Adventure Comics #323

August 1964

Cover art by: Curt Swan & George Klein

Story: The Eight Impossible Missions!

Writer: Jerry Siegel

Art: John Forte

I always like it when we get some Legion tryouts, and this issue kicks off with a couple. We get the introduction of Spider Girl who wouldn't join the team here, but would later be a part of them during Keith Giffen's 5 Years Later story. Also, Double Header pops up. He would barely make the Subs.

Into the meat of the story. Proty has developed a puzzle and whoever figures out the answer will be the new Legion leader. By the title you can tell there will be 8 of them. Since there are 8 and we have a story to finish, we blow through them fairly easily. We also learn things like Jor-El's greatest reward was the globe brain of Garf-Og, and Brainiac 5 is really honest.

I enjoyed the trials of the honorary members. Those were probably the most entertaining. Pete Ross had to come up with a super power, and Jimmy Olsen had to become Elastic Lad and amuse everyone. Saturn Girl is the one who figures out the answer to Proty's final puzzle, and she actually remains as Legion leader.

This is a quieter issue, and even the moments of danger lasted only a panel or two. It was fun to see Proty take center stage here. The art by John Forte was excellent I thought. Very clean and crisp.

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This issue of Adventure Comics may seem innocuous, Travis but it's really filled with a lot of controversy. Going through the Eight Impossible Missions, their set-up and conclusion:

  • Saturn Girl--the impetus here is that her term as Legion Legion is over and its time to elect a new one. After her (rigged) election of #304, was she ever referred to as the Leader? Besides she was the Queen of the Legion anyway, being its most popular female member, then and now. Plus her mission is to win an Interplanetary Rodeo! Even in the 30th Century, everyone wants to be a cowboy/girl!
  • Ultra Boy--after his breakout role in #316, the Forever-"I'm-#3"-Guy is relegated back to using his vision powers only in the shortest mission.
  • Phantom Girl--we learn that the Ghostly Gal can enter and leave the Phantom Zone at will! This amazing ability which would have made the ultimate spy/reconnaissance agent was seldom used. Never in the SA, IIRC. It would have made her undetectable and unstoppable. She also meets the Last Phantom Zone Prisoner, the Mighty Gazor who tells her that Jor-El's greatest award was the still-living brain of Garf-Og, proving that the Kryptonians were a sick bunch! Superboy verifies this with his total recall though he neglects to tell them how he used to drum on the brain's globe as a tyke! This caused problems when it was published because it was already established that Jax-Ur was sentanced to ETERNITY in the Zone. This caused Unca Mort to backtrack and say that Jax was still eligible for parole but Gazor was not. This was acknowledged in the Zone's Who's Who page. To be fair, he also said that Jax-Ur could have died while trying to escape and given all the times he did get out of the Zone, it's entirely possible!
  • Element Lad--our cover boy goes through his three panels of peril. Seriously, he exposes himself to lethal doses of radiation because a glob told him to...while his friends watched! Not to mention those anti-gravity belts are UGLYAnd they break up any aesthetics of their uniforms.
  • Ross, Pete--This is the first of only two Pete Ross appearances with the Legion in Adventure Comics and his only 30th century visit. He divulges Superboy's secret identity as a "super-power" even though the Legion knows that he knows it. They keep it a secret from the Boy of Steel and Jimmy Olsen, too. Speaking of Jimmy, we all know that Superboy forgets everything he learns about his future when he returns to the past. Did they do the same to Pete?
  • Brainiac 5--After not letting his intelluct become a factor for leadership, Brainy defeats three incredibly clunky computers in 3-D chess (before Star Trek) but a loose wire deprives him of his total victory. I wonder why they did that?
  • Olsen, Jimmy--in his only Adventures Comics Legion appearance (not counting his crucial cameo in #342), Our Boy Jimbo becomes Elastic Lad and amuses the Legion with some realistic puppets that actually change expressions! The Legion actually enjoys this, revealing how staved for entertainment they must be! It's weird seeing Jimmy standing next to Superboy. I wonder how that introduction went! Not to mention Superboy forgetting Jimmy thus leaving a hole in his memory about Proty's puzzle solution!
  • Ytorp or Proty II---he does this Bizarro-bit to set up his puzzle but remember, he's Chameleon Boy's "pet". In the previous issue, he fought hard to be accepted into The Legion of Super-Pets! Yet here, he devises a complicated puzzle, sets up the challenges, makes the rules and arbitrates the decisions. And the Legion accepts their Blobby Buddy's conditions and abides by his rulings. And he's a "pet"??? And his "master" Chameleon Boy is strangely silent during the entire adventure! Weird!
  • The biggest controversy was that the entire challenge was in honor of Superboy joining the Legion but the panel recalling that event had Legionnaires who joined after Superboy did there. More to the point, Brainiac 5 was there making some people theorize that Supergirl joined the Legion before Superboy did because the Maid of Steel joined along side Brainy. We spoke about this before and decided that the swearing in ceremony wasn't when Superboy first joined but when he made the commitment to be more involved with the Legion i.e. actively take part in 30th century missions.

