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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #276

Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and seventy-five.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Music Legends Revealed to learn what music legend told Buddy Holly that he hoped his plane would crash right before Holly’s fatal plane crash!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on your Facebook page!). As I’ve promised, at 2,000 Twitter followers I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week we hit 2,000. So go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again)! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: An installment of Thimble Theatre was rejected by Elzie Crisler Segar’s syndicate because it was too gruesomely depicted a cow being slaughtered.

STATUS: False (but Lots of Truthiness Involved)

Reader Kelly wrote in a couple of years back to ask:

I remember seeing a Popeye/Thimble Theater comic strip from the old days that was rejected by EC Segar’s syndicate because it showed the gluttonous Wimpy butchering a cow (or maybe horse) and was therefore deemed too gory for readers. The strip was published in an book about Popeye, and the last time I saw the book it was in my junior high school library around 1982 if that gives you any help. I remember think the strip was weird at the time and I’d love to see is again.

The strip Kelly is thinking of was the October 1, 1933 edition of Thimble Theatre.

First off, quickly, let’s get the “false” part done with. The comic WAS accepted by Segar’s syndicate, King Features Syndicate. That said, a number of major newspapers censored it on their own. I don’t know which paper did what, so if you’re ever in your local library and wish to check to see what YOUR local paper did with the strip, feel free to check the archive out and let me know and I’ll post it here as an update!

The original art to the piece was in Bud Sagendorf’s collection. He was Segar’s assistant on the strip at the time and a number of years later (following Segar’s untimely death in 1938) Sagendorf began a nearly four-decade run on the strip himself, going right up until the end of the daily strip in 1994.

In any event, enough yapping – you all just want to see the strip, right? I know Kelly has been waiting 28 years to see it again! So here is the original art for the original strip (Heritage Auctions sold the original art for over $15,000 a few years back!)…

(click on the image to enlarge)

I can see how it would be seen as a bit controversial! It’s funny, though!

Thanks to the nifty Black and White art spotlight website, Black and White and Red All Over, who got the piece from the Lewis Wayne Gallery. And thanks to Heritage Auctions for the background on the strip. And thanks, of course, to Kelly for the suggestion!

COMIC LEGEND: Shadow Lass was created by a pair of Legion of Super-Heroes fans.

STATUS: True

If you look up Shadow Lass’ creators, you will invariably find Jim Shooter and Curt Swan listed, as they were the creative team of Adventure Comics #365 (along with inker George Klein), which contains her first appearance. In fact, those creators were also the creative team of Adventure Comics #354, which features the adult Legionnaires, and shows a statue of a deceased Legionnaire named Shadow WOMAN…

who clearly is meant to be the same person when Shadow Lass shows up in #365 (wearing the same costume – although with different color skin. In #354, her skin is white, in #365, it is blue).

However, Shadow Lass was actually created by two fans!

You see, for a longtime in the 1960s, Legion of Super-Heroes Editor Mort Weisinger encouraged fans to write in to The Legion Outpost (the letter column of Adventure Comics) with their ideas for new Legionnaires. Occasionally these ideas would be used on background characters and even, notably, one Legion of Substitute Heroes member, Color Kid, who was created by fan Jeff Greenberg.

But for the most part, this was just a way to make the fans feel involved. Assistant Editor (and letter column head) E. Nelson Bridwell would occasionally post fan suggestions in a “Bits of Legion Business” section of the letter column.

Here’s a sample one from Adventure Comics #312…

And here’s the one from #342, crediting Greenberg…

But Shadow Lass’ creation was not mentioned in any issue (which is why Shooter and Swan still get credit for her creation).

What happened was that Legion fans and would-be comic book writers George Vincent and Mike Rickford came up with two characters that they thought would be good Legionnaires, Chemical King and Shadow Lass.

Both characters ended up being used in the Adult Legionnaire issue.

(Chemical King’s would later be shown in Adventure Comics #371).

However, Vincent and Rickford had a much different origin in mind for Shadow Lass. She was intended to be black, from an all-black planet colonized from black people from Earth who left Earth due to racial strife.

Weisinger thought that the idea was way too controversial, but he said he liked the character and would try to work her in in a different fashion.

