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Comic Book Legends Addendum: Legion and Star Wars Stuff

Occasionally, stuff will come up after the Comic Book Legends Revealed column goes up, and while I certainly can just go back and edit it into the old pieces, most folks won’t see it (as why would they re-read the older piece for no reason?), so I occasionally do these addenda.

Today I show some extra pages from the Legion of Super-Heroes legend from Comic Book Legends Revealed #277 and both J.M. DeMatteis’ recollections about the Star Wars legend in Comic Book Legends Revealed #279 AND, thanks to a helpful reader, the original ending of DeMatteis’ story in Star Wars #46!

Enjoy!

First off, in Comic Book Legends Revealed #277, I discussed how E. Nelson Bridwell and Mort Weisinger (assistant editor and editor of the Legion of Super-Heroes, respectively) were planning on removing Superboy and Supergirl from the Legion of Super-Heroes so that the Legion could stand on their own.

I did not show you the actual pages from Adventure Comics #350 and #351, so now you can see them.

First, in #350, we see Superboy and Supergirl discover the Kryptonite barrier around Earth that would make them staying on Earth in the future impossible…

Then we see a number of Legionnaires try (and fail) to get rid of the Kryptonite even, surprisingly enough, Element Lad (whose entire power IS changing elements)…

So now that they determine that Superboy and Supergirl have to leave, Brainiac 5 also comes up with the idea of putting kryptonite capsules in their brains so that they will forget the Legion (pretty messed up, huh?)

At the end of Adventure Comics #350, two NEW Legionnaires show up, called Miss Terious and Sir Prize. The obvious implication is that these two powerful new Legionnaires are actually Superboy and Supergirl in disguise (perhaps, through the operations, honestly not knowing who the Legion are).

However, at the end of #351, we learn who they are…

As you can see, not only are Sun Boy and Dream Girl back, but through an amusing plot contrivance, Lightning Lad’s arm is back and two other Legionnaires have returned to normal. This was Bridwell and Weisinger’s intent to make the team basically all back to normal (and full strength) to make up for the loss of Superboy and Supergirl.

Of course, though, DC editorial nixed the idea, so at the end of the issue, Bridwell and Weisinger had to quickly bring Superboy and Supergirl back, and boy was it silly…

Yes, Element Lad couldn’t affect them, but Color Kid could. Oooooookay.

On to the next bit.

Okay, in Comic Book Legends Revealed #279, I detailed how Lucasfilm made Marvel dramatically edit the end of an issue of Star Wars written by J.M. DeMatteis, where they basically made the story, which was about a former warrior who decided to become a pacifist, into an anti-pacifism story. DeMatteis took his name off of the comic, choosing to be credited by the fake name, Wally Lombego.

After the column came out, on DeMatteis’ nifty blog, J.M. DeMatteis’ Creation Point, he told the full story in his own words. He goes into a lot greater detail than I did, naturally, and it is a great read. Give it a look here.

In addition, a reader going by the name Matchstick stopped by to share something really awesome. You see, while in the United States, the story was edited, when Marvel UK later reprinted the story in the British black and white Star Wars magazine, they did NOT edit the comic! So we now cans see DeMatteis’ original ending!

Here’s the original first page…

And here’s the British UK one, with the correct credit…

Now here’s the set-up for the ending again, where the pacifist decides it is better to die in support of his cause than to destroy the Imperial Forces while betraying his beliefs…

So here was how the original comic ended…

and here is how DeMatteis MEANT for it to end…

Pretty fascinating, huh?

Thanks so much to Matchstick for the scan and thanks to DeMatteis for the cool blog post!

37 Comments

I think the Color Kid solution is pretty ingenious, whereas the Element Lad problem is way too contrived.

The Ugly American

October 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

SUNN CHILDE is the worst name ever.

The Color Kid solution is not only hilarious, it also really fits the demented logic of DC’s Silver Age stories.

(And Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad are just too cool for school. I’m not even a big Legion fan, but I love those characters!)

