Deck Log Entry # 159 The Silver-Age Challenge---the Legion of Super-Heroes Edition . . . Answers!

I have to say, I loved the response to this particular quiz!  The responses were everything I hope for when I gin up one of these brain-teasers:  a reasonable amount of participation, a bit of brilliance from everyone who posted, some correct answers which I hadn’t thought of, and one question which nobody got right. 


(O.K., that last one is my ego speaking up, but you guys are so formidable that I feel a wee bit of triumph when I actually manage to stump all of you.)


By process of elimination, if there was one question that everyone missed, that means the other nine were all answered correctly by somebody.  (I wasn’t blowing smoke when I said you fellows are a formidable bunch.) 


I was particularly impressed with Philip Portelli.  As I mentioned last time, circumstances made these exceptionally tough questions, and Philip nailed five of them right out of the chute.  But, as I stated in a comment, everyone who played provided a something for which he can grab a percentage of the bragging rights.


I’ll save the question which all of you whiffed for last.  Incidentally, I’d wager that is the one question which all of you who took part are sure you got right.  So let’s get started, shall we?  And feel free to pat yourselves on the back, where appropriate.  You folks deserve it.




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


Everyone got this right, but the Silver Age Fogey was the first one in with it. 


In “The Unkillables”, from Adventure Comics # 361 (Oct., 1967), the President of Earth, Kandro Boltax, sends the Legion on a mission governed by secret orders.


As the panel above shows, to avoid compromise, the orders are sealed in a substance impervious to even Ultra Boy’s heretofore irresistible penetra-vision . . . inertron!



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


This was probably the easiest question of the lot.  It didn’t fool any of you.  But Philip was the first to get it in.  Yes, it’s the Batman, and Philip even provided the main reference---“Colossal Boy’s One-Man War”, the second half of the Computo the Conqueror saga from Adventure Comics # 341 (Feb., 1966).


I was curious to see if anyone would cite the other time a Legionnaire mentioned the Gotham Gangbuster.  Nobody did, but for the record, it came in “The Adult Legion”, from Adventure Comics # 354 (Mar., 1967), when Cosmic Man mentions the costume-switching trick that Superman and Batman pulled on Doctor Light in JLA # 12 (Jun., 1962).



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


This one gave everyone pause, except for Philip, and even he had to go back and regroup before getting it right.  As Philip said, you have to go to Adventure Comics # 349 (Oct., 1966) and the story “The Rogue Legionnaire” to see the only Silver-Age appearance of the Inner Council of the United Planets


The Chancellor of Cyranus, the Queen of Amazonia, the President of Earth, the Prime Minister of Torad, and the Representative of Orax.



  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?


One of these was easy and the other was tough.  Everybody got the easy one---Polar Man, who we saw participate in the Adult Legion adventures from Adventure Comics # 354-5. 


Only Philip got the tough one---Color King---because he remembered a response to a letter appearing in the Legion Outpost of Adventure Comics # 358 (Jul., 1967).



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?


I was a little surprised that this one wasn’t harder, but Philip and the Fogey and my good buddy, Brian Bailie, all got it without any problem.  It was, indeed, Duo Damsel, as we saw in “The Lone Wolf Legionnaire Reporter”, from Jimmy Olsen # 106 (Oct., 1966).


Incidentally, when I reviewed this story before adding the question to my list, I discovered that one of my own “But I Always Thought . . . “ beliefs was incorrect.  Many fan sources insist that Mon-El was the editor of The Legion Bulletin, and I had always thought that, too.  In fact, that was going to be the original question from this issue. 


However, going over the tale closely, at no time is Mon established as being the sheet’s editor.  In fact, the dialogue makes it clear that he isn’t even on its staff.  So I had to change my trivia question.



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.


Obviously the most debated question of the quiz.  You guys were looking for trickery when there wasn’t any.  “Individuals” referred to people, and not animals---not even animals who used to be human---and I had identified at least six persons who fit the bill.


There was a tiny bit of sneakiness in this question, though.  Not in how I worded it, but in my expectation of how you guys would think.  Something along the lines of “The Purloined Letter”.


No single responder got all six, although Philip got the requisite five.  He was the only one to do so.  But another of you got that sneaky “in plain sight” number six.


The ones that Philip got:


Lori Lemaris, who showed up in the thirtieth century for Lightning Lad’s funeral, in Adventure Comics # 304 (Jan., 1963) . . . .



Adolf Hitler and John Dillinger, who were brought to the thirtieth century by the villain Alaktor, in Adventure Comics # 314 (Nov., 1963).  The Fogey also correctly identified Hitler.

