The timeline in this story is a bit odd. It begins with a framing sequence, where the Legionnaires visit a planet in the Antares system and find a statue honoring the Unknown Legionnaire. Superboy asks if anyone remembers that adventure, as if it was long ago. This isn’t the first time it’s been made to sound as if the Legion’s adventures have been going on for the seven real time years the group has been in existence. Age-wise, Superboy hasn’t aged out of high school yet, which puts a pretty short span on his Legion career since Adventure #247. Three years would be an outside limit, and I say it’s pretty outside.
More, at the beginning of the flashback tale, Supergirl talks about getting back to school at Stanhope College, which she started attending in the November, 1964 issue of Action Comics (#318) —less than a year ago in real time, and probably much less on the Legion’s timeline. So the flashback “do you remember” device is glaringly off.
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.
Legion creator Otto Binder returns with George Papp on art for another solo-Legionnaire guestappearance, this time introducing a new Legionnaire, Star Boy. The title is a misnomer, because, while we do see six other Legionnaires in this story, in cameo during a flashback, Lana only interacts with the new kid.
As she often does, Lana begins this issue bemoaning the fact that Superboy really doesn’t notice her. She, on the other hand, sleeps with pictures of him plastered all over her room, and wants only to know the joy of being his steady girlfriend. Trying to take her mind off her woes, she goes to the movies, only to see a picture in which the female lead is plotting to make her man jealous by seeing another man. Lana likes the idea, if only there were a boy in the world that could be a believable rival to her ideal, Superboy.
Another Jerry Siegel/George Papp adventure begins with Superboy discussing Lex Luthor with his parents, and reflecting how important the initials “L.L.” are in his life. We’re still at the point in history where every Legion story must begin with Superboy or Supergirl. They were still supporting characters only as they make their fourth appearance in four years.
Superboy points out that not only Lana Lang and Lex Luthor carry the initials “L.L.,” but that Lightning Lad does too. He shows Ma and Pa the Legion statuettes the team gave him after the (lamentable) affair on the Superboy planet. From here on out, if the Legion statues who up, you know there’s going to be an actual Legionnaire somewhere in the story. This was the device for reminding readers that the Legion existed. (Actually, I believe there was one time when the statues did not herald a Legion appearance, and that was when they were instrumental in the creation of the Composite Superman in World’s Finest Comics #164.)
Nine months passed between the second and third appearances of the Legion, and this outing was again scripted by the legendary Jerry Siegel, who did so poorly by the team in December of 1959. He does better this time, though largely by adapting Otto Binder’s original script for “The Legion of Super-Heroes” in Adventure Comics #247, and placing Supergirl in Superboy’s place.
Supergirl / Linda Lee experiences the same meet-ups with Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy as Superboy did, with the Legionnaires making it clear that they know her secret identity. At this time in history, Linda’s secret identity had the added wrinkle that the public was not allowed to know Supergirl existed. So, while she switched into costume to go on adventures, she was never allowed to be seen. The Legionnaires aid her on three occasions in which acting as a super-hero would reveal her existence to the world. So at least they’re more benevolent this time out. Perhaps that’s because Linda is a girl?
(In which I attack a legend)
After their first appearance in Adventure #247, readers had to wait 20 months for the Legion to return, and, well… they were dicks. Dicks in a really bad story, to boot.
Short version: Three of Superboy’s missions are interrupted in turn by members of the Legion, who show him up and then snub him. The people of Smallville turn on him, including his own parents. Tearfully, he packs up to leave, and receives an invitation to come to a place called Superboy World, a planet where everyone loves him. But it’s a dodge—the planet is run by the Legion, who now despise him, and Superboy is locked up in a Kryptonite prison for life.
Here it begins. The first-ever appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes, from back in 1958. I wasn’t even born then, but this team became one of my favorites in comics. As far as my allowance would stretch as a kid, I would collect their Silver Age appearances. When the Archive Editions were released, beginning in the 1990s, I sought them out and read every story, both alone and out loud with my then-elementary school-aged son, Ethan. (He’s 25 now, and you can find the fruits of my labors to make him a full-blown geek on his own blog, The Figure in Question.)
Having had so much fun in recent days, recounting the first Legion stories I ever read as part of my Back in the Day-themed posts, I decided that I would start re-reading from the beginning, and share my thoughts here.
Short Version: Superboy is surprised to be recognized as Clark Kent, and Clark Kent is surprised to be recognized as Superboy, by two new boys and a new girl in town. The trio reveal themselves as members of a super-hero club from the 30th Century, and ask him if he’d like to join. They take him to the future and put him through three tests… all of which he fails. In the end, though, he learns that the circumstances of his “failure” prove that he’s the greatest hero of them all, and Superboy becomes a Legionnaire.
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…
“The Oz Effect” is a five-part story which reveals the origins (kinda) of the mysterious Mr. Oz who has been appearing in DC Comics for quite a while now, in different titles. He’s a dangerous guy, and, like any powerful, godlike being, his followers might be even more dangerous. In the course of this story, in Oz’s name, one of his followers detonates a bomb (and himself) in an attempt to kill the staff of The Daily Planet. His motivation seems to be little more than because Mr. Oz told him to, and because he wants everyone to know how horrible life on Earth is.
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.)