Monday, November 17, 2014

TOS: Adventure Comics #267 Group Review

The Legion of Super Bloggers Round-Table Discussion on
Adventure Comics #267 (Dec, 1959)

title: "Prisoner of the Super-Heroes"
writer: Jerry Siegel
penciller: George Papp
inker: George Papp
letterer: Joe Letterese
colorist: ?
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan and Stan Kay

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Superboy

Krypto, Ma and Pa Kent

The Legionnaires themselves

The Legion returns to 20th Century to discredit Superboy and exile him from Earth.

(Round table discussion between Siskoid, Russell Burbage, Tim Wallace, and Kyle Benning / Metropolis Kid)

Siskoid: CALLING THIS MEETING TO ORDER. Ok, Legionnaires, moving on to the second ever Legion story...
Tim: On the cover, Saturn girl reminds me of the robot from "Day the Earth Stood Still". Silent, deadly, eye beams... blank expression.
Siskoid: Very Klatuu, yes. The cover that seems to prove Curt Swan didn't really know what her powers were.
Russell: Is this one of those times where the cover was made up first, and then the story was written? The cover is awesome.
Kyle: I wonder who wrote the dialog for the cover? Was it also Siegel? Does the co-creator of Superman really not get how Kryptonite works? Keep him captive forever? Yeah, as in the minutes or possibly hours it takes to kill him.
Siskoid: It has the virtue of having a correctly colored Imra. Interiors have her a brunette with a plum costume, however.
Russell: And LL's costume is right.
Siskoid: Lad for the first time! Boy no more!
Tim: And check it out... No labels this time!
Russell: But I gotta ask... What the hell is up with that bulge around his belt and middle. Like these were hand-me-downs from Mekt or something.
Siskoid: Space... DIAPERRRRR!!!
Russell: A diaper is exactly what it looks like to me
Kyle: Maybe boys on Winath wear diapers until manhood?
Russell: Haha, maybe. I gotta say I like the cover better than the story and the inside art. George Papp, I think? Pretty pedestrian.
Siskoid: Papp's okay, nice open faces, but very stiff body poses.
Russell: Yeah, faces are his best thing by far.
Tim: Looks nice and Silver Agey to me.
Siskoid: You mentioned Jerry Siegel, this is his first Legion story and... well, his prose is... something.
Kyle: Regarding Siegel, his Golden Age Superman was snappy and well scripted; this whole story reeks of Weisinger forcing him to write a stupid story that wasn't his idea. Move on to the first page aka the second cover?

Thoroughly unfriendly, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl each show up in Superboy's time to deal with various threats and Clark is surprised to find Smallville's inhabitants, and the Legionnaires themselves, have turned against him.

Russell: Right off the bat, Siegel's story falters. How the hell do the pedestrians know these kids are from the future!?!?
Kyle: Yes, exactly! It must be those snappy, still very 1950's (within the context of the DCU), clothes they wear. Maybe its the Winath Space Diaper, that apparently screams far future to the residents of Smallville. I feel like the text box on the first page is the inspiration of the theme from the Dark Knight, "die a hero or live along enough to see yourself become the villain" except all Silver Agey.
Tim: The Legionnaires might as well just say "Hold on there, pledge... We're not done hazing you yet!"
Siskoid: Siegel's prose has Superboy recap the previous story on page 2 as a "stirring adventure", who talks/thinks like that?
Kyle: The same egomaniac who later in the story thinks to himself that he has to pull off an extraordinary super feat, not because it's the right thing to do, but because he wants public recognition.
Russell: Funniest panel to me is the two old ladies talking about how Lightning Lad appeals to them more than Superboy does, haha.
Siskoid: Superboy, you've been FOCUS GROUP'D!
Tim: Y'know... I just thought about this... Remember in "Grease" where John Travolta blows off Olivia Newton John and tries to make himself look cool... The Legion is treating Superboy like that!
Kyle: So they want Superboy to wear a leather jacket and take up smoking?
Russell Burbage: I wonder if this is one of the earliest instances of a story referencing a previous story. We're so used to Editor's Notes now, but back in Dec '59, maybe they wanted to remind the readers that these characters had appeared before...?
Siskoid: They'll renounce him three times before the cock crows.
Tim: We're 20 issues later, so a recap is definitely called for.
Kyle: Oh wait he actually does that! On the cover of an issue of Superboy the Comic book the live action TV show comic tie in from the late 80's/early 90's.
(Cover of leather jacket smoking Olivia Newton John wannabe Superboy)

Kyle: The part wear Lightning Lad blows up the robot brain, do you guys remember the Louie the Lightning Bug don't play near power lines PSA from the 90's? I feel like those would have been more effective with something like this panel. "Lightning... It will explode your brain."
Siskoid: No Kyle, I'm a foreigner.
Russell: No, Kyle, I was in Japan during the 90's.
Tim: Kind of... but now I'm thinking about the G.I. Joe PSA's.
Russell: DC should totally sell Lightning Lad out for those types of ads.