And notably, in the letter column to Adventure Comics #363, two issues before Shadow Lass made her first appearance, a reader asks about “Negroes” in the comic, and the response sure seems to indicate that a blue-skinned alien was meant to be somewhat analogous (in her early appearances, Shadow Lass’ skin color was a notable plot point).

Shadow Lass has gone on to become a major member of the Legion, so congrats to Misters Vincent and Rickford (and heck, Color Kid has become somewhat notable over the years, too, so kudos to Mister Greenberg, as well!).

Thanks to George Vincent for the information (from the fanzine Legion Outpost) and thanks to Glen Cadigan’s Best of the Legion Outpost for reprinting George’s original article!

COMIC LEGEND: The famous Superman phrase “truth, justice and the American way” did not originally contain the part about “the American Way.”

STATUS: True

There was a little bit of controversy over the seemingly pointed omission of the term “the American Way” in the phrase “Truth, Justice and the American Way” in the recent Superman film, Superman Returns.

The phrase has become ingrained in the world of popular culture through its use in the popular Adventures of Superman television series which ran from 1952-1958, where it was part of the opening of every episode:

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (“Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!”)… Yes, it’s Superman … strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman … who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of Superman!

However, when the “never-ending battle for…” phrase originally appeared, it was in the popular Adventures of Superman radio series that ran from 1940-1951

And there, the introduction went:

Yes, it’s Superman–strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman–defender of law and order, champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice.

That basic opening (“a never-ending battle for truth and justice”) was later used in 1941 for the acclaimed Fleischer Studios Superman animated serials…

It was not until the middle of 1942, with the United States firmly entrenched in World War II that the term “the American Way” was added to the opening of the series. But later in the decade, by the time the war ended, it was dropped once again.

But the TV series picked it up, and that has become the way the phrase has been known ever since (Christopher Reeve even explicitly says it in the 1978 Superman film). Now you know, though, that omitting “the American Way” is only taking the phrase back to its origins!

Thanks to International Herald Tribune’s Erik Lundegaard and the great Mark Waid for the information!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

77 Comments

In response to the Popeye cartoon strip: “….urrrp. Do excuse me.” ;-)

you’re right, Mr. B.C., it’s pretty funny.

Yeah, that’s definitely a funny strip.

When I was a kid just getting into DC in 93 or so, the LSH seemed so huge with so much lore. While my favorite run is the post-ZH run that sort of broke the ties, it’s just amazing to me how prominent and important the LSH fandom was in its development in the years prior to that.

That Popeye strip is funny, though I think the best part is actually Wimpy’s line:

“I’m almost sorry that cousin Jim died.”

–! Brilliant deadpan humor.

I can’t remember ever laughing at a popeye cartoon until today. That was great.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

– Interestingly, two of the characters mentioned in the sample “bits of Legionnaire business” also appeared in a 60s Legion story. Blockade Boy and Weight Wizard were both introduced as superheroes from other planets captured by the villain Nardo, and both died sacrificing themselves in the “Super-Stalag of Space” plotline that ran through a couple issues of Adventure Comics. Additionally, Proty once became a fake hero also called Blockade Boy to settle an internicene feud in the Legion.

— The E.C. Segar Popeye strips are enormously fun stuff. The Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics reprints an excellent serial from the late 1930s that introduced Alice the Goon and the Sea Hag, and Fantagraphics is chronologically reprinting the whole run. Segar tended to use a large cast of recurring minor characters, like Wimpy’s equally obnoxious foe George Geezil. Really, it’s the later gag-a-day Sagendorf stuff that I never much liked, when publishing the strip had turned into an obligation so that the characters could be licensed elsewhere as happened to so many other dinosaurs of the newspaper funnies page.

Bud Sagendorf wrote about that episode (I forget the book, it was a big Popeye retrospective puvblished in the early 1980s?) He anticipated a lot of complaints, and prepared a letter to send out, explaining why he did it. Not one person complained (to him, anyway) and none of those letters were sent.

You know, whenever I see the old issues bringing up the Legion of Substitute Heroes in their sometimes simplistic dialogue, the Legionnaires always sound like incredible dicks to me. “Colors? Yeah, very cute, but no thanks. Go see the Legion of Lose– I mean, Substitute Heroes.”

