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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes Key Comics Part 5

Surprise, surprise. We are already at Part 5 and still on Silver Age key comics concerning The Legion of Super-Heroes.

I took my sweet time on this series for a reason, and hopefully it's starting to become clear why I did. For someone who isn't a fan and doesn't know much about them, a lot of research had to be done for this beast, and a lot of double and triple checking.

So for those who thought I was taking a nice extended break, this is what I doing behind the scenes, researching this group and going over it as thoroughly as possible.

A lot of these characters aren't exactly top-tier or do they become major characters during the Silver Age, but a few do break out during the Bronze Age and Copper Age when writers of that era utilized them more and further expanded on the mythos and world of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Like I said in Part 1 of this series, the Legion is more an army than a team, and it's an interstellar and impressive undertaking. Lots of legendary artists and writers have worked on the series, and Part 5 will feature one of these legendary artists/writers of the comic world.

Click this Part 4 link in case you missed, but if not, here's more Legion of Super-Heroes key comics!

1st appearance of Spider Girl
1st appearance of Double Header

In this first appearance, Spider Girl is seen as a failed Legion applicant. Later, she would attend the School for Super-Villains and eventually join the Legion of Super-Villains.

Her real name is Sussa Paka and she is a metahuman and possesses prehensile hair like Medusa from Marvel. Spider Girl was created by Jim Tillery, Jerry Siegel and John Forte.

The creative trio also created Frenk and Dyvud Retzun known as Double Header from the planet Janus. The natives of the planet are all conjoined twins. They would join the Legion of Substitutes. 

Adventure Comics #323 was published July, 1964.

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1st Legion and Lex Luthor meeting

If you like 1st meetings of characters or teams with another character or team, this issue here has the first meeting of Superman nemesis Lex Luthor and the Legion of Super-Heroes. 

Even the title of the story gives it away: "Lex Luthor meets the Legion of Super-Heroes". Not exactly a major key issue, but significant enough to merit a spot here.

Besides, I thought I'd break up all the monotony of 1st appearances in this key issues series. Adventure Comics #325 was published October, 1964.

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1st Timber Wolf as Lone Wolf

Finally, a name that doesn't end with Boy or Lad or Kid. Before this character became Timber Wolf, he first appeared as Lone Wolf in the pages of Adventure Comics #327. Timber Wolf is Brin Londo from the planet Zoon which would later be changed to Zuun.

His original powers was exceptional speed and agility. However, he would later be turned into a wolf-like lycanthrope from a serum.

Timber Wolf would have a long relationship with Lightning Lass, Lightning Lad's sister. I'm not sure of when he actually changes his name to Timber Wolf or what issue that is. Adventure Comics #327 and the first appearance of Timber Wolf was published December, 1964.

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1st appearance of Legion of Stupor-Bizarros
1st Flight Rings

Hey, if we're talking about Superman or Superboy related comics, there's gotta be a Bizarro version for virtually everything right? Of course there does, and Bizarro Superboy gets all jealous because he cannot join the Legion of Super-Heroes.

So, using the duplicator machine he creates Bizarro versions of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Invisible Kid, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Ultra-Boy, and Mon-El. All the Bizarro versions of the Legion of Stupor-Bizarros make their first appearance in this issue.

Of course, this abomination causes nothing but chaos and the real Legion comes a long and demands they disband.

This issue also has the first appearance of the Legion's flight rings which enables the wearer to fly even in outer space. It is composed of the compound called Valorium. The super-hero Booster Gold is the only non-Legionnaires to use a Legion Flight Ring

Not a major key issue for the Legion, but if you're a Bizarro fan, this is definitely one for him as well. Adventure Comics #329 was published February, 1965.

1st appearance of Pol Krinn

During the Silver Age, Cosmic Boy's younger brother Pol Krinn showed up quite infrequently. He made around 3 appearances.

It wasn't until the Copper Age when the character became more than a minor supporting character and joined the Legion as Magnetic Kid II. He is not the first character to appear under that mantle.

The first Magnetic Kid made a single appearance in a Legion story 2 issues after this one. August, 1965 is the publishing date for Adventure Comics #335.

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1st appearance of Glorith

Glorith only made one single appearance during the Silver Age of comics, but the character would be revived later and become a major villain for the Legion. She is a major presence in the volume 4 Legion of Super-Heroes comic series.

In this issue, she is an agent of Time Trapper and tries to destroy the Legion of Super-Heroes. However, she instead turns the members into infants, and the Time Trapper would betray her because of her failure..

Definitely a notable villain for the Legion, and this comic was published November, 1965.

