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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Good for you - I hope you enjoy doing it!

ADVENTURE COMICS #247 (Ap'58) The Legion of Super-Heroes by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, edited by Mort Weisinger.

One day in Smallville, young Clark Kent is greeted by a red-headed boy as Superboy which really unnerves him.

New Boy: "Hello Superboy!"

Clark: "How did you find out?!? I mean, ha, ha good one!"

Not exactly smooth because later in the day as he patrols as Superboy, another boy and a girl call him Clark. Before the Boy of Steel has a meltdown, the three youths introduce themselves as heroes from the future: COSMIC BOY, SATURN GIRL and LIGHTNING....BOY! Actually they don't have to formally introduce themselves as their names are written on their uniforms! They explain that they came from the past to ask Superboy to join their "Super Hero Club". Superboy accepts and they travel to the future in their TIME BUBBLE. Once there, they use jet packs to fly, showing Superboy the sights, have some alien ice cream, and swell his head by telling him what a legend he is! The Kent home is a shrine/tourist attraction and they have school courses on his life and deeds. In fact they use a robot to simulate his powers. The robot can lift 100 tons with one hand, making it one dangerous robot! But it malfunctions before it can melt steel with its x-ray vision. Cosmic Boy brings the real Superboy (from 1000 years ago remember) to finish the demonstration. The teacher and class is surprisingly blasé about it!

Finally they bring Superboy to their clubhouse and the games begin!

Next: Competition Is Fun!! Or What A Loser!

 Cosmic Boy brings the real Superboy (from 1000 years ago remember) to finish the demonstration. The teacher and class is surprisingly blasé about it!

 

Is the existence of the Time Bubble publicly known? If it is, that might explain why the teacher and students don't get too worked up about Superboy showing up.  They probably just had Louis Pasteur lecturing on germ theory in biology class.

Does the cover image of the Legion rejecting Superboy actually appear in the story or was this a Weisinger bait and switch?

I pity you, Phillip, but I'm delighted to see this thread! I hope you do cover most of the "minor" appearances elsewhere, at least for the first year or three, because stuff happened there. Or rather, mistakes in continuity happened there, which are fun to note. And I think Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy were introduced in a Supergirl story in Action Comics, and I think Colossal Boy and Star Boy first appeared somewhere other than Adventure, although I may be conflating some issues in memory. That's why I'd like you to address this stuff -- to punch the truth into my swiss-cheese memory!

About that first issue ...

I never noticed before, but the Legionnaires have their names on their shirts inside, but not on the cover. where they have the symbols we're all familiar with. Is that right? And does anyone know why?

Speaking of that cover, it's one of the most-frequently-homaged.

The early Legionnaires were kinda a-holes, weren't they? "Hello, Superboy!" Gah!

The word "superhero" lost its hyphen years ago, but it lives on in "Legion of Super-Heroes," as that's a proper noun.

The idea of a teen clubhouse without adult supervision is just such a spot-on wish fulfillment for kids that something like this almost had to happen, didn't it? And as it turns out, it was good for Superman too, humanizing him as much or more as any element in his mythos.

ADVENTURE COMICS #247 (Part2)

Superboy sits down at the Legion's Round Table (actually beyond the title, the term "Legion of Super-Heroes" only appears twice in the story. The team itself is usually described as the Super-Hero Club.) where he sees the first of the group's grand traditions: placards! Sometimes they have the member's name, sometimes their power which is always "super-something" even super-bouncing! Sometimes it's both. Superboy normally doesn't get one since they (and the readers) know who he is! But it could say "super-everything"!

Another tidbit is that Superboy is not alone with the trio. There are at least four other people there. I'll give my take on that later.

Anyway, in order for Superboy to qualify for membership he must compete with his three new friends to see who can finish a mission first. The Boy of Steel is not exactly worried about it. He goes up first against Saturn Girl who tells him that "the scientists of Saturn, who are experts in telepathy, taught (her) how to read minds and also cast (her) mental commands anywhere!" They must bring up an enormous statue from the ocean floor. "Piece of cake!" thinks the Time-Travelling Teen but before he can get there, he spots the dangerously strong Superboy Robot escape from the School of the Future and he can't stop it! Think about that for a minute. It's a robot that SUPERBOY can't hold down! And it's part of the AV equipment! And how does Superboy halt it? He has it follow him to the school laboratory with a class in session hoping that the science teacher can stop it. And he does with a handy nuclear ray! While all this is going on, Saturn Girl mentally controls a giant sea monster to bring up the statue in three panels! The others berate the Boy of Steel but he won't tell them about the robot, not wanting to make excuses.

Apparently it's a "best-two-out-of-three" as Cosmic Boy sees on their TV Trouble-Finder AKA the Lindsay Lohan Channel that there is a crashed rocket-liner that started a massive forest fire and quicker than you can say "Smokey the Bear", they're off! This time Superboy gets sidetracked by a falling satellite from the 20th century. He dunks it into a faraway volcano (for some reason). However, in two panels, Cosmic Boy magnetically pulls down dozens of iron meteors from space that floods a nearby lake and puts out the fire! WOW! He states that "special serums gave (him) magnetic eyes!" Superboy again refuses to tell them why he failed.

