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!

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Comment by Richard Willis on June 7, 2013 at 1:33pm

This recalls the most amusing line in one of the Ian Fleming Bond books, "nothing propinks like propinquity".

Commander Benson said:

He makes the acquaintence of Lois and propinquity propinks.

Comment by Philip Portelli on June 7, 2013 at 10:08am
Comment by Philip Portelli on June 7, 2013 at 9:58am

Amazing how many "crossovers" happened in Lois' book that most of us had no awareness of. Probably because most of us rarely bought Lois' book. Most of the ones I have co-featured Rose & the Thorn.

Besides the misleading cover (Lois is a centaur for one panel), this is one WEIRD comic! There's a great article here.

The implications are a bit disturbing about Biron's preferences not to mention his fickleness or Lois' for that matter!

Of course, now I have to get this issue!

Comment by Commander Benson on June 7, 2013 at 3:29am

Going back to Comet and Supergirl being unaware of his human identity as Bill Starr . . . .


Something I didn't recall until after I had posted my commentary on it (and because it's such a pain to delete and revise and repost, I'm putting it in a separate post) is the fact that, while the Girl of Steel didn't know that Comet was Starr, her cousin Superman and Lois Lane did!


In "The Unbreakable Spell", from Lois Lane # 92 (May, 1969), Comet saves the life of Lois Lane, who is covering a missile launch in Satellite City.  Shortly thereafter, a comet comes into range of the Earth and the Super-Horse is transformed into his human guise.  In order to make a living while human, and because there is little need for cowpunchers in Satellite City, the now-human Comet assumes the identity of Bill Biron, stage magician.


He makes the acquaintence of Lois and propinquity propinks.  Soon, the two are seeing stars for each other.  Before their budding romance can get too deep, Bill confesses all, telling Lois the complete history of his past---his life in ancient Greece as a centaur, his subsequent fate as a Super-Horse, and how the spell of a sorceror whose life he saved allows him to become human while in the influence of a comet.


Cutting through all of the subsequent plots twists and turns, eventually Superman is called in to bail both Comet and Lois out of trouble, and that's when the Man of Steel learns the truth about "Bill Starr/Biron".


Superman travels through the time-barrier to contact Circe, but she is still unable to undo the effects of the original magic potion which turned Biron the centaur into a horse.

Comment by Commander Benson on June 7, 2013 at 3:08am

"Thanks for getting the dates of the 20th century right. I have a bee in my bonnet about that."

So do I.  It was infuriating for me how so many folks couldn't grasp the simple concept, but the remarkable thing was how so many people, even when they did get it, didn't care and still insist that A.D. 2000 is the beginning of the twenty-first century (and not the last year of the twentieth, as it rightly is).



Comment by Commander Benson on June 7, 2013 at 3:04am

"Supergirl did know [Comet's] origin, but not, I think, that he was Bill Starr."


Luke is correct on both counts, Philip.


Supergirl learnt of Comet's origin as Biron, the centaur, and his subsequent fate, when he telepathed it to her in "The Secret Origin of Supergirl's Super-Horse", from Action Comics # 293 (Oct., 1962).


However, the Girl of Steel remained unaware that Comet could become the human Bronco Bill Starr.  In "The Revolt of the Super-Pets", from Adventure Comics # 364 (Jan., 1968), the Super-Horse falls within range of a comet's influence and is transformed to his human guise.  For reasons pertinent to the story's plot, he infiltrates the Super-Hero Club as new Legionnaire Biron the Bowman.


It is at this point that Supergirl, who had taken an active part earlier, disappears from the tale.


As it develops, the Legion had not been fooled by Comet's imposture as Biron.


In the last-page wrap-up, Invisible Kid explains, "We recognized you right off, Comet!  In the 20th century your human identity's a secret . . . but not in our time!"


"We knew 'Bronco Bill' Starr from our history books," adds Brainiac  5.  "By the way, [italics mine] we sent Supergirl off on another mission to keep her from learning your dual identity!"


Post-Silver Age, I'm not 100% positive the Maid of Might never learnt that Comet was Starr, but I'm pretty sure she never did.  For one thing, such a revelation would have a tremendous yuck-factor for the poor girl, and I'd certainly remember a story with that.


Comment by Richard Willis on June 6, 2013 at 6:37pm

I think sidesaddle was probably mandated by the Comics Code.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...BTW , SIDESADDLE ??????!?!?? WTF ??? Was Mort a Victorian , deep down ???

Comment by Richard Willis on June 6, 2013 at 6:33pm

Let's not think too much about the implications of his hanging out with horses.

Luke Blanchard said:

I guess one could argue that he may have been mentally transformed by the potion from a centaur into a super-intelligent horse, which would perhaps explain why he was willing to hang out with horses in his "secret identity".

Comment by Emerkeith Davyjack on June 6, 2013 at 2:36pm

...BTW , SIDESADDLE ??????!?!?? WTF ??? Was Mort a Victorian , deep down ???

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 6, 2013 at 2:02pm

In the post-Crisis years, Proty was quite touchy about being listed as a "super pet"

Krypto, of course, was fully intelligent (at least in most portrayals back then). My memories of Beppo was that he had about Super-Baby level IQ (but I'm not sure). Streaky is the closest to a pure pet as he presumably reverted to cat-level intelligence whenever he didn't get his kryptonite X treatment.


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