Ah Marvel UK.
How I loved thee!

Original comic, last page, third panel, second text bubble – *weird.
Guess they were in too much of a rush to proofread

How did Marvel UK end up reprinting that version. Did they reprint from the orginal inked and lettered pages and where sent the ‘wrong’ ones?

Those old LoSH stories are a lot of fun. I liked the Levitz-Giffen Legion, but really it was a Silver Age premise that was not successfully updated.

God I love the Silver Age!

Chewie can say so much with just one growl.

I actually liked JMD’s version (the last one) the best of them all.

shouldn’t the blue kryptonite have negated thier powers so they wouldn’t have been able to come back to the legion powerless?

You know, I’m not saying anything for definite here but I do know that the UK Star Wars strip was actually ahead of the US comic at some point in its publishing history. As the comic came out in the UK around the same time as the original film, it didn’t take long to use up the material already printed in the US so the comic was produced at an accelerated schedule. This was a fact at some point (see the letter column in issue 29 for further proof) but maybe not when this particular story was printed. However, the dates at the bottom seem to indicate that the UK version was copyright 1980 but the US was April 1981.

Does anybody know if the UK version actually saw print first?

So perhaps it is the US version which is edited as Lucasfilm hadn’t seen the story before the UK version was printed.

I think blue kryptonite was the Anti-Bizarro-Kryptonite.

Very cool. I printed up that last page of “The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe” and am going to slip it into my copy of Star Wars #46. This ending is much better.

On his blog, DeMatties said that he has never seen the original ending. I wonder if “Matchstick” forwarded this scan to him as well?

I am responding to this legend by typing my response into an html form.

There!. I’m pressing the publish button.

———————————————————-
Damn, the writing was terrible back then. And you guys loathe the 5-year gap era?

Man, even by Silver Age standards those Legion stories were incredibly contrived. If a cloud of kryptonite with such particularities showed up in a modern comic their reaction would not be “too bad, Superboy and Supergirl, you gotta leave. Thanks and now forget it ever happened” but instead, you know, focus a good deal of their resources in finding an explanation (I’m surprised nobody said “it must be a supervillain’s plan!”) and a solution.

As for the Sunn-Childe story, I’m still unmoved. What did he want to show them? That it’s worth dying for a cause? Uh, they know that already! Now, if he’d died to prevent a victory from the Empire in a nonviolent way (perhaps keeping them from gaining the secrets of his powers) THAT would have sent a much better message.

Marvel UK’s Star Wars / Empire Strikes back weekly started around Feb 1978 (when the film launched outside London in the UK.. considerably later than the 1977 US release) and ran for 139 issues as a weekly, consuming approximately 1 issue of the US monthly every 3 issues. According to this site (http://www.rebelscum.com/marvelcomics10.asp) they threw in UK originated fill ins and Pizzaz strips (!) to allow the US monthly to catch up at some point. The weekly then switched to monthly format, partly to avoid getting too far ahead of the US edition. This also allowed the UK publisher to reduce costs (the monthly had more story pages per issue, thus it required less work for new covers, splash pages etc). Based on the cover images, issue 141 (the second monthly issue – Dec 1980) corresponds to issue 46 (Apr 1981) HOWEVER, it was still convention at the time for the US issues to be dated a couple of months ahead of the actual release date (to extend the shelf life of the comic on the news-stand) – so I’d put the two issues ACTUAL publication at no more than 2 months apart… possibly even just a month… and remember this was pre email so the artwork would have to be physically shipped to the UK in plenty of time to prepare the issue.

Thus I would hazard a guess that at this point, the UK was just ahead enough to get the original story artwork as it was written / drawn and ready to go to press for the main US edition – and then the objector at Lucasfilm came back and demanded changes… or MAYBE (I don’t know this) Marvel UK was so close to the deadlines when it came to Star Wars material that they were putting out the UK material BEFORE they got final approvals from Lucasfilm (very naughty as far as licensor’s lawyers are concerned).

