Monday, December 29, 2014

TOS: Action Comics #267 Group Review

The Legion of Super Bloggers Round-Table Discussion on
Action Comics #267 (Dec, 1960)

title: "The Three Super-Heroes"
writer: Jerry Siegel
artist: Jim Mooney
letterer: Joe Letterese
editor: Mort Weisinger

Mission Monitor Board:  
Supergirl (invited to join), Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid


The Legionnaires themselves


The Legion comes to the 20th Century to meet Supergirl and invites her to apply to join their ranks in the 30th.

(Round table discussion between Siskoid, Anj, Russell Burbage, Tim Wallace, and Kyle Benning)

Siskoid: CALLING THIS MEETING TO ORDER. I take it you've read Action Comics #267, "The Three Super-Heroes" which will feature quite a few more than that, and introduce three new Legionnaires to the DC Universe.
Anj: This is an insane issue for a number of reasons.
Russell: Agreed.I hate the title. Like, the editor had no imagination at all.
Siskoid: It's awful and generic, and off the mark. It's got 8 super-heroes in it.
Tim: It makes me think of a "Hardy Boys" book... "The Haunted Fort", "The Flickering Torch", "The Three Super-Heroes".

Just another day in the Silver Age, as Linda "Supergirl" Lee is taking the bus to a Superman exhibition, which might be delayed because of a pesky draw bridge needing to let a ship through. She secretly springs into action.

Anj: Supergirl had been around for a little over a year and was still in the "stuck in the orphanage, unable to operate in the open, scared of crossing Superman" part of her early career. A nice reminder of super-dickery of the time: "Hey, I thought I was alone in the universe. And now I have a Kryptonian relative! Let me throw you into an orphanage and ignore you! That's it, I'll ignore you unless you do something wrong. Then I'll threaten to banish you off Earth." The early part of this story, helping the orphans get to Metropolis on time has the feel of this era, where Supergirl was mostly helping, like a guardian angel, rather than fighting big bads.
Russell: I think part of the reason I didn't like Supergirl for years was because she was so timid. Like for 99% of this story.
Siskoid: Her whole shtick was keeping out of sight and not affirming herself. Secret weapon? Or Superman not wanting her to steal his thunder?
Kyle: Do you think that was supposed to be a commentary on something?
Russell: Kyle, you mean like the role of women or something?
Kyle: Like a women's lib thing?
Tim: That's what I was thinking.
Siskoid: From Siegel? I'm not sure I buy it. In this story, I mean.
Kyle: Yeah, obviously not to the extent of The Cat #1 from Marvel.  I've been binging on Diabolu Frank's podcast, so the idea is kind of fresh in my head and popped up looking at this story.
Siskoid: We're a decade before that, so it's probably not feminist, though we can read it that way today.
Tim: I'm "super" glad the fair is in SuperMAN's honor...the last 2 stories showed futures that seemed to only focus on the exploits of SuperBOY.
Siskoid: Hahaha. Well he's certainly fostered a cult of personality.
Russell: Obviously the Legion "series" was considered just another part of the Superman Family at this point.
Siskoid: And it's the worst exhibition ever, by which I mean it's a death trap. His demonstration almost electrocutes somebody, a lion won't get in its cage (what is it doing OUT of its cage?), and a cable breaks on the ride.
Tim: Did anyone else think the winks and secret relationship had a creepy subtext? Like dating a girl you were embarrassed to introduce to your friends... but with cousins!
Siskoid: There are many instances of "if you weren't my cousin, we could totally do it" in Silver Age Superman stories, Tim.
Tim: I know... I try not to think of them too much, lol.
Kyle: Yeah you ain't joking about the cousin love, holy crap the 80-Page Giant issue of Action Comics with all Supergirl stories is a reprint collection full of them, yikes!
Russell: Five other girls at the exhibition think Superman winked at *them.* They are not wrong.
Siskoid: But only his gal Linda can shake water off better than Krypto!
Russell: I thought of that, too! What an odd exhibition of powers.
Tim: Yes, a very odd moment indeed!
Siskoid: It's all she allowed! She can't use them publicly.
Russell: One last thing about Supergirl's secret ID... She didn't want to stop the cyclotron because it would betray her secret, but there's Jimmy Olsen wanna-be Lightning Lad standing there as proud as can be doing his business, and nobody says nothin'. Weird.
Tim: Glad that wasn't just me, Russell... When "Linda" meets Lightning Lad he does look like Jimmy Olsen! Green blazer, bow tie... not to mention red hair.
Siskoid: It's a cunning disguise because Jimmy was always exhibiting weird powers. I like how the Legionnaires are all going "be seeing you" with the trademark salute from The Prisoner... even though that didn't exist yet. Well for them it did, I suppose.

