Let's Read The Legion Of Super-Heroes!

So, a while back I signed up for DC Universe Infinite, and I decided to to use that to read old Legion Of Super-Heroes comics.
Now, I’m going to try and read these in order, but I will note that DC doesn’t have everything available, at least not on the plan I’m on, and the navigation is a little confusing, and I have a short attention span, so who knows how long I’ll stick with it. So, let’s begin with beginning!

Adv247
Adventure Comics #247

Superboy is the lead feature of Adventure Comics at this time, and this issue is no exception. Our tale begins with a young Clark Kent walking around Smallville. He’s approached by a young man, who greets him cheerfully. Except, he addresses him as Superboy. Clark, confused, dashes away, decides to put the strange encounter out of his mind, and change into costume to do some patrolling. While flying about, Superboy is approached by a second young man, who addresses him as Clark. Uh-oh! Superboy is becoming quite concerned. He sees a young lady on a park bench who inquires about Ma and Pa Kent. Superboy believes his secret identity is ruined, but the girl is soon joined by the two young men, who reveal themselves as Cosmic Boy, Lightning Boy (note that this name will be changed in their next appearance), and Saturn Girl. They tell Superboy they’re from the future, so they know all about his secret identity, as that’s just a matter of historical record in the 30th Century.

Of note here is the costumes, as pictured in the cover image above. While Cosmic Boy’s costume is no doubt familiar, Lightning “Boy” and Saturn Girl look much different than what’s regarded as their classic looks. That will also change the next time we see them.

Anyway, the three teenagers explain that they’ve come back to visit Superboy and made sure no witnesses were around while they had a little fun at his expense. You may think that making Superboy a nervous wreck is a bit cruel, but if you know anything about the Silver Age, you’ll know that Clark/ Superboy/ Superman does this kind of thing all the time to his friends and loved ones. So turnabout, fair play, and all that.

The Legion Of Super-Heroes, as they’re known, want to take Superboy into the future and induct him as an honorary member of their club. They hop into their Time Bubble, travel 1000 years into the future, and take Superboy on a tour of 30th Century Smallville. The four youths enjoy Martian ice cream (head canon- it’s got chunks of Oreos in it), and Superboy even helps out in a futuristic classroom regarding a history lesson about himself!

After they’ve had their fun, they take Superboy to their clubhouse where they’re going to induct him. Their are several members present, but only Cosmic Boy, Lightning Boy, and Saturn Girl are clearly identified. We see the backs of the heads of other members, most notably a young man who appears to have blonde hair and green skin…

The three heroes inform Superboy that before they can let him join, he has to pass a test and prove his powers against the other three. Which should be easy, right? After all, he’s got SEVERAL powers at his disposal, and they only have one each.

The first test is that a statue has fallen to the bottom of the sea, and Superboy and Saturn Girl are tasked to retrieve it. They both fly off, Superboy using his natural powers, Saturn Girl using the rocket packs that all Legion members have (again, not what modern readers are accustomed to from the Legion.) Superboy figures this should be super-easy, as he’s got super strength, and how can Saturn Girl’s “thought casting” get a statue up out of the ocean? However, Superboy is quickly distracted, as trouble is at the school he visited earlier. Being a hero, Superboy prioritizes the lives of people and goes to help. Once everyone is safe, he rushes to where the statue is. However, Saturn Girl pulled an Aquaman and used her mental powers to get a giant sea creature to bring the statue to the surface.

Superboy doesn’t tell about the emergency, because he doesn’t want to make excuses, even in the face of the taunts and jeers of the teenagers from the future. Next challenge? A forest fire! Superboy versus Cosmic Boy! Superboy is confident that he can do it, because Cosmic Boy’s “magnet vision” can’t put out fires, but he’s again distracted. A falling satellite from the 20th Century! Superboy again puts the safety of others first, and then finds that Cosmic Boy got the forest fire under control. He used his magnetic powers to pull metallic rocks from the sky into a lake which then flooded and put out the fires. … I have several questions about the wisdom of that plan, but everyone is fine with it, it’s the (20)50’s, no one is deconstructing superheroic feats in that way yet.

