I have listened to the will of the people, and just under half of them want to hear about some future-losers with super-powers. This poll thing seems to be working all right, so I'll be keeping it up for a while - not necessarily in any consistent format, mind you.
Today we'll look at a couple of guys from way, way back in the day (Adventure Comics No. 307, that's how way). I've been kind of putting off discussing them for a while now, not because they're not rich and fascinating topics for online pontification but because they've only got one panel of action - their combined in-continuity adventures span one-third of one page. Thankfully, on further investigation I found that a full two-thirds of the page in question was suitable for discussion, so the Internet will get to hear my opinions after all!
Here's the Legion, fresh from an encounter with the arch-pirate Roxxas, who has been flying around with his band of cutthroats stealing simply everything in sight - seriously, he goes to one planet and basically ends up making off with all of their light bulbs. The Legionnaires are concerned that they don't have the numbers to take on this murderous, awful, bloodthirsty crew, so they hit upon the idea of signing up a few new recruits, presumably as cannon fodder. Note that Invisible Kid is wearing that same black-hair-and-yellow-jumpsuit number that he was sporting during the Dynamo Kid audition. Colouring error or early-onset midlife crisis ("Bright colours - bright colours are young, right? And... and I'll dye my hair black! Get a sporty hover-car, a sexy Durlan ladyfriend - nobody'll ever guess that I'm an old man of seventeen.)?
Having neglected to give a name, this youngster is variously identified as Green Boy, Green Guy and possibly Green Lad. Me, I figure that anyone who bothers to inject himself with chemicals until he gets a side-effect that qualifies as a super-power just (I assume) so's he can apply for a club is going to think up something a bit more grandiose than that. Lime Lad? Emerald Ed? Ral Kint, the Chlorochromaticistic Kid? Guess we'll never know, though, so I'm going with Green Guy, 'cause it's short and I like alliteration.
Green Guy might - just might - be the most delusional person ever to walk away from Legion HQ with a consolation flight belt. He's at least in the running beside Rann Antar. Check him out: from the explanation that he has just given I am lead to believe that his powers affect only the world around him. I mean, he's not turning green, that's for sure. So a) why the hell is he decked out in blue and orange when a quick trip to the Army/Navy Surplus (Stormtrooper/Spacefleet Surplus) could at least lend a little weight to his argument and b) how the hell is that any use in camouflage? Even on a world with green foliage, wouldn't that field of greenifying rays just make him easier to spot? He'd just be this blue-and-orange figure at the centre of a blobby field of green. Boo, Green Guy, boo. You're lucky that Sun Boy was feeling uncharacteristically kind and let you down easy with that "Different planets have different leaves." excuse. On any other tryout day he'd just roar "REJECTED!" and set your hair on fire.
Next up is Camera Eye (again, best guess on the name), a comparatively normal youth. Amusingly, he is green. Man, I got so worked up about Green Guy that I'm a bit spent on the old "Making fun of guys" front. Okay, here goes: Camera Eye, you'd have maybe the barest hint of a chance of getting into the Legion as some sort of living sex-tape maker or something if you weren't such a liar. At the risk of sounding like exactly the kind of pedantic nerd that I am: when the hell did Superboy ever meet Bizarro? Never, that's when, you liar. Oh, he met Bizarro Superboy, sure, but that's clearly a bizarro Superman up there. Go on home, Camera Eye. Go home and watch videos of yourself crying in the mirror. Jerk.
Nice shirt, though. Still, NOT APPROVED.
And I just threw this one in because Element Lad's costume looks pretty nifty with that question mark on it. And the lad himself looks particularly elfin, I must say. Also: surprisingly jaunty for someone who recently became the only one of his kind.
Ah-ha-ha! Super-Detritus reviews ride again! I have no idea why I've gone so long without doing one of these things. Well, partially responsible is the profound laziness that set in as soon as I moved in to my fantastic new apartment (Review? No! Play with the cat? Yes!). Now, though, I'm back, full of vim and vigour and ready to poke fun at the Silver Age.
Today, we're looking at one of the earlier Legion tryouts, in Adventure Comics No. 305. This was one issue after Lightning Lad had sacrificed his life to keep Saturn Girl from... sacrificing her life to keep anyone else from dying whilst fighting some pirates or something (look, it was perfectly clear at the time. There was a little crystal spaceship with a prophecy inside and everything). This was a reasonably big deal, except for the fact that it was implied one page after his death that he would be resurrected. Of all improbable comic book death-undoings, Lightning Lad's was perhaps the most telegraphed.