Blimey. I’ve got this issue of SW UK upstairs in the back issue box and never realised the UK version was different.

The story is run *again* in colour in the second ESB annual. Which ending did it have then?

After this issue the order of the UK stories gets a little jumbled vs the US order iirc. Then we get some UK only stories to give the UK comic a bit of a lag.

The non-edited version of SW #46 is way better.

Sometimes, less really is more.

Small typo in this post.

“As you can see, not only are Sun Boy and Dream Girl back,” should read STAR BOY and Dream Girl.

Invisible Kid’s costume is a bit off, too, but that’s hardly your fault, Brian. :)

Your guide to Silver Age Kryptonite:
Green K – Kills superhuman Kryptonians under a yellow sun.
Red K – each piece has a unique effect once only per Kryptonian lasting around 24 to 28 hours
Anti-K (green) – Kills only non-powered Kryptonians under a red sun
Blue K – An imperfect Bizarro-ray duplicate of Green K that harms ALL Bizarros created by the ray
Gold K – Permanently removes Kryptonians’ powers
White K – Kills any plant life from any world
Kryptonite-X – Artificial variant tat gives Streaky the Super-Cat his short-term super-powers
Jewel K – Acts as a “lens” allowing Phantom Zone denizens to telekinetically blast Earth matter
Silver K – Phony Kryptonite variant used to hide a special anniversary gift to Superman
Yellow K – Phony K variant used to lure Lex Luthor into a trap

Other/Post-Crisis variants:
Red K (I) – An ordinary rock that glowed red thanks to Mxyzptlk’s “magic;” no actual properties, despite Mxy’s false claims to the contrary.
Red K (II) – A isotope of Green K developed by Ra’s Al Ghul using notes stolen from Batman that painfully mutated Superman, giving him transparent skin and causing ordinary sunlight to cause him pain until its effects wore off.

Post-Zero Hour/Infinite Crisis/Whatever:
Black K – Splits people into a “good” and “evil” half
Gold K – Temporarily removes Kryptonian powers, but prolonged exposure can have permanent effects

It appears that JM Dematies has found out about my discovery without any prompted from me :)
http://www.jmdematteis.com/2010/10/star-warsagain.html

Getting compliments from one of the people responsible for Justice League and Moonshadow is making my head swell ;)

Omar,

I was aware of almost all the K’s, but I just thought Green K killed Kryptonians, whether they were superpowered or not. I was not aware of the Green K/Anti-K distinction. Can you point to any issues showing Anti-K?

I think that Green K healed Bizarro, and Blue K healed Kryptonians. The logic being that the opposite of killing would be healing.

Theno

Regardless of which version you read, how could the Millennium Falcon possibly blow a bunch of Star Destroyers away with its little lasers? About as likely as “an entire legion of my best troops” being beaten by stone age weaponized Ewoks. Wait a minute. :)

How much more valuable does this make the UK version of this story?

The Color Kid solve has bugged for years. He changed the color but not the properties. If I painted a Gold K rock white it would still have the same effect as Gold K. Ergo, the kryptonite should have still been deadly.

Also, how did E-Lad’s abilities change a gun into handcuffs? Is there a handcuff element I’m not aware of?

And Invisible Kid’s ‘we want you to stay’ to Star Boy – considering he’d been tossed out for breaking the code against killing IK was awfully fast to have him back.

Then again, I’m demanding logic from a comic set in the 30th century where the clubhouse is an upturned spaceship. And if they were logical I doubt I would enjoy rereading them endlessly, as I do…

Anti-Kryptonite was invented to explain a logic hole in Supergirl’s origin:

Originally, Kara (Supergirl) grew up in Argo, a Kryptonian city that survived Krypton’s explosion due to being built on a chunk of the planet that tore off rather than being pulverized. Oh and they also just *happened* to have an airtight dome (ala Atlantis.) The ground did turn into kryptonite but they covered it in lead to protect themselves from the radiation (gee that was quick.) Still in orbit around a red sun, the Argonians had no superpowers and went living on normally for years, until a meteor shower perforated the lead shielding (and presumably the dome) killing all but Kara, who was sent to Earth by her parents.