Superboy is really starting to feel the pressure now. One last challenge. Superboy and Lightning Boy are both challenged with warning a spacecraft with a leaking fuel tank to turn around. Superboy is once again distracted. An invisible bird (!!!) has escaped from the zoo and naturally poses a danger to any aircraft. Superboy is puzzled about how to find something invisible, until he hits on a plan. He… grabs an iceberg and begins to fly around the upper atmosphere with it until the temperature drops enough to cause frost to coat the bird. … And I thought Cosmic Boy’s plan was a bit over the top. Superboy again failed, because Lightning Boy used his powers to make lightning letters to warn the craft.

Superboy is roundly mocked by the other heroes. He still refuses to tell why, trying to put up a brave face, but inside, he is heartbroken. Finally, the Legion fesses up. They each engineered the various catastrophes that kept Superboy from completing the challenges as a sort of initiation. Superboy takes it in stride, because again, he does this ALL THE DAMN TIME. In fact, I think the reason he has a secret identity is so that he can double the amount of pranking.

Anyway, a REAL emergency arises, and Superboy is once again on the case. This time, he uses his powers to simulate the feats of magnetism, lightning, and mind-reading as a way to even things up with the Legion. He’s inducted into the Legion and sent back home to the 20th century. Our tale ends with Clark showing his certificate of membership to Pa Kent, who seems nonplussed. Seriously, the art in the last panel, he’s depicted with an expression that strikes me as “That’s great, now mow the damn lawn.”

And thus our tale ends. Will we ever see these strange visitors again…? Only time will tell…

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So it looks like Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman…

Did I get it right?

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As usual, Supes is a dick.

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Like most teenagers.

Three years from now, I hope we get the panel from when Chameleon Boy courts Elwinda but also informs us that he’s “a confirmed bachelor.”

Jim Shooter… “DID HE JUST NOT KNOW?”

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No, no, Clark Kent, at least the Silver Age version, never really grows out of that phase, which we’ll see later.

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Hence the sadly now-defunct Superdickery.com.

But there are plenty of other examples of Silver Age Superman being a colossal jerk.

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For the uninitiated, “Superdickery” refers to a practice in comics, primarily the Silver Age, wherein a cover will depict the hero acting wildly out of character, often belligerent and antagonistic if not downright villainous. The idea being that this will entice potential readers into buying the comic to find out what’s really going on. Since many of these covers featured Superman, a website in the 2000s put them on a website, usually with the caption “… Superman is a dick.” The site was popular enough that it spawned several memes, including “Lex Luthor Steals 40 Cakes”, and an episode of Batman: The Brave & The Bold paid tribute to the site with an episode recreating many of the covers featured, including the one in the post above by @FlyingSquid. Which lead to this exchange-

Jimmy Olsen: Superman’s turned into SUCH a di-
Lois Lane: -ifferent person.

I mention this because it will be relevant to the next story, and not just because of the cover.

Adventure Comics #267

Uh… Saturn Girl? I’m not sure that is how telepathy works.

Our story opens in Smallville, with Superboy flying about town. Suddenly, a plane is about to crash! Superboy rushes to the rescue, but none other than Cosmic Boy arrives on the scene to prevent disaster. Superboy is about to give his friend a warm welcome when Cosmic Boy gives him the brush-off. Onlookers begin to jeer Superboy.

Later that day, another disaster strikes. Superboy is once again beaten to the punch, this time by Lightning Lad, who is also uncharacteristically brusque. Superboy is once again heckled by the crowd. A third emergency, and Saturn Girl saves the day, as the crowd cheers the futuristic superheroine and mocks the Boy Of Steel. Dejected, he returns home, hoping to get some encouragement from his parents, but Ma and Pa Kent are surprisingly unsympathetic.

But Superboy, not one to give up, hatches a plan that he feels will win the hearts and minds of Smallville. He… uh… digs a huge cavern underneath the town, hoping that it will become a major vacation destination and bring in much needed tourist dollars.

That’s not a joke. That is what he thinks to himself. “A scenic wonder like this will attract a great deal of tourist trade to Smallville!”

As far as plans go, that… is… one of them. Well, let’s not judge him too harshly. This is the same kid who’s thought processes go from “Gosh, gee whiz, I wish we had a Christmas tree” to “Let’s go find the Star Of Bethlehem. NOW.”

Anyhoo, this plan goes awry, because, again, not making this up, a DRAGON walks out of the cave. Luckily, the Legion arrives to drive the beast back deep underground.