On the Official Legion White Board, Superboy the Loser is down two-zip! But now it's apparently "Just-Win-One-Please!" as he and Lightning Boy zoom up to call back the Nova Express because of a leaky fuel tank since radio contact is out. Just as Superboy vows that nothing will stop him this time, the Invisible Eagle of Neptune escapes from the Interplanetary Zoo! (How they know this is unexplained!) This bird is so invisible that Superboy can't find it so he carries a huge iceberg that cools the air for miles, causing frost to form on the eagle, rendering it visible. Unfortunately while he's doing that, Lightning Boy is creating "super-lightning flashes" that form letters that spell out a message for the damaged vessel to return in another two panels! He also explains that his "hands are like the positive and negative poles of a battery! Each time (he) claps them together, a super-lightning flash leaps forth!" He's the Clap-On Super-Hero!

After falling short three times, the Legion rejects the legendary hero that they brought to the future. And they mock him for it! Superboy puts on a brave face but as soon as he leaves, tears of shame start to flow. Suddenly they call him back and tell him that he's a member and all this was his initiation and they themselves caused his distractions. And it proved that he was a "super-good sport". Yeah, right!

Suddenly a real emergency happens at the South Pole and Superboy shows them what a real super-hero can do. He also used magnetism and lightning to fix a crashing cosmic lamp and explains it with a mind-reading trick! This impresses the Legion so much that they award the "Super-Hero Number One" Badge which he later (earlier??) shows to a beaming Pa Kent!

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

FIRST APPEARANCE: Obviously of Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Boy, later Lad and the Legion itself and their Clubhouse. Also the Time Bubble.

REJECTED APPLICANTS: Superboy (What? Oh never mind then!)

FUTURE FORGOTTEN: These early costumes are never seen again and Lightning Boy becomes Lightning Lad with his second appearance. The "Super-Hero Club" patches disappear as well as the TV Trouble-Finder.

"AS IF": the Legion begins their glorious tradition of playing Superboy as a sap, first in Smallville, nearly giving him a coronary then in the future with his hazing initiation! "Good Sport" Indeed! More like super-restraint! Imagine this exchange:

Superboy: "You put me through that for an initiation?!?"
Cosmic Boy: "Yeah, good one, right?"

Superboy: "Sure. Do you know how much trouble I would be in if I pulled this clubhouse down around your smug condescending ears?"

Cosmic Boy: "Uh..how much?"

Superboy: "None. At. All."

Which leads to

SOBS OF STEEL: the Legion makes Suberboy cry for the first time, though not the last!

PERSONAL THEORY: Why did the Legion travel back in time and muck up their continuum to recruit Superboy for their team? Because it was Superman's Millennium Anniversary and they were celebrating the Man of Steel's boyhood years. That's why they were studying Superboy, not Superman or Supergirl.

Also the Legion was in its early stage of development and they needed something to boost their image and bolster their forces. The young Superman fit the bill from a publicity and tactical viewpoint!

Of course, nowhere does it say that these three heroes founded the team but they were the public face of the group as they started their organization.

As for the other teens at the clubhouse, I'll play fair and stipulate that Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl were already members as per the Legion's later official origin but the rest must have been either visiting teen dignitaries or super-heroes as there were others beside the nascent Legion OR they were heroes wanting to try out for the team but couldn't because of the prominence of the great Superboy. Now I'm not saying that Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Chameleon Boy and Brainiac 5 were there but I can't say that they weren't!

Also, they never say if Superboy travelled back to his own time under his own power or the Legion gave him a ride back. Nor does Superboy give any inclination of returning to the future. Given his treatment there, who could blame him?

RATING: LLLL out of LLLLL (great historical significance minus terrible costumes and shabby treatment of Our Young Hero!

Next: With Friends Like These...Or Who Needs Proof??

That Invisible Kid...you really can't tell if he's there, can you?

While they gave proto-origins to Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl, they curiously omitted Lightning (Boy) Lad which left later writers to fill in the blanks and create a little Lightning-mythos which endured.

They amended how Cos and LL's powers worked because clapping is silly!

Funny that Cos had Magneto's power and Saturn Girl had Professor X's.

I don't think so or access to them are very restricted since several villains have to break into the Legion Clubhouse to get their hands on one.
 
The Baron said:

 Cosmic Boy brings the real Superboy (from 1000 years ago remember) to finish the demonstration. The teacher and class is surprisingly blasé about it!

 

Is the existence of the Time Bubble publicly known? If it is, that might explain why the teacher and students don't get too worked up about Superboy showing up.  They probably just had Louis Pasteur lecturing on germ theory in biology class.

Good stuff, Philip. I will definitely following along with this discussion.

I actually held this comic in my hands about a year and a half ago. I joked with my friend we could split the cost  between us. I think the guy had it at around $600-$650.

You can't miss him. He's standing right next to the Invisible Eagle of Neptune.

Randy Jackson said:

That Invisible Kid...you really can't tell if he's there, can you?

I'm having a lot of fun reading this thread, but until you get to the "Five Years Later" of 1989, I'm completely useless in conversation!

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