Deck Log Entry # 158 The Silver-Age Challenge---the Legion of Super-Heroes Edition

I try to accommodate my readers.  Sometimes, it’s a snap, especially when the reader himself provides the inspiration, such as when Commando Cody raised the question of why Lightning Lad wasn’t held to task for killing Zaryan the Conqueror.


Other times, the sailing's not so smooth.  Figserello has been waiting for me to do a piece on Animal Man.  The hold-up on that one is lack of source material.  And I’m always rummaging through my brain for ideas I can plumb from Marvel Comics.  I know Marvel fans get the short shrift here.  But as I explained not too long ago, Silver-Age Marvel didn’t have nearly the sub-strata of topics that DC did.  But I’m working on it, so I don’t leave you Marvel mavens out in the cold.


And then Philip Portelli has hit me up a couple of times for a Silver-Age quiz on the Legion of Super-Heroes.  So he must be thrilled to see the title of this Entry. 


Philip’s request for a Silver-Age Legion quiz wasn’t as easy to accommodate as a lot of you might think.  There were a couple of major roadblocks.  First, as always, I try to gin up questions that can’t be answered with a quick Google-search.  This was especially difficult in this case because the Legion of Super-Heroes has always been a heavily fan-supported series.  Off-hand, I can’t think of any other series that has made use of reader input as much as the Legion.  And that meant the Internet is packed deep in Legion-related sites.  They vary, of course, in accuracy and in range---some cover only a specific era of the series; others try to cover them all---but the ultimate effect is a saturation of details.  Just about any question I could ask was likely to have the answer buried somewhere, in some Legion fan’s site, ready to be plucked by a search engine.


The other problem is most of the good stuff, the kind of questions with answers that make the reader spout “Hey, wow, I didn’t know that!”, I’ve already discussed here---either in one of my previous Deck Log Entries or on one of the threads of conversation on the forum.  I didn’t want to be reduced to “What was Cosmic Boy holding in his hand on page five, panel four, of Adventure Comics # 301?” sort of questions, which are too dreary for anyone to really care.


It seemed like an arduous task to tackle.  Fortunately for Philip, the other day I was researching the details of a Legion story for an unrelated purpose, and suddenly, a perfect question for a Legion quiz presented itself.  O.K., that was one.  But the challenge was shoved right in my face.  Could I come up with nine more?


Well, gang, I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore, but I finally did it.  Ten pretty decent quiz questions.


Before l launch them, there’s one slight change in the usual rules that I need to mention.  For this quiz, the parameters are slightly narrowed from the usual beginning-to-end of the Silver Age envelope.  This time, all the questions and all the answers will fall between the time frame marked from the Legion’s first appearance, in Adventure Comics # 247 (Apr., 1958), to the last Silver-Age Legion story penciled by Curt Swan, in Adventure Comics # 372 (Sep., 1968). 


And this is the important part:  any DC title was fair game for me in putting together this quiz, so it’s not limited to the Legion series proper.  But all of questions and the only acceptable answers come from DC comics published within the boundaries of those two issues of Adventure.


Got it?  Then here we go!



1.  What is the only substance which blocks Ultra Boy’s penetra-vision?


2.  Outside of Superman, who is the only other Justice League member mentioned by name in the Legion stories appearing in Adventure Comics?


3.  The leaders of which five worlds comprise the Inner Council of the United Planets?


4.  By the time the Legionnaires reached adulthood, so many members left the Legion that the group merged with the Legion of Substitute Heroes.  Which Subs became members of the Adult Legion?


5.  While there were others, who was the only Legionnaire shown to be on the regular staff of The Legion Bulletin, the club newspaper read by thousands of law-enforcement officers throughout the universe?


6.  Besides Superboy, Supergirl, Pete Ross, Jimmy Olsen, and Lana Lang, name five individuals from the twentieth century who travelled to the future to interact with the Legion in the thirtieth century.


7.  Which Legionnaires’ super-powers did the Composite Superman not use in either of his two Silver-Age appearances (based on the Legion statuettes which gave him his powers)?


8.  Besides Clark (Superboy) Kent, Bob (Mon-El) Cobb, and Linda (Supergirl) Danvers, name five civilian identities used by full-fledged Legionnaires while in the twentieth century. 


9.  Per the Legion Constitution, the Legion leader is answerable to only one person.  Who?



10.  Who is the only Legionnaire, outside of Superman, to appear in an Inferior Five story?

Good luck!

Views: 1917

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 6, 2013 at 5:30am

Issue 2. George M. Coldham (I knew my memory of "Conehead" was probably wrong) was the composer. The Five were the first team to pay him for composing a theme song.

Actually I think Comet would qualify as a "person" since he's a transformed centaur (and if Kryptonians count, why not centaurs?), not a super-intelligent horse.

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 6, 2013 at 5:31am

For the record, any discussion of the Inferior Five brightens my day.

Comment by Commander Benson on June 6, 2013 at 6:36am

You nailed a couple of them, Mr. Sherman, and a piece of another.


As to the matter of Comet, or any of the other Super-Pets, and the word individual or person . . . .


One could parse either of those words so minutely until a Super-Pet would seemingly fit the definition, but the word individual commonly connotes a sentient being considered either a human being, or---in the case of the Legion mythos---a member of the dominant race of an alien world.


And Comet, yes, is a transformed centaur, but he is generally considered to be a horse, as evidenced by his membership in the Super-Pets.


