Try-Outs and Apartment Shopping

SECRET ORIGINS #46, DC Comics, December 1989
Personally, I loved Secret Origins, especially when the title went with some crazy concepts. It's not like I was wondering how Superman came to Earth, after all, so something like #46's origins of various superhero headquarters was just what the doctor ordered. And it fits nicely into Legion try-out week, since it includes their very first in their clubhouse's origin.

Better yet, writer Gerard Jones gives us a crazy-ass story that would have easily fit into the Legion's Silver Age, even more so since Silver Age superstar artist Curt Swan draws it. "The Little Clubhouse That Could" is essentially the Legion's second story, taking place just after the original three have formed the Legion.

They're looking for two things, and being the wholesome teens they are, they aren't the two things I'm always looking for. The Legion needs a clubhouse (and no neighborhood will have them, cuz who wants a bunch of teenagers loitering in front of their house?) and it needs new members. Cue the first Legion try-out! Check out that collection of freaks:
You can tell right away that none of them are gonna make it. Up first is this guy:
I happen to think that Arm-Fall-Off-Boy could have given the Legion a hand, but they don't agree. Again, look at their (future) track record: Guy that turns into a bouncing ball, yes. Dude who can whup your ass using his torn-off arm as a club, no. Maybe it was the unsightly warts. He's followed by Mnemonic Kid, which leads to a cute bit with how to spell her name, but only if you buy the idea of Saturn Girl as a dyslexic moron.
Mnemonic Kid can make you lose memories (but not restore them). Get ready to checkmark the cliché about rejects becoming villains, because she's a right bitch. And if you've recognized the Legion clubhouse in the yellow guy with red winglets in the group shot above, you know where this is going. Enter Fortress Lad, from the planet Fwang where, because of constant meteor showers, the males have evolved the ability to turn themselves into buildings. Look at this inhospitable crap-hole:
You shouldn't be surprised that such an evolutionary adaptation is possible. You should be surprised that anything on that planet managed to evolve at all. Anyway, the Legion-for-pretty-humanoids-only rejects him, and he leaves crying. But he's got a good heart, so when he finds Memenonumic Kid wiping out the Legion's memories and about to shoot them, he promptly protects them!
Then hit with memory loss, he's turned into a vegetable. Well, into a building really. And the Legion, figuring that they just forgot they had an HQ because of Mnemonic Kid, adopt it as their home. So there you have it, the Legion's first recruit and no one ever knew it.


I must also mention the other stories in this book. First, there's the origin of the Titans Tower. There. I've mentioned it.

It's the other one I liked, more Silver Age insanity by artist Curt Swan (though George Freeman's inks give it a more modern edge I quite enjoy) and written by my personal god of comics, Grant Morrison. Yes, some 8 years before he would helm the totally wicked reboot of the JLA, Morrison got a turn at the Justice League to tell, for the first time, the story of how they set up shop in a mountain in Rhode Island.

It all starts with the Justice League being attacked by their own costumes. Even at this relatively early stage, Morrison is doing what he does best: Taking a silly Silver Age concept and making it weird and creepy.
Turns out the costumes are being animated by an alien intelligence. When the Flash vibrates through the mountain it emanates from, he finds out its wonderful secret: that aliens imposed a crystalline matrix to the mountain which turned it into a kind of sentient computer that, when made to vibrate, replays images from its past. Or as Morrison calls it, "recreated in dynamic aural sculpture". The costumes are animated remotely by aliens who want to pay homage to their dead, which must be resonated back into life by the mountain. Between Black Canary and Green Lantern, you've got the proper tools:
(You'll note that Aquaman is the only Leaguer without a spare costume. If you're really a king, how about you spring for one you cheap bastard? No, instead he apparently steals Flash's belt.) Anyway, where it gets me right in the ticker, is that the JLA decides to live in the mountain and become part of its memories, so that when some small creature makes a sound at the right frequency, "for a moment, they [the League] are with me once more... burning brief candles of life... bright and splendid... flickering... long gone. Ghosts of stone."

Morrison MAGIC!


De said...

Arm-Fall-Off Boy! YES!

Siskoid said...

His great popularity made his appearance in Legion Try-Out Week an absolute certainty.

SallyP said...

Did the Legion ever do anything other than hold humiliating try-outs?

Siskoid said...

They kicked Darkseid's ass once.

Anonymous said...

And Mon-El once killed entropy with good old face punching.

Anonymous said...

I happen to think that Arm-Fall-Off-Boy could have given the Legion a hand...


Anonymous said...

Quote: when he finds Memenonumic Kid wiping out the Legion's memories...

And you're bashing Saturn Girl for not knowing how to spell it.

Siskoid said...

Too subtle?

Anonymous said...

This is a fun series. The public demands more!

Siskoid said...

H: I'd like to do a sequel. (I'd like to do a sequel for many thematic weeks actually.) Let me see what I can do.


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