But no matter! As of when we are talking about, ol' Garth's death is still a fresh wound and everyone's very sad:
Very, very sad, in fact. I like the theme coffin setup that they have here, though it leads me to unhealthy speculation regarding the fate of other Legion corpses. When Sun Boy died, did they just leave him out in the sun? Is there a mechanized hand above Karate Kid, chopping for all eternity? What the hell will they come up with if Bouncing Boy ever dies?
I've mentioned the Legion's Pygmalion-esque love of statuary before, and this is a great example: a statue commemorating the heroic sacrifice of Lightning Lad, a statue of the tragically exiled Mon-El and, just for the hell of it, a Sun Boy statue. I can't decide if the Legionnaires are all hopelessly in love with themselves or with each other. Either way, it's a safe bet that they all have mirrors on the ceiling above their beds.
Now: keep in mind that everyone is very, very sad. Lightning Lad appears to have died, like, within the last week.
I am: Tactless Boy! My abilities include acting like a complete tool and an aptitude for designing shirts that are far, far too busy (seriously, if you've got Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 1, check this panel out. The lack of colour highlights just how much is going on on this top and just how wrong it is). So, your friend is dead? Well, how can that benefit me?
(Incidentally, the brown-clad guy on the left is Mon-El, playing a "hilarious" joke by applying for membership under an assumed name. Just so you know)
Ah, Antennae Boy. I like the name of your planet, but your ears are possibly the grossest in all comicdom. All I can do is stare at those little hook-shaped growths and imagine the awful things that must happen whenever you are called upon to push through some dense underbrush. I mean, glasses are bad enough, but those things look designed to cause you pain and humiliation.
Every once in a while, that "Three-Eyed Sam from the planet WHAM!" line runs through my head and i try to set it to music or envision just who is singing it. My best guess is that 3-5 sultry ladies are sing-speaking it in unison and that Three-Eyed Sam is a bit like Shaft.
Antennae Boy is one of those applicants who might have had a chance if he hadn't gotten ahead of himself. Given a year or so of training, he might have been able to showcase the usefulness of being able to pick up broadcasts from the future instead of just randomly blasting out sound. Plus, his powers would be very useful for research. Also, no Legionnaire would ever again have to worry about leaving his iPod Yocto behind and having to endure a music-less mission. Over-confidence strikes again! Still, I like that shirt, so:
Okay, first impressions of the Dynamo Kid. Pros: I like the little bow, the crackling energy is kind of neat and a super-hero with a literal rather than figurative fat head is kind of novel. Cons: that's a fairly hideous costume, he's completely tactless, and the little pause before he says his name is super pretentious. Still, you have to give a guy a chance, right?
Just an aside: I hope that if the day ever comes that flying billboards are a reality it's far enough in the future that I have some chance of having developed lightning-based powers. Because I'll want to blast 'em good.
Looking at how fat his head is in this panel, though. I think that that green thing around his waist is a girdle.
You know, this could have been a pretty good plot. The old-school Legion were suspicious as hell, and someone sneaking around taking notes and asking questions would have built them into a frenzy of paranoia, probably directed at Cosmic Boy (because the Legion never suspects the right person until the last second, that's why. Just ask Matter-Eater Lad). It could have stretched a cross a couple of issues, maybe with the Legion getting all perturbed over a series of exposes on all of the dirty teenage sex that was going on in that innocuous-looking yellow spaceship.
But alas, the Dynamo Kid never appeared in 'Secret of the Shocking Sex Scandals' and I've changed my mind about the fat head being charming. I've kind of grown to like the horizontal lightning stripe, though.
Nonetheless, he's NOT APPROVED
Hey, all. Remember how I said that the posts would come fast and furious once I finished that SARLSH malarkey? We,, I probably should have added an "unless I get tied up in the longest and thired-most-hellish move of my life" caveat. Because that's what happened. On the up side, it's done, I have a new cat roommate, and the Internets are back in town. I guess I could have written some stuff while I was offline for later posting, but that smacked of effort, man. One thing, however, did stick in my tired, bitter craw: last week's Action Comics No. 864. Well, one aspect of it, at least (Lightning Lad vs. Batman was great). Let's watch:
So the big-reveal surprise villain in Action Comics this month was a) not a huge surprise and b) the friggin' Time Trapper. I hate the friggin' Time Trapper. He was an interesting villain for all of three Silver Age stories, I swear, back when he was basically just a reason that the Legion could go into the past but not the future, even with all of their Mighty Technology. In fact, he was entertaining for exactly one story, the one that also introduced the equally-hateful Glorith, when he managed to turn a third of the Legion into irritating babies and kicked Invisible Tot around. Ever since then, the Time Trapper has functioned almost exclusively as a gigantic, nigh-unbeatable threat, trotted out to shake up the status quo with a few shocking deaths or resolve some continuity point with a time quake or something. He's featured in more angsty, dreary storylines than the entire cast of Dawson's Creek. And no matter how many times he's tediously defeated, he just keeps coming back - which isn't much different than, say, Darkseid, but at least Darkseid is fun.