The town once again heaps praise on the Legion and scorn on Superboy. Even dear Krypto, the Boy of Steel’s beloved pooch, now seeks scritches from the Triad Of Tomorrow. The mayor likewise prefers the Legion over Superboy. Even Ma and Pa Kent have had it with him.

With a heavy heart, Superboy bids Smallville adieu, and flies off into space.

A bit of an extreme reaction, I think. Planetary exile? Surely, there are other places on Earth that would welcome him with open arms. Like Liechtenstein. I bet Liechtenstein would love to have their own superhero. But I digress.

Once in space, Superboy finds a whole horde of super-people flying, headed somewhere. Curious, he follows. They lead him to a planet, and on the surface, is Superboy City! A whole town dedicated to Superboy! The local constabulary take Superboy to the Council. The Council? Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl! The trio order Superboy thrown into a Kryptonite cage. Oh, no!

As they prepare a more permanent prison, they explain their actions. In the future, to fill in missing history details due to damaged records (probably from a media executive deleting them to get a tax break), a Futurescope was invented that allows them to see into the past. What they saw shocked them- Superboy on a rampage of destruction! The screen shows Superboy destroying a naval vessel, an air strip at a military base, and a factory. These events will happen five years into Superboy’s future.

So the Legion hatched a plan. They had built the city on this planet to honor Superboy, but now it was to be his prison. But how to get him there…? The Legion would steal his thunder, with Saturn Girl using her “thought-casting” to turn everyone against him, making him so dejected that he’d fly off into space.

… So, wait, the dragon wasn’t part of this plan? It was just there?!? COMICS, EVERYBODY!

Anyway, they lock Superboy up. Days later, a disaster occurs, Superboy is free from his prison, and he’s about to make his escape. But, the accident also caused the release of a toxic material. As Kryptonite is to Superboy, so too is this stuff to the Legion. Superboy quickly neutralizes the danger. The Legion apologizes, and they feel foolish for having ever doubted Superboy. Just then, Saturn Girl telepathically picks up a radio transmission from Earth from… The President?!? The Commander In Chief releases Superboy from his oath of secrecy. Superboy now tells the truth- the Futurescope was NOT picking up events 5 Years Later (hmmm… that sounds catchy, someone should do something with that), but from right now. You see, Superboy had been tasked to… uh… cover up the manufacture of a poison gas that the U.S. Government realizes was maybe a bad idea.

… Your tax dollars at work.

Everyone returns to Smallville, and everyone loves Superboy again. Thus ends our tale.

This is like in-universe Superdickery. The Legion saw Superboy acting wildly out of character and decided to see what’s what. It turns out he wasn’t a villain after all, he was just doing black ops for the government! And it’s the 50s, so nobody questions it, because that’s Commie talk!

I’d still like to know what the hell is going on when a DRAGON is living under Smallville though.

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Reds under the bed, dragons under Smallville.

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If season 2 of Stranger Things taught me anything, the Reds are in a massive secret base they were somehow able to build under a shopping mall in Indiana.

I did not watch season 3.

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Legion of Superheroes vol. 8 from 2020, and written by Brian Michael Bendis, starts out with an almost identical plot happening to the current Superboy, Jon Kent (son of Clark and Lois). It goes off in a much different direction after Superboy is taken to the future, with considerably less super-dickery, but there is even a bit of a nod to Adventure Comics #248 where they talk about records being lost about the past. IIRC they express concern about bad things happening in that lost time period that they think Suberboy had a hand in, but they don’t really do anything about it. The modern story plays out over a year long 12 issue run, so they have a lot more time to develop the plot, but it is a Legion of Superheroes comic, so it gets bogged down a bit by the sheer number of Legion members they try to squeeze into the run.

It has been fun to read your synopsis of these issues to see where modern writers like Bendis have taken these stories and revamped them. From what you describe, the writing tends to make more sense these days, and I really like Bendis’ writing, but I wonder how many more “new” stories in comics heavily lift their plots from golden age stories like this.

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I think a lot of writers back then didn’t know that telepathy and telekenesis were distinct things. Probably a lot still don’t know. They’re always confusing telepathy and empathy, too.

I’ll note the elephant in the room, which is that Garth really needs to fire either his tailor or his laundry service. Possibly both.