At some point however, someone realized that since they had no powers the Green K should not have killed them, so they came up with the fact that it really was “anti-kryptonite” to explain that. As opposed to saying that it was the loss OF THE DOME that killed them.

As far as I know that’s the only major use of this version of kryptonite. (unless you count the K that the post-Crisis Superman used to kill the Pre-Crisis Phantom Zone villains, which PRESUMABLY was Anti-K since they had already lost their powers permanently (via Gold K). It isn’t called such in the story that I remember however.

I still think JDM’s version of the Star Wars story was fundamentally flawed.

There are people that one can sometimes parley with, and maybe even bring around to your side (usually in their self-interest), whose self-centered actions can be considered malicious, even if they don’t see it that way due to their POV or possibly even ignorance of the consequences.

There are misguided people whom you can show the errors of their ways. This includes those that tolerate evil as a means of preserving themselves or their people, and get so used to it they forget the alternatives.

But, then there are the truly Evil (with a capital E) types, and while you might sway some of their underlings, the majority of their leadership is beyond redemption – especially in the eyes of civilized society.

The Star Wars universe would even go on to explore this in RotJ.

Han & Lando, to an extent, fell into one of the first two categories when introduced, and came around.

Jabba and the Emperor were definitely in the third category.

As to where Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader falls, his crimes would prevent him from being considered redeemable by society, but his redemption only really mattered to himself, and his son. Such epiphanies won’t bring the dead back to life, or keep someone from facing the consequences of their actions if they live, but it can be a motivator to personal sacrifice. Does anyone think that for one instant, that had Vader lived, that he wouldn’t have been tried for the murder of the people of Aldaraan, as a willing participant? After all, with his power (both the force and authority given to him by the Emperor), he could have easily stopped Tarkin from firing. And I sincerely doubt that the old republic, let alone the one that rose after Endor, would have allowed a Sith Lord, no matter how repentant, to live. Anakin knew that, and I half-suspect that he may have deliberately shut down his own life support, to make Luke give up on bringing him back, as coming back alive in custody would have only led to more hardship for Luke & Leia.

There’s a difference between forgiveness for an action, and forgetting such actions, after all.

Well, that’s not a problem with DeMatties as much as it is a problem you have with the philosophy of (that version of) pacifism, isn’t it? I’d definitely say the story was better-executed in the original, even if I disagree with some of what it says.

So… why didn’t Superboy & Supergirl just come back in 2 years?

A later lettercolumn stated that the color change had that effect because of Kryptonite’s special atomic structure. And who can possibly argue with the principles of subatomic Kryptonian physics?

I don’t think that green/blue k were ever shown healing anyone, though it’s a neat idea.

And I believe yellow K was a trap BY Luthor, not a trap for Luthor (in “Luthor’s Conquest of Superman,” one of my personal favorites).

Well Color Boy had to be modifying the stuff he was changing the colour of in some way, because light gets reflected a certain way by each different material, and you can’t have the exact same stuff reflect light differently (under the same environmental conditions).

And maybe the different types of Kryptonite are all just allotropes of the kryptonite element, so all of them would still have the same molecular formula, and what really affected the kryptonians was simply the way light came out of them (being glowing and all).

And the contrived reason Elemental Lad couldn’t help is less bad then i though it would be (changing the dust might have explosive consequences is better then it being somehow immune to his powers).

Commander Benson

October 11, 2010 at 9:40 am

Sijo was correct in the reason he provided for the invention of anti-kryptonite. With regard to that and the distinction that only super-powered Kryptonians are affected by normal kryptonite, here are a few details.

