High-Tech Tomorrow: Review of the Yes/No Desk, By Johnathan

Here we go with the first installment of that other series of reviews that I was talking about, featuring the astounding gadgetry of the far-off days of the Thirtieth Century! Thrill to the high-tech world of tomorrow, as envisioned by the people of yesterday! This is going to be such fun!

As with Future Zoo, I'm going to start off this series at the very beginning: Adventure Comics No. 247, the very first appearance of the Legion. Surprisingly, there's not too much in terms of really noteworthy technojunk in this issue. Oh sure, there are rocket cars and spherical zoos and ice cream shops featuring 'Nine Delicious Flavors From Nine Planets', but the only thing that really stood out in my mind was on the cover:

I don't know about you, but I love the Yes/No Desk. It's so decisive. I mean, talk about an efficient way to deliver bad news to someone, plus it's very much in tune with the Legion's policy of rejecting applicants in the most direct and spirit-crushing way possible. Look at poor Superboy - he's flabbergasted! I just hope that the "NO" button makes some sort of sprightly dinging noise when pressed, so that the moment is tied to as many senses in the memory as possible.

I'm very fond of visions of the future that basically predict extreme laziness, where labour-saving devices have become efficient enough that people are, say, pushing a button instead of raising their hand or saying "aye." By 1950s sci-fi logic, Earth of 2958 is about two generations away from becoming brains in jars.

Saturn Girl, by the way, is wearing possibly her best-ever costume in this picture. Too bad she never, ever wore it again.

The Yes/No Desk was such a good idea that the Legion of Super-Villains ripped it off as the Life/Death Desk in Superman No. 147:

It's still pretty lazy, but the Life/Death Desk just doesn't sing to me like the Yes/No model. I think it's because Life and Death are a lot harder to convey that Yes and No. I mean, the Legionnaires could have shaken their heads or given Superboy a thumbs-down - there are dozens of really easy ways to say no to someone. As in most things, the Super-Heroes trump the Super-Villains when it comes to commitment to inaction.


Review of the Super-Human Detritus of the Thirtieth Century, Part 5, By Johnathan

Today we're going to look at three more Legion rejects, rejects with one thing in common (other than being Legion rejects, of course). See if you can guess what!

First up is Radiation Roy, whose first big mistake was his choice of names. Radiation Boy, Radiation Lad, Radiation Rajah... all would have given him a bit more pull down at the ol' yellow spaceship than the unfortunate name + descriptor moniker.

In an effort to rely a bit less on pictures (not much less, but less) we'll skip straight to Roy's origin story:
Okay, not bad. The Super-Hero Legion Club is pretty cool. I can see where someone might spend an inheritance to hire some shmucks to blast them with radiation in order to get in. Note that Roy is wearing his costume before he has gotten his powers - this is actually pretty common in early Legion origins and is a symptom of either a) lazy artists (not bothering to think up civilian garb for the characters) or b) lazy super-heroes (not bothering to change before going out to fight space-crime). I favour b) - if Legion were around today they'd totally all be wearing hoodies and track pants.

So Roy's got his crappy name, his laundry-day clothes and his hand-picked power of being radioactive. He's a shoo-in, right?

Aw. I guess he shouldn't have spent all of his money to become radioactive.



Radiation Roy, for your many, many bad decisions you are declared NOT APPROVED.
Coming up next is Ronn Kar, who can make himself flat.

Ronn doesn't get in of course, but you have to admire his optimism - this is kind of like a toy poodle applying for membership in the local wolf pack or the Boy Scouts of America declaring war on France. We don't get to see Ronn's origin (though I'm guessing that it has something to do with the fact that he grew up on a gas giant), but it seems to me like he might have made more of an effort than Roy in the costume department, since he's rockin' the 'underwear outside of the pants' look reserved for the super-heroic.


Following the dictates of the order known as 'alphabetical', the next reject is named Spider Girl.

Those of you guessing that the common thread is 'widow's peaks' are officially foiled.

Spider Girl also has no origin story, but at least she didn't show up wearing the Thirtieth Century equivalent of a sweatsuit. Her clothing is thematic (and ugly)!

She also has what must be the most stressful audition of all time, as the entire damn Legion appears to be looking on - they even shipped in Pete Ross and Jimmy Olsen, for heaven's sake.

Still, she looks pretty confident - maybe she can pull this off.

