Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Menace of Dream Girl” (Adventure Comics 317 – February, 1964)

Saturn Girl, clearly in charge of the team for once, summons several Legionnaires back from missions in space so that they can have a quorum for their regular meeting. Two of the recalled Legionnaires have been absent from the book for a long time. Star Boy hasn’t been seen him since his first appearance in Adventure Comics #282 in March, 1961—an almost-three-year absence. Matter-Eater Lad has been gone for over a year, last appearing in Adventure Comics #304, January, 1963.

The two are clad in radiation suits on a devastated world—the result of atomic warfare. It’s the bleakest image to appear in the Legion stories to date, and shows that John Forte, as he continued to work on the book, was coming a long way from the “Main Street, USA” feel of his pencils.

Superboy and Mon-El are trying to break through an “Iron Curtain of Time,” so-named by Superboy, who has probably only just witnessed the USSR’s establishment of the original Iron Curtain in his own time. Winston Churchill coined the term around 1945. Superboy has been given as being roughly 20 years in the current Superman’s past.

The boys speak of pursuing the Time Trapper as though he’s appeared before, but he has not. It’s just evidence of a Legion story that happened outside the pages of DC Comics. We don’t see the Trapper in this issue, either; we’re just warned that he will soon have a showdown with the Legion. Perhaps no other strip running in DC comics at the time showed such evidence that there was a plan in place.

The regular meeting “begins as always with the reading of the Legion’s constitution.” Wow. And it doesn’t sound like it’s short, either. They listen to this every month?

Star Boy’s powers have changed with no discussion. In his first appearance, he had the powers of Superboy. Now he has only the power to make objects super-heavy for a few hours. Indeed, he’s given a whole new origin here. In his first appearance, he was the hero of his home world of Xanthu, and gained his powers by flying through a comet’s tail while “taking a spin in the family spacemobile.” Now he explains that he was born on a space observatory, and inherited his powers as a result of being “close to the stars.” That gave him the ability to draw their mass and make objects heavy. The power was first credited to him one issue earlier, in an “Origins and Powers” feature.

Dream Girl is introduced, interestingly saying that she comes from Naltor – “The scientific world.” In later years, Naltor, where nearly all inhabitants have precognition, would seem more magical than scientific, especially when we meet Dream Girl’s sister, White Witch.

In the adventure where Hitler, Dillinger and Nero were brought out of the past, we learned that the Legion had only one time bubble, and they quickly built a second. Now it’s established that they have multiple time bubbles, so they must have been busy.

Bastard People Alert! Dream Girl, as soon as she joins the Legion, becomes one of the Bastard People. Perhaps her greatest bastard moment is telling Star Boy, who is already hopelessly in love with her, “Your stupidity bores me!” Dream Girl demands that Triplicate Girl be court martialed, but we never seen it happen. She quotes the Legion Constitution right and left, perhaps my favorite bit being that disabled Legionnaires must be placed under observation in a hospital for a period of one year. Wow. Of course, it’s all just part of a plan to save lives.

Lightning Lass loses her powers in this issue, and is given new ones by “Naltorian science,” becoming Light Lass. Dream Girl, because she joined under false pretenses to save Legionnaire lives, voluntarily resigns.

Roll Call: Saturn Girl, Light Lass, Brainiac 5, Star Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Superboy, Mon-El, Triplicate Girl, Bouncing Boy, Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Ultra Boy, Shrinking Violet

Firsts: Dream Girl, Time Trapper (Unseen), Iron Curtain of Time, Star Boy / Dream Girl, Lightning Lass becomes Light Lass

Membership: 21 briefly, but Dream Girl doesn’t stay.

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