In a repeat of Adventure Comics #247, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad troll Supergirl, teasing her with their knowledge of her secret identity. Twist: They claim to be the CHILDREN of the original Legionnaires!

Anj: This is only the 3rd Legion story which shows just how deep Supergirl's involvement with the team is. I don't know which version of this story you all are reading. The original story has these Legionnaires as the kids on the original group, a sort of second generation. But in all the reprints I've seen the words are changed to make this THE Legion. That's why Colossal Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Invisible Kid can be thrust into mainstream.
Russell: When I got to that part of the story I literally stopped and thought, WTH!?!? Obviously, the editor(s) did not understand the idea of TIME TRAVEL.
Siskoid: Probably trying to keep the generations apart, Superboy with Generation 1, Supergirl with generation 2. It just didn't grow into 2 separate franchises. Can anyone confirm the differences Anj mentions? The Archives seem to be the same as the original.
Kyle: I'm in the Showcase Presents, a real head scratcher - obviously a case of a lot happening off-panel - apparently it was assumed that Superman had told Supergirl all about his exploits in the future.
Siskoid: If we're trying to "fix" continuity, we could say the Legionnaires are lying because they don't want to pollute the time line with information either Super-person shouldn't know. Maybe they were taken aback by her claims that Superman told her all about his adventures with them, because THEY HADN'T HAPPENED YET. We ourselves postulated that Supergirl was probably inducted before Superboy was.
Tim: I did have to do a double take when they ID'd themselves as "children"... I'm still a bit of a Legion n00b, but I was like "Wait! What the what?!"
Russell: I'm with Siskoid, they were probably trying to not confuse the poor girl. You can see how exasperated she gets on pages 6-7, haha.
Tim: Poor girl must have quite a complex!
Russell: Haha, Tim, I can only imagine how that scene probably confused you!
Tim: Yup... I know there are different retcons and such, but this early in the game? lol
Siskoid: What's more confounding? That these are the Legion's lookalike kids? Or that Supergirl keeps her Linda Lee robot in a tree? In other words, Tim, Legion continuity was ALWAYS screwy.
Tim: The tree was brilliantly bizarre... but if Batman can have a cave, why can't Supergirl have a tree?
Russell: Those Super Robots always freaked me out. "I will have my Linda Lee Robot take my place." I think I read that story, it's called The Age of Ultron.
Kyle: Quick Comet, to the Super Tree!
Siskoid: Russell, you mean Future's End?
Kyle: If this story was told nowadays, she would have to go on a super tirade and abuse her powers, creating another DC Dark Future event story arc.
Russell: Kyle, haha. My head hurts again.
Kyle: I wonder how many people that say the Legion is impenetrable start with the first Archive or Showcase Presents and get to this story, do a double take, and throw in the towel out of confusion.
Siskoid: The next time they try to do "generations", it's by introducing the adult Legion. At least it makes sense that Supergirl would want to adventure in another century where she CAN use and hone her powers the way Superman won't let her in the present. It's such a natural idea, Superboy poached it in the current continuity, and on the Legion cartoon show.
Russell: That panel on page 9 always breaks my heart, because her enthusiasm is SO evident... and then she never really did hang out with them all that much.
Siskoid: Mooney gives her the biggest eyes
Kyle: So despite her apparently aging into a Superwoman she still has the appearance of a wide eyed youth?
Siskoid: You're getting way ahead of the story, Kyle.
Russell: Kyle, go back in time to page 10 please.
Kyle: Pages stuck when I flipped, sorry about that.
Siskoid: LOL. Page 10 really IS like going back in time, because we've seen this exact sequence before!