Wow, that's a lot for a silly, little romp!

Philip Portelli said:

More to the point, Brainiac 5 was there making some people theorize that Supergirl joined the Legion before Superboy did because the Maid of Steel joined along side Brainy.

 

Perhaps Brainy was visiting from the future, and was given permission to attend? The visit could have been part of his own Legion initiation.

It became part of the Legion's tradition of not following their own timelines like when they had Lightning Lad wearing his costume when he first got his powers hoping that he'll be able to join the Legion that does not exist yet!

Also the timestream was mucked up enough with Superboy encountering people from Superman's era like Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, Lori Lemaris, Streaky and Comet.

Nice write-up, Philip. You put a lot more into than I did that is for certain. I must have had a bout of laziness when I initially wrote a few months back. When I re-read it, I thought it seemed awful light, even for me.

Like I said I think I enjoyed the Pete Ross and Jimmy Olsen tests the most. It was also fun seeing the various Legionnaire's have to really use their brains in conjunction with their powers, or in some respect not being able to use them.

Pete doesn't do anything super! Unless we are to suppose Proty regards him as having demonstrated the Terran power of super-mendacity.

Adventure Comics #406

May 1971

Cover art by: Mike Sekowsky & Dick Giordano

Story: Suspicion

Writer: Mike Sekowsky

Pencils: Mike Sekowsky

Inks: Jack Abel

It is graduation day at Stanhope College, and Linda Danvers is probably the least excited graduate of all time. It also just so happens that Supergirl is giving the keynote speech. This being the early '70s, there is a bit of student unrest. After she is done speaking the Maid of Might goes in to a room, changes, and emerges as Linda Danvers. Nasthalthia, Lex Luthor's niece, sees her emerge and is convinced that the two are the same person, and she plans to prove it.

Linda flies to Metropolis to look for a job (with Nasty shadowing her the whole time), but can't seem to find one. Times are tough in Fun City it seems. She finally calls up her cousin, Clark Kent. He doesn’t have anything for her there, but two women have just quit at the affiliate in San Francisco and he can help her get a job out there. Why did the other two women quit? The got married. Oh man I love it so.

Not surprisingly Linda gets the job! So does Nasthalthia! Lex pulled some strings to get the job for her. Nasty plans to stick to Linda like glue to eventually prove that Linda is Supergirl. Weeks later she still doesn't have her proof, and Linda is frustrated she hasn't been able to sneak off and get into some Supergirl action since Nasty is always nearby. Then the call comes in of an apartment building on fire. Due to some cameras malfunctions Linda finally gets away from Nasthalthiar to save a lady trapped in the building. Linda sends he out on her own once she learns that there is a baby inside. She also knows that Nasty is trying to get proof of her secret, so she comes back out as Linda. Nasty did ask the lady what the person looked like who saved, but she doesn't know, because she is blind.

I forgot there is a subplot of a villainess named Starfire who has invented a pill to rob super powered people of their powers. She was able to slip one to Supergirl and her powers have been fading in and out. Now she has burns on her, and is on a stretcher. The Girl of Steel is worried that her powers may kick back in and instantly heal her wounds, and THAT she won't be able to explain.

