I'm going to regret this...

Unlike the other major superhero teams (the Justice Society, the Justice League, the Avengers, etc.), the Legion of Super-Heroes developed gradually, appearing as guest stars throughout all the Superman titles until they go their own series in Adventure Comics #300. As a result their early adventures were uneven and sometimes contradictive. I'll be rereading them in order to put things in perspective and point out the highlights (hopefully).

I have a great love for the Legion as it was the first book that I bought regularly without noticing that I was doing so. I will be using the Legion Archives for this so there will be minor appearances being skipped over. I welcome additions.

I will also try not to comment on events yet to happen, publishing wise and chronologically and focus on each story individually.

Beyond FIRST APPEARANCES, REJECTED APPLICANTS and COSTUME CHANGES I will be pointing out

  • FUTURE FORGOTTEN--concepts introduced yet dropped just as quickly
  • "AS IF"--the Legion's rudeness factor which usually seques into...
  • SOBS OF STEEL ---how many times the Legion makes Superboy and Supergirl cry!
  • SUPER-ITIS--how often elements of the Superman mythos are seen in the series
  • PERSONAL THEORY--my own theories about the whys and hows of the Legion chronicles

First, let me say that I do not plan to visit any Legion sites while I do this. I may remember some facts about the stories but I am hoping not to regurgitate the same stuff over and over again. If it gets too repetitive, please let me know.

Second, I will add when I can and hope that you will all bear with me.

Third, this is a thread for all Legion fans but please don't get ahead of me! I'm not as fast as some of you. However any input is more than welcome!

Long Live the Legion!

Next: Greetings From the Future or "In Smallville One Day, Clark Kent Receives a Sudden Shock!"

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In the first LSV story Saturn Queen says she's "from the planet Saturn... where everyone can perform amazing mental feats". But Earth athletes have different specialities, so it could be Saturnians do too. 

In the first LSH story Cosmic Boy describes Saturn Girl's super-power as "thought-casting". Saturn Girl says she can "read minds" and "cast my mental commands anywhere". On the splash page she's shown reading minds, and when she competes with Superboy she mentally commands a Superboy robot and a sea-monster.

In the first LSV tale Saturn Queen goes on to say on coming to Earth she felt a sudden desire "to outwit the law with my powers of super-hypnotism". She lures Superman with an illusion, and at the climax freezes Lightning Lord, Cosmic King and Luthor super-hypnotically. In the second LSV story she refers to her "super-hypnotic power to create fantastic hallucinations", and only does that.

They never said that Saturn Girl/Woman couldn't do the same feats as Saturn Queen, only chose not to.

Also of interest was the fact that they never introduced a teen version of Saturn Queen as they did Lightning Lord and, albeit much later, Cosmic King. All her appearances were with the Adult Super-Villains even when they fought the Teen Legion, which made little sense. Actually all three were treated as Superman's foes as much as the Legion's.

I think that I have been overwhelmed by my own format so I will try to do these entries more free-style. If any of you prefer one way to the next, let me know.

ADVENTURE COMICS #302 (N'62): Sun Boy's Lost Power!" by Jerry Siegel and John Forte.

Roll Call: Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Superboy* and Ultra-Boy*.

The Legionnaires go to a ceremony where the Mayor of Metropolis, wearing a top hat from the future (thus giving hope that the hat industry would recover after JFK killed it!), dedicates the first of a series of massive, lifelike statues of the Legionnaires. The initial honoree is Sun Boy, praised for being "gallant". Ironically he must destroy his own monument when it suddenly collapses! (I blame a jealous Star Boy!) Soon afterwards, the Solar Sensation is dumbfounded when his power fails during a temporary blackout!

(Though not stated, the theory was that when Sun Boy used a massive amount of power in Superman #156 it caused him to, well, burn out!)

With his membership at stake, Sun Boy once again enters an atomic reactor to recharge his powers, as that was how he gained them in the first place but it got too painful. His teammates then dangle him over an active volcano but that fails as well. Despite a brief flareup at an entomologist, it seems Sun Boy's career has had its sundown. Then Superboy and Ultra-Boy (still hyphenated) arrive and agree to use their heat and flash visions respectively in a last ditch attempt to reignite his powers but for naught.

No longer possessing super-powers, Dirk Morgna is expelled from the Legion, hopefully honorably. He is given his nameplate and figurine, told to clean out his locker and remove all his belongings from the clubhouse. Cosmic Boy nonchalantly states, "I'm sorry our association must end like this."

Still wearing his costume, he observes a Legion mission on his porta-monitor, only to have Bouncing Boy show up to take it back as it's Legion property. Harsh.

Meanwhile, a criminal named Kranyak (no, seriously) escapes the prison that Sun Boy sent him to and reforms his gang! They soon attack the Former Flamethrower, taunting him and shooting fireballs at him. They won't kill him yet; they want him to suffer first. They tell him that they are going to kill the other Legionnaires. 

After warning the Legion, Dirk flies off the planet Lurna, looking for a Kryptonian Flame-Beast that resides there and goads it into using its fire breath on him, thus finally regaining his powers. Returning to Earth, the Glowing Guardian sees Kranyak use a freeze-ray projector during a rainstorm to create a giant mountain of ice above the clubhouse to crush it! In quick order, Sun Boy melts the ice, destroys the projector and capture the gang by giving them heat strokes!

Sun Boy tells the others that only the heat-energy of living beings could restore his powers, as alien fireflies at the entomologist did briefly. This confuses the Legion as Superboy and Ultra-Boy are, y'know, alive but Sun Boy has an answer for that: they are ROBOTS and malfunctioning robots at that. Built by the real Boy of Steel and Optic Ace while the two are celebrating Pete Ross' birthday in 20th century Smallville, they are damaged through their trip through time and forget they are robots!

Sun Boy is unanimously welcomed back to the team! "One of us!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • As Bouncing Boy is the "Ringo" of the Legion, Sun Boy is the "Paul".
  • As Sun Boy destroys "himself", he then loses his powers!
  • The Legion quickly move on from Sun Boy's expulsion.
  • The implication is that there are more than one Kryptonian Flame Beasts on that planet is not a cause for concern!
  • Why didn't Brainiac 5 examine Sun Boy? That's his job to figure out and fix these sort of things!
  • And Kranyak planned to crush the Legion with Superboy there. Granted it's not the real one but he didn't know that!

Next: I Hate to Eat and Run or I Blame you!

ADVENTURE COMICS #303 (D'62): The Fantastic Spy! by Jerry Siegel and John Forte.

Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 go to the hospital to visit Lightning Lad and Sun Boy who injured their knee and ankle, respectively, in a rocket crash. Brainy gives Sun Boy a ring with living microscopic animals inside (how they're cared for is anybody's guess!). They are descendants of creatures shrunk by the original Brainiac, giving the Generational Genius a moment to commiserate his ancestry! 

Doctor Landru, the "famous Martian specialist in fourth-dimensional surgery" (put that on a business card!), explains how he will insert "curative capsules" to heal their teammates through their skin without incisions. 

When they return a week later, they are greeted by Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Bouncing Boy with cameos by Triplicate Girl and Shrinking Violet. They also meet the Legion's newest member, MATTER-EATER LAD (first full appearance). The Glutton of Good demonstrates his power to eat anything (metal, stone, wood, etc.) and anticipates the jokes that will follow!

Immediately Lightning Lad and Bouncing Boy volunteer to guard a shipment of energite, the universe's most valuable mineral, being sent in a disguised satellite but it's snatched away from a "space creature" that's actually a spaceship! It's headed to the same sector as Bismoll, M-E lad's home planet! The Science Police quickly assume that the Legion has a traitor and order them to uncover him/her!

