So, right up front, Polar Boy is not a Bastard Person, as the cover might lead some to believe. There is a scene in the story in which he proposes to “battle the Legion to a showdown” (Huh? Run that by me again?), indeed, it’s a direct reproduction / reduction of the cover, shrunk down to one-panel size; but he has a really good reason for his proposal.
That reason is largely that the Legion of Super-Heroes members are being the most bastardly of Bastard People. It’s way over the top. Continue reading
Edmond Hamilton’s first Legion Adventure adds a very important element to the franchise: The Legion of Substitute Heroes. Not only do Hamilton and Forte create five new heroes out of the gate on their first team-up, but they create the idea that there’s a backup team for the Legion. That’s something no other team up till now really had—Not the Justice League, The Justice Society, or the Fantastic Four. Oh, a lot of Golden Age heroes had squads of sidekicks and admirers who would step in to help when their idols were indisposed, but no one had a formal team of super-powered substitutes… not until the Legion did. It not only expanded the simple number of super-heroes in the Legion’s universe, it added to the richness of their history.
It all begins with Polar Boy, Brek Bannin of the planet Tharr. Tharr is a desert world, and its inhabitants have developed the power to generate cold in order to protect themselves from extreme heat by “neutralizing heat vibrations.” Vibrations? Well, yeah, but I had to stop and think about it, and re-read some basic physics. Thermal energy is the energy of molecules moving—vibrating. Hamilton, as I’ve mentioned before, was a real science fiction author. He’s including real science here, where Jerry Siegel generally did not. I wonder, though, if less educated readers noticed the difference.
Yesterday I wrote a long piece about the “new” story in this issue. Now I’ll turn to the reprints.
To begin with, there’s an info page titled, “The Legion of Substitute Heroes.” This introduces six people who don’t appear anywhere else in the issue, but are part of a splinter group. It’s explained that they’re rejected Legion applicants who have since proved themselves. I always loved the collection of powers. Some are so lame that one wonders why these kids didn’t just become accountants—I’m looking at you Stone Boy and Color Kid!—while one wonders why an applicant like Polar Boy would ever have been rejected in the first place. Of course, he did eventually become a Legionnaire. But Stone Boy, the feature tells us, was offered a slot first.
Really? Stone Boy. Huh.