While it may not be the earliest mention of the fact that Kryptonians without super-powers are immune to the effects of green kryptonite, I do know that the concept was in place at least as of Superman # 123 (Aug., 1958). Chapter two of this book-length story—”The Lost Super-Powers”—clearly establishes the fact that a powerless Superman is unaffected by kryptonite. And this story pre-dates the first appearance of Argo City, in Action Comics # 252 (May, 1959).

The fact of the matter is, the initial notion that the citizens of Argo City, even though they were powerless Kryptonians, died from the effects of green kryptonite was—as Sijo pointed out—simply a rare oversight by Superman family editor Mort Weisinger. But it was an oversight that did not get corrected until Action Comics # 317 (October, 1964).

In the “Metropolis Mailbag” letter column for that issue, reader Michael Settle, of Clendenin, West Virginia, took Mort to task over that mistake. Mr. Settle wrote:

Dear Editor:

In stories I’ve read in which Superman loses his powers, Green Kryptonite can’t hurt him, nor will it affect other non-powered Kryptonians. Yet in the stories of Supergirl’s origin, the non-super Kryptonians of Argo City were killed by Green K radiation. How could this be? No wisecracks, please.

Mort responded:

We refer you to “The Untold Story of Argo City” (Action # 309). In this tale, a Kryptonian named Jer-Em, when Argo City was under a yellow sun and the people super, flew out of the city and right up to the Green K it was built on, without being affected. Obviously, this was a freak type of anti-Kryptonite, which affected only non-super Kryptonians.

This was the first mention of anti-kryptonite, and as so often happened with Mort Weisinger’s nimble answers to reader’s questions, it became a “continuity implant”. It was first shown as an accepted fact of the Superman mythos in an actual story with ” The Supergirl Best-Seller”, from Action Comics # 371 (Jan., 1969). Part of this adventure involves a flashback to Supergirl’s childhood in Argo City and the events of the flashback definitively establish that the chunk of planet on which Argo City rested was anti-kryptonite.

As for the matter of how the lethal properties of green kryptonite were altered when Color Kid turned the green-k cloud blue, In “The Legion Outpost” published in Adventure Comics # 354 (Mar., 1967), fan Gordon Meyer, of North Madison, Ohio, wrote, “But I am puzzled by one thing. How could changing the color of Kryptonite affect the molecular structure when Color Kid turns it from green to blue?”

Weisinger’s response:

How the change in color affects Kryptonite is a complicated process to explain, but basically Kryptonite is an unstable element which changes to a different isotope when a little thing like its color is altered. This substance is unique; none of the 104 elements known to modern science behaves in the same manner. That’s our explanation—but you better not check it with your chemistry teacher.

I’m not saying the science holds up—Mort virtually says so, too—but at least DC made an attempt to address it.

Hope this helps.

A no-prize (or at least huge thanks) to Commander Benson for the lowdown on Green K/Anti-K history. (I always thought the powered/non-powered effects were silly and that the radiation affected Kryptonian cell structure/DNA period. Or would/should have.

Aside to Sijo, maybe this is where Byrne’s thought process led when he did the pocket universe story. I haven’t read it since it was published so I don’t remember if there was any mention of the specific variety or not, if it was pocket universe green-K/anti-K, “real” universe-K or whatever.

There was an attempt made in the 1980s (Brave and the Bold #175, w/ Batman and Lois Lane) to explain the kryptonite conundrum. It stated that the particles radiated by kryptonite (Tachyons? Neutrinos?) move so fast that they pass harmlessly through normal matter, but an invulnerable Kryptonian body slows them down enough to be felt. Thus, a Kryptonian without powers, who isn’t invulnerable, is not affected.

In that story, Metallo stole some slow-kryptonite, still another isotope invented at (IIRC) STAR Labs. Its radiation was slowed down so that it affected normal humans.

Of course, Infinite Crisis added yet another wrinkle, which was that the Kryptonite of the main DC universe.has no effect on Kryptonians from other universes, like Power Girl and Superboy Prime. I don’t remember that really being explored pre-Crisis.

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