Dev-Em, the former juvenile delinquent from Krypton, who we saw reformed in Adventure Comics # 320 (May, 1964) . . . .




Lex Luthor, who travelled to the thirtieth century to take on the entire Legion in Adventure Comics # 325 (Oct., 1964).  The Fogey also remembered this.



Only Brian scored with the elusive number six in his answer---and the rest of you fellows are going to be slapping your heads over this.




Right there in front of your faces, wasn’t he?  Good thinking, BB!


Now, let me take a minute to address some of the answers I ruled incorrect on this question.  The Fogey mentioned the Batman.  But the Masked Manhunter never took part in an adventure with the Legion in the thirtieth century.  He was shown to have joined the Adult Legion in World’s Finest Comics # 172 (Dec., 1967), but that was an Imaginary Story, and didn’t “really happen”.


And I couldn’t count Nero, the third villain hijacked to the future by Alaktor in Adventure Comics # 314, because Nero wasn’t from the twentieth century.  He lived during the first century.  A.D. 37-68, to be exact.


The Fogey also put down Mxyzptlk as one of the five.  There were three Mxyzptlks to appear in Silver-Age stories, but none of them fit the criteria of the question.  The Mxyzptlk who battled the Legion as Mask Man, in Adventure Comics # 310 (Jul., 1963), was a thirtieth-century descendant of the original Mr. Mxyzptlk and not from the twentieth century.


The same goes for the Mxyzptlk who appeared in Adventure Comics # 355 (Apr., 1967).  He was the brother of the evil Mask Man Mxy.


Now, the original Mxy did show up in Adventure Comics # 351 (Dec., 1966), but he never travelled to the thirtieth century.  Superboy and Mon-El interacted with the imp during the time of 1930’s Smallville.


And Fraser Sherman put Kid Psycho on his list.  But Kid Psycho was from the Legion’s own time.  He travelled back to the twentieth century to prove his worth to Superboy, hoping that would earn him a place in the Legion, as we saw in Superboy #  125 (Dec., 1965).



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)?


This is the question in which the Fogey redeemed himself.  To be sure, Philip got the answer that I had in mind.  (How he got it so fast is impressive as all get out.)  The only Legionnaires eligible for consideration were the ones included in the statuettes on display in the Superman Museum, as shown in World’s Finest Comics # 142 (Jun., 1964).  It is from these that Joe Meach received all of his super-powers.


It was the same collexion of statuettes that gave Meach his powers again, when the Composite Superman returned in World’s Finest Comics # 168 (Aug., 1967).  Over both of those appearances, there were only two of the Legionnaires represented whose powers were not shown used by the Composite villain . . . .


Those of Matter-Eater Lad and Light Lass . . . .


As I said, that was one of the answers Philip nailed right out of the box.  But leave it to the redoubtable Mr. Sofer to come up with something I had missed.  As he pointed out, at the climax of WFC # 168, the Composite Superman has used his computer mind (satisfying the Brainiac 5 power-usage, for those who were wondering) to come up with a “truly inspired means” of killing the World’s Finest Team.  By combining all of his super-powers, he transforms the heroes into half anti-matter.


I’m not sure how the science behind this would hold up (but then I don’t have a twelve-level effector mind).  But I have to rule that the Fogey’s answer---that none of the Legionnaires’ powers were omitted---does hold up.  My question did not require that a Legionnaire’s super-power had to be demonstrated individually to count, nor that it was used in its self-evident form.  His answer fits both the letter and spirit of the question.


So, good thinking, my friend!  In the interests of fairness, I gave both the Fogey and Philip credit for correct answers.



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. 


This is another one which gave everybody fits.  And not just because the concept of “civilian identity” seemed a little difficult to grasp.  When I say this question gave everybody fits, I’m included in that, because I had to go back and re-think one answer.  So much so that I had to make a judgement call against myself!


First, here are the answers which are indisputable:


Marie Elkins and Betsy Norcross, civilian identities adopted by Duo Damsel and Shadow Lass while hiding out from Mordru the Merciless in twentieth-century Smallville, as seen in Adventure Comics # 369-70 (May and Jun., 1968).  Philip was first, but all of you got them, and I know you knew them without having to look at Mr. Portelli’s response.


The next three nobody got, but Philip was oh so close.  He was on the right track; he had the right story; but he couldn’t come up with the names of Phyllis Groves, Sharon Vaughn, and Tina Glenn---the civilian identities used by Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet and Triplicate Girl while bailing Lois Lane out of trouble in “Lois Lane’s Luckiest Day”, from Lois Lane # 50 (Jul., 1964).



