I’ve begun a series of essays that, for lack of a better term, I’m going to categorize as “FIAWOL.” Fandom is and has been a way of life for me, like it or not, for a long time. Consequently, I’ve derived a lot of life lessons from fandom, and from the things that bind us together. So I’ve decided to start sharing them. These will not be “reviews” in the true sense. They’ll be observations which ties to things I’ve read, watched, heard or experienced in fandom. Like all my writing, they’ll be personal to me. I plan to share them, of course, on the holiest day of the week: Wednesday, when the new comics come out. Hope you find them at least thought-provoking.
Action Comics is, if I’m not mistaken, the first comic book ever to reach 1,000 issues. It is not the oldest comic book. It’s not even the oldest comic book from its publisher, DC Comics. That honor goes to Adventure Comics,which, sadly, was canceled just after its 500thissue back in the 1980s. Action’s millennium celebration is, like its first issue back in 1938, an anthology of stories. Like its first issue, it is headlined by Superman. Unlike its first issue, it features only Superman stories.
One of these stories, much-lauded by DC, is by Brian Michael Bendis, who is taking over the reins of Superman for the foreseeable future. Bendis doesn’t tell comic stories like anyone else, and this is our first taste of what is to come.
But it’s not a story.
We begin with Linda Danvers crying over a sad movie with her parents. The power goes out, and she swiftly changes to Supergirl and rushes to repair a broken, underground cable. What the union for the local power company thinks of the resultant lost overtime is not mentioned, but people are thrilled that Supergirl can handle high voltage lines without being harmed. For her part, Linda is thinking only about how sad it is that the hero in the movie lost the love of his life by waiting too long to propose.
She decides that her cousin Superman is in danger of being along forever, because he won’t propose to either Lois Lane or Lana Lang. Despite her parents’ objections, Linda decides to play Cupid. She first attempts to set Superman up with Helen of Troy, oblivious to the fact that, if Helen is real, then she was a big part of history, and marrying Superman would change that history. And, indeed, though Superman doesn’t take the bait, Supergirl herself nearly takes Helen’s place in history.
At DC, Silver Age comic stories tended to be laid out differently than modern comics, in that the splash page was not a page of the story, but a representative piece of artwork and a text box that summarized what was about to happen, like jacket copy on a book. Marvel abandoned this style immediately—in the first issue of The Fantastic Four—but DC continued it up into the 1970s. The first Legion story to omit this representative splash was (I believe) in Superboy Starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #220. Part of the reason for this sort of “internal cover” was that not every story was represented on the cover, back in the days where a standard comic book contained two or three stories. Did anyone read the” jacket copy?” Good question. But it was there. Continue reading
So, wow, Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney once again significantly expand the Legion mythos in this story, bringing them from eight members to double digits, and introducing three prospective Legionnaires to boot. One wonders if, as the editorial staff planned the story lineup for 1961, they made a conscious decision to bring the Legion up to a fighting strength where it might rightly be called a “legion.” Action #276 introduces, not one, not two, not even three but six new or potential Legionnaires! Okay, we had seen Brainiac 5 way back in Adventure #247, but he was never named. And I think it’s safe to say that the black-haired boy next to him in that issue was fellow-applicant Bouncing Boy. In Star Boy’s intro, there was an unnamed redheaded boy that I think can be safely considered to be Sun Boy and an unnamed blonde girl who, again, was probably Duo Damsel. So, as of this issue, I believe there are no more “shadow” Legionnaires (or Legion applicants) in the membership status below.