the ongoing Time Trapper subplot in this story, and to mention the mystery of a vanishing world that the Legion is planning to investigate. Whether this was laying groundwork for a future story, or just reminding us that the Legion did have continuity and ongoing business, it’s not clear at this point. It does serve to remind us, though, that the Legion does have continuity.

And the big news in this issue is that Brainiac 5 announces the invention of the Flight Ring. Two panels are spent on this most iconic piece of Legion history, and it doesn’t figure into the story at all.

Reading Bizarro stories today, one has to wonder if anyone was actually entertained by them, and what characterized the group of fans that was. I recently reviewed an 80-page collection of all Bizarro stories from about the same era as this one, and found them repetitive and unfunny. They’re about on the level of a lot of the comic adaptations of popular TV comedies of the time, as published by Dell and Charlton. To be honest, a lot of the source material for those comics were not funnier.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Superboy and the Five Legion Traitors!” (Superboy #117, December, 1964)

In a short-and-sweet entry from regular Superboy creators Jerry Siegel and Curt Swan, Clark Kent is surprised to see five of his pals from the future land a time sphere in the middle of Smallville. He’s the only one who’s surprised, though. Apparently, the Legionnaires have sent a message “by rocket,” alerting the townspeople of their impending visit. The Legion flag flies proudly in the town square, and a proclamation welcomes the distinguished visitors.

Shyeah, this kinda thing happened every day in my hometown in 1964. Rocketgrams, visitors from the future, what can ya do? It’s all parta bein’ small town America, amiright?

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Lad Who Wrecked the Legion” (Adventure Comics #328, January, 1965)

The first thing about this story that should have jumped out at a regular reader of the Legion’s adventures in 1965 was that the art had drastically changed from previous stories. Not like a Jack Kirby-to-Neal Adams change, or an Early Bill Sienkiewicz-to-Late Bill Sienkiewicz change, but a pretty big change nonetheless. John Forte’s Legion boys had long, angular faces and mature features. You assumed there were probably college kids. A couple of them (Mon-El) even looked like they might have the beginnings of receding hairlines. Taking a look at Superboy and Invisible Kid in the first pages of this story, one sees they’re decidedly more boyish and high-school looking here. The girls have longer hair and softer faces.

Supergirl artist Jim Mooney drew this issue, his first crack at the Legion in the many years since Supergirl tried out.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Lone Wolf Legionnaire” (Adventure Comics #327, December, 1964)

Our story begins with a shadowy figure being incarcerated on a remote prison world. He confesses that he joined the Legion of Super-Heroes under false pretenses, which is against the law. Who is this guy? This question is never answered! We never see him again. He exists solely to impress upon us that there’s a law forbidding joining the Legion under false pretenses—which seems a bit excessive, if you ask me. Being drummed out and publicly ridiculed would seem to be enough. And the law plays a pretty peripheral part in this story, merely giving its hero one more thing to cry about—and he already has enough.

We see the Emergency Board, a fantastic piece of technology through which worlds throughout space can call for the Legion’s help. Working in close proximity to a 911 Center, I can tell you we pretty much have this technology now, on Earth. But it must have seemed awfully cool and futuristic in 1964.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires” (Adventure Comics #326, November, 1964)

FemiNazis… from… Spaaaaaaaace! (You think I’m kidding?)

“Too bad the girls weren’t on the level about those romances, but who knows what the future may bring?” Element Lad’s sentiment in the last panel brings out the most significant aspect of this Legion adventure: Jerry Siegel’s stories had heart, for all the grief I give him. In this one, readers are titillated, really for the first time, with what would later become a key feature of the Legion stories—who’s in love with whom, who’s sneaking off to a romantic setting to snuggle, whose feelings for a fellow Legionnaire are going to tip the story in a different direction? After six years, it’s nice to fully recognize that a group of teen boys and girls, living and working together, are going to show an interest in each other.

