Super-Human Detritus of the Twentieth Century: Review of the Super-Companions, By Johnathan

From Adventure Comics No. 371 comes the most tangential Legion story ever! Well, maybe. It definitely shouldn't be billed as a Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes, that's for sure. Maybe a Tale Where the Legion Shows Up for a Couple of Panels and Also Gets Mentioned Two or Three Times.

Enough picking of nits: time for the Super-Companions!
Yay, Super-Companions! So happy, so poorly-dressed. I was originally going to do up a separate review of each member of the group, but it was too hard to extract them from the story in order to do so. So what we're going to do here is sketch out the plot of "When Superboy Walked Out on the Legion", pausing frequently to cast a critical eye over those most super of companions, the Super-Companions.
So: our story opens in Smallville, as Clark (Superboy) Kent engages in his customary Bird Wakefulness Check (every day at 11:45, between the Manatee Continence Scan and the Deep Elephant Sniff. Superboy is nothing if not thorough). I must say, those sleeping students are fantastic. That one guy by the chalk board, for example, fell asleep so hard that he didn't have time to fall over. I just hope that if I'm ever caught up in a mysterious wave of sleepiness I have the presence of mind to at least slump forward, or even go jelly-legged and hit the deck. If this classroom represents the general state of things in Smallville then there are going to be a lot of very stiff necks once this episode is over. Gonna be a cranky, cranky tiny town.
Othar isn't really a Super-Companion, but I'm including him in the review process because he's in that splash page up there. Othar is really hard to categorize, on a couple of levels. I can't decide if he's a Benevolent Highly-Evolved Being who just happens to threaten broad swathes of a planet's population with eternal sleep in the event that he doesn't get his way or a Diabolical Alien Mastermind who doesn't have any real villainous followthrough. Either way, the guy is pretty inept.

Possibly my favourite thing about Othar is how over the top he is. All stops were pulled out on this guy to make him the very picture of impressive alienhood. Look how tall he is! check out the cape, the collar, the bulging cranium! Dig that crazy monocle, man! The Spock-esque ear/eyebrow combo is just icing on this particular cake.

Also, Othar seems to be in charge of this guy, who is among the better nameless underlings ever. About the only thing that Othar was missing was some sort of impressive facial hair, and his little buddy was all over that action, upper lip-first. Also, he seems to be filled with unearned bravado - if Superboy were to take one menacing step in his direction then I bet that he'd run and hide behind Othar.
I have no idea why the Thrannans seem to have two distinct head sizes. It's not that some of them have bigger brains, I can tell you that. The big-headed one seem to be in charge, but if they're the ones who thought up this super-hero-importation plan then perhaps it's time to give the small-heads a turn. More superheroes mean more trouble, guys.

And there you have it, folks: the only appearance of the Legion in this Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes, outside of the cover. Not particularly worthy of note, though I do like "space-happy". I like to think that maybe it's the Thirtieth Century equivalent of "road rage", and that at some point between now and then people suffered from "undersea pneumatic people transporter giddiness".
Othar and his guys head for the horribly yellow Planet Cruxl, there to kidnap:


Liquidman is an interesting cat. There's no denying that he undergoes quite a dramatic transformation thanks to that purplish potion, and if I read his hair colour right then he's a respected elder super-hero on Cruxl... but there's no question that as far as superpowers go the anthropomorphic puddle isn't going to hold much of a candle to, say, the super-speedster. Unless of course it becomes vital to the fate of the universe that a small napkin become damp as quickly as possible.
More evidence: if you have to change back to your secret identity to deal with aliens then perhaps you should be reconsidering your career path. What was the plan once you found those crooks anyway, Liquidman? Were you going to run off and tell on them? Wait until they went to bed and then subdue them from within their lungs?

And how the hell does a puddle take a potion anyway?

Planet Cruxl is in the running for DC planet with the best buildings - check out that crazy curvy brown apartment building in the last couple of panels. Who wouldn't enjoy living in a place like that?