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A lot! On topic, if we get to meet future Legionnaire Mon-El in 1961’s Superboy #89 “Superboy’s Big Brother!” (not technically a LSH story), it will sound a lot like 1953’s Superman #80 “Superman’s Big Brother.”

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You’re the first person I’ve seen say something nice about the Bendis Legion.

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I was speaking a bit more of Bendis in general, and stuff like Powers, Alias, House of M, and Age of Ultron. That Legion run was memorable enough that I recognized the storyline from this thread, but it was not his best effort.

Okay, we’ve had some adventure, let’s change things up and have some action!

Action Comics #267
Not including the cover, because the Legion isn’t on it. The lead feature, and the cover story, is Superman and Hercules, and it’s EXTREMELY Silver Age-y. It starts with Lex Luthor building a TIME MACHINE in his prison cell out of a clock, a paper clip, and some aspirin.

Well, moving on. The back-up feature stars Supergirl meeting three familiar teenagers, but first, I think some context is needed to truly appreciate how MESSED UP this story is.

So, when Krypton exploded, a city where Jor-El’s brother Zor-El lived happened to survive. Argo City managed to survive for quite some time or so until the lead shielding that protected everyone from the Kryptonite began to fail. Zor-El and his wife, seeing that their nephew Kal-El had landed on Earth and had grown into that planet’s greatest hero, decide to send their teen daughter Kara to the planet. There are some variations of this (and we’re not even going to get into the 90s version), but the gist of it is that Kara is not a baby when she sees death and destruction.

Kara’s rocket lands on Earth, where she’s quickly found by Superman. The two unite, overjoyed at learning that neither one is alone in the universe, that the House Of El survives. Kara asks if she this means she has a home now. Superman points out that as far as anyone on Earth knows, his civilian identity (he’s not even telling her who he is) has no living relatives, so a cousin moving in would jeopardize his secret identity (even though he jeopardizes his secret identity his own damn self every other story, like the time he wrote a song with Pat Boone.) So, this young girl, traumatized by the destruction of her home planet, stands in front of her only living relative, who puts her in an orphanage.

… Superman is a dick.

But wait, it gets worse. You see, Superman decides that “Supergirl”, as she’ll be called, will be the perfect ace in the hole for really big threats, a secret weapon if you will. Of course, he emphasizes the “secret” part because of course he does. He forbids Kara from being seen in public as Supergirl. And you thought Batman in his modern incarnations was paranoid and obsessive.

All of this means that a lot of the early Silver Age Supergirl stories, Kara is just a huge walking bulletproof bundle of anxiety. Only Spider-Man exceeds Supergirl in sheer pathos per page. An emergency comes up, and her first thought is she’d like to help, but what would Kal-El say? Kal-El can go to Hell, that’s what I say.

It should be noted that she applies this line of thought to everything, even people looking to adopt her from the orphanage that Superman stuck her in. “They seem like such loving parents who would give any child a good home, but what if they found out about me, and what about Superman? I should self-sabotage my being adopted.”

Clark. CLARK. Talk to your cousin. This is NOT healthy behavior for a teenage girl!

With all that established, let’s move on to the story proper, entitled simply “The 3 Super-Heroes”. This title will prove remarkably inaccurate.

Our story opens with a bus from the Midvale Orphanage driving to Metropolis. You see, there’s going to be a Superman Fair, with the Man Of Steel himself conducting the opening ceremonies, and all the kids are thrilled to see him. But alas! The bus gets to a drawbridge just as a big river freighter is about to pass. The delay means that the kids will miss their hero. However, one of the passengers is none other than Linda Lee, the civilian identity of none other than the Girl Of Steel herself. She surreptitiously slips out of the back, and changes into Supergirl. Heading under the water out of sight, she lowers the boat and speeds it through, so the kids won’t miss a thing!

At the fair, the kids get to see Superman demonstrate his invulnerability inside a huge Tesla coil type thing, the bolts of electricity not harming him. Afterwards he leaves, but not before Linda/ Kara sees him wink at her.

So, wait. Clark. CLARK. You’re not even going to talk to her? Yeah, yeah, secret identity, secret weapon, blah blah blah. You can’t even say, “Hello, young lady. What’s your name?” WINK “I bet if you have any relatives, you’re going to make them very proud.” Nope nothing. Just a brief facial expression before jetting off.

Dickweed.