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Triplicate Girl becomes Duo Damsel
1st appearance of Computo

I mentioned briefly in Part 1 that one of Triplicate Girl's duplicates dies and she becomes Duo Damsel. Well, this issue is it.

It seems that Brainiac 5 created Computo to be an assistant of sorts, but it turns bad and tries to start an uprising of machines. Yep, this evil machine is the cause of the death of one of Triplicate Girl's bodies. Well, at least she gets to change her name to something other than one that ends with Girl.

Adventure Comics #340 was published January, 1966, and the United Planets would be first referenced in this issue.

1st appearance of Color Kid

Ulu Vakk from the planet Lupra makes his first appearance in this issue. He was rejected by the Legion of Super-Heroes and joined the Legion of Substitute-Heroes.

Color Kid has the ability to change the color of an object at will and can project beams of the color black to use as a blinding weapon. Color Kid was created by Edmond Hamilton and Curt Swan, and Adventure Comics #342 was published March, 1966.

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1st Ferro Lad & Karate Kid
1st Princess Projectra & Nemesis Kid
1st Jim Shooter Legion story
1st appearance of the Khund

Quite a few first appearances here in this issue for sure. Ferro Lad is a character that doesn't last very long during the Silver Age. Andrew Nolan is a metahuman with the power to turn himself into living iron.

His twin brother Douglas also has the same power. Ferro Lad would sacrifice himself in destroying the Sun-Eater only a couple issue later.

Karate Kid apparently isn't just an expert at every known martial arts, he has a form of super martial arts that takes him above and beyond any normal martial artist. He is a well-known Legion member and his real name is Val Armorr, last name taken from his mother's side. His father is Japanese and was one of Japan's greatest crime lords known as the Black Dragon who killed Val's mother when she tried to hide Val from him.

Val, however, was adopted by  a character called Toshiaki after Toshiaki killed the Black Dragon. It was Toshiaki who first taught Val various martial arts, but Val would search the galaxy for new forms of battle to master. In this issue, he joins the Legion along with Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra and Nemesis Kid.

Speaking of Nemesis Kid, he is actually sent by the Khunds to infiltrate the Legion. He is not a Khund though and from the planet Myar. The Khunds are a notable race of aliens in the the Legion of Super-Heroes mythology and are volatile enemies of the United Planets.

Nemesis Kid would also be a foe of the group and would later join the Legion of Super-Villains as a founding member. His power is the ability to develop the appropriate power to defeat his intended target.

This power can only focus on one target at a time, and he was found to be a traitor in the very next issue. Nemesis Kid would be responsible for the death of Karate Kid later on.

Princess Projectra also makes her first appearance and joins the Legion in this issue. Her name is Projectra Wind'zzor and is a member of the royal family of the planet Orando. 

She would later become Queen Projectra of her planet and would fall in love with and marry Karate Kid. After Nemesis Kid kills her husband, Projectra would end Nemesis Kid out of revenge, violating Legion laws about taking life. She would resign from the Legion because of this.

All these first appearances are creations of legend Jim Shooter, and this is his first work on Legion of Super-Heroes. Pretty big key concerning Legion of Super-Heroes key issues, and Adventure Comics #346 was published July, 1966.

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Jim Shooter was 13-14 at the time he first started writing for DC Comics. DC President Paul Levitz has said, "Jim [Shooter] was obnoxiously good, and nobody has any right to be that good at 13 years old as a writer and particularly if you look at it in the context of what was being done, at DC in particular but in comics in general.

The kind of storyline that he did there...the consequences of a hero committing essentially heroic suicide, sacrificing himself for the benefit of his team. The death of a character was still a very shocking thing in comics in, I think it was 1966, when the first of that came out. 

And doing a realistic sort of ghost story around the sacrificed character, which I guess is six months or a year later, is astounding stuff for that time and just has tremendous emotional depth for somebody who was too young to have any emotional depth at that point."

But, if you take into account why Jim Shooter started writing comics in the first place, it's understandable why he had such emotional depth that carried over into his writing. "My family needed the money," Jim Shooter reflected in a 2010 interview.

"I was doing this to save the house; my father had a beat-up old car and the engine died – this is before I started working for DC – and that first check bought a rebuilt engine for his car so he didn't have to walk to work anymore. I was doing this because I had to, working my way through high school to help keep my family alive."

I know I said I would make these outros short and sweet, but I feel that history needed to be acknowledged concerning Jim Shooter and his work on the Legion of Super-Heroes. Yes, he really was that good and there's a reason why he is a legend in the industry.

So, Part 6 is done and ready to be viewed, and if you missed the Part 4, that PREVIOUS link below will send you back.

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