Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire” (Adventure Comics #305, February, 1963)

The vultures are here. Lightning Lad is dead, and the first thought on the minds of the people of the 30th Century is apparently, “Can I have his job?” A number of teenagers show up at the Clubhouse to apply for his open membership in the Legion.

Wow.

This is the second occurrence of “throwaway applicants,” and this one is more detailed than the last. We see Antennae Boy, who can pick up and share radio transmissions from the past. We hear that Kennedy was elected President again. That’s ADORABLE. And morbid, because, well, the creative team had no idea what was coming in just a few months. Kennedys being elected President was something of an in-joke in the science fiction community through the late Sixties. Even after JFK’s assassination, authors continued to list as “future history” that a Kennedy was in office for most of the rest of the 20th Century. Kinda shows the futility of being so certain in your knowledge of the future. Anyway, Cosmic Boy’s kind of a dick to AB, but, honestly, it’s not a useful power, now is it?

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Fantastic Spy!” (Adventure Comics #303 – December, 1962)

His Supreme Reverence and Benevolent Omniscience, Cosmic Boy the First, declares that “One of us Legionnaires is a—traitor!” And Saturn Girl is ordered to read everyone’s mind to find out who!

Wow. Don’t mess with this guy! Don’t let the pink tights fool you.

In a 21st Century hospital, Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 visit Lightning Lad and Sun Boy, who just crashed their rocket. The famous Martian fourth-dimensional surgeon, Dr. Landro will operate on them soon. The what now? He operates on time? He goes back in time and operates before the surgery happened? And why do these two happy, smiling, naked, redheaded boys need operations anyway? Something’s suspect here. (And, BTW, it’s almost impossible to tell Lightning Lad and Sun Boy apart without their costumes. I can only guess Sun Boy’s the one with the slight hair flip going on.)

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Face Behind the Lead Mask!” (Adventure Comics #300, September, 1962)

This is the beginning. This is the day. After four years as guest-stars in other strips, the Legion of Super-Heroes begin their own regular series in Adventure Comics. This tri-centennial issue proudly proclaims on its cover, “Featuring Superboy in ‘Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes!'” Of course, there is only one such tale in this issue, and it’s the second feature. Ah well…

It doesn’t begin well: “Inside this Metropolis clubhouse, in the 21st Century…” Sigh… Jerry and Mort, once again couldn’t keep track of what time period these kids lived in. Or maybe they just didn’t care. Or maybe they were deliberately screwing with readers, just to see if anyone noticed. At any rate, this is the first Legion story that begins with the Legion, and in the 20th Century with Superman or Supergirl. Although, just as in Superboy and Supergirl stories, our first glimpse of the Legionnaires is of statues of them, not of the actual people. But the “Hall of Heroes” shows us, for the first time, that Shrinking Violet is now a member. She hasn’t been seen or mentioned since her first appearance as a candidate. Nor, ironically, does she appear in this story.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Secret of the Seventh Super-Hero!” (Adventure Comics #290, November, 1961)

At the outset of this story, the reader might be fooled into thinking, “Finally! A Legion story with full participation by seven members!” The splash page, after all, shows Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Brainiac 5 and the three founders all flying into action to hide pieces of a dread weapon.

But it’s not to be. This is a Sun Boy solo story—and really not even that—in which the other Legionnaires make only cameos. They hid the weapon pieces a while back. It all begins with Tom Tanner, Clark Kent’s unknown doppelganger, escaping from reform school and hopping a train to freedom. “Freedom,” in this case, is Smallville, where he learns that he looks exactly like somebody named Clark Kent, whom everyone likes. Apparently, they like him so much that they don’t feel comfortable asking, “Clark, why are you wearing an orange suit like a prisoner would wear?” Hey, maybe they thought it was one of those crazy new fashion trends the kids were into those days.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read: “Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes” (Adventure Comics #282, March, 1961)

Legion creator Otto Binder returns with George Papp on art for another solo-Legionnaire guestappearance, this time introducing a new Legionnaire, Star Boy. The title is a misnomer, because, while we do see six other Legionnaires in this story, in cameo during a flashback, Lana only interacts with the new kid.

As she often does, Lana begins this issue bemoaning the fact that Superboy really doesn’t notice her. She, on the other hand, sleeps with pictures of him plastered all over her room, and wants only to know the joy of being his steady girlfriend. Trying to take her mind off her woes, she goes to the movies, only to see a picture in which the female lead is plotting to make her man jealous by seeing another man. Lana likes the idea, if only there were a boy in the world that could be a believable rival to her ideal, Superboy.

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