Anyway, back inside the exhibit, the electrical device is going haywire. Bolts and sparks threaten the attendees! Kara is conflicted, because again, Clark put a HUGE emotional weight on her, so she doesn’t know if she should save people or keep his friggin’ secret. Fortunately, a young man appears and generates lightning of his own to destroy the fuse box of the device, shutting it down. He mentions her secret identity is safe and promises that she’ll learn more later.

Later, a lion escapes it’s cage. There was a lion taming act at the Superman Fair, apparently. What a lion has to do with Superman, I have no idea. Anyway, the lion is loose and is heading straight for Kara. Again, she’s worried about the secret. Fortunately, there’s a young blonde woman who commands the lion back into the cage, and like the boy before, offers a cryptic message.

Finally, on a Krypton Rocket ride (Kara might have some unresolved issues if she’s riding that), the vehicle carrying her breaks loose and begins to fall. Luckily, a third youth is there, and miraculously the metal rocket lands safely in a bale of hay. Again, another cryptic message, implying that he knows all about her.

Back at the orphanage, Kara contemplates the events of the day. Is she thinking about the strange, wondrous powers of the three teenagers? No. She’s worried that Superman will be furious that these kids know her secret.

… You know, Silver Age Superman makes Green Arrow look like a responsible, nurturing guardian.

Anyway, the hollow tree that she hides her stuff in, including the Linda Lee robot that Superman gave her in case she needs to be in two places at once, is about to be bulldozed. She rushes out, but it’s just a regular stump. She finds again the three teenagers, who moved her tree to protect her secret. They finally explain what’s going on. They ask Supergirl if she’s heard of the Legion Of Super-Heroes. She tells them what Superman told her, about how they approached him when he was a boy. The kids confirm the story, and offer some exposition.

action267-1

First things first, that children thing? Never mentioned again, to my knowledge. Second, to elaborate on what Cosmic Boy (Junior) said, this was part of an initiation ritual. They orchestrated these accidents as a sort of hazing prank, putting Kara through an inordinate amount of stress for their own amusement.

Dickweeds.

I mean, when they do it to Superboy, fine. He’s kind of got it coming. But poor Supergirl is constantly on the brink of a nervous breakdown thanks to her emotionally manipulative cousin.

Anyway, the three explain that every year, they invite one superhero under the age of 18 to join their team, and they ask Supergirl if they’d like to accompany them to the future and audition.

Kara is overjoyed. Just, just look.

action267b

She’s so happy! She finally has people she can be herself around! She can go to the future and have friends and not worry about Superman’s malarkey! She eagerly agrees. The Legion gets in their Time Bubble, while Supergirl follows. Unlike the first story, in this, Supergirl is fast enough to break the time barrier on her own.

The Legion shows her around the 30th Century to see the sights, many of which are familiar (they visit the same ice cream parlor). Then, the Legion takes her to the clubhouse to introduce her to a few other members- Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, and Chameleon Boy.

Now comes Supergirl’s big chance! She has to do something REALLY amazing to impress the Legion. She burrows into the Earth, digging a tunnel and paving it at superspeed. You see, in the 30th century, with all the flying cars, the skies are a bit jampacked. Supergirl’s solution is to build a huge tunnel to divert some of the traffic. Ingenious! )So, basically, Elon Musk stole the Hyperloop idea from Supergirl comics.) The Legion is very impressed. So, does she get to join…?

No.

They went ahead and picked someone else because Supergirl is no longer eligible. She looks into a mirror and sees that she’s aged into a young woman. What? Apparently, there was some Red Kryptonite where she was digging and it aged her. You know, Red K is only temporary, lasting 24 hours at most, and she’s still chronologically a teenager, and she really needs some friends, but HEY. Rules are rules.

Dickweeds.

They say IF it wears off, she can try again next year. Dejected, she returns to the 20th century. She’s upset, because now she also can’t return to the orphanage and, again, is worried about what Superman might say if he found out. But, fortunately, the Red Kryptonite does wear off and Supergirl reverts to her proper age. She changes back into Linda Lee and wistfully thinks about trying again next year…

This story is just absolutely heart-breaking. I want to just give her the biggest hug and tell her everything is going to be okay, even though that’s a lie, because it will be years before she gets her own title, her movie will flop, she’ll get killed and forgotten, there will be several nonsensical reboots, and don’t even get me started on Comet The Super-Horse!

