The Legion of Super-Heroes did not make their second appearance until 1959 in Adventure Comics #267 which was a year after their debut appearance in Adventure Comics #247. This time it is Jerry Siegel handling the writing duties for our Legionnaires. It will still be a while before the Legion of Super-Heroes benefits from having one writer with a singular vision for the franchise to help guide and grow the franchise. Is this second appearance for the Legion of Super-Heroes a hit? Let’s hit this review for Adventure Comics #267.
Words: Jerry Siegel
Art: George Papp
Published: December, 1959
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Superboy about to save a crashing airplane. Suddenly, Cosmic Boy appears on the scene and uses his magnetic eyes to safely land the plane. Superboy says that it is great to see Cosmic Boy again. Cosmic Boy rudely says that it is not good to see Superboy. Superboy is stunned. Some bystanders make fun of Superboy and that he is jealous of a rival super-hero doing better than him.
We cut to Superboy about to stop a rampaging robot. (You know how it goes. It seems like an atomic robot is rampaging through small town America every other week.) Suddenly, Lightning Lad appears on these scene and takes down the robot with a blast of lightning that explodes the robot’s electronic brain. Superboy congratulates Lighting Lad on his work stopping the robot. Lightning Lad ignores Superboy and flies off. Superboy wonders what is going on with the Legionnaires.
We then cut to Superboy about to rescue a police detective from a criminal. Suddenly, Saturn Girl arrives and commands the criminal to drop his gun. Superboy congratulates Saturn Girl on her job stopping the criminal. Saturn Girl tells Superboy to keep his opinion to himself and she flies off. Some bystanders then make fun of Superboy and say that the super-heroes from the future are better than him. (How do these bystanders know that the Legionnaires are from the future?)
We cut to Ma and Pa Kent being mean to Superboy and telling him to stop whining and that he is slipping in his job as a super hero. Superboy wonders why nobody likes him anymore.
We shift to Superboy creating an underground tunnel that will attract increase tourist trade to Smallville. (Superboy. Not just a hero of the people but also a hero to the Smallville Chamber of Commerce!)
Unfortunately, Superboy’s new tunnel leads to an underground dragon coming to the surface. Suddenly, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl arrive and quickly take down the underground dragon. All the bystanders cheer the Legionnaires and boo Superboy.
We see Krypto arrive on the scene. Superboy is happy and thinks that while people have rejected him that his own dog will at least be happy to see him. However, Krypto ignores Superboy and flies over to Saturn Girl to get some pats on the head. (Dang. Rejected by his own dog! That is low.)
We cut to the Mayor of Smallville telling Superboy that they no longer need him anymore with the three Legionnaires now in town. We cut to Ma and Pa Kent angrily telling Superboy that the Legionnaires have made him look like a fool and that they are ashamed of Superboy. Pa Kent says that he wishes he could send Superboy back to the orphanage. (DAMN!! That is cold!)
Superboy decides to leave Earth since nobody likes him anymore. We see Superboy flying in space and coming across a huge crowd of super-being flying to a nearby planet. Superboy heads to the planet to see what is going on. Superboy follows the crowd of super-beings to Superboy City on Superboy Planet.
Suddenly, police show up and take Superboy to the Council of Superboy Planet. It is revealed that the Council is Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl. They quickly find Superboy guilty and have him placed in a green kryptonite cage where he is to spend the rest of his life imprisoned. (This…is happening all so fast. There is no due process on Superboy Planet!)
The Legionnaires calls Superboy a criminal. They roll in the Futurescope which shows that Superboy will commit several crimes in five years from now. Those crimes include destroying an American aircraft carrier, wrecking a U.S. airstrip, and digging a chasm and shoving a factory into the chasm and then burning it. (That cannot be the proper environmentally friendly manner to dispose of a factory.)
The Legionnaires said that in order to protect the universe from a criminal Superboy in five years that they decided to imprison Superboy and prevent the crimes from happening. (Minority Report Legion style!)
Cosmic Boy says that Superboy Planet was originally intended to honor Superboy but now it is the scene of his every-lasting disgrace. (You know, for people who worship Superboy so much they really have little faith in him and turn on him rather quickly.)
Saturn Girl reveals that she used her powers to make everyone in Smallville hate Superboy. That way Superboy would leave Earth and they could lure him to this prison on Superboy planet. (This seems…like an overly convoluted plan.)
The Legionnaires ask Superboy if he has anything to say in his defense. (Wait…they already judged Superboy to be guilty. Now he is supposed to bring a defense? Shouldn’t that have happened a bit earlier in this hearing?) Superboy remains silent and offers no defenses.
Superboy, in his Kryptonite cage, is carried away. Luckily, a Superboy trophy explodes and launches an atomic chain reaction that causes the Kryptonite cage to collapse and allows Superboy to escape. (Huhbutwhat?!)
However, the atomic chain reaction also creates the element Sigellian which is deadly to the Legionnaires. Superboy uses a super-shout create a vibration that changes the molecular structure of the element Sigellian rendering it harmless. (Whuuuuut? I think we have jumped the shark at this point.)
The Legionnaires all cheer Superboy and say that there is no way he could ever be a criminal. (Ummmm…really?) The Legionnaires claim that the Futurescope must be wrong. Suddenly, Saturn Girl picks up a radio message from the President of the United States. It says that the President releases Superboy from his security oath.
Superboy is now free to speak. Superboy says that the Futurescope must have a flaw in it because the events they were looking at have all occurred in the present and not the future. Cosmic Boy looks inside the Futurescope and sees that it does have a defect. (Did nobody check the machine to make sure it was working properly when they first saw these images of Superboy being a criminal?)
