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.

Of all people (or blobs), it’s Proty II who comes up with a solution: He’ll devise a puzzle for the Legionnaires to solve, and send each of them on missions, which will provide clues to the puzzle. So he starts giving telepathic orders.

What now? What are we—what’s the goal here? Nobody knows. It’s pretty much a puzzle that can only be solved by someone who’s already been selected by the author to be the person who solves the puzzle. ‘Cause the clues are obscure in the extreme. Does it have to do with Saturn Girl jumping a wall of fire? Ultra Boy giving invisible villains a hot foot? Phantom Girl discovering that Jor-El of Krypton kept a brain in a glass globe?

Well, kinda… if you line up the first initials of the first names of the Legionnaires, plus the first initials of the last names of the honorary Legionnaires, in the order they went on the missions, but backwards… Huh?

Okay, it wasn’t a mystery meant to be solved by the reader. It was a mystery meant to show the reader how smart Saturn Girl is, because she figured it out without telepathy. So she tells us. And she wouldn’t lie to steal the election, because… wait, she has done that before, hasn’t she?

Don’t think about it too much Saturn Girl’s the leader for another year yay. This is a Jerry Siegel story, the first of a spate of them he wrote around this time. They’re better experienced than thought about.

It’s nice that Jimmy Olsen and Pete Ross are on hand, and even get to participate in Proty II’s challenge. Pete became an honorary member in Superboy #98, at which time he was promised by Marla that he’d soon attend a meeting. This is the first one we see him at—over two years later!

There’s a wistful daydream pictured in the secondary splash, which doesn’t happen in the story, in which Jimmy Olsen dreams of telling Lucy Lane that he’s the new Legion Leader. And then Jimmy uses his elastic powers to… give a puppet show? Not exactly what Eel, Reed or Ralph would have done to show off, and its content is questionable too. Invisible Kid has bad credit? The female Legionnaires do a chorus line? Okayyyy…

We learn for the first time that Phantom Girl can enter the Phantom Zone at will, and

once again we’re told the Phantom Zone is empty because all the criminals eventually served their sentences, except one. And yet while Mon-El was in the Zone, we saw many other inhabitants around him.

Two applicants are rejected this issue: Double Header, who’s as wacky as he sounds, and Spider Girl, who would, like Ron Karr and Radiation Roy before her, join the Legion of Super-Villains years later.

Roll Call: Chameleon Boy, Proty II, Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, Superboy, Phantom Girl, Element Lad, Brainiac 5, Pete Ross, Jimmy Olsen, Sun Boy, Element Lad, Mon-El (as Puppet), Shrinking Violet (as Puppet), Triplicate Girl (as Puppet and in Flashback), Light Lass (as Puppet), Invisible Kid (as Puppet and in Flashback), Matter-Eater Lad (as Puppet), Colossal Boy (Flashback), Lightning Lad (Flashback), Cosmic Boy (Flashback)

Firsts: Spider Girl

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