Still, take heart. She does eventually get to join the Legion, even though from my readings thus far she shows up in precious few actual Legion stories.

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So there’s an age limit. This “legion” is limited to unsupervised space children.

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There’s an age limit to get in. There’s a later story where the whole plot is them hiding something from Superboy. The big reveal is that, because healthcare and medicine have advanced so much, people live much longer, so the standards of what’s considered “young” have also been modified, with it being heavily implied that the Legionnaires are in their 40s or 50s.

… Look, there’s a lot that some writers introduce and other writers ignore or discard, this is why we needed a Crisis. Moving on!

Adventure Comics #282

Superboy is doing various chores around Smallville, being a helpful sort, and Lana Lang is mooning over him. To use the parlance that we on this board are all familiar with, she seems very “squishy”. But alas! Superboy doesn’t pay any attention to her. So distraught is she that she doesn’t even want her neighbor Clark Kent to see her having a crush on the Boy Of Steel.

Later that day, Lana goes to the picture show and gets an idea from the movies- what if she were to make Superboy jealous? There’s just one problem, none of the mundane boys on Smallville, or indeed anywhere on Earth, can compare to Superboy! There’s really no reason Superboy would be jealous of Steve Gunderson, president of the Smallville High Chess Club and voted Most Likely To Spin Yarns About Grandma’s Raspberry Preserves three years running. It seems hopeless.

Meanwhile, while Clark Kent is taking out the trash at Pa’s General Store, giant horseshoes appear. He is, quite understandably, confused. He changes into Superboy and heads out in the direction the horseshoes came from and finds the Smallville dam overflowing. There’s some clutter in the drain pipe, which he easily takes care of.

Suddenly, Superboy finds himself encased in a block of ice. Freeing himself, he sees that someone has left him a message to meet at Calvin’s Cave. Superboy flies off and sees a young man in a purple costume and white cape. The youth apologizes for the trickery, saying he used his strength, heat vision, and super breath to get Superboy to come. Introductions soon follow- he’s Thom Kallor of the planet Xanthu… in the future! A brief recount of his origin follows, how a comet granted him powers similar to Superboy, and his parents encourage him to become a superhero and adopt the secret identity of Star Boy! He’s a member of the Legion.

Superboy, being well familiar with the Legion, asks what brings Star Boy back to the 20th century. Star Boy explains that two criminals escaped; one took a time machine and is hiding out in Smallville, and the other is still in the future, holed up in a mass of copper pipes, which Thom’s X-Ray vision can’t penetrate, which is why he needs Superboy’s help.

Lana Lang, gathering flowers nearby, hears the tail end of this exchange, and goes “???”. Maybe because she’s surprised to see another superhero, or perhaps understandably confused because of the X-Ray/ copper thing.

Superboy agrees to help and promises not to reveal Star Boy’s secret identity. Lana hatches a plan. While she didn’t hear WHAT it was, she knows that Star Boy DOES have a secret identity and decides to use some wiles.

Lana shows up in front of Star Boy and the one now-captured convict, and threatens to expose his secret unless he does everything she tells him.

… So, you know, it’s not just Superman who’s a manipulative, conniving jerk.

Lana extorts Star Boy into helping her make Superboy jealous. There’s just one problem. Superboy, who had dashed off for a bit, returns just in time to overhear this scheme.

Lana Lang takes Star Boy to meet her parents, while Superboy spies on them, and the Lang folks give Lana permission to visit the 30th Century. They are surprisingly nonplussed by all this. But, again, Smallville is a town where dragon appearances are non-zero, so maybe these folks have seen quite a bit by now.

Returning to the cave, the three travel to 30th Century Xanthu. Superboy catches the other criminal, while Lana forces Star Boy to dote over her. She shows off all the lavish gifts that Star Boy is (unwillingly) giving her, and Superboy, wise to all of this, acts nonchalant, much to Lana’s chagrin.

Star Boy even uses “electrical vision” (the HELL?!?) to make rocks into diamonds (the HELL?!?) Again, Superboy acts completely disinterested. Lana points out that to Star Boy, an Earth girl like her is strange and exotic and she can’t help that he’s madly in love with her. Superboy shrugs and goes off to do some sightseeing.