To gain Smallville's admiration again, Superboy creates a giant cave/tourist trap, but releases a monster from some underworld. The Legionnaires must intervene. He's been replaced.

....AND the tears start flowing.
Russell: I gotta say, when your own DOG turns against you.... Man, you're screwed.
Tim: You got it Russell... tears... and only 5 pages in? That's faster than last time, right?
Russell: Superboy cries three times in this story.
Siskoid: The key word is ADMIRATION. Not trust... He wants to be admired.
Tim: Do you guys think Pa Kent's comments on page 4 were payback for Superboy mouthing off last time?
Russell: Check out Ma Kent's face in that panel. She is *pissed* She looks like Vicki Lawrence!!
Russell: Mama's Superman Family!! Haha!
Siskoid: To be fair, the Kents go a bit far, wishing they could send him back to the orphanage.
Superboy came back from the future with that "In your face Pa! They remember me!" Now Pa's calling him a whiner!
Kyle: I feel like the Pa Kent in this story is the type of Pa Kent that would tell his son that it's better to let a bus full of children die to protect his secret identity. *Obligatory Man of Steel dig* And I love the mayor in his one panel, proving the politicians in the 50's were just as stupid as politicians today. Great math and common sense. We don't need you Superboy, three super heroes are better than one. Umm....then wouldn't four super heroes be better than three?

Exiling himself from Earth, Superboy joins a "stampede" of super-beings all headed to the Superboy Planet. There he is condemned by the three Legionnaires making up the planet's Council to imprisonment in a kryptonite-lined prison.The planet had been built to honor Superboy, but the Legion's "futurescope" showed him becoming a super-outlaw, five years hence.

Russell: As Superboy flies away from Smallville he, thinks, "...I'll always treasure... certain memories..." i.e. that night with Lana in the park...
The stampede of super-beings is where this story gets truly trippy.
Kyle: By certain memories, he means times he used his x-ray vision on Lana.
Earth doesn't want him anymore... but he might have checked with towns other than Smallville.
Kyle: Yeah no kidding. I'm sure Africa would welcome a super-powered fella.
Tim: Is there a Superman City on a planet somewhere? Once again it seems the future remembers Superboy... not his grown-up deeds didn't merit recognition.
Russell: Tim, he goes bad in five years, didn't you read the story!?
Siskoid: Yes, we're in the present, but they all have Legion jet packs and transsuits.
Tim: Question - if the space stampede is on their way to visit Superboy City, wouldn't they be excited to see he's flying right there with them? Instead they ignore him?
Siskoid: I guess at that point, they hate him and are luring him there.
Russell: Right, and Superboy thinks, I wonder what's going on... JUST ASK SOMEBODY! Even Superboy doesn't ask directions, haha.
Kyle: I like how this doesn't once cross his mind that this may be an entire planet of cult like psychos. I don't know about you, but if I walked into a strange house I've never seen before and the whole thing was a shrine to me, flattery wouldn't be what crept into my mind. I'd dash out the door and never look back.