I thought it was fairly well-known that the original Superman catchphrase was “truth and justice” and that “the American Way” was added later. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman also reverted to the original “truth and justice” and did so without attracting any controversy (at least as far as I’m aware). I think the way it was handled in Superman Returns attracted controversy because it not only reverted to the original, but attracted attention to the fact that it was doing so in a way that seemed dismissive via the dialogue “truth, justice and all of that stuff.”

-The Popeye joke doesn’t strike me as wrong for its time, since back then it wasn’t the more politically-correct cartoon that it would become later on. Besides you can see the joke coming a mile away! OF COURSE Wimpy’s going to end up eating the cow! At least they didn’t show him slaying the poor thing. :P

-I always wondered if Shadow Lass was meant to be a Black person analogue, but that was when I first saw her in the 70s Legion issues where despite her blue skin her face looked more “Negro”. The original comic as seen here doesn’t give that impression. Also, I’ve always found her power *very lame*. Creating darkness? What, don’t they have flashlights in the future? Yet she makes it into the Legion but Color Kid (who CAN create darkness -by turning the air black- in addition to other effects) doesn’t? They later gave her martial arts skills to make her more useful in battle.

-I’d never heard the legend about Superman’s catchphrase, and honestly it’s so iconic even people from other countries don’t really mind the “and The American Way” unless they’ve got some jingoism issues.

The darkness that Shadow Lass creates can’t be overcome by any light source (such as a flashlight). It’s a total darkness that snuffs out all light.

“I’d never heard the legend about Superman’s catchphrase, and honestly it’s so iconic even people from other countries don’t really mind the “and The American Way” unless they’ve got some jingoism issues.”

I figure some American viewers’ problems with that change in Superman Returns was the perception that they did so just out of concern that foreign markets wouldn’t appreciate the phrase. But as Ryan said above, I think it was the dismissive, purposeful way Parry White DIDN’T say it that annoyed people. Simply removing it would’ve been less noticeable.

Love how so much of what we take for granted about Superman today came from a mix of the comics, TV, radio, and animation.

The Ugly American

September 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

Omit “The American Way” and the terrorists win!

Hmmm….the Shadow Lass story was too controversial, yet it was utilized later as Legionnaire Tyroc’s back-story! As times changed, I suppose. (It was still controversial in the late 1970s!)

I just noticed that lettercol said to look for the Secret Six in UNEXPECTED… that never actually happened, and they instead went to their own title, didn’t they?

I find it odd that the Superman radio show was sponsored by a cereal named for an Archie title. (I know. The name was just a coincidence. I’m also not sure when Pep Comics debuted, but I think I read once it was in the ’40s, so it may have been around when that ad was made.)

I remember reading a Superman story in the late ’70s-early ’80s that said he fought for ‘Truth, Justice, and the Terran Way’.

And I agree that line ‘I’m almost sorry that Cousin Jim died’ is possibly the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen in a Popeye strip.

Also, let’s not forget that DC used lots of fan-created heroes (and villains) during the 80?s version of Dial H for Hero. Including one by Harlan Ellison!

Sijo, wasn’t it the ’60s version of Dial “H” For Hero that used the Ellison creation? That’s what I always thought. The ’60s version was pretty cheesy, but I thought the ’80s version was downright embarrassing.

“(Chemical King’s death would later be shown in Adventure Comics #371)”

Incorrect. Chemical King dies in S+LoSH #228

http://www.comicvine.com/superboy-that-a-world-might-live-a-legionnaire-must-die/37-123874/

The President of Earth calls in the leaders of the Legion of Super-Heroes to handle the governor of Australia, Deregon. He intends to start a war that would cause a world war and the President implores the Legion to prevent that from occurring. The Legion learns that Deregon has a partner from off the planet but are unable to figure out who it is, so Chemical King is asked to trace the calls with his unique abilities, even though he doesn’t feel that he’s a worthwhile Legionnaire. Eventually, Deregon learns the Legion is spying on him and declares war, starting a deadly radiation sphere that could destroy the planet. He reveals he’s working for the Dark Circle and Chemical King sacrifices his life when he uses his power to stop Deregon. The Legion are ready to avenge his death.

Ed, the Dial H for Hero character Harlan Ellison created was the Silver Fog and that was in Adventure Comics #479 (March 1981).

