Well, he is by the end of the story. Seven months after his death, and after many, many dropped hints, Lightning Lad returns to life in this issue. With Mon-El returning from his native world of Daxam, bringing the sad news that his people’s technology cannot restore the fallen Legionnaire, the Legion becomes obsessed with finding a way to restore life to a boy who was quick-frozen to death. They consult their library and find every reference to every technique known for restoring life. You might think they’d have done that earlier, but I guess they were busy.
Is it just me, or does the rocketship clubhouse look way too small to have a library this size, much less the meeting room they’re always showing?
Edmond Hamilton was on a roll in the Spring of 1963, as his third story brought his count of characters introduced to the Legion mythos up to eight. We open with the Legionnaires saluting their new flag, and Cosmic Boy reflecting how sad it is that Lightning Lad didn’t live to see it. Kind of an odd reflection, really. Of all the things a teenage boy misses by dying, getting to see a new flag isn’t the first that leaps to mind.
As Saturn Girl and Mon-El leave on a mission, she instructs the remaining Legionnaires to drape their new flag over Lightning Lad’s crypt, where his strangely non-decomposed body lies in state beneath miniature lightning bolts. Saturn Girl is very clearly in charge here, so either Hamilton found that memo from Mort Weisinger about the leadership change, or Imra took Rokk aside and had a word with him about bossing the troops on her watch.
This is an important issue in Legion history, for a few reasons, yet you’d never know it to look at it. The Legion isn’t even on the cover, and the splash page makes it look like just another gimmicky, I-don’t-believe-they-would-really-do-that, Silver Age story from the Mort Weisginger stable.
So the opening blurb tells us that Saturn Girl is “sweet.” Mmmm… would we call her sweet? Actually, we wouldn’t call her anything other than “Saturn Girl,” at this point in history. The distinct personalities of the different Legionnaires had yet to emerge. The closest we’ve come to it is having them make the “Bastard People” list, and there seems to be neither rhyme nor reason to who winds up there. Although, if I’m honest, Cosmic Boy seems to make it more often. Maybe it’s the pink tights making him self-conscious. But here we’re told that Saturn Girl is “sweet,” and that it’s a surprise when she becomes Legion leader and transforms into a harsh taskmaster.