Monday, August 31, 2015

TOS: Action Comics #287 Group Review

The Legion of Super Bloggers Round-Table Discussion on

Action Comics #287 (April, 1962)
title: Supergirl's Greatest Challenge!
writer: Jerry Siegel
penciller: Jim Mooney
inker: Jim Mooney
letterer: Milton Snapinn
editor: Mort Weisinger

Mission Monitor Board: 
Supergirl, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl

Lois Lane, Whizzy (descendant of Streaky), Fred Danvers, Edna Danvers, Streaky

Positive Man, Negative Creature, Chameleon Men

Supergirl helps the Legion defeat the Positive Man and the Negative Creature, and then Chameleon Men imposters.

(Round table discussion between Siskoid, Russell Burbage, Tim Wallace, Glenn Walker and Condo Arlik)

Tim: Kord Kid reporting for duty
Russell: Bilingual Boy is back!
Glenn: Oooh, can i have a codename?
Siskoid: You totally should, SO DECREES SISKOID 5!
Glenn: Continuity Kid?
Siskoid: Haha okay.
(BITS Boy Condo Arlik is running the projector.)
Russell: So... this story features "a mere girl".
Siskoid: Weisinger era sexism strikes again.
Glenn: It -was- 1962... and Mort was never that progressive...
Russell: I have no idea what this splash page represents. Positive Man vs Negative Bird? WTF?
Siskoid: They both look like they have the same polarity to me.
Tim: No idea? C'mon... it' s obviously two constellations fighting for Supergirl's love.
Siskoid: That would have been a better story, Tim.
Just a normal day in Midvale. First, Lois Lane comes to speak a school fan club and immediately notices Linda Lee looks just like Supergirl, only with brown hair. She laughs it off. Then, forest ranger try to blow up a tree stump next to Supergirl's secret tunnel. Supergirl simulates lightning to destroy the stump before they can.
Siskoid: Not to mention the Superman raincoat, of course. Am I the only one who gets a Church of Superman vibe from Lois' talk?
Glenn: Oh yeah, Lois is definitely recruiting for the Church of Rao...
Tim: Let me say right off the bat... They had me at Elvis Presley Fan Club... BIG fan of the King! Of course, I was terribly disappointed when they didn't follow thru on that promise...
Siskoid: I'm all shook up
Glenn: And what a rat Lois is, almost outing poor Linda as Supergirl, whether she was right or not!
Siskoid: When Lois points straight at Linda, I guess we find out what happens when a Kryptonian DOESN'T wear glasses in their secret identity.
Tim: I liked how Lois forgot to mention Superman saved her all those times because SHE put herself in those situations in the first place... threw herself off buildings, etc.
Russell: I just took a minute to review Supergirl's situation. She was adopted and was announced to the world since the last time we saw her. A lot has changed in her world.
Siskoid: Oh yeah, that's true, she's no longer a "secret weapon".
Tim: Good point, Russell!
Russell: But in the past year, she never met the Legion again. I guess she's been busy.
Siskoid: But she still has those secret instincts. She destroys the tree stump secretly, for example. And later, she'll fake the Legionnaires' powers instead of interceding directly.
Glenn: So she's still working in secret weapon mode.
Russell: She never really was all that forceful, was she?
Glenn: Not until Daring Adventures of, actually...
Siskoid: This whole sequence is a lot like the last Superboy story we covered where there's a whole lot of stuff happening in the 1960s before the Legion finally shows up.
Glenn: I thought there was great use of Supergirl's powers in this story, from destroying the stump to imitating the Legionnaires' powers.
Siskoid: But I guess they're thematically linked this time - both threats could expose her secret identity, and identity becomes a motif.
Russell: I suppose that's true. I haven't read any Supergirl stories from this era, but wouldn't the first three pages be repetitive for regular readers?
Glenn: Maybe, Russell, but I think Lois in a Supergirl story creates a link we may not have seen before.
Siskoid: Maybe it's also a way to say Supergirl's gone from protecting the fact of her existence to protecting her Linda identity. And Supergirl fans weren't necessarily Legion fans, so a couple pages in Midvale when it's all you're going to get that month isn't necessarily amiss
Glenn: Good point.
Russell: I suppose you're both right.
Siskoid: But let's get to the 30th century meat, shall we?