I am reminded of an event that took place many years ago, during the period when I was a police officer.  I was in district court for the adjudication of a case in which I had arrested a man for driving while impared (DWI) in a parking lot, or in legalese, a public vehicular area (PVA).  Like every other state, the state in which I operated maintained that DWI was one of the few traffic offences which could be levied against a driver, even though he was driving on private property, which a PVA is.  So there was no issue regarding the legality of arresting and charging a drunk driver with DWI in a PVA; the statute clearly provides for that.


However, the man pleaded "not guilty", on the basis---according to his lawyer's argument---that the parking lot in which I had observed the man's impared driving and where I had arrested him was not a PVA.


The defence attorney's principal point of contention was the state's definition of a PVA, one of the elements of which was the requirement that a PVA be "properly marked and designated for use as such".


Now, it was generally accepted in court that the white lines demarking the parking spaces were sufficient to meet the requirement of "properly marked".  You see those white lines, you know they are parking spaces.  It seems fairly obvious.  But the defence attorney wanted to argue that "properly marked" meant that a specific sign was posted stating that the area was a public vehicular area.  Very few PVA's, especially those in an apartment complex---which is where the offence and my arrest occurred---have signs posted, saying "This is a parking lot".


The defendant's lawyer was parsing the term marked as thinly as he could.  He drew from other statutes, insisting that hospital zones were marked with signs, no-passing zones were marked with signs, no-smoking areas were marked with signs.  He had a stack of statute references and dictionaries and thesari in front of him and he relied on all of them.


For thirty minutes, the judge listened politely while the defence attorney made his argument.  Then, when the lawyer stopped to take a breath, he spoke.


First, His Honour complimented the lawyer's zeal in defending his client.  However, he went on to say, the defence attorney was splitting hairs.  The judge pointed out that anyone entering that area, including the defendant would know it was a PVA, whether there was a sign or not.


"Even in the law," said His Honour, "common sense and common acceptance prevails.  Your client was driving in a PVA."


"In that case," replied the defence attorney, "my client is changing his plea to 'guilty'."



It's popular to blame the lawyers in such cases when a simple rule or law encompasses thirty pages of text. But it's not the fault of those attorneys who draft the law; they're forced to parse every word, to include dozens of modifying and amplifying clauses, because somewhere, sometime, in the past, some other lawyer wanted to split hairs by challenging the meaning of a word, even though what was intended by that word was commonly understood.


Would anyone really have wanted me to write question number six on this quiz in the following manner?


With the exception of Superboy, Supergirl, Pete Ross, Jimmy Olsen, and Lana Lang, without respect to any age they may have obtained, and to include any alternate identities or transformations they may have undertaken, specify five individuals; to wit, sentient beings currently in the state of being a human being or, if from another world, a humanoid being, unless the dominant sentient race of such a world is not humanoid, in which case, a state of said dominant race, who principally reside during the time of the twentieth century, defined as the years defined on the Gregorian calendar as 1901 to 2000 anno domini, inclusive, and have travelled by any means capable to the thirtieth century, defined as the years on the Gregorian calendar as 2901 to 3000 anno domini, inclusive, to interact with the Legion; to wit, the Legion of Super-Heroes, as presented from Adventure Comics # 247, displaying a cover-date of April, 1958 anno domini, of the Gregorian calendar, to Adventure Comics # 372, displaying a cover-date of September, 1968 anno domini, of the Gregorian calendar, inclusive, with the proviso that any creatures that held a state of humanity, or that of a race considered human or significantly so, prior to the fictional time-frame established by the above-stated issues of Adventure Comics, are ineligible.


You guys would have stopped reading after the first three lines.

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 6, 2013 at 6:47am

I see Comet more along the lines of Superman transformed by Red K or Flash turned into a puppet--the fact people think of him as a horse doesn't mean he is one. That aside, I don't object to the basic "no pets" rule for that question--it's a perfectly reasonable way to parse it.

Comment by Commander Benson on June 6, 2013 at 7:02am

The difference is the Flash didn't stay a puppet and Superman's red-k transformations are only temporary.  On the other hand, Comet is a horse, now and always.  Even when he changes to Bronco Bill Starr, he soon reverts to being a horse. 

I see the point in your argument, though.  It's reasoned and distinct, two good things.

Comment by The Baron on June 6, 2013 at 8:30am

I may be the only person that would say this, but I think it would be great if you wrote the questions that way.

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 6, 2013 at 9:08am

My initial thought on #2 was "Flash!" but then I realized the Tornado Twins appear right after your 372 cutoff point.

Comment by Commander Benson on June 6, 2013 at 9:09am

I don't think I'm giving away much when I say that you're pretty solid with your answer of "Batman" on question number two.

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 6, 2013 at 9:15am

I was confident (even though I can't quite place the reference) but given your expertise it wouldn't have surprised me if you'd pulled something really obscure out of your hat "Look, our new applicant Biron the Bowman is as good as the legendary Green Arrow!" (I know that particular example didn't happen, but something of the sort wouldn't surprise me).

Comment by Commander Benson on June 6, 2013 at 9:21am

Actually, that was just the kind of thing I was scared of---some aside or parenthetical reference to a 20th-century Justice Leaguer that I had missed.  There was no way I could go over some seventy-odd issues and be certain I had caught everything.  I didn't find mention of any other JLAer other than the Batman, but I knew if I had missed it, one of you sharp folks would nail me in a heartbeat.


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