The Legion of Super-Heroes made their third appearance over in Action Comics #267. Again, there was a big gap in time between their second and third appearances. This was a departure since they had only appeared before in the pages of Adventure Comics. What is another departure is that the Legion had always been paired with Superboy. However, in Action Comics #267, the Legion is paired with Supergirl.
Action Comics #267 is a huge issue as we finally get more Legionnaires other than Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl. In Action Comics #267, Jerry Siegel delivers the debuts of Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, and Invisible Kid.
All right, so far the prior two appearances of the Legion of Super-Heroes have not done that much to grow the franchise. Will the third time out be the charm? Let’s find out in our review for Action Comics #267!
Words: Jerry Siegel
Art: Jim Mooney
Published: August, 1960
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Linda Lee (Supergirl) on a bus with her fellow orphans from the Midvale orphanage. They are headed to the Superman Fair in Metropolis.
We cut to the orphans arriving in Metropolis at the Superman Fair. Superman is present and showing off his super powers. Superman gets zapped by billions of volts from a cyclotron to show off his invulnerability. As Superman leaves he winks at his cousin, Linda Lee.
Suddenly, the cyclotron controls go haywire and the voltage begins to get out of control. Linda thinks how she has promised Superman to never reveal herself so she can be his secret weapon during a real emergency. That if she stops the cyclotron then she will reveal her secret identity.
We then see Lightning Lad appear, dressed in civilian clothes, and use his lighting powers to stop the cyclotron. Lighting Lad calls Linda “Supergirl” and says that it was not necessary for her to reveal her secret identity. Linda is stunned.
We cut to Linda at a lion taming act. The lion breaks free and goes to attack Linda. Linda thinks that once the lion fails to hurt her that everyone will learn that she is invulnerable. Suddenly, Saturn Girl, in civilian clothes, appears and uses her though-casting powers to command the lion to return to its cage. Saturn Girl calls Linda “Supergirl” and says that her secret is safe. Linda is stunned once again.
We cut to Linda on a rocket ship amusement ride. Linda is thinking about the teenagers with super-powers who knew her secret identity. Suddenly, the rocket that Linda is in breaks free from the amusement ride. Linda thinks how everyone is going to learn about her invulnerability when she crashes to the ground and is not hurt.
Cosmic Boy, in civilian clothing, appears and uses his magnetic powers to guide the ship safely to the ground. Cosmic Boy calls Linda “Supergirl” and says that he r secret is still safe. Linda asks who Cosmic Boy is and how he knows her secret. Cosmic Boy says that Linda will fin out in proper time.
We cut to Linda in her room at the orphanage. Linda uses her telescopic vision and sees that the hollow tree where she stores her Linda Lee robot is about to be knocked over. Linda panics that if the robot is discovered then her secret identity will be exposed.
However, once the tree is knocked over Linda sees that it is not hollow. Linda then sees her hollow tree with her robot in a different wooded lot. Linda turns into Supergirl and flies over to her robot to investigate what is going on. Supergirl then meets Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl nest to their Time Sphere.
The Legionnaires introduce themselves to Supergirl. Supergirl says that she remembers that her cousin, Superman, told her stories of meeting three super-powered teen-agers from the future. Superman said that he went to the future with the Legionnaires. That Superman joined their Super-Hero Club. (See Adventure Comics #247.)
Saturn Girl then reveals that they are not the same teenagers who met Superboy. Saturn Girl says that they are the children of those three teenagers. That they are carrying on the Legion’s traditions.
Cosmic Boy says that they used their time-viewer to watch Supergirl and that she is Superman’s helper. They purposely caused all the things to go wrong at the Superman Fair as initiation stunts. (Ah, still being dicks. Just like they were to Superboy.) Cosmic Boy says that they want Supergirl to join their club.
Saturn Girl explains that their parents came from different worlds which explains their super powers. That the Super-Hero Club’s rule si that only people under 18 who have super powers are eligible for membership.
The Legionnaires hop into their time sphere and Supergirl follows along. They arrive in the future. The Legionnaires show Supergirl how robots do all the heavy physical work so that man is free to labor with his mind. They then go to an ice cream parlor with flavors from nine planets. (The same ice cream parlor from Adventure Comics #247.)