Lana is ready to make Thom do more embarrassing deeds to inflate her ego, when Superboy returns… with a girl?!? It’s a Zynthia (yes, that’s her name), and Superboy says that Lana was absolutely right- girls from different planets ARE wildly attractive and interesting, and Superboy is madly involve with this Xanthu girl.

Lana realizes she has made a grave miscalculation.

Superboy immediately starts fawning over Zynthia and does everything she says, and Lana points out how tacky and embarrassing this is. Superboy says, “Well, this is just what Star Boy is doing for you, right?”

Eventually, Lana, now fuming with jealous rage, calls Zynthia a “hussy” (egad! such language!) and demands she stop distracting Superboy from his heroic duties. When that doesn’t work, she pretends to faint, claiming that the Xanthu atmosphere isn’t good for her and that Superboy should take her home immediately.

Superboy instead makes a giant space helmet and unceremoniously places it on Lana’s head, so, you know, she doesn’t have to leave Star Boy and he can stay and flirt with Zynthia.

Lana finally, tearfully fesses up. Superboy commends her on her honesty (yes, Superboy, it’s quite admirable how she told the truth after EXTORTING some innocent guy she just met!), and he has a confession of his own- Zynthia is really Star Boy’s girlfriend, and she and Superboy hatched their own scheme to get Star Boy out of the predicament with Lana.

Superboy and Lana return to Smallville, and she claims she’s learned her lesson, that deception is no way to find the path to true love. Spoilers- she didn’t learn a damn thing, she’ll employ schemes that would make Lucy and Ethel blush.

Lana asks Superboy to the dance, but he says he has heroing to do and flies off. Lana is quite frustrated, but at least that Zynthia is out of the picture.

Now, people familiar with the Legion may note that a LOT of this story, most notably Star Boy’s powers, would be ignored later.

All in all, this story feels like it could easily be a story for Lois Lane, just with the names changed and everyone made younger. In fact, I’m almost positive that there’s at least one “Lois tries to make Superman jealous” story, and, given how 1960s writers tended to write women, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of Superman/ Superboy stories that were similar to this numbered in the double digits.

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Wow. It’s like Village Of The Giants but with more hard science. :wink:

I haven’t even gotten to the “lead emits radiation which is harmful to Daxamites” bit yet.

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Adventure Comics #290

Our story begins with a freight train. On board is a stowaway, riding the rails, a fugitive from the state reform school. Inside, we see the teen fugitive and it’s… CLARK KENT?!? No, dear reader, in one of those amazing, million-to-one coincidences that actually seem to happen 9 times out of 10, this is not the boy we all know and… well given his behavior, I can’t say we “LOVE” him. We know him, anyway. Whatever, this ain’t Clark Kent, but rather Tom Tanner, who as luck and lazy writing would have it looks exactly like Clark Kent.

Tom jumps off the train and runs into Smallville. On the lam, he’s quite nervous about getting caught. Unfortunately, a copper arrives! The jig is up before it’s even begun! The lawman’s car approaches and… the officer gives him a friendly greeting. He thinks Tom is actually Clark. Tom plays along, playing off any mistakes as being discombobulated from a fall. Actual quote- “Whew! What a boner I pulled!”

I’ll pause so we can all have a hearty, immature chuckle.

Anyway, after a series of near-misses, the helpful population of Smallville directs “Clark” back to his home. Meanwhile, the real Clark is fooling around in his science lab. All of a sudden, his super senses detect something- a time bubble, just like the Legion uses! He transforms into Superboy and is about to rush out to see what the emergency is. Since it’s about time to head for school, Superboy is about to activate one of his Clark Kent robots to double for him. Superboy has a TON of robots- several of himself dressed as Clark and Superboy, one of Ma and Pa, even one for Lana. Nothing at all suspect about a teen boy having a robot double of his cute next door neighbor.

Anyway, the arrival of the time bubble triggered an electromagnetic pulse, knocking out the robot. Well, he’ll just have to be absent, there’s trouble afoot! He leaves before Ma Kent is even out of the ladies room to know he’s gone.

It just so happens that at that exact moment, Tom arrives at the Kent household! Ma Kent, having finally gotten out of the shower, chides “Clark” for locking himself out. Why, they look so much alike it even fooled Ma!

Seeing that the real Clark is nowhere to be found, Tom decides that maybe he ran away and HE can have it. After all, this looks like pretty sweet digs! A loving mom who makes great pancakes, a nice room, clean clothes… They don’t have THIS in Juvie Hall!

