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When We First Met – When Did The Legion Flight Ring Debut? Plus More Legion of Super-Heroes Firsts!

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

Today we look at a number of Legion firsts, including the debut of the Legion flight ring, the Time Bubble and Interlac.

The debut of the Legion of Super-Heroes was in 1958’s Adventure Comics #247, which showed how they came back to the past to meet Superboy in their Time Bubble, so this is also the debut of the Time Bubble…

That issue also debuted the Legion’s first mode of flying, jet packs…

The jet packs continued for a few issues but eventually the artists on the Legion feature just stopped drawing the jet packs, yet the Legion continued to fly.

Likely, readers wrote in with outrage over how they continued to fly without jet packs (it was the early 1960’s version of Tim Drake no longer being Robin), so to pacify readers, in Adventure Comics #302, we learn that the Legion fly with gravity belts…

I just love that reply. It has just the right tinge of “Okay, complainers? Are you happy now? Let’s move on.”

However, it was likely that Weisinger thought, “Okay, they probably have a point, so let’s make these belts actually visible.”

So in Adventure Comics #306, the Legion gravity belts are first shown as actual belts…

And the Legion artist made a point of drawing the heroes in their belts when they flew…

(Thanks to Commander Benson for the head’s up about how the belts eventually became a visible staple of the Legion feature)

Eventually, though, in Adventure Comics #329, I guess they figured that the belts were annoying for the artists to always draw, and so we finally got the Legion flight ring…

The best part about the ring is that no one drew it during the 1960s, like, ever. Heck, I don’t even know when they first began being actually drawn on the hands of Legion members. I also don’t know when the traditional ring with the L on the logo made its debut. It sure wasn’t any time soon. Any Legion fans out there know?

An issue after the debut of the gravity belts also saw the introduction of the Science Police (although a variation of the Science Police, at least a group calling themselves the World-Wide Police showed up in #300 that seemed to serve the same basic function as the Science Police)

Jim Shooter first introduced Interlac, the official language of the 30th Century, in Adventure Comics #379, in 1969…

A few years earlier, in Adventure Comics #336, we were first introduced to the fancy schmancy unbreakable metal known as Inerton…

Finally, Adventure Comics #367 gave us the Miracle Machine…

If you have a suggestion for a comic book item/piece of lore that you’d be interested in seeing, let me know at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

17 Comments

I thought Inertron first appeared in Armageddon 2419 A.D.? ;-)

Matthew Johnson

October 2, 2012 at 7:01 am

My favourite pieces of 30th Century technology are the automatic crow-bar and the litter-picking robot. What an age to live in!

I love how Superboy and the Legion are sweating how long it will take to induct him and how long he’ll be distracted from protecting Smallville. You have a Time Bubble, guys. A Time Bubble.

Automatic crowbar? That’s just a little too farfetched. Scientists have been working on that for years with little results.

Brainiac 5’s doing the Vs, the British rude gesture. naughty boy.

You might add that intrlac letters first popped up in the 80s under Keith Griffin and Paul Levitz. At first they were just random characters but around Tales of the LSH 305 or so Giffin created a full alphabetwhich he and others used for years for all background text.

Doesn’t Brainiac showing off the flight ring kinda feel like only the middle finger was showing originally, but then the artist went “oh crap, this wont work”

@fury and VichusSmith,

I found myself wondering if the ‘British Rude gesture’ was intentional.

That was my second thought.

Am I right that inertron preceded the equally invulnerable adamantium by a few years? Not that SF didn’t have impenetrable metals before them, of course–heck even in comics, Marvelium (indestructible metal only workable by Captain Marvel) beat them both to the punch.

I wonder if the Science Police are like the Grammar Police. They go around arresting people who aren’t using correct science.

“Hey! Hey! Just because that map is flat, doesn’t mean the Earth is! Remember that!”

“Sir, I have to take you in. That’s improper use of Avagadro’s number!”

However, they have no jurisdiction over creationists. It’s a lobbyist thing.

Commander Benson

October 4, 2012 at 2:30 am

Since the subject of the Science Police came up, I’d just thought I’d throw this in . . . .

In the Legion Outpost letter column from Adventure Comics # 354 (Mar., 1967), the following missive from Al Ferris, of Jackson, Mississippi appeared:

Dear Editor:

I notice that the interplanetary law-enforcement agency in the Legion stories is called the Science Police. Why Science?

Mort Weisinger—or more likely, at this time, his assistant, E. Nelson Bridwell—provided the following answer:

Because they use science to a degree never before attempted by police. Every criminal is not only fingerprinted, but has his voiceprint (tell-tale vocal pattern, which is just as distinct), the invisible aura surrounding his body, his brain-wave pattern, and other facts, recorded.

There are a dozen ways to identify a wanted man, and the special devices used by the Science Police can pick him out of a crowd of thousands with unerring accuracy. They also have analytic devices which can tell exactly where a bit of dust originated—pinpointing not only the planet, but the area—usually within a few miles of the spot.

Crooks don’t have an easy time of it in the 30th century.

There you have it, folks. Now you know. Impress your friends.

Could someone please explain why the Legion lives in what looks like a crashed rocket ship (with no engine)?

Big Transformers fans?

Commander Benson

October 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

“Could someone please explain why the Legion lives in what looks like a crashed rocket ship (with no engine)?”

During the Silver Age no reason was ever divulged for the unique design of the Legion’s first clubhouse. (The team got a new HQ in Adventure Comics # 367 [Apr., 1968].)

However, in a post-Crisis issue of Secret Origins—# 46 (Nov., 1989)—DC came up with an origin of the Legion’s old rocket-ship-like digs. Here’s a link to the explanation:

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Fortress_Lad_(Pre-Zero_Hour)

Hope this helps.

Wow. How did I never notice that Matter-Eater Lad came from the planet “Bismoll”?

How much you wanna bet his home-town is called “Peppto”?

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