And that brings us to what was, for me, a sticking point.


I’m talking about Gary Crane, the identity used by Ultra Boy while undergoing Legion membership trial in Smallville, as seen in “The Boy with Ultra-Powers”, from Superboy # 98 (Jul., 1962).  All of you put him down as an answer, too.


Here was my problem.  When I wrote the question, I added the part specifying “full-fleged Legionnaires” simply to keep Jimmy Olsen and Lana Lang out of the picture.  But as I studied “The Boy with Ultra-Powers”, to make sure I had my facts right, something dawned on me.  When Ultra Boy and the Legion adult advisor, Marla, first appear in Smallville and take the identities of Gary and Ben Crane, Ultra Boy isn’t yet a Legionnaire.


The story is clear on this.  If Ultra Boy fails in his initiation test---to uncover Superboy’s secret identity---the penalty will be that he fails to become a Legionnaire.


So then I had to address this issue:  at what point did Ultra Boy stop posing as Gary Crane?  Before or after he became a Legionnaire?


The last time we see U-Boy as “Gary” is when he examines Clark Kent with his penetra-vision and discovers his Superboy costume beneath his ever-present red sweater.


However, it’s not until later, after Ultra Boy helps rescue Pete Ross from the bank vault that Marla tells him he is “now a full-fledged Legion member!”  And we know that U-Boy wasn’t posing as Gary anymore, because he tells Superboy that he and Marla were about to leave Smallville when they spotted Pete’s plight.


I went back and forth on this.  That word “now” in Marla’s speech bubble wrapped around my axle.  It sure seemed to say that Ultra Boy was not a full-fledged Legionnaire until after he abandoned his Gary Crane identity.  It was a pretty slim thing on which to base a determination.  On the other hand, no matter which way I went with, I was shaving it thin.


Finally, I came to a ruling.  The task set before Ultra Boy, in order to become a full-fledged Legionnaire, was to uncover Superboy’s secret identity.  Once he did that, he was in the club.  Not figure out that Superboy is Clark Kent and we’ll talk about it some more once you get back to the thirtieth century.


So, in my opinion, the instant Ultra Boy correctly determined that Clark was Superboy, he passed his test and he was a full-fledged Legionnaire.  And he was still Gary Crane when he did that.  Marla’s later use of the word “now” was just a random choice of words.


So, yes, “Gary Crane” counts as one of the correct answers to the question.



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


Technically, the Fogey was the first one to answer this correctly.  But he was only guessing.  It was Fraser Sherman who knew it definitively.  And he even provided the correct citation.  In Inferior Five # 2 (May-Jun., 1967), we see (or rather “don’t see”) Invisible Kid dropkicking hack composer George M. Coldham out of the Legion Clubhouse.



And that leaves the question with which everyone---Philip and the Fogey and BB and Mr. Sherman---came up “Maggie’s drawers”.


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


No, it’s not the President of the United Planets.


I got a chuckle out of seeing that “rubber stamp” response pop up over and over.  I figure it was because of one of two things.   Either, “President of the U.P.” is one of those “But I Always Thought . . . “ notions, or you Googled “the Legion Constitution” and after selecting one of the dozen hits that came up, that’s what it said---the President of the U.P.


Remember, guys, I said up front that all questions and answers would come from the time frame set down by Adventure Comics # 247 (Apr., 1958) to # 372 (Sep., 1968).  Now, if you went the Google route, all of those hits for “the Legion Constitution” are from sites that took their information, most likely, from one of two sources.


Legion of Super-Heroes # 308-10 (Feb. though Apr., 1984) published a version of the Legion Constitution.  And this was reprinted in Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes # 2-6 (Jun. through Oct., 1988).  Either one is well past the cut-off point of my quiz.  They don’t count.


In the time-frame I outlined, the Legion Constitution was published only once.  In two parts, appearing in Adventure Comics # 325-6 (Oct. and Nov., 1964).  It was the latter issue that contained the part about to whom the Legion leader is answerable to.


And here it is . . . .


I would have accepted simply “the Commissioner of the Science Police”.  But I would have awarded extra credit (and I know how much Mr. Portelli loves extra credit) for knowing that, for most of the Legion’s run in Adventure, the commissioner of the S.P. was Commissioner Wilson . . . .





