Tuesday, June 20, 2017

TOS: Action Comics #289 Point-Counterpoint

featuring
The Legion of Super Bloggers Group Review on
Action Comics #289 (June, 1962)
title: "Superman's Super Courtship!"
writer: Jerry Siegel
artist: Jim Mooney
editor: Mort Weisinger

Mission Monitor Board: 
Supergirl, Superman, Phantom Woman, Cosmic Man, Chameleon Man, Duo Damsel, Sun Man, Saturn Woman, Lightning Man

Guests:
Helen of Troy, Super Woman of Staryl, Fred Danvers, Edna Danvers

Opponents:
Cupid?

Synopsis:
Supergirl sees a romantic movie on TV about a man who loses his love because he didn't speak up before she gets married. So Supergirl decides to play Cupid and introduce Superman to "the right girl." Her three candidates are Helen of Troy, Saturn Woman of the Adult Legion, and Superwoman from the planet Staryl.

Russell: Supergirl's back-up story gets the cover in this issue, as Superman is her co-star. And besides a love-sick romance cover, there is a nifty splash page re-presented below where Supergirl and Cupid are in cahoots to get Superman married....! Ah, the Silver Age.

Anj: Personally, I absolutely love this story for its Silver Age wackiness. It also shows just how earnest Supergirl is at this time, trying desperately to impress Superman. And I love the splash page with Cupid's arrow mimicking the direction of the giant Fortress key, also shaped like an arrow!

Russell: I wonder if this story would have been better if the real honest-to-goodness Cupid had appeared. I kinda expected him to....!

Anj: Or, at the very least, Aphrodite!

Russell: So Linda sees a romantic movie and begins to think that Superman is lonely. Never having been a teen-aged girl with an older cousin I can't really judge the validity of these feelings, but.... wouldn't she be more interested in finding herself a boy-friend? Isn't it about time for her to travel into the future and hang out with Brainiac 5?
I do like that scene with Mr. and Mrs. Superman hosting an alien for dinner, though!

Anj: Part of the issue of these earliest stories is that Supergirl wants Superman's approval. All along she has been told that she has to remain hidden until her powers are better controlled. There are issues where Superman banishes her from Earth. And while this takes place after she has been revealed to the world, she still is deep in the shadow of his cape. I think she wants him to be happy.

Russell: Supergirl decides that the most beautiful woman in history will make the perfect mate for the mightiest man in the world. Supergirl even thinks about how Superman and Helen if they were to become a couple would change history, but she tosses that idea aside for the sake of Love.
I love the idea that the writer gives us the information on Helen, daughter of King Tyndareus, future wife of King Menelaus....and then threw in a minotaur and a unicorn in that bottom panel! So much for historical accuracy! Sheesh!

Anj: The face that launched a thousand ships meets the man from tomorrow. Why not have Superman be with the woman historically noted as the most beautiful?


Russell: Helen of Troy doesn't work out (the commute would have been awful!),  so the Kryptonians fly back to the Fortress of Solitude in 1962, Supergirl hits on the idea of visiting the adult Legion of Super-Heroes to find Superman a wife there (then?). They travel into the future, but to Superman's surprise Supergirl leads him 10 years farther into the future than the era they usually visit. They come out in the era of the Adult Legion, and what's more, even though it's June they come out at the Legion's Christmas Office Party.  
This seems weird. SuperMAN has been shown to visit his adult pals, not the teen-aged versions he hung out with as SuperBOY. Seems like the writer is getting his time travelling characters mixed-up. 

Anj:  You get a sense of that need for Superman's approval in the top panels. She feels bad that she 'goofed'.
 There are a bunch of archaic gender issues in this scene. Supergirl does super-speed cleaning because that is what women do. One day Superman's wife will be cleaning the Fortress!  I love how Superman doesn't think that he'll ever get married. He is married to his work. But Supergirl is undeterred. So it is off to the future.

Russell: The Legionnaires just happen to have photos of the Super Cousins to give them? That seems AWFULLY convenient. Then Supergirl and Superman feel duty-bound to rush out to get some last-minute gift for the Legionnaires. Probably socks.

Anj: Ahh .. is there any easier way to promote romance than misteltoe and egg nog?? And I definitely like the groovy futuristic Christmas tree!

Russell: The present the Super Cousins give their friends are anti-gravity rocks to take the place of the Legion's bulky flight belts....which, if you look closely, you'll notice no one is wearing. I guess that Superman forgot about Legion Flight Rings. His friends are too polite to say anything.
And here we go, the point of Supergirl's plot! Superman meets Saturn Woman and, after several years absence (?), he begins to notice just how wonderful she is.
Of course, we should join the Man of Steel in forgetting that he just saw her in Superman #147 in August. So...yeah. That was less than a year ago.
And *still* Supergirl is not interested in re-lighting her own romance with Brainiac 5? The poor guy isn't even shown in the group crowd scenes.

Anj: Aww Russell, she is a girl on a mission. There is all time to figure out her relationship with Brainy. Right now she has her eyes on the prize, setting up Superman with Saturn Woman. And he is loving it! He MUST kiss her again! And to think that Imra is sometimes portrayed as one of the iciest Legionnaires.

