Ah, Porcupine Pete. Not the first Legion applicant to have a stupid name but probably the one with the stupid-est name. Also, and this might just be where I'm from talking, but he's asking for a face full of .22 if Old Man Strong catches him anywhere near his spruce trees.
Pete has a few too many appearances for me to get around to sampling pictures from before the very sun goes cold and dark, so we'll just be looking at his very first appearance. Here he is, discussing his soon-to-be-crushed hopes and dreams with the well-dressed Molecular Master and the simply dreamy Infectious Lass. Take a good look: Porcupine Pete is also the ugliest person ever to apply for the Legion, and it's not because he's a member of some weird alien race or something - according to the Legion edition of Who's Who, he's just some kid who grew spikes as he got older. That's right: that's down home human ugliness there, no cultural sensitivity required.
I think that they used this setup exclusively for the purpose of judging applicants, and no wonder the poor schmoes didn't do so well. Keeping in mind that these are teenagers, can you even imagine walking into that place, with a semicircle of hot dudes and cute girls looming over you, and Superboy, straight out of history, dead centre and judging, judging, judging. Frankly, I'm surprised that there aren't many of these tryout stories that end with someone in the foetal position.
I have to admit: this is a good panel. Pete's costume isn't too bad - it at least makes sense that it's skimpy - and the sheer enthusiasm that he's displaying as he hoses the room down with quills is very endearing. He's going all out, folks. They'll be picking these things out of the upholstery for months. Plus, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of a superhero with a blast radius. Ooo! Porcupine Pete, the Human Bomb and that one exploding guy from the Blasters should team up! All they'd need is a spare JLA teleporter and they could be the most effective super-team in existence:
Kobra Minion 1: "Okay, the death-ray's finished, hail Kobra."
Kobra Minion 2: "Nuclear generator online, hail Kobra."
Kobra Minion 3: "Targeting Atlanta, hail Kobra. Hey, after this do you guys want to go get some wings or something, hail Kobra?"
Kobra Minion 2: "Hey, where did those three guys come fro-"
BAROOM *sound of many quills puncturing frail snake-fetishists* KRAPPOW!
Porcupine Pete: "Case closed." *lights quill-shaped cigar using Kobra Minion 1's flaming femur*
Sadly, the Legion doesn't see the potential inherent in having a guy like Porcupine Pete around, and yet another fragile ego is crushed beneath Superboy's bellows of "Rejected!" To me, this seems like another time that the whole thing where Karate Kid got in by beating up Superboy should be brought up. I mean, Supes isn't flinching but making the entire rest of the Legion dive for cover has to be worth something, right?
Ah, well. There's a bit of a happy ending, in that Pete joined the Legion of Substitute Heroes and even ended up leading them on the Legion cartoon, so his legend lives on.
JOHN APPROVED, Pete, JOHN APPROVED
PS: check out the poll on the sidebar. Just as an experiment, I'm looking to get some input from you wunnerful folks. What do you like, hey? Let me know and by crackers I'll do it.