They then arrive at the Super-Hero Clubhouse. Inside, Cosmic Boy introduces Supergirl to Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, and Invisible Kid. Cosmic Boy says that they all have super-powers. Cosmic Boy has super-magnetism. Lighting Lad has super-lightning. Saturn Girl has super-thought-casting. Chameleon Boy has super-disguise. Colossal Boy has super-growth. Invisible Kid has super-invisibility. (Because regular invisibility is not enough?) Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, and Chameleon Boy all demonstrate their powers to Supergirl.
Saturn Girl then explains that they only admit one applicant a year into their club. That Supergirl must perform a super-feat more spectacular than the other competing applicants that they have already staged.
Supergirl is up to the challenge and flies off to perform her super-feat. We see Supergirl digging a tunnel through the Earth and then lining the wall of the tunnel with rocks and fusing them together to form a perfectly smooth and stable tunnel.
Supergirl arrives back at the Super-Hero Clubhouse and says that she has created a short-cut trans-Earth tunnel to help divert some of the heavy airship traffic that the planet has in the future.
Cosmic Boy says that they would admit Supergirl into the Super-Hero Club, but that she is over their 18-year-old age limit. Supergirl looks in the mirror and sees that she has aged into a woman. Supergirl uses her super-vision and sees that there was red kryptonite near the tunnel that she created. That red kryptonite has unpredictable and temporary effects on Kryptonians. That the red kryptonite aged her.
Saturn Girl apologizes and says that if Superwoman becomes a teen-ager again that she will be eligible to join their club next year.
We cut to Supergirl traveling back to the present day. Supergirl wonders how long the red kryptonite will affect her. Luckily, in one hour the effects of the red kryptonite wear off. Supergirl is happy and heads back to the orphanage.
We shift to Linda Lee in her room thinking about how much she wanted to join the Legion of Super-Heroes. She wonders if she will ever get invited again to be a member. End of story.
The Good: Action Comics #267 manages to finally flesh out the Legion of Super-Heroes far more than anything that we got in the first two appearances of the Legionnaires. We learn quite a few interesting facts about the Legion and how they are constructed.
First, we learn that the Legion fo Super-Heroes is only open to individuals under 18 and who have super-powers. We also learn that the Legion only admits one applicant a year. This rule definitely gets changed later on in the Legion’s continuity. Siegel also reveals that each member of the Legion is from a different planet and that their super-powers derive from their home planet.
At this point, Siegel does some retconning to Otto Binder’s original explanation of the Legionnaires’ powers. Binder had Cosmic Boy say that he had magnetic eyes due to serums that he was exposed to. Siegel changes this to all the Legionnaires being born with their super-powers and that the super-powers are based on whatever planet they come from. This is a big change. This also establishes the Legion of Super-Heroes’ goal of having Legionnaires representing different planets from across the universe.
One huge swerve is that Siegel has the Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl that appear in Action Comics #267 be the children of the Cosmic Boy, Lighting Lad, and Saturn Girl that appeared in Adventure Comics #247 and #267. Now, remember that at this point the Legion of Super-Heroes were minor characters that were not designed to be reoccurring characters. And that two different writers had been handling the first three stories involving the Legion of Super-Heroes. So there was no one singular vision for this team at this point.
The concept of the first two appearances of the Legion of Super-Heroes actually being the parents of the subsequent Legionnaires that we see in Action Comics #267 creates continuity issues. Remember, that when Action Comics #267 was published, all stories involving Superboy were set in the past. Those were the adventures of Superman as a boy. Meanwhile, stories involving Supergirl were all set in the present with a grown Superman.
Does this mean that every time we see Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl in the pages of Superboy that those are the parents traveling back to Superboy’s time period? Then that would mean the Legionnaires that Supergirl adventures with are the children of the original Legion who travel to Supergirl’s time period.
As we move forward we will see how writers either outright ignore Siegel’s story in Action Comics #267 or try to work around it. Again, these are the problems of the Legion being unimportant random characters that appear on a yearly basis at the moment and being handled by multiple writers.
Siegel reserves his best character work for Supergirl. Linda Lee is a likable character. Supergirl is easy to root for during her challenge scene. Supergirl is also easy to sympathize with in the scenes when the Legionnaires are trolling her. Supergirl acts very much like a normal teen-age girl. She is not overly intelligent, overly gifted, overly confident, or overly capable. Supergirl just acts like a regular teen-age girl that you would meet in real life. It is actually quite refreshing compared to what you get more often than not in modern comics.