Siskoid: Well, we'll find out later that the Legion went back in time to "build" this world in his honor.
Tim: Spoilers, Russell! There's a chance folks haven't read this one yet, LOL. Then again, if they read 247, they kind of did.
Siskoid: Before they got angry at him, they really knew what he liked: giant statues of himself all over the place.
Russell: The whole planet idea is just so stupid, I was like... huh? It's all about Admiration, remember!?
Siskoid: And then the Legion is already there, and they're the Council and, no buttons on their desks, but they put Superboy on trial.
Kyle: Legion of Super-Heroes, Bullies, Prosecuting Attorneys, Judges, Jury, and Executioners.
Russell: And, okay, I have a question. Where the heck are the other Legionnaires?
Maybe only the founding three are jerks.
Tim: Does kryptonite spray paint, made from crushed rocks and diluted with paint, really have the same potency as regular kryptonite?
Siskoid: I guess not because it just makes him sweat.
Russell: Those are more tears, haha.
Kyle: No, this is bullshit. That would still kill him. If someone perfected uranium spray paint, it wouldn't just take your voice away and make you crave some Pepto Bismol; it would kill your ass. And apparently, kryptonite is as common as limestone. Logistically, how big would Krypton have to be and how close to Earth for there to be that much of it lying around?
Russell: Kyle, they *grow* Kryptonite on Planet Superboy. It's their biggest export.
Siskoid: The evidence is suspect... if it's a Futurescope, and it comes from the 30th century, but it sees something from the present+5 years... isn't it a Pastscope?
Russell: It's nice that the Legion doesn't believe in a fair trial, too.
Siskoid: Trials are inefficient by the future's standards.
Russell: What kind of "routine procedure" is checking on you + 5 years?!?
Siskoid: I mean, why do you even need a Scope when you have HISTORY at your disposal?
Tim: We've been watching on our Futurescope because our historical records were lost in a fire? WHAT?! That's such an old-timey excuse for the future... the frontier of the 1800's maybe, but the 30th century?
Siskoid: After all, why go to the trouble of doing proper research when you can just look at out-of-context images?
Kyle: Yeah, no kidding. Context not needed to put your "friend" inside a radioactive cage.
Russell: Funny how the LSH sees images on TV and believes them. Sounds like the plot of NURSE BETTY.
Kyle: Or like anyone ever who saw a video on Facebook and now believes in Big Foot, mermaids, or aliens?
Russell: So Saturn Girl on page 9. She willed all the people of Smallville to turn against Superboy. Why didn't she just will Superboy to come to Superboyland?
Kyle: Where's the fun in that, Russell? They can't bully Superboy using that method. It's a good thing that this Superboy didn't grow up in a world with angst teenage drama TV shows. I think if this happened to JMS' Earth-One Superman, he'd put a kryptonite bullet in his head because life is too hard. *Obligatory JMS dig*
Siskoid: Or mentally will Superboy NOT to turn bad? ...So wait... From their perspective, they just changed history.
Russell: Siskoid, the future they saw was wrong, so no, they didn't actually change anything. And it was the past, anyway, so... uh... um... ouch. Time Slip!
No, from THEIR perspective, they tried to and successfully did.
Russell: Siskoid, you'd think they would have some proof that SuperMAN was still a hero.
Siskoid: BURNT RECORDS - This is the origin of why they idolize Superboy and not 'Man or any other adult hero. Somebody tried to destroy the New52 inventory, and the whole DC warehouse burned down. *Obligatory New52 dig*
Russell: Damn that Sun Boy.
Superboy escapes when a deadly Sigellian element turns the kryptonite blue and starts killing all super-humans except him. He saves the day with a super-shout that vibrates the element into non-existence.

Tim: Ok, proving he's not a super-criminal with a super-shout... way too easy!
Kyle: I call this power Firestorm Breath.
Russell: LOL
Kyle: Molecular Rearrangement via yelling YAAH!
Siskoid: Radiation burn? Shout it out!
Russell: So Superboy super shouts, changing an element's molecular structure... and the heroes start bleeding from their ears.
Siskoid: LOL Scrambles their brains so they think that it actually worked.
Kyle: Well, I like how Sigellan is deadly to the three Legionnaires that hail from different worlds, just like Kryptonite does Superboy. Uhm no, no it's not. Kryptonite affects only Kryptonians, Sigellian apparently affects everyone who is an a-hole regardless of their homeworld.

An interstellar call from the President of the United States allows Superboy to tell the truth about the things shown on the futurescope - it was a mop-up job to hide the U.S.'s involvement in the manufacture of gas, and it happened in the present, not the future. Three cheers for Superboy!