Crisis averted, she is then summoned by the Legion and flies to the future, where she is telepathically briefed on a menace only she can overcome - the gigantic energy entity known as the Positive Man! Supergirl lures a similar energy bird, the "Negative Creature", to fight the Positive Man. They cancel each other out.
Tim: So when the Legionnaire statues' heads glow (to signal they really need her?!) all I could think of was when I was a kid, my grandfather had this bartender toy that's head glowed when it "drank", lol...I immediately thought "Who gave Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl booze?"
Siskoid: Did he shake a barrel around his waste? If so, my grandparents had one also.
Tim: Yes! That's the one, Siskoid!
Siskoid: Haha! Well, I'm jealous of both the model club house AND the Legion bookends.
Glenn: I liked the very Silver Age signaling.
Russell: If the statues are going to glow, why does the clubhouse ring? Kinda silly.
Siskoid: Maybe the Legion like to ring the house (looks like a bell too), but then no glow, just to screw with Kara.
Glenn: I have often wondered how Supergirl and Superboy knew -when- in the future to go when they were summoned...
Siskoid: Super-time navigation, of course.
Russell: 1,000 years exactly to the day, Glenn. Or...something. It came up in the Baxter series when Supergirl "died".
Glenn: I'll buy that.
Siskoid: Not true, because Supergirl is at least a decade later.
Glenn: 990 years to the day?
Siskoid: Haha yes. Or Superboy is 1010+ years to the day.
Glenn: Where is Math Lad when we need him?
Siskoid: It's Legion continuity, it doesn't make sense as a matter of principle.
Russell: So anyway, the Legion calls Supergirl on urgent business, then take time out to appear on TV? Is that what is happening here?!
Glenn: Yeah, that got me too.  The Legion has time to be on TV in the middle of a crisis.
Tim: Speaking of time... It says "Emerging from the barrier into the 21st Century..." shouldn't that be 31st?
Siskoid: They still weren't sure when the Legion was. See? The last time marker she passes is 2000.
Tim: AH!
Glenn: I think there were some glitches early on where editorial wasn't sure if the Legion was from the 30th or 21st centuries, the error was made often enough.
Siskoid: But yes, not much of an emergency. But then, aside from Lightning Lad, they've got people who can't do a damn thing about anything on duty. The one who bounces and the one who glows. Even the Earth Police guy on top of page 5 has that power.
Glenn: Pre-Science Police.
Tim: Is it me, or is page 5 the first time we've seen the Legionnaires act humble? "You have many super-powers while we have only one power each!"
Siskoid: And it's repeated later. It goes back to what Glenn was saying about Supergirl's varied and well-used powers. She's versatile, while the Legion are one-trick ponies.
Russell: And on page 6, Brainiac 5 PRAYS!?! What the what..!?!?
Glenn: Yeah, that was weird.
Russell: I noticed that, too.
Siskoid: Prays Supergirl wants to be his girlfriend, you mean! Nice of them to put all the exposition in Supergirl's head before the mission. They must be sick of explaining things to 20th century rubes.
Tim: I had to wonder what would happen if the mind-pictures chair projected dirty pictures? lol
Russell: This story is giving me a headache. How many Legionnaires does it take to watch Supergirl save Earth?
Siskoid: To answer your question Russell, eight.
Glenn: I liked the Positive Man though, he's on a scale with Galactus or Dark Phoenix - he destroyed a populated planet! He should return.
Condo: He does. This story is reprised in Supergirl Annual #2.
Siskoid: Cool! Positive Man made a comeback!
Russell: And yet, he isn't Supergirl's greatest challenge!!
Glenn: There are multiple Negative Birds in that image!
Siskoid: Who seem a lot more positive than negative.
Tim: So... Positive Man is his name... but he kind of looks like Negative Man from Doom Patrol... and when they bring in Negative Bird, it's drawn in an identical style to Positive Man... so... aside from names, how are we supposed to know the difference... how is Supergirl or the Legion supposed to know?
Glenn: The pseudo-science and Silver Age goodness is packed into this short back-up story. Loved it.
Russell: And why didn't Brainy think to get the Negative Bird? What's the point of having a thinker who doesn't think!? Come on!!
Glenn: Agreed.
Siskoid: He gave Supergirl the solution with the telepathy machine to make her look good! IT'S LOVE YOU GUYS!
Glenn: Lol.
Siskoid: Basically gave her the insight to call the Great Bird of the Galaxy.
Russell: Smarter than his own good. Okay.
But then the resulting explosion seems to have robbed the Legion of their powers, except Supergirl's, so she covers for them with the help of Whizzy, Streaky's descendant. She simulates, in turn, Cosmic Boy's (an android factory heist), and Sun Boy's (the endangerment of rare alien tree men) so they don't lose their cred.
Tim: Does everyone in the future wear ancestor IDs or just the super animals?
Glenn: Okay, who else loves Whizzy?
Tim: I'm a little freaked out by the idea of Super Cats... I much prefer dogs and monkeys!
Siskoid: Whizzy is cute. But then, I'm a cat person.
Russell: Can I say how much I don't like Jim Mooney's art? Just throwing that out there. Streaky - I mean Whizzy - looks like a funny animal cat.
Siskoid: That's part of his charm.
Glenn: Mooney has done better, but come on, it's Streaky, from the future, with telepathy. I love him. Did he ever appear again?
Siskoid: I don't think he did, not in continuity.
Glenn: Awww. This is why fan fiction exists, because Whizzy.
Siskoid: Where's all the Whizzy fanfic? IDEAS FOR THE BLOG!
Glenn: Don't tempt me...
Siskoid: TEMPT TEMPT. Cue the android factory... this future is pretty dystopic, guys. Make me a duplicate who can take care of my kids for me.
Tim: Yeah Siskoid... that make-a-mommy-double bit was WEIRD!
Russell: Everything on page 9 is weird.
Tim: Doesn't that android musician look like he belongs in Jabba's palace?
Glenn: Was I the only one wondering if the Chameleon Men were related in some way to Chameleon Boy?  Durlans, maybe?
Tim: It did cross my mind, Glenn.
Siskoid: They look very different and no mention is made, but then, Cham doesn't look like a tentacle thing for years yet.
Glenn: I thought that was probably why Cham was in the background. No confusion that way.
Russell: Cham shows up, then goes away. Weird.
Siskoid: Of all the Legionnaires replaced by Chameleon Men (spoilers!), he's the one whose powers they COULD have duplicated! Maybe they can only take humanoid shapes.
Russell: Who thought that the bubble-tubes, with their bubble cartridges that last a lifetime, would show up to help solve a problem later in the story? Who was sad that they didn't?
Siskoid: At least the kids' straws were used for the suction trick. So it WAS used. Super-suction? No comment.
Tim: LOL... yeah, I guess super vacuum breath is a hard power to find... no Vacuum Boy or Hoover Girl on the team?
Russell: Wait, so THIS is Supergirl's greatest challenge!?
Tim: So... to paraphrase Wayne's World, Supergirl both sucks and blows?
Russell: Haha, true.
Siskoid: What about the Sun Boy part? I really really wonder where Supergirl got glowing powder. And why the crook wanted the plant spray.
Glenn: Yeah, that was a bit much even for Silver Age goodness...
But back at the club house, it's revealed alien shapeshifters have taken the Legion's place during Supergirl's battle with the monster. They send her and her feline friend to the Negative Phantom Zone when she arrives. Whizzy's telepathy is instrumental in their communicating with the physical world, and they rope an android-building scientist into helping them. He sends an android in shapeshifter get-up to the club house to free the heroes before the aliens can head off to kill the Legionnaires.
Glenn: Phantom Zone, not Negative Zone... but how cool would it be to see Supergirl take on Blastaar?
Siskoid: Haha, sorry, I guess I had my head in another universe.
Glenn: ;-) Easily mistaken, because really, without Jax-Ur leering and Zod plotting, it's just not the Phantom Zone, is it?
Condo: If you follow the FF (movie) universe, the Negative Zone is now called Planet X :-).
Siskoid: Every time I hear something new about the FF movie...
Glenn: So did anyone else wonder why the Phantom Zone was empty? Kryptonian siesta time?
Tim: Yes, I did!
Siskoid: First, we know Mon-El was definitely still in there.
Russell: What the what...?! Where is Superboy? Isn't he a "stumbling block," too?
Siskoid: Well, they replaced the Legionnaires while she was fighting +Man, so they didn't expect her to be in this century and she delayed their plans. They had to improvise.
Russell: Right, but there were or should have been approximately 16 Legionnaires at this point. So... yeah, everything is off.
Tim: Missing Phantom Zone criminals (and Mon-El), missing Legionnaires... we're missing the important part... it's the Silver Age, you make it up as you go! Continuity, shmontinuity!
Glenn: Darn Legionnaires, always off-world when you need them...