Supergirl accepts their invitation to try out for the Legion and meets the current membership, including the first appearances of Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, and Chameleon Boy. Or, you know, their children.
Russell: Was Mort the editor of all of these stories? Because there are SO many inconsistencies between the members.
Siskoid: He was, yes.
Russell: Here we get Gim, Cham, and Lyle, and yet they were NOT the 4th, 5th, or 6th members to join.
Anj: Here are the Legionnaires introduced in Action #276 when Supergirl ACTUALLY joins: Phantom Girl, Triplicate Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, and Brainiac 5. So there are NINE classic Legionnaires introduced in Supergirl stories!
Siskoid: Anj is naturally excited. Anything to make Supergirl seem more important.
Tim: I was glad to see the labels were back in place once they got to the future. That was missing in the 2nd story, and we all know how confusing the future can be! Sadly though, the ice cream shop still only has 9 flavors.
Tim: Wait, nine Legionnaires? Nine ice cream flavors? Coincidence?
Siskoid: The museum's changed names though, no longer the Jules Verne. And the robot slaves are working even harder. REVOLT!
Russell: Tim, this really is just a re-do of the earlier Adventure Comics #247 story, ice cream parlor and all. For goodness' sake.
Tim: Except the Legion isnt quite as mean to Supergirl as they were to Superboy... well... almost.
Kyle: Maybe the number 9 was DC's first attempt at a significant number, their precursor to what would become "52".
Tim: Good call Kyle!
Kyle: The Bible has the numbers 7 & 40, DC apparently has 9 and 52 locked down?
Russell: Can I get an Amen up in here!?!
Siskoid: This is also, I believe, the introduction to the inverse rocket HQ. It's obviously bigger on the inside.
Russell: I think you're right, Siskoid. I had no idea that Jim Mooney designed these three characters either. Or these nine, I guess I should say.
Siskoid: Chameleon Boy is also the Legion's first non-white member, technically. It's about time they actually added characters, because they weren't exactly "legion", if you know what I mean. That seems the whole point of introducing three new members, because they just get a panel apiece and one group shot. Colossal Boy with his big cowboy gloves, and the other two aren't actually drawn in theirs!
Russell: That invisible kid, he's a tricky one

To prove her worth as a Legionnaire, Supergirl digs a tunnel through the Earth, but is turned into an adult by a small piece of Red Kryptonite, making her ineligible for membership after all. Maybe next year.