Aw. Negative points for choking Legionnaires. Even your hot pants can't save you now, Spider Girl. Still, I like that you didn't call yourself Hair Lass or Follicle Femme, so: JOHN APPROVED.

Ignore Double-Header. We'll speak of him (them?) another day.

"But wait!" you cry, "You still haven't told us what these pathetic souls have in common! Please elaborate!"

Well, I suppose, if you insist.

In Adventure Comics #373, Colossal Boy gets mixed up with the Legion of Super-Villains, so various Legionnaires infiltrate that organization to see what's going on/down. While getting the grand tour, they discover something shocking:

SpiderGirl and Radiation Roy! Not screwing up! Was the Legion wrong to reject them based purely on one bad tryout? What of the moral and ethical considerations? Were they predisposed toward crime all along or were the Legion's harsh standards and harsher rejection to blame? Were Legion tryouts a potential super-villain factory? Questions!

Oh, and Ronn Kar was there too - I bet he'd have been happy to know that they remembered him.

Eventually, a fight erupts (Note: fight scenes taken from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes # 308, because that issue was more entertaining).

During the course of any fight involving Spider Girl and Radiation Roy it is made very clear:

Spider Girl and Radiation Roy's fighting skills may have improved, but only when they are fighting each other. Seriously, even if I were using panels from the right fight scene they'd still be getting their asses handed to them. Suddenly moral and ethical considerations don't seem so important - who loses out when you inspire only the most bumbling and ineffective to become super-villains? Not the Legion - for every screw-up they turn away they get another easy victory to impress the ladies (or gents) with.


Subsequent to the traditional 'piling of the super-villains' we have one of my favourite afterthought panels of all time:

The dramatic capture of Ronn Kar. So optimistic! "The Legion will totally believe that I'm cool enough to be painted on some random wall... I'm from Neptune!"

Keep on dreaming, Ronn!


Review of Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 4a, by Johnathan

It occurs to me that the JOHN APPROVED on that last post was directed at the Legion of Super-Villains. I should probably weigh in on Dynamo-Boy, for my own peace of mind if nothing else.

So: Dynamo-Boy. Well, he totally schooled the Legion, but was in turn schooled by the other Legion (one of the other Legions, at least - I can count five without even trying), so no points there.

Plus he's ugly, has a bad costume and suffers from a bad case of 'committing crimes using technology which, if sold, would net one enough money never to have to worry about anything ever again." But... I like this kid. He's got chutzpah.


Now quiet. It's time to watch Dynamo-Boy's despair!

Review of Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 4, by Johnathan

This time around, we're taking a look at Dynamo-Boy, a greasy little elf who manages to highlight many of the Legion's delightful absurdities in his two issues of fame (Adventure 330 and 331, for the curious). Dynamo-Boy's not the first villain to join the Legion, but he is a personal favourite of mine. Let's take a look at the little scamp, shall we?

That's him looking all cunning (and greasy) up front. This is a great frontspiece for this issue - Mon-El is getting kicked out on a technicality and can't get anyone to believe that he was framed. Meanwhile Dynamo-Boy couldn't look more triumphantly villainous if he was cackling and touching himself. It's a terrific illustration of how thoroughly oblivious the Legion is to his shenanigans and machinations.

So Dynamo Boy is actually Vorm, a youngster from a planet full of criminals. He's a go-getter and no mistake. Just look at him volunteer! (Ridiculous Legion Thing No. 1: The tendency of bad guys in the old days to refer to the Legion as a 'club'. Always makes me picture the Fatal Five battling a local chapter of the 4H)

Vorm and Pargg are given some pretty nice belts. This is where Vorm really distinguishes himself for the first time. By wearing an orange tunic that could only really look less than ridiculous with a belt, yet leaving his belt at home, Vorm puts on his super-belt and *boom!* he looks like a million bucks! At this point the crowd is totally on his side, despite Pargg's good looks and pirate hat.

Oops! It's a fight to the death! Vorm's still ahead - his banter is much more ominous than Pargg's.

Again, Vorm comes out on top. Not only does Pargg slip up and call the Legion of Super-Heroes the "Super-Legion", but Vorm drops a Jimmy Olsen reference! Since Elastic Lad had at this point been active in the Thirtieth Century for about, say, an hour, this is a clear indication that Vorm has Done His Homework. Were this a battle for dominance of the local comic bookshop, Pargg would be dead of shame by now.

