The villain of this month’s piece looks mighty familiar, and for good reason. Dr. Mantis Morlo was co-created by Jim Shooter and Pete Costanza. As mentioned yesterday, Costanza was a longtime senior member of the Marvel Family creative team. He surely drew the Big Red Cheese’s (that’s the original Captain Marvel’s) arch-nemesis many times over. No doubt, when he was told that this issue called for an evil mad scientist, he thought of Dr. Sivana, consciously or non. If it was consciously, well, it had been a dozen or so years since Sivana legally appeared in comics. In comics time (at the time, and from the perspective of the publishers) that’s a couple of generations.
An Unknown writer brings us this Legion tie-in story from the pages of Jimmy’s late, lamented comic. Regular Olsen artist Pete Costanza drew it, and would draw the next couple of outings of the Legion in Adventure Comics as well. Costanza was 54 when this story was released, and has been a regular penciller of Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family, and Marvel-creator C.C. Beck’s chief assistant, from the time Billy Batson and company were created, until they folded under the weight of the DC lawsuit in the 1950s. Fawcett alumnus Otto Binder brought Costanza on board to draw Jimmy Olsen.
October 2, 2017
The new grout worked a lot better. The shower is almost finished as of tonight. I expect to finish the sink base this week and be ready for the plumber to come back. Coincidentally, the kitchen, which I have not been talking about thus far, should also be ready for the plumbers next week. The countertops are supposed to be in on Wednesday.
But I’m growing weary of talking about the bathroom, as I grow weary of working sometimes. My days, of late, feel endless, and, contrarily, fly by so fast that I hardly notice them. There’s just so much to do. I guess I’ve become a lot like you—always working, coming home from my job with a long list of things I need to get done and diving into them. Those things I need to get done include writing these letters, which I’m doing now even as I sit watching Marvel’s Inhumans with Renee, Ethan and Jessica. I also just invoiced a client and paid bills.
As I’ve been saying all too often lately, “Wait… what?”
You mean to tell us, Master Shooter, that Earth and the United Planets (because, as far as we can see, Earth is the United Planets) have been at war the entire time we’ve been reading these Legion adventures, and we never knew it? So Lyle, Gim, Dirk, Chuck, and the late, lamented Andrew were all born on a planet at war? It sure doesn’t feel like it!
But that may be part of the point. Jim Shooter was born in 1951, in the midst of the Korean War. That ended in July, 1953. But just over two years later, on November 1st, 1955, the United States went to war again. Jim Shooter was not yet two when peace broke out, and had just turned four when it ended again. His nation would be at war in Viet Nam until he was 23. (If you’re American and you want to get really depressed, here’s a Washington Post piece on how much of your life has been spent in war time.) (Yes, I’m being political, but I don’t believe I’m being in any way partisan.)
Ironically, the group for whom this story is named barely appears within its pages. Superboy, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Element Lad and Matter-Eater Lad, sentenced to ten years on the prison world of Takron-Galtos, appear only on the splash page and one other page before the story’s conclusion, when they return to Earth. One wonders if perhaps someone’s intention was to set an adventure on the prison planet, and the cover was drawn to illustrate that idea, but then the creative team realized that the Legion had all-too-recently done a prison story, the memorable “Super-Stalag of Space.”
After the obligatory recap of the previous issue, which tells readers why eight Legionnaires are hiding out in the thousand-year-old sewers of Metropolis, our heroes find one of Lex Luthor’s underground lairs, as immortalized in Richard Donner’s film, Superman. Being Luthor’s lair, it’s high-tech even by 30th Century standards, with food and clothing synthesizers included. The fugitives are soon fed, rested and clad once again in their Legion uniforms.
This is part one of one of the most memorable two-parters of a memorable run. The entire Legion is featured—even the oft-forgotten Supergirl!—we get more glimpses of the Legionnaires private lives, some Legionnaires go on the run and others wind up in prison on the hellish world of Takron-Galtos.