So: the Thrannans have kidnapped Superboy, the strongest, fastest, most invulnerable hero in creation, and Liquidman, who can become a puddle. Who's next, eh? Will there be some sort of balance of power on this team or will we be seeing a guy who can shrink his head to the size of a doorknob?


Oh, wow! It is someone with an in-betweeny power level! And a really bad costume! Really, really bad, in fact.

Note that while kidnapping Liquidman and Superboy will likely just lead to a few more jewel thieves and monsters roaming their respective countrysides, stealing Stormboy is actually going to cause droughts and famines and the like, unless Stormboy is some sort of unnecessary roaming nuisance. Othar does not like to share his metahumans, plainly.

I wonder: do Stormboy's storms keep on going until he shuts them off? He's clearly not concentrating on the one in the above panel but it's still going like gangbusters. I like to imagine that he left the planet without turning it off and that all of the sleeping people had a big surprise waiting for them when they woke up.

Wait, how does making it rain on a city help to fix a drought?


Tree-Man, as you might have guessed from his one-panel kidnapping scene, isn't given quite as much character development as Liquidman or Stormboy. Still, he's pretty great and comes from a planet of people who wear neither shirts nor shoes (and consequently have no restaurants). Plus, he's got an interesting twist on the stretchy-style superhero going on - when's the last time that you saw Ralph Dibney grow a couple of arms out of his chest?


Telepathy Man is a really terrible name. Also, his forehead looks like a bosom.

Like Stormboy, Telepathy Man seems to be less of a super-hero than a public service. He builds with his brain while wearing a poorly-tailored outfit. While useful, I don't know if it warrants the "hero" portion of the name. Super-service-provider, perhaps, or super-alternative-to-going-to-the-hardware-store.


Poor Shadowman gets perhaps the least impressive first appearance in this story. Othar tells us about his powers and there are no criminals or weather conditions for him to defeat or even adoring citizens to tell us how great he is... heck, I don't even think that they bothered to turn on the sleep ray in order to capture him. Othar probably just sent his mustachioed comrade out to give the universal signal to get one's ass on in the spaceship (thumb over the shoulder, impatient glare) and Shadowman marched glumly inside.

Arrival on Thrann! Seems to me that this would be a great time for Superboy and Co. to wreck all of the sleep rays and space ships and then go home, right? because they're all there under duress, and therefore not obligated to honour any agreements that they might have made, right? Evidently not.

Let's read about everyone's weaknesses! The weird-looking pictures are vestiges of the post I did not write but since I spent so many seconds slaving over a hot Polygonal Lasso to make them I thought I should use them.

Superboy is safe on Thrann because there is no kryptonite there, says Othar, and then lays out why everyone else is safe:

Man. Stormboy is weak against the visible light spectrum. Not only that but he creates the thing that he is weak against the majority of the times that he uses his powers. It's like the if Martian Manhunter burst into flame every time he turned invisible.

Eh. Fire isn't a very good weakness, especially against a guy made out of water. Because fire is everyone's weakness. Not having a weakness to fire is, in fact, a really good power. In any case, it looks like Othar interpreted that picture wrong. I'm not seeing "This fire is weakening me!" but rather "Oh no! My lab assistant threw his cigarette in the trash can again!".

No rainbows? No fireplaces? Thrann is the least romantic planet ever, it's official.

Tree-disease isn't a bad weakness for a tree-guy.

That's all I got.

Again, not a bad weakness. The best part of this panel, though, is the beret-clad bad guys. It's like Shadowman's world is bereft of funding for the arts, so troupes of avant garde artists loot the countryside to finance their massive absinthe and burnt umber habits. Also, that long radium-wrangling pole shows some amazing foresight and patience.

Stormboy is spared! This is the worst possible weakness that a superhero could have!

"I will defeat you, Evil Boy, with my mind! Just as soon as you stop being evil! Until then I shall retire to my secret lair next to the prison, where I will try for the third week in a row to make a signal booster for my wi fi!"