But instead of shame, he dies of Atom-Blast Vision. Take note: Vorm has kicked ass thoroughly enough that he has had time to think up names for his powers before using them. The guy shouting "Bye-bye Pargg... we hate losers!" is, by the way, one of my favourite background characters of all time.

Okay, so having killed off Pargg, Vorm heads to Earth and suckers Star Boy into inviting him to the ever-popular Legion tryouts. He tells the above tale to explain his powers, which I guess is good enough that the Legion never thinks to question why he's constantly pushing buttons on his giant mechanical belt.

This brings us to Ridiculous Legion Thing No. 2, Tryouts. Even though I love them, I gotta admit:

Eye-ful Ethel is just silly. (Review-Within-A-Review: Silly, but kind of hot. JOHN APPROVED)

Also Appearing: The Mess! (Review-Within-A-Review: I like The Mess because he kind of looks like Alfred E. Neuman. I hope that Cosmic Boy hired him as Legion janitor or something afterward. JOHN APPROVED)

Dynamo-Boy gets into the Super-Legion Club by showing that it's okay to blast old men with radiation. Old men wearing long-sleeved leotards and vests with flared shoulders, that is. Also: why does this man have a crutch? Shouldn't 30th century technology have solved all crutch-worthy ailments by now? Or at the very least developed the Rocket- or perhaps Robo-Crutch?

There follows a period of time where Dynamo-Boy is a member of the Legion and is devoting all of his time to having everyone else kicked out. I have no images of this, but rest assured, it all happened due to Ridiculous Legion Thing No. 3: Bylaws. The Legion charter's full of all kinds of ridiculous rules, and every time someone runs afoul of them and gets kicked out for getting married or failing to salute the Legion flag everyone acts helpless, like it's the US Constitution, rather than a set of rules laid out by three 14-year olds on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

In any case, Dynamo-Boy is eventually the last person in the Legion, and so, in a rare treat, Legion tryouts are held two issues in a row:

First up is Golden Boy, who both crashes and burns. (Review-Within-A-Review: Though Golden Boy does have Economy Destabilizing Action, I like his snappy outfit. Plus, he's so sure that he's going to get in. I can't help but say: JOHN APPROVED)

Next up: Polecat, another reject. (Review-Within-A-Review: While Polecat does share Golden Boy's optimistic outlook, and while I am pretty fond of the expressions that all of the wannabe heroes in the second panel are making [Especially Dynamo-Boy, who's not so much holding his nose as gently caressing it] I'm filled with maddening question marks over the reasons behind giving the guy stinky horns. Was the thought of excessive body odour considered risque by the Comics Code Authority? Are the horns meant to be the literal 'poles' of the Polecat? So perplexed! So NOT APPROVED)

Animal Lad turns someone into a bear! Luckily, the concept of suing over 'mental anguish' was abolished in the 2500s, or he'd be... uh... Frying Up Animals Lad... At McDonalds. Because He's Poor. Because Of The Lawsuit. (Review-Within-A-Review: I don't think that Vorn's thought this through enough. Animal Lad's lame. NOT APPROVED)

Lame but upright, apparently, so he's out the door! That's okay, though, because once he's gone it's time for the best of the bunch:

The Tusker! Observe his fangs closely:

Comic gold! (Review-Within-A-Review: The Tusker is great. Not just because of his ferocious assault on that tree or how much it impressed all of the losers that were hanging around the woods that day, and not just due to the fact that he got stuck and ruined the tryouts for everyone, but because of this:

The Tusker can dance. JOHN APPROVED)

So Dynamo-Boy's out of luck re: recruiting new Legionnaires. Out of luck, that is, until he finds and inducts the perfect underlings:

The Legion of Super Villains! Oh boy! This oughta be good!

And it is! The poor Legion of Substitute Heroes get the tar whomped out of them, which is fine. But then:

Betrayal! In an impossible-to-anticipate occurrence, the Legion of Super Villains screw someone over! Really, Dynamo-Boy, you greasy little elf-monkey, did you not see that coming? If nothing else, your belt should have had an Irony-Sensor on it somewhere, ticking away like mad. Ah, well. How bad can it be?

Oh... bad.

"Ha, ha! The Timescope screen reveals Dynamo-Boy's despair!" Now that's villainy.