While all the Legionnaires are off Earth (with one team performing the impressive feat of slowing down the supernova death of a sun by pumping chemical compounds into its core), the President of Earth is killed in a freak accident, and his V.P., Kandro Boltax, steps up. His first act is to force through a worldwide water purification plant. (I don’t want to sound like a McCarthy-ite, but any time a new leader wants access to the water supply, ya gotta ask if he’s on the up-and-up.)
So I celebrated my birth month back in Adventure #335. This issue falls in the birth month of my lovely wife, Renee.
Of the two events—her birth and Otto Orion’s, I think I favor hers. She has, after all, been by my side for just about every step of this crazy journey into fandom I’ve made these last 34 years, and most of it wouldn’t have happened without her. But I might be biased. Anyway, on with “The Hunter!”
This month, Mort Weisinger’s assignment to his student writer (Jim Shooter) was to do a Legion story based upon Richard Connell’s 1924 story from Colliers, “The Most Dangerous Game.” Well, now, that’s not so bad, is it? I mean, who remembers a story from 43 years earlier, after all?
Damn near everyone, it seems. The story had been filmed no less than five times before Otto Orion showed up in the pages of Adventure. And it was familiar to TV viewers as the plot of episodes of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island, Bonanza, and The Outer Limits. Later, it would also be adapted for Logan’s Run, Fantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, Dexter’s Laboratory… The list goes on endlessly. Clive Cussler even “borrowed” the story for his Dirk Pitt adventure, Dragon. Continue reading
Andrew Nolan was not out of Jim Shooter’s system, no matter how determined the young writer was to leave his creation dead. No soon was Ferro Lad’s empty burial urn safely landed on Shanghalla than Shooter told the tale of the Adult Legion, which was focused heavily on memorials to the dead heroes, amongst which naturally Ferro Lad was prominent. On top of that, the “villain” of the first adult Legion story was Andrew’s twin brother Doug, Ferro Man.
(And Ferro Man might have been to have a future—in the letters page to Adventure #359, the editor (Weisinger or more likely Bridwell) told readers that there would be future tales of the adult Legion, and that they would include Sun Man, Chameleon Man, Color King and a youth auxiliary. One would assume it would have also included Ferro Man, once he was healed of the psychic trauma inflicted on him by Saturn Queen. Sadly, these tales never surfaced.)
“The Five Legion Orphans” was only 12 pages long. To fill the rest of the book, one would expect that perhaps a new Superboy adventure would have been commissioned. Perhaps another outing by Otto Binder, who had given us “The Six-Legged Legionnaire” last issue. What we got, instead, was the closest Silver Age readers were going to get to an explanation of why Star Boy first appeared with powers identical to Superboy, and, when he showed up again after missing 19 Legion adventures, was suddenly equipped only to make things super heavy.
The explanation comes in a text box added to the last panel of 356’s reprint of “Lana Lang and the Legion of Super-Heroes,” a story written by the aforementioned Otto Binder.
A note on the Grand Comics Database entry for this reprint says that Star Boy was “partially refried from Adventure #195.” Partially refried? Like the beans?
September 28, 2017
I hate GROUT!!!!!!!
Well, I hate the grout I bought last week. I was going to use the grout you left me. It’s been sitting, under a table in Susan’s general purpose room, for almost 50 years now. But when I looked at all those bags, with the pretty pictures of Medusa on them, labeled “GROUT” in big letters, it turned out they weren’t actually grout. Not sure what that’s about, but, when you read the fine print, it says they’re thinset mortar for laying tile. So, while it’s clever and all that you would name a product that turns to stone “Medusa,” it’s not very useful.
The stuff I bought said it was ideal for tile up to 8″ x 8″, and for any applications where the spacing is between 1/8″ and 1/2″. And it said it was ideal for wet areas like shower walls, although not for saunas. Okay, my tiles are 4″ x 4″, my spacing is 1/8″ and they’re shower walls, not saunas.
But this stuff is awful!