I don't know why I had to have it but I did. Superboy #185 was that comic that mesmerized me on the magazine shelves of Anning's 5 & 10 waaay back in the summer of 1972. One hundred pages from cover to cover (no ads!) and only fifty cents. Superboy was holding aloft amazing weights with images of grand adventure on them, as a multitude of young heroes watched. I just had to have that 100-Page Super Spectacular, but I was going to have to pay for it.
My older sister Bobbie, who was my comics fix and who had also taught me to read, usually bought comics for me. Although if I'm being honest, some were actually for her and I inherited them. This is where my taste for Wonder Woman and Supergirl in Adventure Comics came from, and that latter one is how I met the Legion for the first time in reprints. When I begged her for Superboy #185 that day I first saw it, she surprised me. If I wanted it, I would have to earn it. She thought it was time I learned the value of money. After all, most comics were only a quarter; this one was twice that.
The comic was book-ended by two Superboy stories, one good, one bad. The second had a Golden Age feel that I wouldn't appreciate 'til I was older, but the first was Silver Age-y and kinda cool. Cigar smoking, pot-bellied Pa Kent gained super powers, put on a costume and mask, and preceded to put Superboy in his place, finally getting the upper hand on the boy. It turned out it was Jax-Ur in disguise, my first exposure to the Phantom Zone. The story also taught me about the Superboy (and later Superman) robots. Cool stuff.
The comic also featured the second adventure of the Teen Titans. Joined by Wonder Girl for the first time (and actually Donna Troy's first appearance, previously Wonder Girl was young Princess Diana) they fought the menace of the big pink pimpled Separated Man… and even used the Beatles as a weapon against him. Man, you just can’t beat Bob Haney. I loved this one and read it over and over again.
But nothing in the comic beat the double-length Legion of Super-Heroes adventure. That was gold.
"The Eight Impossible Missions" from Adventure Comics # 323 taught me everything I needed to know about the Legion all in one story. I was mesmerized, and although it wasn't my first Legion adventure, it was the one that cemented my interest in the team and their legacy. This was like a lesson in Legion lore, with everything from Legion elections, tryouts, honorary members, an interplanetary tour, and just straight up Legion lore.
After the tryouts (both applicants failed), it's time for the Legion to elect a new leader. Rather than a simple election, American citizens take note, the Legion has something else in mind. The leader should be smart and resourceful, so Proty II, Chameleon Boy's shape-shifting pet, proposes that whoever solves his puzzle should be the new leader. In true Silver Age comic book form, everyone agrees and the race begins. Proty gives out eight impossible missions that even Trump and Hilary might have trouble with.
Even at the tender age of six, I had no trouble understanding that Jimmy Olsen came from Superman's time and Pete Ross from Superboy's, but then again I never had a problem with the DC Multiverse either, so what do I know? This is where I learned Pete Ross' big secret, his one note for so many years, and first saw the comics panel I would see repeated over and over again. One stormy night, Pete learned Superboy was actually Clark Kent. Elsewhere we had been told that his knowledge of this would someday save Superman's life and perhaps the world - did we ever see that story?
In the end the puzzle was a bit convoluted, perhaps Proty II and Saturn Girl conspired to get her a second term with this rainy day puzzle? Either way it was fun. And I worked hard to read it. Cleaning up my toys, vacuuming, feeding the cats, picking up wood - my first experience with chores that would someday yield initially fifty cents allowance to buy my own comics - this time led me to a whole new world of entertainment, and Legion history and mythology.
Long live the Legion!