Anj: Supergirl's idea to carve a tunnel through the Earth is crazy. Amazingly, this isn't the only time she did this. Once, to help a poor couple in Midvale make some money, she tunneled through the Earth to Italy so people in town could see the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a super-telescope. The couple charged a $1 to peek.
Siskoid: On this sequence, I have to say, I love how much traffic there is in the upper atmosphere.
Russell: Speaking of adding members, if they don't vote Supergirl in, who are the other applicants and who IS voted in?!?! We never find out. And I call FOUL cuz AS SOON AS SHE'S BACK Cos tells her they voted somebody else in. As if they already knew she was out...!
Tim: Yeah, before when I said they weren't as mean to Supergirl as they were to Superboy... Here's where they were! Oops, sorry you got too old trying to impress us.
Russell: That's harsh.
Siskoid: Yes, shenanigans need to be called. This is just part of the trolling. As the LSB's constitutional scholar, I can tell you that this ONE SINGLE induction per year rule is complete BS! Think about it. They're teenagers and you must be a teenager to join. How many years would it take for you to get enough members to become a Legion?
Russell: Right, cuz if it was true, the Legion would be around for at least four years already.
Siskoid: And Cos, Imra, and Garth would be at least 18.
Russell: Right!
Tim: Is the Legion the future version of Menudo? Sorry... bad 80's reference,
Siskoid: It's okay Tim, we're all bad 80s people.
Russell: It looks like Invisible Kid would be a song and dance man. Disco Kid!
Siskoid: We'll have to wait for Tyroc on that one.
Kyle: Ever since Red Son, I've wondered if the Kryptonians' powers were slightly diminished when they went into the future. In that story, Superman actually lives to see the sun turn red; I wondered if the sun was getting close to that stage of its life in the 31st century.
Anj: And it is interesting that she is denied entry because of Red Kryptonite aging. This seems to be before the "48 hours" guaranteed wear-off. She worries it could be years!! Someone will need to ask Michael Bailey when the 48-hour RedK rule came into being.
Siskoid: In the real world, and in the comics world, maybe Superman just never shared that information with his cousin. But the Legion would probably know, just more evidence that they just don't want her. Bizarre - Those weird blank scrolls in the time stream. Was this supposed to have dates on them?
Kyle: Good question.
Russell: I never noticed those scrolls before! Weird.
Russell: Inadvertent weirdly erotic comment - "It's a good thing my super-costume can stretch to any size!" Superboy thinks that every time he flies by Smallville High and uses his x-ray vision.
Tim: lmao!
Kyle: Bahahahahaha! So many super innuendos.
Siskoid: LOL! Well, Superwoman is a GIANT.
Russell: haha
Siskoid: Look at her next to Imra at the bottom of page 12.
Russell: That panel on page 13 is why I never liked Supergirl OR Superman from this era. "I'm too ashamed to ask Superman for help...!" COME ON!!!!
Kyle: How did the Kryptonians have such amazing robots? Essentially life model decoys with super powers, why weren't they sharing this technology. Them holding out gives Luthor credibility in his claims.
Russell: Then when her breasts magically disappear, she actually cries, YIPPEE!! Lord have mercy.
Siskoid: I was going to say good on her for not crying after the hazing, unlike a Boy of Steel I know, but...
Tim: But not in front of the Legion. Superboy balled like crazy... twice!
Siskoid: Although it hasn't happened yet. ;-) I'm really obsessed by the timeline of these early stories now.
Russell: Yeah, trying to write up the Who's Who posts and figure who came first, what's on second, I don't know is fourth...
Tim: That would have been a fun read... Abbott & Costello meet the Legion of Super-Heroes!
Siskoid: If Superboy joined after Supergirl, then they tried this trick again LATER, by which time they'd worked out how they could manage to have a person from the past in the team without jeopardizing their own history. So they COULD induct him. As they'd already inducted Supergirl (because Brainiac 5 predates Superboy and joined with Supergirl), so they did right by her first. And since she was all like "Superman told me all about his adventures in the Legion", they HAD to go get Superboy to keep the time line intact.
Russell: On page 8 Supergirl TELLS them that they went back in the past and visited Superboy... They were probably overjoyed to know that they were going to do this, since to them, it's in their future! But then how would they have known that she would know about them if they hadn't met *him* to have him tell her....!? Yikes.
Tim: Wibbly wobbly timey wimey... My head hurts just reading this, let alone trying to sort it out.
Russell: LOL, sorry Tim.
Siskoid: Well, they knew HIS secret identity as well, all a matter of historical record. Lightning Lad's question "Have you ever heard of the Legion" is strange, I'll give you that, but not proof that they have already befriended Superboy. And when she knows all about that, he panics and invents the Next Gen story in case saying too much would screw up the time line.
Russell: Interesting idea.
Tim: That last panel looks like something straight out of a romance comic! Poor Linda looking longingly, wondering if she'll ever be asked on a date--I mean, to join the Legion.
Russell: Tim, same thing, it turns out. I gotta say, this is probably my least favorite early LSH story, for its lack of originality, its art (not a Mooney fan), and for the odd ending. NG.
Siskoid: But yeah, it's one of Weisinger's repackages of an earlier story. With some time-saving rips off Curt Swan's original pages. At least the Legion didn't seem to be such outright jerks. Much nicer to Supergirl.
Tim: It was ok, but definitely had some odd bits to it. But, hey... It was the Silver Age! What DIDN'T seem odd then?
Siskoid: And on that unanswerable question, this meeting is ADJOURNED!

Science Police Notes: 
  • This is the third appearance of the Legion.
  • Supergirl is asked to apply for membership, but due to a technicality, isn't eligible to join. No one joins in her stead. 
First appearances of Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, and the Legion's inverted rocket HQ.

1 comment:

  1. This is when Kid Quantum joined. Just go with me on this.