Did I read somewher that the young Jim Shooter intended for the masked Ferro Lad to be a negro when he created him for Adventure 346, but was told by editorial that as much as they appreciated his intentions they would lose too many readers in the south and therefore couldn’t do it?

PS Chemical King died in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes 228, he first appeared in continuity in Adventure 371.

Ryan, thanks for the info, for some reason I always thought Ellison’s contribution was in the ’60s series. I only read a few of the ’80s stories, because I thought they were horrid. I’ve always loved Infantino, but for me Wolfman has always been take it or leave it, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought it was among his weakest writing. I’m one of those comic readers who thinks the story is the important thing, and that good writing can rise above lousy artwork, but the most beautiful artwork cannot save poor writing.

I never heard the line in Superman Returns as being dismissive of “the American way.” I understood it as a joke, and it fit Perry’s character pretty well to say it like that in the midst of a hectic meeting. Bryan Singer said early on there was no reason to re-hash Superman’s origin, since everyone knows it; the “truth, justice, and the American way” is equally ingrained into the public consciousness. No GIJoe-style pandering to the international audience intended at all.

Interesting how adding “and the American way” happened about the same time the phrase “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance; possibly two expressions of the same post-Cold War reaction movement…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_allegience#Addition_of_the_words_.22under_God.22

I was thinking the same thing, Jim!

And thanks for the Chemical King stuff, guys!

Rob Storey – you’re correct about the young Jim Shooter intending for the masked Ferro Lad to be a negro. The story was he’d take his mask off and no-one would bat an eyelid since it was the more enlightened times of the LOSH (30th century? Sorry, I haven’t read much LOSH). But DC nixed it. And Marvel came up with Black Panther around the same time (slightly earlier?).
The Ferro Lad story I think had its own Legends Revealed piece?

Checking Wiki, Ferro Lad and Black Panther debuted in the same month.

Huh. The story about Shooter’s intentions for Ferro Lad seem like an obvious nod to the famous EC comic “Judgement Day”. I wonder if there’s a connection.

The Ferro Lad story I think had its own Legends Revealed piece?

Yeah, a looooooooong time ago, but yeah.

I used to have the Bud Sagendorf book that reprinted this Popeye strip (in color, as I recall). I can’t seem to find my copy now, which leads me to think I lost it in one of my many moves over the years. But I DO recall the story Sagendorf told about this strip.

The Popeye editor was smart enough to recognize that Wimpy grinding up a cow could cause some controversy and that some readers could easily be offended. So he did what any sensible editor would do: He ran it by the head of King Features Syndicate. As a group of concerned people waited around him, the Syndicate head read the strip in silence. Finally, he erupted into howls of laughter and gave the art back to them with only a single comment: “It’s funny — print it!”

It’s not just that the way it was said in SUPERMAN RETURNS was jokey, but also that times change.

The omission would not generate controversy in the 1990s in LOIS & CLARK, since cynicism was expected in the 1990s. But in the 2000s obviously the conservative voices became both more outspoken and more respected, and they wouldn’t let the apparent lack of patriotism slip.

I still have the Popeye book by Bud Sagendorf….”Popeye: The First Fifty Years”. Great book and I always loved that story and cartoon.
The cartoon also appeared last year in the 3rd volume of the Popeye reprints that Fantagraphics are producing. I highly recommend them. The fith one is out at the end of the year, with one more volume after that. They really are LOL funny. :)

The”Terran Way” line appeared only once (thank God!) and it was in SUPERMAM Vs. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

In the Elseworlds’ SUPERBOY’S LEGION Alan Davis drew Shadow Lass with very un-Caucasian features. I thought it was pretty cool and wondered why no one had thought of it before. Except for her blue skin she always seemed kinda “generic”.

Yeah, I used to have the Superman Vs Spider-Man, so that must’ve been where I saw it.

There was a sad story in the local news here– The Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa burned down, from unknown cause. The drive-in played a major part in The Outsiders, both the book and the movie, and it was considered a major historical landmark by many. It opened in 1951 and had remained in business until today. They showed The Outsiders there regularly (once a year, I think), and it was actually scheduled to play again next week.
The owners do plan to rebuild if they get enough donations. They have a Facebook page– Save The Admiral Twin Drive-In– if anyone is interested.

Now if only we could get the pledge to go back to it’s original form too.

ParanoidObsessive

September 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm

>>> Besides you can see the joke coming a mile away! OF COURSE Wimpy’s going to end up eating the cow! At least they didn’t show him slaying the poor thing. :P

The first thing I thought of when reading the strip was whether or not the reaction would have been more muted if they severed cow head wasn’t just laying there. Even today, in a lot of different media, there’s still an implicit understanding that some things are perfectly fine if you’re just implying them, but actually showing them outright is where the line is drawn.

>>> You know, whenever I see the old issues bringing up the Legion of Substitute Heroes in their sometimes simplistic dialogue, the Legionnaires always sound like incredible dicks to me. “Colors? Yeah, very cute, but no thanks. Go see the Legion of Lose– I mean, Substitute Heroes.”

I was thinking the exact same thing. It’s like, “Whoa that’s pretty harsh there, dude.”

If I was Color Kid, I’d probably do something like turn them all red and release a bull into the room or something. Jerks.

I applaud all of you who can remember anything about Superman Returns…that is one of the (if not THE) most disappointing movies I has seen as an adult.

And I guess Weight Wizard somehow became The Vision for Marvel.

I find it strange called Superman a ‘Visitor’. He’s obviously an Earth resident now. Get him a green card and the test and he can work here legally. :)

The whole idea of fans submitting potential Legionnaires was actually first started by Buddy LaVigne of Northbrook, ILL. in Adventure Comics # 304 when he responded to the editor’s call for a definition of “Bits of Legionnaire Business” (which was a phrase coined by fan Allen Pelcher in a previous issue). He said that a BoLB should be:

“…a postal card with a few lines suggesting the name of a NEW super-hero to be admitted in the Legion, plus a suggestion of the super-power he might possess. Thus, a bit of “L.B.” might be: “I suggest a new character, POLAR BOY, who has the power of freezing to ice anything in his area.” ”

Unlike Color Kid, Polar Boy not only went on to be the leader of the Subs, but the leader of the Legion proper, too!

Said Alex:

“I find it strange called Superman a ‘Visitor’. He’s obviously an Earth resident now. Get him a green card and the test and he can work here legally. ”

Which brings us right back to that whole “and the American way” thing again…

As for “Never-ending battle …”, every time I hear this one discussed, nobody ever mentions the old Filmation cartoons from Saturday mornings in the ’60s. That version is “… for Truth, Justice and Freedom”.

“The darkness that Shadow Lass creates can’t be overcome by any light source (such as a flashlight). It’s a total darkness that snuffs out all light.”

Not correct- I remember at least one story where it was defeated by artificial lights. Of course we may assume that it requires very strong lights to beat, not regular illumination. Even then it isn’t as useful as most other Legionaries’ powers. But really, those Legion Entrance Tests stories were always rigged so that whoever the writer wanted got in. Polar Boy doesn’t make it but Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad do? O-Kay…

I also forgot to mention, all the characters shown in the Adult Legion story were eventually introduced (though not all were killed.) In particular, Reflecto turned out to be… Superboy himself, suffering from amnesia. Kinda disappointing.

@Sijo: Regarding Bouncing Boy’s becoming a member, he was initially rejected for membership. It was only later, after defeating a villian whom Saturn Girl wasn’t able to stop, that Bouncing Boy became a full member.

As for M-E Lad, his powers might have seemed silly, but he DID save the universe by eating the Miracle Machine. (A later story showed him taking a bite out of the Persuader’s axe which was supposedly indestructible.)

Yo, Bouncing Boy and Matter Eater Lad rule, man!

I love the Legion. One of the first comics I got was Legion #1 (the 197?3? version) with the cover “The Lad Who Wrecked the Legion!” Not knowing anything about the series, I didn’t realize that it was a series with years of storylines, although there were some bios in the middle. (There was also this cool Tommy Tomorrow backup with a stoopid premise, but it was done so well it “worked”.)

If you can’t love a series that features characters like Bouncing Boy and Matter Eater Lad, you’re just…I don’t even know, man.

That Popeye one is funny, even though it’s so obvious a punchline. But the visuals are what “kills”.