I'm really not sure why I bought this comic to begin with, since I've never been much of a Supergirl fan. I think it was the simplicity of the cover. Nasthalthia is a terrible name. I did like that she was able to truly figure out Supergirl's secret identity. Even if she wasn't able to prove it. The only real problem I had with the surprise of the woman being blind was that the entire time there was a girl of about 5 or 6 with them the entire time who would have seen Supergirl as well. Unless she was blind too, which would have been just to much. One last thing: I had no idea that Mike Sekowsy wrote

We just talked about Nasthalthia here, Travis! (Man, are these threads intersecting or what?)

The power-draining pill was introduced to limit Supergirl's powers just as Superman lost a third of his to the Sand Superman. Neither really took.

And Luthor, the criminal mastermind who's always on the run, the fugitive from justice, the multiple prison escapee, pulled some strings to get his niece a great job! Wow!

 

Yeah I thought it was weird she should show up in that other thread. I'd never even heard of her until I read this comic. It must have been Kismet as I am usually 7-8 weeks ahead on this thread.

I guess it just show what kind of power Luthor has to still be able to get his niece a job.

Philip Portelli said:

We just talked about Nasthalthia here, Travis! (Man, are these threads intersecting or what?)

The power-draining pill was introduced to limit Supergirl's powers just as Superman lost a third of his to the Sand Superman. Neither really took.

And Luthor, the criminal mastermind who's always on the run, the fugitive from justice, the multiple prison escapee, pulled some strings to get his niece a great job! Wow!

 

Avengers #211

September 1981

Cover art by: Gene Colan, Dan Crespi & Dan Green

Story: ...By Force of Mind!

Writer: Jim Shooter

Pencils: Gene Colan

Inks: Dan Green

Captain America decides that the Avengers roster is just too bloated, and he wants to make them a lean, mean fighting machine. As chairman he is cutting the roster down to a mere 6 members. He announces this to the current team, and they leave to reconvene at a later time. We get some nice character moments here. Beast wants to break up how dour everyone seems, so he steals Wonder Man's glasses. WM chases after him, since he hates when people can see his glowing eyes. Wasp worries about how her hair will look. Then Jocasta starts moping believing that no one cares for her at all, and judging by the rest of the comic, she is right.

After he gets his glasses back from the Beast, he tells Hank that he is going to voluntarily leave the Avengers. He is getting tired of risking his life all of the time, plus he has a budding film career to tend to. I really liked what he told Hank before he left,”The way I see it, being a hero doesn't make you a person any more than having powers makes you a hero.” Nice thoughts from the Man of Ion.

As the team gathers back together a whole host of heroes show up. They believe the Avengers are going for a membership drive and they want to try out. Once they hear what is up, a number of them begin to leave. Before they make it out the door though they begin fighting each other. Moondragon is the cause of all of this hullabaloo, and she tells those assembled (heh-heh) that she has caused all of this to happen. She informs everyone that she is still an Avenger-On-Call and that they would need her in a time in need. That time is now! Moondragon tells them she will be choosing who the new members are, and uses her mental abilities to keep the main Avengers incapacitated.

Iron Man breaks them out of the trance, and Moondragon flees claiming there is another group who needs her help. Yeah right.

Now it is time to get the team together, and Tigra has no place else to go, and really wants to stay. Yet, there is no room for her. Wait! There will be a place for her since, the Beast decides he is going to quit the team. Jocasta quietly leaves as well, and no one even notices. Which is kind of sad. Now we have our new line-up: Tigra, Captain America, Thor, Wasp, Iron Man, and Yellow Jacket. Vision and Scarlet Witch said they came as a pair, but you didn't really see them deciding not to join, or being rejected. Yet they won't be involved.

A few other things I liked/learned:

  1. The Beast speaks 53 languages and has 12 Phds

  2. The Vision got really ticked when Jocasta called him a robot.

  3. Thor got upset that he had to announce himself since there were no heralds to do it for him.

  4. Black Widow regrets not having a chance to talk to Hawkeye.

  5. Angel actually wanted to join the team. Having nothing to do since the Champions broke up.

I usually really like Gene Colan's art, but I was underwhelmed here. Maybe Dan Green's inks over powered it, or Gene did something a little different since he was working on a team book. I'm not sure really. A really fun read though.

