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Five Goofiest Moments in the Legion Feature in Adventure Comics #310-314

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at the next five Legion of Super-Heroes features in Adventure Comics #310-314. These five tales were written by Edmond Hamilton and drawn by John Forte (pencils and inks) for issues #310-312 and 314 and Curt Swan/George Klein for #313.

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

In #313, the Legion faces a mysterious female villain. I love just how over the top her name is…

In #311…boy…Stone Boy is incompetent…

but he’s no match for your least favorite and mine, the staggering ineptitude that is Bouncing Boy…

“We need a place to hide the female Legionnaires so that they won’t be killed.” “That’s all well and good, but I think I’ll go bouncing!” “Dammit, you fool, this is a life or death situation!” “Wheeeeeeee!”

Exposition-bot-working-properly…

The combined absurdity of telepathically telling someone to die and Brainiac’s brilliant solution really gets me every time…

That is an awesome clock…

5. Legion of Distrust…

One of the things you have to love about the Legion is how easy they all turn on each other. “Saturn Girl is acting oddly – maybe she wants to kill us all?” “Mon-El is acting weird, I bet he wants Lightning Lad to stay dead because he’s jealous!”

4. Puppets are awesome!

In a comic where strange worlds are the norm, this one is still way too goofy to not stand out…

3. Oh, of COURSE, a lead suit painted to look just like her!

In #313, Supergirl can’t figure out how Satan Girl is not affected by Green Kryptonite when it appears as though she is a Kryptonian…

the answer is…well…less than excellent…

That’s practically Identity Crisis level of not playing fair with the readers!

2. John Dillinger’s press agent is good

In #314, a villain goes to get the three worst villains in the history of mankind. And his choices are somewhat odd…

Yes, John Dillinger is one of the worst villains in the history of mankind. Ooookay…

At least this comic gave us Hitler-Superboy…

That expression will haunt my soul.

1. Who cares if he kills us? You have to laugh at midgets!

A new bad guy (in the story that later inspired Alan Moore for Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow) attacks the Legion and is kicking their collective ass when suddenly…

I love the idea of people just laughing at the guy who is single-handedly tearing through the Legion because he’s short.

32 Comments

These are great Brian. I agree with all these except for one: the name Satan Girl. Not only is that not goofy, it’s uncharacteristically good in a nonironic way for a Silver Age DC book. That name is seriously awesome, not even goofy awesome.

That “Mask Man” story is pretty intense for the Silver Age. The body count is staggeringly high (even though it reverses itself at the end). My kids freaked out when I was reading it to them.

This is a great series. Just one quick note on this one. With regards to your comment: The combined absurdity of telepathically telling someone to die and Brainiac’s brilliant solution really gets me every time…

Isn’t it Superboy’s brilliant solution?

– Satan Girl’s cognomen has always baffled me in a way; how did they ever get that past the Comics Code Authority? Was it that she’s not really a demon? This was close to the same period when Marvel used names like “Satannish” and so on. But then, Gardner Fox always slipped a lot of demon names and Lovecraft references into his stories whenever magic was involved. JLofA #10-1 have the Silver Wheel of Nyarlath, f’rinstance. Was it also Fox who created the Spectre villain Azmodus?

— Goofy as the Satan Girl “lead suit with my face on it” thing is, it strikes me as sort of meta-goofy that Supergirl never used the idea herself in other stories.

— That “telepathic command to die” thing makes me wonder how much sheer goofiness we’d find in the otherwise revered and ultra-serious Claremont/Byrne X-Men stories. Claremont’s actually a pretty goofy writer in some ways, as is Steve Engelhart; a lot of Bronze Age stuff seems to have Silver Age goofiness in the middle of stories with otherwise very “serious” and “relevant” plotting and narrative tone. Sometimes those sorts of things even read like whimsical of Silver Age material stripped of its winking self-awareness.

I can’t help but wonder if James robinson had Hitler-Superboy in mind when he was writing The Golden Age?

Sometimes those sorts of things even read like whimsical of Silver Age material stripped of its winking self-awareness.

You know, I’m not so sure that the Silver Age stuff, at least the DC stuff, really has all that much winking self-awareness. I think it just seems so over the top that our modern sensibilities when reading it cause us to read winking self-awareness into it because we can’t fathom that stuff being played 100% straight. But to me, when I read Weisinger or Schwartz edited books, I think it’s being 100% sincere which is what makes it so awesome to me.

Matthew Johnson

May 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

The clock suggests that the Legion stories take place in a universe full of flat Earths, since apparently each planet only has one time zone…

Hey Brian,

How did that last story inspire Alan Moore? i can’t see any influence in that small piece, so there must be more. i haven’t heard this story, so info would be appriciated!

DFTBA

Yeah, “self-awareness” may not be the right word for it; it is quite sincere. But it’s sincere without trying to shoulder the world or to impress its own gravitas upon the reader the way Bronze Age stuff sometimes does.
Writers like Fox, Broome, Siegel, Binder, and Hamilton usually seemed aware that they were writing lighter fare for younger audiences.

Even with the “deaths” in the Mask Man story, for example, there’s a way those deaths aren’t about blood ‘n’ guts as in the darker recesses of the mid-80s to the present, nor about wallowing in melodrama like the wave of character deaths that occurred from the early 1970s to the mid-80s.

The villains of the two pieces are quite similar.

You always list around 5 honorable mentions with these. Why not go with 10 goofiest moments?

Because I don’t always list five honorable mentions.

I don’t mean to sound like an a*****e. Sorry if it felt like that.

I am always entertained by your posts

Zor-El of Argo

May 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Given the level of power and the mention of the death count being undone I am thinking the short villian must have been Mxyzptlk.

