I got the notion to watch an old favorite a week or so ago. Back when it aired in 1993, I was a huge fan of seaQuest DSV. I liked its dynamic of an older Captain leading a young, energetic crew. It was the unfulfilled promise of The Wrath of Khan, and, you might have noted, the format I picked for my own SF series, The Arbiter Chronicles. As I do when I touch on something I haven’t seen in a while, I poured over the Internet to see if there were new articles, any new merchandise, or even still a fandom that appreciates the property in question. There were all of the above, in this case. I joined a very active fan group on Facebook, and met the fine people who put together The seaQuest Vault. When I introduced myself, they asked me to contribute a piece for their site on the day Renee and I spent many years past with one of seaQuest’s most renowned cast members, the late Jonathan Brandis. So here’s my account of that, and check out their site while you’re there. If you’re a fan of the show, it’s worth your time.
So this, my third “real” Legion story, was a reprint from Adventure Comics #343, cover-dated April, 1966. It’s written by the great Edmond Hamilton, then a science fiction author in the 40th year of his career. Hamilton was no stranger to stories about teams of do-gooders fighting evil in futuristic environments. His credits included the Captain Future series of pulp juveniles and space opera series Interstellar Patrol, The Star Kings and Starwolf. At DC Comics, where he began working in 1942, he also co-created Space Ranger and Batwoman.
For me, this story was both a glimpse into the Legion’s already well-documented past, and a revelation of more new Legionnaires. While I was familiar with the idea of Golden Age incarnations of characters vs. current (Bronze Age was “current” for me) ones, I think this was probably the first encounter I’d had with how characters were re-designed when the Silver Age morphed into the Bronze. I saw Shrinking Violet’s sleek bodysuit traded in for a mini-dress, and Saturn Girl’s very revealing swimsuit-style costume for a sensible tunic and tights. Much as I loved the Dave Cockrum re-designs of the costumes, and Mike Grell’s rendering of them, and much as I loved this costume as a boy, it really didn’t fit Imra’s personality. I can see why it was one of the first “new” costumes traded in a few years later.
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.
As soon as I posted yesterday’s review, WordPress kindly popped up “related posts” on my blog feed, and I realized that, in eulogizing the LSH back in 2013, I had covered a lot of the same territory I covered yesterday. Oh well, kids, old people tend to tell the same story over and over. Get used to it.
What was I saying? Oh, yeah, don’t you hate how old people tell the same story twice?
No, I was talking about Superboy #208, which I bought at a Highs—no, a 7-11—back in nineteen hundred and seventy five—on a Saturday, I’m pretty sure. Or a Wednesday. Okay, now I’ll stop sounding the way my kids tell me I sound, and get on with it.
Since I retold the same story yesterday, I’d like to expand today on my discovery of the super-heroic storytelling playground that was the Legion of Super-Heroes. First, I want to acknowledge that I’ve told conflicting stories. I said my first exposure to the Legion was in Superboy 207, and then I said it was seeing a house ad in my brother’s comics. It must have been the latter, but, as I recall buying that issue, I don’t remember having ever seen the group before. So I just don’t know. Anyway, issue 208…
This comic came in a three-pack. I still occasionally see these, but, back in the 1970s, there were always some three-packs on the spinner rack at my local 7-11. The deal was that you got three comics for somewhere around the price of two. I seem to remember they were priced at 99 cents, but they must have been less when I first bought them, since three comics in those days would only have cost 75 cents.
I don’t recall what else was in the pack. Usually there was a Superman title or a Batman title, an issue of something offbeat like Plop! or a war comic, and another superhero title. You didn’t know what the third book was. It was in the middle. Continue reading
Going to buy breakfast this morning, I saw this sign on the wall by the grocery store door. It made me recall an incident from my childhood. I must have been twelve or thirteen. I had walked with a couple of others to a convenience store on a hot day, and we were waiting in line to buy drinks. The young man at the counter told me I needed to leave the store. In disbelief, I asked why. He pointed to a sign on the door, saying that no more than two minors could be in the store at one time. I was the third kid in line, so I had to leave.
Early in my comics-buying career, I was aware of a title called World’s Finest. I’m not sure how I was aware, but I was. I guess I’d seen it on the spinner rack, and maybe I’d seen ads for its 1960s issues in the pages of my brother’s war comics. Was it called World’s Finest Comics on the cover when I bought my first issue? Or just World’s Finest? If you look closely, it was called “WORLD’S FINEST!” but with a little whisper of ‘comics’ under it.
Either way, I knew it was a book co-starring Superman and Batman. It had been since its first publication in 1941, although, in the early days, co-starring meant there was a Superman story and a Batman story in each issue, not that the two teamed up. Their first team-up story came in 1954, 71 issues into the title.
My first superhero comic. Sue me, I liked girls at a young age. We were in Rehoboth Beach in July, 1974, maybe a week or two after I had lost my comic-buying virginity to an issue of DC’s Ghosts. My Mother, eager to encourage reading, I guess, and having noticed that I was beginning to spend more and more time staring at my brother’s discarded comic books, said to me, “There’s a candy store over on the next block that sells comic books. You might want to go there.” If I’m not mistaken, I was allowed, at the age of eight, to go all the way around the block by myself—in a strange town! I think I might have been skeptical about allowing my eight-year-olds to wander Rehoboth—or any town—by themselves; but these were different times. My Mother grew up in a time and place where kids walked all over town, climbed mountains and explored caves with no adult interference. She didn’t panic if we weren’t in sight every moment. (My father was a different story, but he didn’t go to the beach with us. Being stationed in the Marianas has ruined him for Mid-Atlantic beaches.)
This was the first comic book I ever bought for myself. I believe I had read a couple that belonged to my brother—an F-Troop issue, and a Gorgo. He did not read super-hero comics. In fact, he actively detested them. He read war comics, and the occasional movie or TV tie-in. In July, 1974, however, I was spending the night with my cousins in Hyattsville, and I learned that my Uncle Bob was a fan of super-hero comics, and had been since the 1940s. I’ve talked about that before, so, if you actually are interested in such trivia as how I became a comics fan, here ya go.