Kyle: Are they broadcasting this live? Why does the president know Superboy is being held captive on Planet Superboy? More to the point, why does he have the phone number for planet Superboy HQ? Who the hell was the jerk in the DCU handing out phone numbers for super heroes? I swear every janitor and park ranger had the number for the Hall of Justice in Super-Friends.
Russell: Kyle, he didn't call, he had a radio broadcast that Saturn Girl... "heard"... telepathically. I just turn my radio on, but, whatever.
Siskoid: There's the whole question of just what Superboy was doing for the president. Superboy involved in "mop-up" of illegal weaponized gas manufacturing? News at 11!
Kyle: Can we get to the worst point of the story and possibly weakest moment of the entire pre-Crisis DCU?
Tim: Ma and Pa Kent in rocket packs, Kyle?
Siskoid: That's page 11 and freaking awesome.
Tim: Question... When the Kents fly in, Superboy says "Ma and Pa Kent! And Krypto", but I don't see Krypto! And why does he call them Ma and Pa Kent? Wouldn't it just be Ma and Pa?
Yeah, Papp didn't draw him there!
Russell: He's in my version.
Siskoid: Really? He's not in the original, nor the Archives.
Russell: Haha, no he isn't. That's Saturn Girl playing with my mind. Gosh, I suddenly LOVE this story!!
Kyle: Tim, you don't call your parents Mom Wallace & Dad Wallace?
Tim: No Kyle, I called my mom, Mom... and my dad, well, I called him a dick, but that's another story! LOL
Russell: He's gotta call them the Kents to protect his ID, guys, Secret Identity 101, duh.
Siskoid: So everyone in town calls them Ma and Pa?
Kyle: Good news apparently travels fast. How could a town know the truth in real time when you know... they're on a different planet? Innocent verdicts travel fast... faster than the speed of light apparently.
Russell: "Let's go tell Superboy we were kidding... hey, Kents, you're nominated!"
Siskoid: But beyond the groovyness of the Kents... IN... SPACE!!!!
Russell: Haha, this was trippy!
Tim: I'll be honest, as much as I feel it retreads Adventure Comics #247, what with the bullying, the rushed resolution, the goofy use of powers... I liked it! I'm still new to the Legion, especially the classic stuff, but I'm starting to wonder why I held off as long as I did... This stuff is great in a uniquely Silver Age kind of way!
Russell: Tim, I see you're acquainted with Imra Ardeen, haha.
Tim: No, really... a pretty blonde told me to like it! She wouldn't lie... would she?
Siskoid: Never.
Russell: The moral of the story is, don't believe everything you see on TV, kids!
Tim: Wait... Russell are you trying to tell me those people weren't really stranded on Gilligan's Island?
Kyle: I thought the moral was jump to conclusions and work out the details later?
Siskoid: The Legionnaires were in earnest. They really did think Superboy was going rogue. I mean, they didn't just see it on TV. He released a monster from a cave on their own shift.
Russell: This story is just terrible. There was some Silver Age goodness in 247, but this... ugh.
Kyle: Yeah, I will go on record and say this is the worst Superman-related comic story in the pre-Crisis era. I have read a lot of Silver Age stuff and really dig the innocence and silliness, but this? Wow. Thanks Comics Code.
Siskoid: The very fact that it isn't set in the 30th century tells me Siegel isn't our guy when it comes to the Legion.
Kyle: I still stand by this one being Weisinger's brain child and not Siegel's. I cannot believe that the same guy that gave us the Golden Age Superman dreamed this up.
Russell: I wonder what kind of mail THIS story got? I mean, if we know that 247 got tons of fan letters begging for more Legion, and then THIS appears, what do the fans think? It's hard to imagine.
Kyle: I love these round table discussions, but they carry some bad mojo. My 5-month-old has only been sick twice, and both times it's been the nights we do these, haha.
Russell: Kyle, he'll get better as the stories get good. So he'll be sick for the next year or so, haha!
Siskoid: Maybe the Supergirl story next will be better for the little one.
Kyle: I'll take super hazing over firestorm breath any day.
Tim: I really did like it, but I'll say this... if we cover a third story that features kids from the future bullying a teen hero, then coming to a speedy reconciliation... I'll... I'll...
Russell: Tim, you'll be a committed Legion fan!! haha!
So are we good?
Russell Burbage: Yeah, we're kicking a dead Sigellian horse now. MEETING ADJOURNED!

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is the second appearance of the Legion.
  • Lightning Lad is wearing his traditional Silver Age costume. Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl are wearing variations of what will end up being their Silver Age costumes. 
  • Saturn Girl has brown hair in this story.
  • Lightning Boy is now called Lightning Lad as of this issue.

1 comment:

  1. Y'know guys...these are as much fun to read as they are to take part in!