Russell: The weirdness factor of teen-age Supergirl meeting adult Brainiac 5 would have been off the charts!!
Russell: And HERE are the panels that make this story important in the overall Legion history. Lightning Lad Man, in only his eighth (?) appearance, announces that Saturn Woman is his wife. Thus one of the strongest legs of the Legion mythos is established....right here, in a throw-away romance novella. In a capricious act of fate, writer Jerry Siegel chooses Garth and Imra as a couple instead of, say, Sun Boy and Phantom Girl. Or Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy! Just imagine how Legion history would have been changed if Supergirl *had* picked one of the other female Legionnaires to try to get Superman interested in. And poor Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel, who DID have feelings for Superman....! Yep, Love Stinks.
I do wonder why Supergirl just assumes Phantom Woman is single, though. I chuckle every time I re-read that panel.

Anj: Look at that last panel! Adult Superman is basically macking on his jailbait cousin!! That hand on her chin is just cringeworthy. And the only reason he isn't marrying Kara is because of Kryptonian laws, the embers of a dead culture.  Maybe he threw her in the orphanage so he wouldn't be tempted??

Brrrrr ....

Russell: Supergirl finally admits to Superman that she is trying to hook him up with a super-wife, and Superman admits that he would only fall in love with an actual super-girl, like, his cousin. Except that that is creepy. Even though on Earth some cousins do get married. But on Krypton it was illegal. So why are we even talking about it? Baseball! Grandma!!
Not grossed out at all, Supergirl decides to use Superman's super computer to search the universe for a "duplicate" of her! She finds an older version of herself on the planet Staryl, and begs Superman to "check her out." I am not making this up.
Of course, they fall deeply in love. In one day. Superwoman is willing to come to Earth to live with her man, but when she does they realize that Earth's yellow sun is poisonous to her.

Anj: Yeah, the whole 'let me find my universal doppelganger so Superman can satisfy his need for unnatural caresses with someone his own age' adds a layer of weirdness to this. I suppose the term 'kissin' cousins' exists for a reason. 

Russell: In probably the best part of this story, Superman offers to stay. on. Staryl. He must really be in love!! However, Superwoman refuses to let him give up Earth, and they reluctantly part. Oddly, they were willing to have HER give up HER planet for HIM. Hmmm....
We never even get a name for this woman, but we do get a real name: Luma Lynai. (What the hell is up with all the LLs in Superman's life?)
So, to sum up: this utterly silly and forgettable adventure is still being read more than 50 years after it was published because it established that Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl would get married and stay in the Legion. Life is funny, isn't it?
Hopefully next time we'll get a real story, haha!

Anj: Superman is denied his love. And Luma Lynai is denied hers as well. It is amazing that Superman is willing to give up his Earthly duties to stay on Staryl. Just a few pages earlier he said he would never marry because he needed to stay on Earth. How fickle he is!!! Still, I guess he can wait 3 more years for Kara to become legal. Maybe he'll start calling her Luma. Ugh ... this whole thing could become some creepy super-powered version of Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Still,  I have to say that Supergirl's heart is in the right place. She wants Superman to be happy and in love. Who amongst us hasn't tried to set a friend or family member up? If only we didn't get that sleazy incestuous pedophilia in the middle there!

Science Police Notes: 
  • This story has been reprinted at least six times, including in Adventure Comics (digest) #496, Superman In the Sixties TPB, Showcase: The Legion Vol 1, Showcase: Supergirl Vol 2, and The Legion Archives Vol 1. 
  • Superman presents the Legion with anti-gravity material to take the place of their Flight Belts, even though chronologically speaking they already have Legion Flight Rings. 
  • Then-current Legionnaires Brainiac 5, Bouncing Boy, Invisible Kid, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, and Colossal Boy are not shown. 

Milestone: This story establishes that Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad will one day get married, yet stay in the Legion. 

5 comments:

  1. A hilarious story, and Supergirl is so adorable as always. I'm not even creeped out by the incest blatant implications because it's so silly than it's funny. Nowadays, creepy scenes are still creepy but they aren't so silly that you can laugh them off.

    And honestly I think Action Comics #260 or Lois Lane #55 are creepier.

    I still wonder... why did Imra didn't bother telling -or mind-broadcasting- Superman she was married? Geez, the first hint of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad's romance was Garth getting angry because his wife enjoys other man's kisses!

    And then you have... THAT panel. I don't know what is creepier: them being first cousins, Superman finding his underage, half-his-age cousin wife material, Supergirl finding his interest flattering, the only obstacle being his long-dead homeworld's laws, Supergirl searching a duplicate of her, or the story being written by Superman's father himself.

    Okay, I admit Supergirl searching an adult doppelganger doesn't creep me out too much. After seeing Superman proclaiming his first is the perfect woman I was already desensitized.

    I remember a letter column (unfortunately I don't remember the issue or book) where a reader pointed out cousins can in fact get married -in reference to this story- and the editor replied the obstacle weren't Kryptonian or Earth laws but Supergirl being underage and half of Superman's age. Duly noted.

    "this utterly silly and forgettable adventure"

    Forgettable? Earth-One Superman never lived this scene down! XD

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  2. Back in my day being "cousins" with someone was code for being in a lesbian relationship.

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  3. I always thought the movie "Kissing Cousins" was about something else, haha!

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  4. Notice Saturn Woman wasn't exactly putting the kibosh on things there.

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  5. Makes you wonder why Superman didn't start macking on the older, more...mature Power Girl during all those JLA/JSA team-ups, doesn't it?

    I only knew of this infamous story for it's creepy incest angle. I had no idea this was where Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl's romance was established!

    Nice recap fellas!

    Chris

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