I would have thought more people knew about the Superman thing from the Fleischer (always afraid I’m misspelling that) Brothers cartoons — I have a couple DVDs of it from the dollar store, and the opening doesn’t have the “American Way” bit. Interesting if there is a connection (besides coincidence of the times) to the Pledge addition.

Another great week.

Oh, and because I forgot — the “statues” that Superboy is looking at in the Legion bits — is that what Alan Moore was homaging in, say, Tom Strong, with the “villain gallery” in the one early Tom Strong arc? Or was it more general Superman/JLA type souvenirs? I’m asking more about the “statues”, as I realize Superman and JLA had other trophies, but I’m not sure if they had the “statues” of fallen heroes.

I’ve never understood the idea that Matter Eater Lad’s powers are ‘lame’. His name? Sure, it’s goofy, and, well, everybody eats matter, by definition.

But, his power was he could eat and digest ANY form of matter (possibly excepting Inertron), and it was made clear pretty early that the apparent size and range of movement of his mouth wasn’t a bar to it at all. Wall in the way? Tenz’ll eat it. Someone’s pointing a gun at you? Tenz could use a snack. The garbage collectors are on strike? Tenz’ll happily keep your place clean.

Sijo, you’re right in that Shadow Lass’ darkness can be defeated by certain extraordinary light sources (you’ll probably find, as with most super powers in comics, that there’s some inconsistency in how her powers have been portrayed by various writers over the years), but those will be few and far between and certainly wouldn’t include a flashlight. Perhaps you were being facetious with the flashlights comment, but nevertheless her power to create targeted darkness that will snuff out almost any light source is actually pretty useful.

Weight Wizard and Blockade Boy also showed up in later stories, although neither became a Legionnaire. Reflecto showed up, loined the Legion, then turned out to be Ultra Boy in disguise, in an amazingly disjointed multi-parter. I think the Legion changed writers three times over the course of those issues.

Being really rude to rejected Legion applicants was a Legion tradition that lasted into the seventies.

Commander Benson

September 4, 2010 at 7:06 am

I really hate to mention this, Mr. Cronin—especially after you became my hero in putting straight the myth about George Burns and Gracie Allen’s closing good-bye over in your Television Legends Revealed section—but, in the interests of accuracy, the actual line is . . . .

“. . . able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!”

Hey, I never said I didn’t like Bouncing Boy! In fact he was one of my favorite Legionnaires, what with his sense of humor, self-deprecation, the fact he WASN’T as pretty looking like everybody else AND that he got himself one of the sexiest Legion girls (Duo Damsel). Shadow Lass never interested me much however (and yes I was being partially facetious with my flashlight comment, but if we can make really strong sources of light now (flares, for example) then certainly there must stronger ones 1000 years from now, no?) and sorry, but Matter-Eater Lad, useful or not, was too lame (when nearly everybody else in your team can blast or punch his opponents, you have to attack with your mouth, you just don’t look as good.) And unlike BB, he never had any personality to speak of.

My point is that the Legion writers arbitrarily decided who got in, regardless of usefulness: for example how lucky was BB that he got the chance to prove his worth right away after being rejected while the Legion of Substitutes didn’t? (that the Legion knew anyway, they assisted in secret, which didn’t really help their case.)

Still, overall I have fond memories of the Legion, until modern cynicism started getting into it.

Bouncing Boy got to hook up with Duo Damsel? Both of her? So did that work out as kind of a three-way? A three-way with bouncing mixed in– the more you think about it, the kinkier it gets.

Well, Mary, it’d be even kinkier if he’d gotten with her before one of her selves died, when she was Triplicate Girl (or Lass, or whatever the hell synonym for “girl” the writer found in Roget’s).

Oh my.

I’m not a DC fan, so I honestly don’t know: Was it common for DC fans to suggest superheroes based on the most random things possible, and for DC to publish these ideas? “Spell Boy! Can cast spells against outlaws!” “Color Boy! No shade is safe when he’s around!” Stan Lee’s prose seems almost natural to what DC’s readership was offering.

Travis – they were still together when her third self was resurrected, just prior to Zero Hour.

Chuck…well, he clearly grasped that implication, let’s keep it at that.

@Deron: Nah, this was exclusive of the Legion fandom back then, and given how the series introduced new characters with bizarre powers and literal-sounding names all the time you can’t blame them. The only other DC series to involve fan creations was the second version of Dial H for Hero, as I mentioned above.

