Monday, January 11, 2016

Secret Origins (v2) #25

Secret Origins  (v2) #25 (April, 1988)
title: "The Dreams of Youth"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Rick Stasi
inker: Dick Giordano
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Mark Waid 
cover: Curt Swan & Murphy Anderson?
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
No Legionnaires appear in the actual story. Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad appear in flashbacks, along with cameos by Triplicate Girl, Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, and Chameleon Boy, plus the then-current membership in a pin-up appearance

RJ Brande

unnamed assassins, universal evil
On Locus-4 star-port, four children are bored, running around wildly waiting for their cruiser to depart. In their enthusiasm they bump into an older man, who is amused when they tell him they were "playing Legionnaires and crooks." He offers to tell them the story of how the Legion began.
He tells them how RJ Brande met the three founders on a cruiser from Titan to Earth, and how the three young people saved his life during an assassination attempt. After Brande investigates them and their stories pan out, he offers them a chance to create The Legion. Cosmic Boy was looking for a job, Saturn Girl was going to be a Science Police officer, and Lightning Lad was looking for his missing brother, so their fortunes fold into Brande's vision completely.
Brande pays for the public relations on "his" Legion, not admitting to anyone that one of the reasons he is being so charitable in creating the Legion was to try to find his own missing son, who eventually joins as Chameleon Boy.
Eventually, these three heroes are successful in creating a "legion" of super-heroes.

Ironically, the four children do not believe the old man, telling him that they already knew that the Legion was created by the United Planets. The old man, who is of course RJ Brande himself, understands that this is how legends live on. He also knows that he will never forget that time.

As secret origin stories go, this one is okay. If you have read the original on which this story is based (from Superboy #147, you can read that story here) you know that this is less dramatic and more complicated version. This time around it's really more of an RJ Brande origin story. However, there still is something inherently entertaining about a rich benefactor prompting good kids to continue to "do good."

Other than that, there isn't much here that marks it as different from the original. I do like the inclusion of Superboy, who is considered a legend at this time. That was a clever way to include him here without actually including him, Post-Crisis.

A few random thoughts. Does anybody not realize that this is RJ Brande himself telling this story? As a long-time Legion fan I recognized him immediately. I just wonder about other, more random Secret Origins fans; did they not realize this was older, larger Brande from the flashbacks? And as for Brande, he complains that he wants to be left alone, immediately prior to telling a long-winded origin story to a group of kids who would rather be off playing.
It was nice to see the founders in their civilian clothes, but the next day when they are called in to meet with Brande....they're all still wearing the same clothes. I can understand poor Cosmic Boy only having one suit, but shouldn't the others have brought a change of clothes? This seemed lazy.
Nice parallelism with the previous panel
On the other hand, I liked the parallelism of these two scenes (above). The art by then-newcomer Rick Stasi is clean and fresh. His style works well with inker Dick Giordano. The art reminds me of Silver Age greats such as Curt Swan and John Forte. I like it, and the classic costumes still look....well, right, if not necessarily "good."

However, there are quite a few mistakes on the pin-up of the current Legion. For example, Lightning Lass' costume is missing her belt, Colossal Boy's hand seems to be pushing Sensor Girl out of the way, and there is no appearance at all by Magnetic Kid. I can understand the inclusion of Bouncing Boy if he was somebody's favorite, but I don't see why he made the cut but his wife (Duo Damsel, who actually appears in the flashback!) didn't. I don't know if these faults are because of Stasi or Giordano; in the end I blame editor Mark Waid for not seeing that the art was corrected.

As for the cover, it is not one of my favorites. Although I like the idea of the Legionnaires visiting the Space Museum to learn about Golden Age heroes, the picture as drawn seems too static to me. And the inclusion of Earth-1 Hawkman and the silhouette of Batman seems distracting. I would have preferred Colossal Boy "sizing up" the Atom instead. Or maybe an appearance by Shrinking Violet, one "little person" to another? And the pseudo Interlac "words" in the center are just distracting, as they are not actually Interlac letters at all.

Click on this pic to Colossal Boy it
Our pals Ryan Daly and Martin Gray do a review of this story over at Ryan's Secret Origins Podcast. I actually wrote my review before listening to it, and found their opinions to be close to mine! If you are interested, please give it a listen. Tell them the Legion of Super-Bloggers sent you!

Science Police Notes:  
  • This story occurs sometimes after the events of Legion (v3) #17, when RJ Brande quit his life and went roaming the galaxy. 
  • Saturn Girl admits to being 14 years old, and says that the other two future Legionnaires look younger than she. 
  • The pin-up does not feature then-current Legionnaire Magnetic Kid, but does feature non-members Star Boy and Bouncing Boy, and Protean ally Proty II. Maybe Pol Krinn is behind photo-hog Chamelon Boy's head. 
  • In the same pin-up, Tellus is drawn without his breathing helmet. 
  • Although the cover is not signed, it is very clearly pencilled by Curt Swan. Judging by how Hawkman looks, the inker is probably Murphy Anderson. 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  


  1. The civilian clothes that the founders are wearing appear to me to be a homage to the uniforms they were wearing when they first appeared in Smallville except that the colors of Saturn Girl's original uniform have been reversed.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that, too. It's nice touch for fans to enjoy.