And, uh, Othar? Technically, kidnapping six super-heroes just for the hell of it counts as an evil act. Not Darkseid evil, but still.

So Othar manages to convince the Super-Companions not to steal a spaceship and run for it and instead has them compete to see who will be the leader of their merry band of abductees. Let's watch:

I'm most impressed by Tree-Man's extendible pants. Pretty pedestrian feats, guy. Let's see what the others are up to:
Man, I know that this stuff is very impressive on one level but I just can't care that much about prospecting and power-generation. No wonder Superboy won by building an iron castle and putting it in a low orbit.

Liquidman, by the way, didn't do anything to make the lives of his kidnappers better. Where's your Stockholm syndrome-fueled loyalty, pal?

In any case, the rest of the story was all about how the Super-Companions were ostensibly very content on Thrann but really very homesick and kind of painted them as being basically identical to one another. For example:

He had to protect his secret identity in case a disgruntled unseasonal dry spell came after his loved ones.
"It was funny how they never really used it, those law officers..."

The remainder of the issue is concerned with the Super-Companions staging a big fight in order to convince the Thrannans that they were more trouble than they were worth. Superboy wears that crown the whole time.

Everyone has a big laugh and goes home, the end. On to the ratings!

Othar - a Class A tool. Only gets points for having that little sidekick guy. NOT APPROVED.

Liquidman - I like his hair but deride his power. Still, his refusal to do tricks for the Thrannans makes him JOHN APPROVED.

Stormboy - The worst dresser of them all. Not a bad power but should be hiring himself out rather than freelancing for free. Lack of common sense equals NOT APPROVED

Tree-man - He's definitely my favourite. Purple pants are always a good thing, and erupting extra limbs from your chest to foil crooks is even better. JOHN APPROVED

Telepathy Man - Not a good super-hero. Not a good dresser. NOT APPROVED

Shadowman - Didn't do much to impress me but the really important thing for me is the quality of his enemies and they are top notch impressionist painters and the like, so JOHN APPROVED

Good night!

Review of Future Current Events, By Johnathan


Holy shit! I've been picking up the recent issues of Action Comics, first because of Bizarro and then keeping it up because of the LSH story that has been rocking the proverbial house. It's been neat to read what is essentially a retro Legion story and a well-told one at that, so this week I cracked open Action Comics No. 859 with all expectation of enjoyment and I'm all like "Neat! the Batcave!" and then this happens:

!!! Holy shit again! This issue was written especially for me! It's the Legion of Super-Human Detritus! Honestly, Golden Boy? Storm Boy? this is fantastic! Wait... check this:

A handy picture guide. Compare and contrast character designs!

The appearance of Absorbancy Boy/Earth-Man really threw me for a loop. A-Boy originally showed up in Superboy No. 218. He got rejected from the Legion - despite his glorious muttonchops and ability to absorb and utilize residual superhuman energies - and stood by and glowered whilst Quake Kid tried to score with Infectious Lass. He then weaseled his way back into the clubhouse to try to interfere with Tyroc's induction into the Legion, only to be beaten down by the Mauler from Marzal himself. How much do I want Tyroc to show up at the end of this story for a rematch? Very, very much.

I see that The Tusker and Golden Boy have been toughened up a bit for this appearance - I shall refrain from making a joke about Golden Boy turning himself into gold by masturbating (no I won't).

Wait, if the Tusker has unbreakable bones then what happened to his tooth?

And so on. My thoughts on these characters have been logged on the Internets for all to read. I love them all, even as I love to mock them. I'm just super glad that the Legion of Throwaway Characters is getting their time in the sun. Sure hope that The Mess shows up before this is all through (Alternate version of this joke that I forgot to use: I sure hope that Lester Spiffany is behind all of this).