Siskoid: Well, if you're going to be logical about it... So now the android factory makes a comeback and provides a way for Supergirl to be freed (and Whizzy's telepathy too)... because "Chameleon Man" is a model the factory already had.
Glenn: Whizzy saves the day again. :-)
Siskoid: This story may jump from one threat to another, but at least it makes use of what it introduces. The only thing missing is Lois making a speech about the Phantom Zone projector.
Glenn: Maybe it's a typo, and this is "Supercat's Greatest Challenge".
Tim: BUT how does Whizzy's telepathy work? It can reach thru time/space/dimensions? They're in the Phantom Zone and he can still deliver her message to the android factory?
Siskoid: Spirits can probably speak to you in dreams and such.
Russell: Seems like Supergirl's super girlfriend Phantom Girl could have been a big help here. Instead of a telepathic cat.
After capturing the aliens, Supergirl finds and awakens the Legionnaires, after which she returns to her time.
Siskoid: See? The Mars City exhibit's dome finds a use.
Glenn: The impenetrable dome.
Siskoid: All the pieces matter... except the first two pages.
Tim: Another crazy fast ending!
Russell: *Shakes his head...*
Tim: 7 panels, in 2 pages and it's over? Is this Supergirl or the Flash?
Siskoid: Poor Whizzy starts to cry. He knows he'll never see her again.
Glenn: I liked the story a lot. More in 14 pages that a year of some New 52 titles.
Tim: Agreed Glenn... as goofy as they are, these Silver Age stories move lightning fast and tell fun stories!
Glenn: The inconsistencies might stem from this being more of a Supergirl story than a Legion story.
Russell: This should have featured Invisible Kid or Phantom Girl. Or Mon-El. That would have made more sense.
Siskoid: Mon-El wasn't yet a member. Or else they wouldn't have been all "boo hoo, Supergirl has ALL the powers".
Russell: He was around, though.
Siskoid: Invisible Kid was there, I'm sure of it, you just can't see him.
Russell: I mean, come on, Weisinger was the group editor. What the heck!?! So whose cat was Whizzy?
Siskoid: Does he need to be anyone's?
Russell: Free roaming? Feral?
Siskoid: Super-intelligent and can ask for food. No need for humans.
Condo: Supergirl is Streaky's owner and Whizzy's pal.
Tim: That's awesome!
Glenn: YES!
Condo: Those are taken from the DC Super-Pets Encyclopedia. Did you know that Cos, Garth and Imra all have pets?
Russell: Tim, have you never seen this book before? It's by Art Baltazar. It is awesome.
Siskoid: Ah yes! I forgot Baltazar and Franco used Whizzy!
Tim: I have not seen this one, no... seen other Baltazar and Franco stuff though. Will definitely need to track this down.
Siskoid: I'm surprised no one ever gave him a cameo as an ordinary cat in Legion HQ or something. Or is he the Garfield from LSH #300?
Glenn: He is a cartoon cat. Could be.
Tim: For that, Siskoid, you'd need Geoff Johns writing Legion. Either him or Grant Morrison.
Siskoid: I would have thought Giffen wouldn't have been above this kind of thing.
Russell: I gotta say, I don't care for these early early Legion stories. I can't wait to get to the "real" stories in ADVENTURE. Plus I just am not a fan of how Weisinger handled Supergirl.
Glenn: I really dug this. Thanks for letting me play too.
Russell: Great to have you, Glenn! As for the story... Weird. I find it hard to believe that the same editor who was responsible for the tighter continuity of Superboy and Adventure green-lighted this. Very... unsatisfying for me.
Tim: I feel like I'm starting to sound like a broken record on these round tables, but I love the Silver Age silliness! As many WTF moments as they may have they're genuinely charming and fun!
Russell: I can't believe the same guy who wrote this (Siegel) wrote the last one, "Super-Traitors" too. Oh, well.
Siskoid: I sort of can, the padded extra adventures, the silly reveals, that's been a hallmark of his Silver Age work.
Russell: I guess.
Siskoid: And another super-pet.
Tim: I'm out... have a good night, guys! (And glad to see Condo and Glenn in this too!)
Russell: I gotta go, too, but this was fun as always. Thanks, everybody! G'nite!
Glenn: Happy to be part of it, night all!
*As Kord Kid hits the dimmer, the lights fade, and this MEETING IS ADJOURNED!

Science Police Notes: 
  • The Legion's summoning device for Supergirl is introduced in this story.
  • Streaky's descendant Whizzy appears in this story and never again in canon.

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