Shadow Lass’s powers also enable her to negate most visible forms of radiation — according to a story Paul Levitz wrote. Contemporary stories seem to indicate a negative psychological effect on anyone trapped within one of her shadows.

Another Superman catchphrase, “Up, up, and away!”, though not used much anymore (I think he said it in Superfriends) was created for the radio show to indicate for the listeners that he was about to fly, followed of course by whooshing sounds..

On the old Superfriends show it was, “… truth, justice, and peace for all mankind.”

I think I like that one best.

Another great CBLR. I always look forward to every new CBLR installment and lament the great waits between new editions of “Meta-Messages”. Anyway, I just want to say that, for me, Curt Swan is the definitive yester-year artist & on that Adventures of Superman photo: 1) Geoge has got to slow down on the Kellogg’s Pep & 2) Olsen is looking just a litte but pervy. Great Scott, mind the hand placement, Jimmy!

lament the great waits between new editions of “Meta-Messages”.

Hehe, at least I warn you about the (in)frequency in each installment! :)

@Craig: “I just noticed that lettercol said to look for the Secret Six in UNEXPECTED… that never actually happened, and they instead went to their own title, didn’t they?”

That’s correct. I think their spot in UNEXPECTED was filled by Johnny Peril instead.

The people with jigoism issues have no problem with “and the American Way” – it just proves that Truth and Justice are not part of the American Way.

(not saying I believe it you understand…)

“blasted by my own people” Shadow Lass was naughty from the get-go

“… And the American Way”

There were people who didn’t know about that being added, in the 50′s? That was around the same time that, “under God” was added to the pledge and “In God we trust”, was added to the money. Rampant fear- and hate-mongering about “those damn, dirty commies”, which, of course, lead to the McCarthy hearings.

“(Chemical King’s [what?] would later be shown in Adventure Comics #371).” :)

I never knew that “and the American Way” was an appendix, though of course I was aware of its corollary in the Pledge. (I’m afraid @mrmenendez is mistaken about “In God We Trust”- that’s been on money since the 19th century). What always struck me about the expression was that “The American Way” was never actually DEFINED, to my knowledge. What does it MEAN, anyway? Does anyone know?

[...] that is clearly not what is function here. There is no disillusionment, no elimination of “The American Way” — a phrase, by a way, that was not primarily compared with Superman, and usually [...]

[...] wasn’t there to begin with. It also doesn’t take too much looking to verify this with some credible sources on ye olde Interwebs. I guess it’s like the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance; it [...]

[...] what you think it is Ah, that Action Comics issue 900. The one where Superman abandons the ‘American Way’ aspect of the mission statement that everyone imagines he said but can’t re…, and declares himself a citizen of the world. It’s a PR coup – boosting the series’ presence [...]

[...] Superman, the last survivor of the planet Krypton, first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and crash landed as an infant in Kansas. From there he grew up to fight for “truth, justice and the American way.” But after this story, which appeared in issue no. 900 of Action Comics, he might have to alter his catchphrase. [...]

[...] Superman, the last survivor of the planet Krypton, first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and crash landed as an infant in Kansas. From there he grew up to fight for “truth, justice and the American way.” But after this story, which appeared in issue no. 900 of Action Comics, he might have to alter his catchphrase. [...]

[...] After all, Superman wore his red underoos for 73 years, and he fought for the “American Way” for 69 years, but he’s only been married to Lois Lane for 15 [...]

[...] television series. ComicBookResources.com’s “Comic Book Legends Revealed” blog has a good history of the “American way” [...]

I think is better without the “American Way” part. He should be a hero for all the people in the world, so including that nationalist part is not nice. When I hear that part it sounds like he is a marionette of one country, not the representation of love and hope for all the human hearts

[...] phrase originally appeared, it was in the popular Adventures of Superman radio series that ran from 1940-1951.  But the phrase is relatively “ancient” and by now well-attested.  More [...]

[...] television series. ComicBookResources.com’s “Comic Book Legends Revealed” blog has a good history of the “American way” [...]

[...] That’s what Superman stood for, right? Well, the bit about the “American way” was not always in the canon, not until the mid-40s, during the height of WWII. And now Superman isn’t even an American. [...]

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