“The Condemned Legionnaires ” (Adventure Comics 313, October, 1963)

So “the girl Legionnaires” all come down with a fever which turns their skin crimson. What else it does isn’t really specified, but the illness is apparently fatal, and Superboy, of all people, tells the girls they’re doomed and have to go to the quarantine world. Not really Superboy’s style, telling people they’re just gonna die.

Phantom Girl is back in this issue, but doesn’t say a word. She turns red and sits in a wheelchair. Readers who missed her one appearance years back don’t even have any idea why she’s called “Phantom Girl.”

The remaining (male) Legionnaires are taunted by the arrival to Satan Girl, who has the power of a Kryptonian on Earth, and brashly demands Legion membership. When the boys pretty much say, “Uh, waitaminute…” she announces that she caused the Crimson sickness, and now she’s going to kill all the female Legionnaires.

The boys enlist Supergirl, since she has all the powers of Satan Girl. They make Supergirl honorary leader of the Legion. So that’s cool, but, I’m sorry… why? Cosmic Boy is an experienced leader. Sun Boy has demonstrated leadership skills. Did they feel like they just needed another blonde girl to replace Saturn Girl? No, Hamilton or Weisinger probably felt that it was just a neat idea, and it really is. One of the nice things about Silver Age stories is that you could do stuff that was cool and not worry so much about the amateur editors out there in fandom shooting you down.

Curt Swan steps in on the penciling in this issue, and that’s a good thing. He has a better handle on drawing the Superboy, Supergirl and the female Legionnaires in general. John Forte’s Superboy never looks like Clark Kent to me, but that’s been okay so far, since the Super-cousins haven’t been heavily featured in the Legion stories. But Supergirl headlines this issue, and it’s good to have her look like herself Also, Satan Girl’s Swan-designed costume is remarkable for its sleekness at a time when female super-people tended to run around in skirts. Of course, she was a villain. Still, it’s a costume that does not shriek datedness today. The name is a little on the nose, though.

Any story that showcases Supergirl is a fun story, for me. I was sad not to see more Legionnaires do more things, but it is nice to see all the female Legionnaires together in one story. Up until now, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lass have been the only ones to really take an active part in any story, and they’ve almost been the only ones we’ve seen since Adventure #300.

Firsts: Honorary Legion Leader

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