Legion Try-Outs Week

ADVENTURE COMICS #247, DC Comics, April 1958
Sit back, this'll be a long one. First, the week's theme: It's the start of the school/college year and time to try out for all those sports, debate, improv teams, to audition for school plays, etc. AND Legion of 3 Worlds just came out. How this led to "Legion Try-Out Week" is a little fuzzy, but that's what you're getting.

The Legion of Super-Heroes has many traditions, and one of these is try-outs. It makes you believe you could be in the team if only you worked hard enough at your super Xbox skills. There are a number of things that can happen at a try-out. Through the week, checkmark them at your leisure:

a) A hero with a really lame power will be rejected.
a2) Said hero may or may not prove his worth and be accepted after all.
b) A powerful hero will be rejected for having the same powers as another member.
b2) Said hero may or may not turn out to have one lame power no one has and be accepted after all.
c) A hero will turn out to be a villain and will be rejected.
c2) Said "hero" will instead be accepted and THEN show his or her true colors.
d) The established Legion will be real jerks to the hero trying out (hey, you think the cool kids are bad, imagine if they had super-powers).

I'll go through various eras of the Legion, but let's start at the beginning, shall we? Adventure Comics #247 is their very first appearance, and right off the bat, the cover makes me wonder why Cosmic Boy is wearing a helmet. Maybe it's to protect himself from Superboy's punch after he disses him: "Your low score on the tests we gave you proves your powers are too ordinary!"

It all starts with an act of cruelty as the three founding members of the Legion go back in time to Smallville to meet their idol, Superboy. Each one in turn calls him Superboy while he's Clark Kent, or Clark when he's Superboy. I met one of my idols once. You know what? I didn't try to screw with his head. I guess I'm just not Legion material. They soon reveal their real identities and bring him to the 30th century:
Conveniently labeled, each hero has a different super-power. You know it's super because it says so right there. Another reason I can't be in the Legion is that I only have regular Thought Casting. Ok, so they want Superboy in the club, but he's got to abide by the club rules, which means he has to be tested by each Legionnaire in turn. It'll be closer to a hazing.

Cosmic Boy turns on the "Television Trouble-Finder" (what we call CNN) and finds a sunken statue. First to get to it between Superboy and Saturn Girl. The Boy of Steel is delayed by a renegade Superboy robot, so Saturn Girl has no trouble summoning a sea monster to raise the statue of "the Unknown Spaceman who first explored Venus". Saturn Girl laughs at him, Nelson-style ("Ha, ha!") and then Cosmic Boy, a teen from the enlightened 30th century, tells him: "You lost out on your first task... and to a girl!" Next? Up against Cosmic Boy to stop a forest fire. But wait...
Superboy should really stop using his super-senses. Each time he's on a mission, he notices something wrong somewhere else. He throws the satellite into a volcano, while Cosmic Boy uses his magnetic eyes to splash iron meteors down into a lake and flood the entire forest. Umm... ok. That's one way to do it, I guess.

Superboy and Lightning Boy (eventually, Lightning Lad) head for a spaceship in trouble, but again, Clark is waylaid by another danger: an invisible eagle that is a threat because, quote, "rocket-liners may bump into it without seeing it". Superboy analyzes the situation with his super-brain and comes to the conclusion that this is a worse danger. His solution is even more brilliant: He flies around with an iceberg until the cooling air creates frost on the invisible bird. Don't worry, Lightning Boy's solution to his quandary is even more stupid, relying on "electric sky writing... visible for a million miles".

Superboy is three times a loser, and well, that's just makes him cry:
And only then does the Legion reveal it was all a joke and his three side-missions were the real test, all dangers created by the Legion itself. Is it me, or are these kids more dangerous than helpful?


But wait! There's more! That was only 12 pages worth! Adventure Comics had two other strips going, and after reading them, I just have to say something about them. First is a story starring the pre-beard Green Arrow and the pre-heroin Speedy about 13 superstition-based arrows GA has to use in the span of a day so a dead millionaire's money will go to his favorite charity. It's mildly entertaining despite the crazy premise, but there are two moments I especially like. First is the A.P.B. sent by the police...
"Two hoodlums wearing jackets..." It's winter, everybody must be wearing coats, but Green Arrow knows his stuff. He can spot a hoodlum a mile away. "THERE THEY ARE!" Turns out to be them, too! That cap is a dead giveaway. Yellow pants must be a crime too.

My other bit comes at the end when the real bad guy tries to get away... in Green Arrow's Arrowmobile! Just goes to show you never leave the keys inside your super-vehicle. I'm sure Batman learned that lesson early.

The last strip stars none other than Aquaman. Readers of these pages know I'm one of his biggest supporters, so the question is: Did he kick as much ass in the 50s? You be the judge. The story revolves around a bomb that has fallen into the ocean and must be brought to military ship to be disarmed within 3 hours or it will contaminate the entire ocean. To get there in time, Aquaman will have to take a lot of dangerous shortcuts. Though he'll mostly do this with the help of his finny friends (the bomb is too heavy for him to move alone), he does take a page from Days of Thunder:
Yes, Aquaman swims so fast, it creates a wind tunnel behind him which speeds the bomb in his wake. He also uses whales to tow it, electric eels to blast rocks into a whirlpool, giant lobsters (umm... what?!) to carry it over islands, swordfish to get it over reefs, phosphorescent fish to light the way through fog (though how they're sticking to the side of that whale is anybody's guess)...
...has it carried through the Maracot Deep by the least sea-worthy prehistoric sea monster (huh?) I've ever seen...
...and like the kick-ass madman that he is, uses an abandoned Roman galley in the Sargasso Sea (wha??) to CATAPULT THE FRICKIN BOMB the rest of the way. Hey, a whale cushions the fall with a spout of water, so what are you worrying about?


rob! said...

Ramona Fradon always knocks it out of the park.

and, yeah, giant lobsters, you have a problem with that?

Siskoid said...

Actually, there's a giant lobster not a half-hour's drive from where I live.

Matthew E said...

The other thing that can happen at those tryouts is that someone can be rejected because their powers come from an external device.

Siskoid said...

Agreed, but that particular cliché didn't crop up in the try-outs reviewed this week, so I guess it didn't occur to me.

FoldedSoup said...

Great idea for a theme week!

De said...

I'm seriously hoping Arm Fall-Off Boy makes the cut.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (54) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (31) Avengers (59) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (680) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (61) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (24) Buffy (6) Canada (72) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (60) Cat (156) CCGs (64) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (4005) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (78) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1693) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (87) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (774) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (61) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (449) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (88) Hawkman (40) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (16) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (88) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (97) JSA (26) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (203) Kung Fu (100) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (131) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (459) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (9) Nightmare Fuel (22) Number Ones (60) Obituaries (42) oHOTmu OR NOT? (82) Old52 (12) One Panel (305) Outsiders (167) Panels from Sheena (6) Paper Dolls (8) Play (78) Podcast (510) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (16) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (541) Sandman (23) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (371) Siskoid as Editor (36) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (21) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1735) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (39) Supergirl (90) Superman (1065) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (24) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (85) That Franchise I Never Talk About (54) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (104) Who's This? (216) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (84) X-Files (246) X-Men (103) Zero Hour Strikes (28) Zine (5)