I loved getting to see three more Legionnaires. Otto Binder implied that there were far more than just three Legionnaires in his story in Adventure Comics #247. But, Siegel finally pulls back to curtain and introduces us to three more Legionnaires. The secret sauce to the Legion franchise is the phenomenally deep and diverse collection of characters. Action Comics #267 is where we begin to see that aspect of the Legion fo Super-Heroes really grow.
Chameleon Boy, Reep Daggle, Invisible Kid, Lyle Norg, and Colossal Boy, Gim Allon, are all three wonderful characters. Of the three characters, Chameleon Boy is probably my favorite and he is certainly the character that gets more panel time over the entire course of the Legion’s history. At any rate, there is plenty of love about all three of these characters.
I also liked how Siegel treats the Legionnaires with more respect in Action Comics #267 than Binder did in Adventure Comics #247. Binder had the Legionnaires come across as more of wacky joke characters. Binder also diminished the Legionnaires’ powers as being simple and unimpressive. Siegel changes that. Siegel goes out of his way to build up the Legionnaires are cool super-heroes who possess amazing and incredible super-powers. The reader begins to take the Legionnaires more seriously in Action Comics #267 than they did in the prior two Adventure Comics stories.
Siegel delivers a tightly plotted and paced issue. This story moves forward with a purpose and never deviates from its goal or gets lost on a tangent. This is a quick read that offers a nicely compressed one-shot story. The reader gets so much fantastic content and plot progression in just a thirteen page story.
Jim Mooney turns in plenty of solid artwork. Mooney has nice clean lines to his art. Mooney also cranks out easily the most interesting panel layouts that we have gotten on a title starring the Legion of Super-Heroes up to this point. Mooney varies the size and number of panels as we progress through the story.
Mooney also excellent costume designs for Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, and Chameleon Boy. These are the costumes that these three characters would wear through out the Silver Age. In fact, Mooney’s costume design for Invisible Kid is so good that it would serve as the basis for his future costume designs in the Bronze and Modern Ages. And I have to admit that I love Colossal Boy’s Cowboy inspired Silver Age costume. It is so unique.
Cosmic Boy also gets his third costume design in as many appearances. Luckily, Mooney does a great job with this costume design and it will become Cosmic Boy’s costume design for the entire Silver Age. In fact, Mooney’s excellent costume design will serve as the basis for several costumes that Cosmic Boy wears in the Bronze and Modern Ages.
Mooney also does a great job drawing Supergirl. It is interesting that we often associate the 1950’s with being prudish and repressed. But, Supergirl’s short skirt is something that you would never see in comic books being published in 2019.
The Bad: Action Comics #267 has a been there done that feel to it. Siegel basically just rips off Binder’s story from Adventure Comics #247. Action Comics #267 is not that original or creative at all. I am not sure why DC felt the need to do deliver a carbon copy of the introduction to the Legion story that we had already gotten on Adventure Comics. I would imagine that the reader overlap between Adventure Comics and Action Comics would be fairly high. Evidently, DC thought that the readership between the two titles was different enough to warrant recycling an introduction to the Legion story.
If you already read Adventure Comics #247 then this story is a bit of a bore. The Legionnaires torment Supergirl and troll her over her secret identity just like they did to Superboy. Then The Legionnaires ask Supergirl to join their club and come to the future. Just like they did with Superboy. We even get an exact replay of the scene of our teen-age heroes at the ice cream parlor with ice cream flavors from nine different planets. Then we have a physical challenge for Supergirl just like we did with Superboy. The only difference is that, in the end, Supergirl gets rejected while Superboy actually gains membership to the Super-Hero Club.
While I enjoyed Siegel’s take on Supergirl the fact remains that Siegel does little character work on the Legionnaires. The Legionnaires remain relatively bland in terms of personality. None of them exhibit any unique character traits. These characters are still incredibly underdeveloped at this point. Siegel’s dialogue is average at best. All of the characters have the same neutral external voice.
Also, once again, the Legionnaires are made to look dickish with the manner in which they troll Supergirl as a form of hazing before asking her to join their club. This is a continuing theme that makes the reader less likely to admire and respect the Legionnaires.
Overall: The third time is not a charm with Action Comics #267. This issue did a nice job fleshing out the rules of the Legion of Super-Heroes as well as introducing three new Legionnaires. But, the story was largely just a carbon copy of what the reader already got in Adventure Comics #247. At this point, the Legion are still fringe characters that DC is not investing much effort and time in developing.