Thoroughly, totally JOHN APPROVED

Super-Human Detritus of the Thirtieth Century: Review of Infectious Lass, By Johnathan

Holy crap - this is my one hundredth post. Well, I guess technically Paul wrote some of those one hundred, but I'm claiming the milestone since he's not paying attention. I tried to think up a thematically appropriate review - something like 'Review of One Hundred Corrupt Cops From Gotham City' or 'Review of Lois Lane's One Hundred Best Falls From Skyscrapers' - but I wasn't quite committed enough. Maybe I'll be ready by post number 500. Instead, I'll be writing about Infectious Lass, because her painful rejection by the Legion of Super-Heroes is the whole reason for this series of reviews and I just never got around to her. Sad, sad thing. Well: no more tears, it's time for a review!

Infectious Lass made her first appearance in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes No. 201. Right from the get-go she was a-friggin'-dorable. Let's watch:

See? Isn't she cute? That's her with Porcupine Pete and Molecular Master, two fine Legion rejects and future reviews in their own right. Take a moment here to take in Infectious Lass' enthusiasm and optimism. Boy, she really wants this Legion thing.

Now, on to the tryout:

Before we get all caught up in the drama of the demonstrations and the voting and so on, I think there's just enough time for a look at Infectious Lass' costume. Hmm. Definitely the best costume that a Legion applicant has ever worn - take that, Storm Boy. Heck, seeing as how it debuted in the Seventies, this is probably the best female costume in the whole building at the time. I mean, look at it: it's got an insane and stylin' pattern, an incredible collar that possibly can be hurled like a batarang and a matching mucus theme on her mask and cape (if you can't get a good look at the mask, it looks like she got hit in the face with a ball of Ghostbusters-brand slime). I must say, the mucus cape shows real devotion to a theme. It's possibly my favourite hero accessory of all time. Screw bat-cloaks and Spidey-mobiles and those little wings on the sides of the Flash's head - a cape that looks like it's made of snot, that's where it's at.

So: back to the action (look at the mucus! Awesome!). Star Boy has unwisely volunteered his services as guinea pig and pays the price. Can't blame him though - Infectious Lass is completely hot, in a two-dimensional, alien sort of way. Were I a futureman I would be all over that.

Now, by my reckoning Infectious Lass is doing great. She took out Star Boy in no time! Man, she could probably lay out the Fatal Five with head colds with her hands tied behind her back! And taking out a Legionnaire is a traditional way of impressing the judges, right? I mean, Karate Kid got in by beating Superboy down, so there's precedent, right?

Apparently you have to be, like, super confident and brag about it first for that to work. By saying that she's sorry, Infectious Lass reveals too much weakness and the feral teen clique that is the Legion snarls and boots her out on her shapely rear.

This is actually the panel that inspired the whole 'Super-Human Detritus' thing. It's a perfect example of what is entertaining and tragicomic about the whole Legion tryout phenomenon. Poor Infectious Lass - a distinctive, interesting character who was made up specifically so that she could fail to get into the Legion - stands there, meekly apologizing, while over her looms Superboy - possibly the most influential super-hero in history and someone Infectious Lass has looked up to her whole life - bellowing "REJECTED!" and chastising her for doing a good job. I mean, I guess it's a realistic way for a bunch of incredibly powerful teenagers to act, but still.

Lucky for us: Infectious Lass isn't one to give up easily and so shows up again in Superboy No. 218.

Here she comes with Absorbency Boy and Quake Kid, two more rejectees. Now, even I must admit that the Legion were probably right in rejecting her this time - she needs more control of her powers, not greater potency. I would have dearly loved to see a panel of her demonstrating her Epidemic Power, though. The whole Legion stricken with pinkeye or mono would really be something to see.

Quake Kid, I've got to say, really knows how to make the most of a bad situation. Sure, he didn't get in to the Legion and sure Dream Girl screeched "REJECTED!" at him as soon as he entered the room, but at least he gets a chance to tap some fine alien ass. I'm guessing that STDs have been wiped out by the 2970s, as a name like Infectious Lass would otherwise cause at least a moment of hesitation in even the most Tony Stark-esque of Lotharios(I hope. Otherwise Quake Kid is likely swarming with space-syphilis or Saturnian Gonorrhea). Infectious Lass had better realize what this guy is up to - he's blatant enough that the artist didn't even have to draw the pup tent in his spandex for me to know that it was there.