After determining that there are no hidden listening devices, they conduct their next meeting in the dark so no transmission can let anyone read their lips! They must transport a small "doomsday bomb" via the Earth-Tube Express that goes through the Earth's core. Cosmic Boy goes undercover with Chameleon Boy who transforms into a woman. "Use your super-disguise power to change into a girl, NOW!!" ("No, no. Make your legs longer and narrow your waist. Take some pride in your work, man!") The pair must freeze themselves to survive going through the core but when they thaw out, the bomb is gone!

Desperate, they use lurium mind-helmets to prevent anyone from reading their minds. They must send Meglaro, another super-mental brain guy in a globe, to the year 100,000,000 AD where he won't cause anymore trouble! While transporting the Creepy Cranium, a criminal spaceship dissolves their helmets with illegal Z-rays (*gasp*) and escape with Meglaro!

Later, Brainiac 5 creates a "guilt-detector" to find the traitor while Matter-Eater Lad whispers what if Brainy is the culprit! But Brainiac accuses Matter-Eater Lad who flees by devouring a barred door and departs angrily! Realizing that their credibility is gone and they won't to guard rare treasures being kept on the planet Umrax, Brainiac 5 vows to bring their renegade to justice!

Hours later, he succeeds, returning with the Toothy Titan but tells an angry Legion that he's not the traitor and that there is no traitor! In fact, it was Sun Boy's still-sore ankle that reveals the truth. The curative capsule inside his body contains a miniaturized spy with a radio! He sent his boss, Doctor Landro who used the shrinking ray developed by the first Brainiac, all the info needed to disrupt the Legion's plans!  Quickly, Brainiac 5 had M-E Lad pretend to be the traitor and give Landro false information so Superboy could capture them and banish Meglaro to the far, far future!

The capsule is removed from Sun Boy, the spy caught with an experimental enlarging ray and Brainiac 5 is hailed for his brilliance! 

_________________________________________________________________________

  • The injuries to Lightning Lad and Sun Boy would not be the last Legion members would get hurt. In fact they would be the most injury-prone team of the Silver Age (except for the Metal Men!)
  • But the treatment would be inconsistent. Sometimes a doctor would tend to them, other times Brainiac 5 would.
  • Matter-Eater Lad was always problematic. His power was unique but raised so many questions. His teeth had to be super-strong, his body acids lethal, he had to be able to eat vast quantities super-fast but I don't want to know about his....waste products!
  • Plus while he was useful in certain situations, his initial gimmick of eating his way out of confinement wouldn't work if he were chained with no way to consume his fetters. Heck, being handcuffed from behind could stymie him!
  • The Science Police were certainly confident that the Legion had a traitor, instead of, y'know, themselves!
  • Too bad they didn't tie in the Earth-Tube Express with Supergirl's tunnel from Action #267.
  • And if you had to be frozen to survive the core's heat, how did they steal the bomb??
  • Then there's Meglaro, an extremely powerful menace who was NOT defeated by the Legion and was going to be banished through time! How much of the future was explored then?
  • Surprisingly the Legion didn't really turn on each other in a story which raises the issue of one of them being a traitor! That's some restraint from this team!
  • The whole "shrunken spy in a capsule" doesn't make any sense. He was in Sun Boy's ankle for weeks unable to stand, no visible supplies, no restroom, no equipment except for the radio and he was shrunk with no way to return to normal! And they already had Shrinking Violet so the guy could have been from Imsk though I don't think her background was established at that point.
  • Or just send a robot which would have made more sense!
  • Still the concept of a spy being inside one's body is very disturbing!

Next: Grounded or (One) Girl Power!

"Glutton of Good," "Toothy Titan" -- I bow in awe!

Cosmic Boy was certainly in a hurry to play dress-up with Chameleon Boy. "Use your super-power to change into a girl -- NOW!" I'll bet Cos was eager to draft cross-dressing Jimmy Olsen into the club. 

It's especially weird to have Cham change into a girl (and I wonder how often he did? And by request?) when the Legion had FOUR girls on the team already! The best option would have been Phantom Girl defensively or Saturn Girl as she was in every story!

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