But don’t kick yourselves too hard, fellows.  Each one of you demonstrated a rarefied level of Silver-Age Legion knowledge.  I know my old friend Brian enjoyed this kind of Silver-Age mental workout, and I have a hunch that I’ll be seeing some of these questions again on another forum.  Heh.


And it was a genuine pleasure to see my old discussion pal and a statesman emeritus on this site, the Silver-Age Fogey, chime in.  I’ve missed the perspective he brings to this kind of stuff.  And the more of Mr. Sherman’s comments I read, the more I’m certain he deserves a seat at the head table, too.


So, Philip, did you get your money’s worth?

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Comment by Commander Benson on June 18, 2013 at 12:20pm

"Now name Lana Lang's three brothers."

Larry Lang, from "The Confession of Clark Kent", Superboy # 13 (Mar.-Apr., 1951)

Ronald Lang, from "The Boy Who Outsmarted Superboy", Adventure Comics # 168 (Sep., 1951)

Alvin Lang, from "The Super-Tot of Smallville", Superboy # 26 (Jun.-Jul., 1951) and "Lana Lang's Super-Powers", Superboy # 48 (Apr., 1956)


Now, speaking of obscure relatives . . . with regard to his foster family, who is the adult Clark Kent of Earth-One's only living first cousin?  (Pre-Crisis, of course.)






Comment by Philip Portelli on June 18, 2013 at 1:07pm

Well, it's not Silver Age but it's Pre-Crisis: Jillian Kent from Superman Family #191 (O'78). She was the daughter of his uncle Burt and became the heir of his rich uncle Kendall.

P.S. If I'm right, it's not a feat of memory. Last month I took out the entire run of Superman Family out of storage and they're right in front of me!

Comment by Commander Benson on June 18, 2013 at 1:13pm

Why am  I not surprised?


Jillian Kent, it is, indeed.  And that's why I specified "pre-Crisis" and not "Silver Age".


Not bad for a fellow who didn't know the only person the Silver-Age Legion leader was answerable to.  :)


Comment by Philip Portelli on June 18, 2013 at 1:28pm


Getting back to the Silver Age and Mon-El counting because he was in the Phantom Zone, when he was released from the PZ permanently in Adventure #305, he returned there briefly to confront his tormentors. Three were depicted; one could have been General Zod without his hat but another was definitely Jax-Ur though he wasn't identified. The third one I have no idea. Still could they be counted as answers as well?

BTW, they really created a problem, didn't they? In Adventure #305, there are at least five people in the PZ in the 30th century (Mon, Jax-Ur, the other two guys and the "Mighty" Gazor) but by #323 there's only one: Gazor. So where did the others go? Were they paroled? Escaped? Sent to Rokyn or Daxam?

BTW (Part 2), in Superman Family #191, Clark seemed to have some issues with his uncle Kendall Kent. I know that he tried to adopt Clark when he was younger (against his will) but was it really as bad as they made it seem?  

Comment by Fraser Sherman on June 18, 2013 at 1:42pm

Someone brought that Phantom Zone question up when the story aired, pointing out that Jax-Ur had "life" which in the Zone is forever. The editor's response was that he could have received parole or that he could have died trying to escape. But nobody brought up Adventure 305 IIRC--maybe a mass breakout between the two issues?

Kendall Kent's story was one of those comedy-of-errors things: He gets a bump on the noggin, becomes convinced Clark has accepted so Clark has to play along for fear of what else, causing permanent damage. Kendall then insists on Clark flaunting his wealth (chauffeured to school eating catered meals alone) so everyone , having already assumed Clark sold out Ma and Pa for filthy lucre, now hates him even more. I wouldn't say he had any harsh feelings toward his uncle but I'm sure it wasn't a pleasant memory.

Comment by Commander Benson on June 18, 2013 at 2:42pm

It appears that Mr. Sherman and I are on the same wavelength.  He made a point about the thirtieth-century Phantom-Zone inmates that had occurred to me.  And he also delivered a good synopsis of the first story in which Kendall Kent appeared.


As to the matter of the Phantom-Zone criminals who appeared in Adventure Comics # 305 reconciling with the last prisoner, the Mighty Gazor, of Adventure Comics # 323, I agree with Fraser.  There's an untold tale there, waiting to be told.  Jax-Ur and the other two guys managed to escape from the Zone (prior to issue # 323, of course), and it was up to the early-Silver-Age Legion to deal with the criminal rampage of three super-powered and thoroughly reprehensible Kryptonians.