“Satan Girl” was probably chosen to clue in that it was really (somehow) Supergirl (“S-Girl”) all along. Still I was a bit surprised they used that name when I read the story, too.

Btw, turning into stone IS how Stone Boy’s people hibernate. (I guess he just fell asleep on duty, eg. they were making fun of how boring the task was.)

Bouncing Boy (and those Madballs precursors) were probably intended to lighten up the Satan Girl story a little, as it was (by their kid-oriented standards) probably a little too intense.

There’s nothing silly about using mind control to kill people, we’ve seen it plenty of times in fiction (of course, that assumes the power can do more than just get people top commit suicide, but actually override their bodies’ nervous system. In that case, knocking the person out would NOT have helped.)

Nero deserved to be on the Most Evil Men ever list even less than Dillinger, it wasn’t like he set Rome on fire himself or anything. But then again, they needed names kids would recognize.

Wait, I haven’t seen that Superboy-Hitler story!! I must find it!!!

re Nero- and ‘Most Evil Men’- I think he would be a good candidate. He did institute the practice of using Christians as human torches. And at the time of this comic book-he was believed to be the arsonist behind the Burning Of Rome.

“….impress its own gravitas upon the reader the way Bronze Age stuff sometimes does.
Writers like Fox, Broome, Siegel, Binder, and Hamilton usually seemed aware that they were writing lighter fare for younger audiences”

As someone who was reading comics at the depressing onset of The Bronze Age- this statement above is so true. Writers like O’Neil were so busy trying to do ‘serious literature’ that they so often forgot basic storytelling entertainment value. I would devour the DC reprints from the 40s, 50s and 60s so avidly.

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David Serchay

May 28, 2011 at 8:03 am

Sijo, try to find Showcase Presents the LSH vol. 1. The story is in there, along with the great quote “Superboy, you can’t be Hitler in personality!” Also there the “at least be sporting and don’t kill Saturn Girl.” when she was the leader at the time.

Danjak, “Mask Man” is a decendent of Mr. Myklpltk (or however you spell it)

The Golden Age Shazam! villain IBAC might be a good guide to who was a watchword for “evil” before Hitler was (or rather, while Hitler was establishing his own claim to infamy). Powered by four of the most evil people who ever lived, he derived his initialism codename from Ivan the Terrible, Cesare Borgia, Attila the Hun, and Caligula (whose reputationa mong the Roman emperors is surely worse than Nero’s, right?).

Oh, sure, John Dillinger, the 20th century Gangster, wasn’t one of the most evil men in history…. but Billy John Dillinger was a crazed despot of the 23rd century that dressed up like John Dillinger and he was waaay worse than Hitler.

@ Omar K- well there’s no pecking order,per se- among ‘bad Roman emperors’- It comes down to popular perception informed by the media of whatever era.

Billy Bissette

May 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Saying Satan Girl’s lead suit is “practically Identity Crisis level of not playing fair with the readers” is unfair to the Legion story. While it is a bit of cheat, it at least makes a degree of sense, and particularly in the world of comics where such things can happen. Identity Crisis on the other hand relies on things that don’t make sense even in the world of comics and arguably flat out lies to the reader. Unless the Legion story includes a sun-bathing/naked Satan Girl who is eating green kryptonite, then it isn’t even near Identity Crisis level.

Legion of Distrust… Well, they were teenagers. “Mon-El is just, like, totally jealous because Lightning Lad is just soooo awesome, y’know?”

Most of the Legion stories from that era were very, very goofy. Even by DC standards.

Wow, The Legion went on a planet populated by those Madball toys from the 80s!

Wow, The Legion went on a planet populated by those Madball toys from the 80s!

Yeah, isn’t that so weird? It had to be a coincidence, though, so I didn’t mention it.

Hey, I mentioned the Madballs first, at least give me some credit! :D

Supergirl’s summation in the very last panel of the Satan Girl story is, by itself, a perfect summation of the goofiness of Silver Age Weisinger stories.

The goofiest thing about Mask Man: why would anyone who has almost infinite powers need to disguise himself with stilts? All he had to do was make himslef taller with Chameleon Boy’s shape shifting ability or Colossal Boy’s growth spurts.

The robot nurses are rather…ample, aren’t they? I guess that’s supposed to be comforting somehow. To offset their hideous asymmetrical faces and the fact that they talk out of their eyestalks. In a universe where other robots look like, well, Satan Girl. I guess Microsoft got the nursebot contract. “Meh, they work. Hospitals ain’t paying us Steve Jobs money.”

Gee, I wonder what time it is on Earth. I wonder. What time it is. On Earth. Oh, god my head hurts.

If there was a planet of creatures that periodically resurrected, you’d think it might be the subject of at least enough scientific curiosity that someone would have given the planet a name, wouldn’t you? Or has the Vatican covered it up? That would make sense, unlike Supergirl’s cover-up of the puppet planetoid. “Yeah, can’t have anyone knowing about the puppet planetoid. The existential implications would drive Earthlings insane!”

Alaktor’s choice of mega-villains is kind of weak. I’m not saying he should have gone with Cassius, Brutus, and Judas, but how about not including two guys who got gunned down by the forces of good? “Hey, John, hop in my time machine before you get outsmarted by Melvin Purvis! I’m sure you’ll be more successful against the 30th century Science Police! That guy next to you is the Chancellor of Germany. Say, you aren’t Jewish, are you?”

Were there ANY Legion villains, or DCU villains in general, who weren’t ultimately motivated by shame of being ridiculed? “Superboy, you’d blown my hair off! I shall dedicate my life to destroying you!” Even the Joker, early on, hated having his boners laughed at. I guess you’ve gotta go with the emotions that teen readers will empathize with. Jack Abramoff would make a lousy DC villain.

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