Superboy says that the President asked him to dispose of the empty aircraft carrier, then destroy the deserted airstrip, and then dispose of the old factory in a one-day mop-up spree. This was done to clean up and erase all traces of a poison gas. The factory manufactured the gas, it was transported from the airstrip to the aircraft carrier.
We cut to Superboy returning to Smallville. Ma and Pa Kent are happy to have Superboy back and the locals of Smallville and the Legionnaires all give three cheers for Superboy. End of issue.
The Good: Adventure Comics #267 was a pretty insane read. This is a fantastic example of the fun and over-the-top style of stories that were so prevalent during the Silver Age. Jerry Siegel delivers a story that is fueled by unbridled imagination. Siegel tosses out so many insane plot twists and devices with each panel. It certainly makes Adventure Comics #267 an incredibly vibrant and exciting read. The reader realizes that literally anything can happen at any given moment in this story.
If the reader shuts off their brain and just lets Siegel’s craziness flow over them then the ride is quite fun. This story is sure to put a smile on the reader’s face. Siegel’s story is pure cotton candy for the brain. This is pure wild entertainment and adventure.
Adventure Comics #267 is another example of highly compressed storytelling. There is a stunning amount of content and plot progression that is shoved in just an 11 page story. Seriously, the story in Adventure Comics #267 would be a four or six issue story arc if it were being written today.
Siegel provides the reader with a ton of content and plot progression that is delivered in an enjoyable self-contained one-shot story. This is such an impressive job. It is hard to find one-shot stories that deliver this much content these days. The reader is definitely getting plenty for their money with this story.
Adventure Comics #267 moves at a fast pace. Siegel stomps on the gas at the very beginning and does not let up until the end. The story jets forward with a clear focus and purpose in mind. There is never a moment where the story gets bogged down or wanders. This is an incredibly tightly scripted story.
Superboy is the only character in this story that gets any good character work. Superboy is likable and the reader easily sympathizes with him as he gets rejected by everyone in Smallville. Superboy is also an aspirational hero as the reader admires Superboy’s honoring his oath to the President to keep his actions a secret despite this leading to his imprisonment. This gives Superboy a strong sense of honor and obligation. This emphasizes Superboy as a hero that the reader admires.
George Papp delivers some dependable artwork. I love the designs for the various tech in particular the Futurescope. Papp also makes some changes to the Legionnaires’ costumes. Overall, Papp’s costume designs are far superior to Plastino’s costume designs in Adventure Comics #247.
Cosmic Boy sheds his light pink outfit for a dark purple costume. Cosmic Boy no longer has his codename written across his shirt. But, he still retains the black elements of his costume and the circles across his chest.
Papp has Saturn Girl ditch her yellow top with green pants and wear a dark red and white outfit. Saturn Girl also drops her codename from her shirt. Papp’s design is so good that this costume stays as Saturn Girl’s costume for the entire Silver Age and serves as the basic foundation for just about every costume Saturn Girl has going forward. No name written on her chest.
Papp has Lighting Lad shed his yellow and red top with green pants and gives him his classic blue and white top with orange pants. Lightning Lad also drops his codename from his shirt. Papp’s design for Lightning Lad’s costume becomes Lightning Lad’s iconic look for the entire Silver Age. Papp’s design for Lightning Lad’s shirt also serves as the foundation for just about every costume Lightning Lad has going forward.
The Bad: Adventure Comics #267 reads like it was written by a six-year-old all jacked up on a massive candy induced sugar high. Siegel continually throws one wild plot device after another at the reader with zero attempt to rationally explain anything at all. It gets to be a bit too much and begins to overwhelm the reader by the middle of this story.
Siegel employs far too many convenient plot devices and relies on too many contrived leaps of logic in order to push his story forward. I know that any super-hero story requires a strong suspension of disbelief. But, Siegel pushes the reader’s suspension of disbelief to its breaking point with simply too many convenient and contrived moments in this story.
Adventure Comics #267 is so compressed that the reader feels overwhelmed at times by the pace of the story and the amount of plot progression that it thrown at the reader in quick succession. The reader’s head starts to spin as we near the end of this story.
Siegel’s story is incredibly shallow and the lack of effort to try to explain anything or flesh out the setting and various plot lines hurts the story. Another big problem with the Adventure Comics #267 is the total lack of character work on the three Legionnaires. Each Legionnaire remains as bland as possible. None of them display any type of interesting or unique personality.
Siegel’s dialogue is rather generic. The Legionnaires all possess the same external voice. Again, there is a real lack of chemistry between the Legionnaires amount themselves and between the Legionnaire and Superboy.
Siegel also has the Legionnaires come across as too dickish at times. This is a recurring problem as the reader go this same sense from Adventure Comics #247. The Legionnaires lose faith in Superboy way too easily in this story. Even when the Legionnaires have their faith restored in Superboy they remain not entirely likable. Siegel has the Legionnaires act more like Superboy sycophants rather than teammates and friends of Superboy.
Papp’s artwork tends to be stiff at times. The facial expressions also tend to be a bit to blank or not properly match the dialogue in the panel. The panel layouts are also an uncreative standard issue six page layout that was typical for the time period.
Overall: Adventure Comics #267 was a solid read but not as good as the Legion of Super-Heroes debut in Adventure Comics #247. It is interesting to see Papp create the classic costume designs for Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. Visually, the Legionnaires are beginning to evolve into what we know and love.
However, at this point, the interaction between Superboy and the Legionnaires remains at the Legionnaires being dicks to Superboy before praising and loving him by the end of the story. The Legion of Super-Heroes is still an underdeveloped one-off type concept with Adventure Comics #267. It is obvious that nobody at DC still sees the Legion of Super-Heroes as a concept worth developing and growing at the moment. They are still just small-time Superboy support characters to be used at random.