Outside of Metropolis, Superboy approaches the glowing figure in the time bubble. It’s Sun Boy, the newest member of the Legion. The two shake hands, and Sun Boy briefly recounts his origin and powers. But enough small talk! He’s here on an important mission!

You see, the Legion encountered a devious mad scientist who created a terrible weapon. They defeated him, but there was still the issue of what to do with the weapon. After all, it would be AWFUL if some ne’er-do-well were to get hold of it…

They split the device into six parts, put them into lead-lined chests, and then… They travel to the 20th Century and hide the boxes there.

… There are several problems with this plan. Luckily, they realized their error. Sort of. Instead of realizing that a box in the 20th century is still going to be there in the 30th century, they figure someone in the 20th century might find it. Eh, close enough. Anyway, that’s why Sun Boy is here.

Or is it?!? While Superboy flies off to find the boxes, “Sun Boy” begins to gloat…

Superboy returns home, intending to tell Ma what he’s up to, but that’s when he sees Tom. He’s initially going to expose him as a fraud, but then he realizes this is actually helpful in the short-term, with his robot doubles being on the fritz.

At school, Lana hatches a scheme (SEE! I told you she didn’t learn a damn thing) to prove Clark Kent is Superboy. She gets a local school chum to play a “prank” on Clark, handing him a pair of scissors and asking for a small lock of Clark’s hair. The dope doesn’t think there’s anything weird about this. Still, Lana is devious- she figures that if Clark is Superboy, the scissors will break because his hair is indestructible. Of course, Lana didn’t count on this being Tom Tanner, so he gets a haircut. Tom is not amused by this foolishness, so he socks to the boy in the mush. “Wow, Clark IS different today!”

Superboy gathers the parts, while Tom is a model student. Hey, it turns out learning is fun! Not having any of Clark’s modesty, Tom impresses every one with his skill at baseball too.

Superboy returns the last of the boxes, and he and Sun Boy shake hands again. Superboy goes to confront his imposter, while Sun Boy pretends to leave into the future but turns around when he figures the coast is clear.

At the Kent home, Ma actually burns dinner and asks “Clark” to use his super breath to put it out. But Tom isn’t Clark! He has no super breath! Luckily the real Clark showed up just in time. But Ma inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, and now Tom has the Kents at a disadvantage.

Back outside Smallville, “Sun Boy” is assembling the weapon. It’s a robot, with a ray that can turn evil people good… and good people EVIL! With a bit of Kryptonite dust used in the manufacture, it would even be effective against Superboy.

So that’s the scheme! This criminal was eavesdropping on the Legion and found out just enough of their secrets. He’s gone back in time to turn Superboy into his willing accomplice! He sends the robot to the Kent household to blast Clark Kent.

The robot returns to report to the villain, and Superboy soon arrives thereafter. He seems to be on the side of Team Evil, until he melts the robot with heat vision! The robot actually zapped Tom instead. Superboy takes the super-crook and the time bubble back to the 30th century, exposing him as an imposter.

But how did Superboy figure out? His disguise was flawless! He even had gadgets to make it look like he had the real Sun Boy’s powers! How on Earth could Superboy deduce he was a phony?!?

… He got the secret handshake wrong. Yes, for once, the Legion’s byzantine petty rules actually saved the day.

Back in Smallville, Tom, now “good” (he didn’t seem all that evil before), vows to return to reform school to finish out his sentence and become a model member of society. As a bonus, the robot’s ray erased the knowledge of Clark’s secret identity. The End.

… This story is like PURE Silver Age. Time travel, doppelgangers, evil rays, even a brief cameo by Krypto (he really doesn’t do much, he just shows up at the very end before Superboy melts the robot), the only way this could be MORE Silver Age-y is if there was a celebrity cameo or some misogynistic line about Lana needing to wash her hair.

I’d have to look it up, but I’m lazy, but I wonder if Tom Tanner ever showed up again. Certainly, having a friend who happens to look exactly like you would be very, VERY handy if you had a secret identity to protect, but then Clark wouldn’t get to indulge in his love of overcomplicating literally every aspect of his life, like using robot doubles and super-hypnosis and -checks notes- President Kennedy in a Clark Kent mask.

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