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Karen Armstrong and the Charter for Compassion

I love rationality. Seriously, for me, it’s like a nice, warm shower on a bitter, cold day; or a snow cone at the beach when it’s a hundred degrees outside. Rationality cuts through the oppressive wrongness and makes me believe that everything just might be okay. When things go wrong, rationality helps us process why they went wrong and how we can fix them. Sometimes it takes it some time to jumpstart—a few minutes, a couple of days—while we take out the emotional garbage and moan about how unfair life is. But, if we’re trained to make use of it, rationality always does jumpstart our competence, and helps us make things better.

IF we’re trained to make use of it.

If we’re not? Well, we tend to panic, to get angry, to make stupid decisions and, generally, to make things a whole lot worse.

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The Colonel’s Plan – The Blue Bathroom – Part 2

September 15, 2017 (Continued)

Dear Daddy –

Let’s talk about the shower…

I hired Mike the plumber (and his son Gary, and his grandson Cody) on the recommendation of a friend. I knew that finishing the plumbing for three bathrooms and the kitchen was going to be too much for me. It turned out to be the biggest expense associated with the house so far, but it was worth it.

So the first thing Mike the plumber told me about the shower cubicle was that it had to go. It was designed for the plumbing codes of decades ago, and he really recommended I use a pre-fab, fiberglass cubicle. That would be fastened right to the studs, not to the plywood. Now I didn’t see any reason the plywood couldn’t be there in between. But once I had measured the available cubicle base and walls, I realized that I needed the combined inch of width that removing the plywood would provide. So out it was going to come, and it needed to go before Mike and his crew could even do the rough-in plumbing. Continue reading

Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Lex Luthor Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes!” (Adventure Comics #325, October, 1964)

This is an example of a fun Jerry Siegel story, with no glaring plot holes or scientific gaffes. The plot is straightforward: a teen Lex Luthor (with a full head of hair) comes forward in his “time cylinder” to meet his idols, the Legion of Super-Heroes, whom he’s observed on his timescope.

Okay, it’s not a scientific gaffe, but it does defy belief that a teen Lex Luthor created two devices that it took the rest of the human race 1,000 years to develop, as witnessed by the fact that they’re still considered pretty rare and nifty in the Legion’s time.

The Legion quickly realize that this charming, innocent boy, who has saved Triplicate Girl and Matter-Eater Lad from death at the hands of the inhabitants of the planet Khann! (established as a penal colony by the William Shatner fan club, no doubt), is actually Lex from before the time that his hair fell out, resulting in his conversion to villainy.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Legion of Super-Outlaws!” (Adventure Comics #324, September, 1964)

Remember Jungle King? The kid with the power to control animals, who applied for Legion membership, was rejected, never collected his complimentary flight belt, and then turned super-villain? You don’t?

Yeah, that’s reasonable.

Say, how many rejected applicants did become super-villains? Not that many, at this point in time, but a bunch of the ones we’ve met in the last few issues joined the LSV some time before Adventure #372, so one wonders if the Legion shouldn’t oughtta GPS track all their failed applicants.

Anyway, Jungle King has a much older brother—guy looks about 60 if he’s a day. Jungle musta been a serious life change baby.  His name is Marden King, and he has the power to control all other people named “Marden.” But there aren’t any of them in this story, and we never see Marden King again, so… Well, that gives us something to hope for if the Legion gets their own book again in 2018, doesn’t it? Their first adventure can be a battle with the Legion of Super-Mardens.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Eight Impossible Missions” (Adventure Comics #323, August, 1964)

It’s election day at the Legion clubhouse. It’s been one year since Saturn Girl stole the last election (Adventure #304), and it was never officially confirmed, until now, that she had been allowed to remain in the job. Certainly Sun Boy, who loves to shout orders, gave no evidence that she had.

Apparently, amongst all the many things delineated in the Legion Constitution, there is no instruction given as to how the leader will be selected. The idea of letting a computer pick the smartest Legionnaire is floated, but Brainiac 5 modestly declares that that’s not fair, because, of course, he’ll win hands-down. Continue reading