Aw geez. See what I mean about control, Infectious Lass? Now you're not going to get "commiserated" and since you can't commiserate with yourself you're going to have to find another euphemism for what you do when you get home. Tough luck. (This, by the way, is Quake Kid's only appearance. Since we don't actually learn anything else about him I'll judge by his taste in women and pronounce him JOHN APPROVED)

Infectious Lass eventually joins the Legion of Substitute Heroes, which is really a much better place for someone who is naive and nice - Subbies can just be themselves, especially if it generates laffs:

So that's that: Infectious Lass. Pretty and oh so rejected, with a great costume and a pretty good power. I'm going to leave you with this exchange between her and the ever-popular Ambush Bug:


Review of the Super-Human Detritus of the 30th Century, Part 2, By Johnathan

Next up: Storm Boy!
Before we got down to the nitty-gritty of the events surrounding Storm Boy's application to the Legion, let's take a look at appearance. His hair: square and marine-esque, it probably said someting to the DC audience of the time, but I'm not sure what. This was the early sixties, and I'm not certain at what point the owner of such a haircut would have metamorphosized from an upstanding young man to a complete and utter square. In any case I like his hair, because of its rarity in the comic medium - you're not likely to find it on anyone other than Sergeant Rock... and maybe Captain Atom. I like his glasses even more, and for the same reason: superheros don't wear glasses (Clark Kent et al do not count). And I wear glasses, so. Plus, this thing's set a thousand years in the future! I honestly would have thought that by the year 2962 (or whenever) children would be scanned in the womb and at the first sign of myopia the cloning process would begin. New eyes would be grown in a matter of minutes and installed in utero, and the entire family would henceforth speak of 'Billy's little problem' in hushed tones when he wasn't around. Assuming that my powers of prediction are infallible - and permitting myself a lapse into vulgarity - this guy's eyes must be fucked up!

Moving on, Storm Boy's clothing is a standard 30th Century jumpsuit. For a while I'd thought that he was wearing a glowing jewel around his neck, but I recently realized that that thing is his superhero emblem - he's chosen to represent the awesome powers of the thunderstorm with a little glowy cloud thing. Questionable, but we all just have to remember that the guy's eyes are fucked up.

Enough with the fashion critique. It's time for the nitty-gritty!

Storm Boy lives up to his name and his glowy cloud and calls up a thunderstom. He Impresses Bouncing Boy - looks like the guy's a shoe-in! But wait...

Oops! He was doing it with a little device in his pocket! And that's the number one rule when seeking membership in the Legion of Superheros: you gotta have your own powers. Storm Boy's little remote control is a big no-no, and one that he likely knew about, which is why I ask the question: why'd he do such a bad job of using it? Sticking his hand in his pocket like that. So disappointing, but even if he wasn't a moron and hid it in his boot or something what did he expect to happen? Did he think that he'd do well as a member and that everyone would just laugh it off when they found him out? Listen, Storm Boy, if a Legionnaire loses his or her powers at two o'clock they're out the door with a selection of erased memories by four thirty. They don't even get a party. And that's Sun Boy - you they'd probably hunt for sport.

So anyway:

They get Triplicate Girl to kick him out and think no more of it. And that, if you were wondering, is why they keep Triplicate Girl around.

Some closing thoughts:

1) I sure hope that this wasn't one of those needlessly complicated comic books schemes where, say, Storm Boy's sister has been kidnapped by gangsters and he's not allowed to go to the police but he figures that if he joins the Legion he can trick them into rescuing her. Because they didn't really give him a chance to explain.

2) Did Cosmic Boy give back that storm-making device?

"Hey guys! I got a new power! I'm magnetic and I can make storms!"

Storm Boy is: