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
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!"
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.
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!"
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!
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!
ADVENTURE COMICS #304 (Ja'63): The Stolen Super-Powers! by Jerry Siegel and John Forte.
Commander Benson has already discussed this landmark issue from August 2012 though I can't link to it or my specific comments so I'll have to rehash them as I still feel the same way. I will try to give a brief description:
SATURN GIRL arrives ahead of the others and destroys a capsule that lands in front of her. Later she uses her telepathic powers to ensure that she wins the election for Legion leadership. She then uses a valuable spectrium bar to create medallions with her face on them and forces the others to wear them! At the same, the menace of Zaryan the Conqueror is brought up.
The Psychic Sentinel then goes all tyrannical on her friends, demanding that they prove that they can use their powers effectively and none of them can! They all get suspended from active duty one by one! But in reality, she is using the spectrium medallions to temporarily give herself all their powers!
Later that day (?), they are warned that Zaryan is coming! As they are all grounded, Saturn Girl flies off in a spacesuit to battle him alone. Which was her plan all along. However MON-EL from the Phantom Zone is finally able to reveal to LIGHTNING LAD her intentions. Using a faster suit, the Thundering Teen passes Saturn Girl and destroys Zaryan's ship (and presumably Zaryan) while getting struck by its freeze ray!
Dying, Lightning Lad explains how Mon-El told him that she "stole" their powers and suspended them because the capsule from the beginning was from "The Trylop Council of Mernl" who predicted that a Legionnaire would perish battling Zaryan. Saturn Girl meant to sacrifice herself but Lightning Lad gave his life for her.
It took Mon-El time to send a message to Lightning Lad due to rampant sun-spot activity which also prevented the Legion from putting him in the Phantom Zone. Shortly after tis, both SUPERBOY and SUPERGIRL (with Lori Lemaris) arrive from the past to honor their fallen comrade in a specially made crypt with perpetual lightning flashing above him.
Thus Lightning Lad becomes the first Legionnaire to "perish in action", gone forever.....or is he?
Next: A Lemon By Any Other Name or Just One More Mission and You're In!