Oh yeah the cover it looks rather faded. I imagine it us just my copy and not the norm for this particular issue.

Gene Colan was never a good fit for The Avengers, though it was great to see him draw Iron Man again. Too bad Shooter didn't include Daredevil.

This was the start of both the "Villainization" of Moondragon and the downfall of Henry Pym. Shooter had the former commit a horrible crime and the latter crumble under the strain of rejoining a team he helped found for no rational reason. After all, he volunteered to return.

It also was not good for Tigra as she was portrayed as not being up to Avengers' standards.

Seeds were also planted for the New Defenders.

Funny that three ex-Champions walked through the door. Poor Angel never made the cut.

And new solo stars Moon Knight and Dazzler got some publicity as well, if not membership!

Avengers #216

February 1982

Cover art by: Alan Weiss & Dan Crespi

Story: ...To Avenge the Avengers!

Writer: Jim Shooter

Pencils: Alan Weiss

Inks: Dan Green

The Molecule Man has “killed” Captain America, Iron Man, Thor & the Silver Surfer. Tigra pleaded for her life, and MM has spared her life, deciding to keep her as his pet. He is a terrible owner though because he doesn't have enough control over his powers to feed her, or install plumbing in his base. He can use his powers to “feed” himself, and get rid of his waste. His plan is to absorb all of the Earth.

He knows that someone will try and come after him so he erects an energy field around his base. The Fantastic Four shows up and tries to break through. Thing and Johnny Storm both give their best efforts and can't do anything to the barrier. Molecule Man sees all of this and dumps “a couple billion gallons” of the Deleware River on them.

Well the heroes that we thought were dead, weren't killed at all. Saved by the power cosmic wielded by the Surfer. MM did destroy a lot of the gear, so Tony is naked, Thor is back to Don Blake since his hammer is gone, and Cap's shield also no more. And this is when Captain America learns the secret IDs of both Thor and Iron Man. Just now? Really? About 20 years later? Some trust issues here I think.

Meanwhile, Tigra sneaks into Molecule Man's room while he is asleep, planning to kill him. Figuring it is what he deserves for killing her friends. She just can't bring herself to do it though. She slinks off, and we see that he was aware of her presence the entire time.

The rest of the Avengers begin to plan their attack on the Molecule Man, but he discovers them first, and attacks. He begins to smother Tony with all of the dust in the room. Unfortunately for him he ignored Donald Blake, and Don pops him right on the nose. MM runs away, almost crying with the heroes in hot pursuit.

Once they catch up to him, Captain American knocks him out, and then the heroes begin debating what to do with him. Tony wants to kill him (foreshadowing to Civil War?). Cap and Thor don't think that is the answer. Silver Surfer ends ups siding with Tony. MM wakes up during all of this discussion, and Tigra talks to him by herself. Molecule Man, now just going by Owen, agrees to turn himself in, go to jail, and get some much needed therapy. Before he leaves he gives Thor and Cap their weapons. He isn't able to recreate Tony's armor, as it is too complicated for him. Instead he just makes him some clothes that look like his armor.

Tigra feels like she just isn't up to par the run with this group of heroes, so she quits the team. She has only been with the Avengers a little over a week, so it seems like a pretty snap decision.

I dunno 5 issues seems like a pretty slim time for her be here. Of course in today's comics the membership drive itself would have run 4-6 issues. I did like this issue though with some pretty good art by Weiss and Green.

Tigra's abrupt departure seemed odd to me at the time. Then again her membership seemed odd to me at the time, not to mention her portrayal. All of which made her being part of the original West Coast Avengers cast a bit...odd as well.

After she left, Jim Shooter focused on Thor, Iron Man, Cap and the Wasp and his deconstruction of Henry Pym.

Believe it or not, Captain America finally learning Thor and Iron Man's secret identities wasn't an EPIC moment nor did Cap admonish them for keeping their real names secret from him. Watta guy!!

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