Now, as to the matter of Kendall Kent.  I dug out the three stories which included Kendall "---"The Millionnaire of Smallville", from Superboy # 119 (May, 1965) and "Clark Kent, Madcap Millionnaire", from Superboy #180 (Dec., 1971) and "The Super-Hero Money Can't Buy", from Superman Family # 191 (Sep.-Oct., 1978). 


Both Kendall and Jonathan Kent's other brother, Burt, were mentioned earlier, in "The Notorious Captain Sinbad Kent", from Superboy # 79 (Mar., 1960), but they were not seen "on camera", as it were.


As I said, Mr. Sherman provided a spot-on synopsis of the events of "The Millionnaire of Smallville".  The only thing I would add is, as depicted in the tale, while Kendall had a strong longing to have Clark as his son, he did not try to force the issue or attempt chicanery to get Clark away from his foster-parents.  This was strictly another version of the standard we-have-to-play-along-with-the-victim's-delusion-otherwise-the-shock-will-be-too-much-for-him plot.


Kendall was pretty much depicted the same way in his next appearance, "Clark Kent, Madcap Millionnaire".  While hosting his brother and sister-in-law and Clark at his estate, Kendall once again expresses a strong desire to have Clark as his son, but doesn't overtly attempt to use his money or influence to make it happen.  It's clear, though, that he hopes Clark will be swayed by the luxurious lifestyle his uncle lives.


The dramatic hook of this tale is that Clark's head definitely seems to be turned at the prospect of all the wealth and insists upon a trial period with Kendall as his father.  Over the following few days, the newly affluent Clark turns into a spoilt, self-absorbed brat.


I don't think anyone needs a spoiler warning to reveal the underlying reason for Clark's actions was that he had tumbled to the fact that someone in Kendall's circle had embezzled millions from his uncle and was now trying to kill the old man to cover it up.  Interestingly, at the end of the story, after the truth has come out, Kendall is not disabused of the notion that Clark is impudent and self-indulgent.  In digust, Kendall returns Clark to Jonathan and Martha.


Apparently, that part of it was water under the bridge by the time of "The Super-Hero Money Can't Buy".  The writer, Gerry Conway, more or less, depicts Kendall as Leo Dorfman, who wrote the two earlier stories, did.  There is one stand-out moment, however---which is probably what triggered your question, Philip---when Kendall reminds the now adult Clark that he could have been the rich old man's son.


"I already had a father, Uncle Kendall," replies Clark.


"An adopted father, Clark."


"But still my father!"


Followed by a panel depicting an uncomfortable silence between the two.


This was the first time any genuine sort of friction was shown between Kendall and Clark.  It may have been simply auctorial licence on the part of Conway, or he may have misremembered the nature of Kendall's interactions with Clark in the previous stories.  (I lean toward the latter explanation, since Conway also inaccurately characterises Burt Kent in Clark's description of him.)


So, to answer your question, Philip:  no, the earlier relationship between Kendall and Clark Kent wasn't as bad as it was implied to be in Superman Family # 191.

Comment by Philip Portelli on June 18, 2013 at 2:53pm

Thanks, Commander. That was the exchange that got my attention. In fact, it was the most memorable thing from the story as Clark nearly gets angry, defending the honor of Jonathan Kent. How apropos that Father's Day just passed!

Anyway, Clark should count himself lucky. Every time one of Bruce Wayne's or Dick Grayson's (or Alfred's, for that matter) relatives showed up, it never made their lives easier!

Comment by Luke Blanchard on June 19, 2013 at 5:25am

Fraser Sherman said: "But nobody brought up Adventure 305 IIRC--maybe a mass breakout between the two issues?"


Or else the Zoners in #305 were figments of Mon-El's imagination, Mon-El having been in the Zone a long time.

Comment by Brian H. Bailie on June 19, 2013 at 1:16pm

Good thinking, BB!

A higher compliment I could not ask for. My work here is done!

Actually, I'm surprised how well I did, considering that I was never that big a Legion fan in my youth. But I am disappointed that I missed Question 9. Fan I might not have been, but I did read them all, and the Legion certainly had enough dealings with the Science Police so that I should have known that.

Having said that, I can't help but wondering, could that technically make the Commissioner of the Science Police a more powerful position to hold than the President of the United Planets? Something to think about, anyway...

Comment by Richard Willis on June 20, 2013 at 5:45pm

For that matter, how does anyone stay sane spending all those years in the Phantom Zone? Did a later story address this?

Luke Blanchard said:

Or else the Zoners in #305 were figments of Mon-El's imagination, Mon-El having been in the Zone a long time.


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