BAH! NOT APPROVED.
Well! I was certainly filled with vitriol, hey? Needed a little more sleep? Well, I'm well-rested now, but I basically agree. Every time the Time Trapper shows up in a story I heave a little sigh and prepare to slog through some boring comic book. It's like... like reading a late-eighties crossover event. Or 8 out of 10 early Image comics. Don't get me wrong, I'm not writing this story off just yet. I'll be the first one to applaud if anything interesting is added to ol' TT's story - I just ain't holding my breath.
This is what I meant when I was talking about him kicking Invisible Moppet. Kicking Silver Age DC toddlers = comic gold! This one instant of the Time Trapper's life is:
INVISIBLE KID II
There is a rule that I just came up with: Invisible Kids have lousy costumes. The original, Lyle Norg, had that brown-and-green workout outfit with the headband and all and poor Jaques up there has that yellow-and-black monstrosity. Heck, even the current, totally rebooted and up-to-date and not dead Invisible Kid looks like he just grabbed four or five random things from his closet and called it a costume. It's kind of like they want to be sure that their power will be appreciated every single time that they use it. "Oh, thank Space-God, Jaques. That thing was starting to sear my retinas."
Jaques Foccart got to be the second Invisible Kid basically through random chance. He had come to Legion HQ to get Brainiac 5 to make his sick sister well and then Computo had shown up again and possessed said sister, possibly using nanotechnology. Since Jaques had no powers or anything, Computo just totally ignored him to focus on beating up Legionnaires and in the confusion our pal drank some of the original Invisible Kid's formula (that was just, you know, lying around) and saved the day somehow (it's been a while since I've read the story, okay?). Computer-tyrants take note: underestimate Frenchmen at your peril. Afterward, Jaques joins the team and does okay. Oh, and at one point he starts teleporting as well as turning invisible and ends up in some weird hellscape and finds out that poor Lyle Norg didn't end up boinking some ghost-babe for the rest of time but rather was suffering eternal torment, which was a bit of a bummer.
I like that Invisible Kid II was named Jaques Foccart, because I was an English major and so occasionally read it as Jaques Focault, who would have the combined powers of Jaques Derrida and Michel Foucault, and have a giggle while I imagine him deconstructing the semiotic of the super-hero team (or something like that. I was an English major a while ago). Also, he's from Côte d'Ivoire and as far as I know is the only superhero ever to come from there. Dammit, except for his sister, eventually.
This picture, however... eesh. I kind of hope that it was accidentally released unfinished, because invisibility is really the easiest power to illustrate ever. Just make the outline of his legs dotted instead of solid about halfway down and then ask the colourist to fade out the yellow at about that point. Ta-da! You did it! Alternate method: leave the whole panel blank. As it stands, this is just terrible as a showcase for the character. I mean, when Superman has a shot where he's just standing there with his arms folded, he's at least hovering a foot or so off the ground, right? Take some notes, Jaques.
Invisible Kid II had two modes: brooding and surprised. In the first, he thought a lot about how his sister was sick (she was in a tube for a couple of years before Brainiac fixed her) and how invisibility was a lame power, which showed that he didn't think about the implications of having superpowers so much as read old Maxim articles about lame super-heroes. Don't listen to them, man! Sure you can't fly through the sun, but the sun's boring. You can fly through, say, the changing rooms of the stars. Plus, you can punch villains on the back of the head, which I for one have always wanted to do to Universo. In the other mode, Jaques shocased the fact that he wasn't a super-scientist or an adventurer or something, just some guy who had drank some goop. Every time that Validus or Darkseid or whoever would show up he would jump about a foot and shout "WTF!" Okay, he would shout "Sacre coeur!" but the spirit of the thing was the same. For me, it never got boring.
And that's pretty much that, Invisible Kid II-wise. Except to note that of all of the bad hairdos, post Five Year Gap, his was the worst. Still, on the balance: