Friday, March 14, 2008

Superboy #147

Superboy #147 (On Sale: March 14, 1968), also known as 80 Page Giant #G-47, features the Legion of Super-Heroes and sports a cover by Curt Swan and Neal Adams.

"The Origin of the Legion" is by E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Costanza. In a room in the newly-built Legion Headquarters complex, three statues honor the group's founders. One, of Lightning Lad, wields electricity between its hands; Cosmic Boy's image suspends a metal ball between its hands with a magnetic charge; the third, of Saturn Girl, mentally communicates the story of the Legion's origin to all who enter the room.

On the planet Winath, Garth Ranzz bids his family goodbye, and boards a ship bound for Earth. He takes a seat next to another youth named Rokk Krinn, of the planet Braal. The two become friends, and Rokk explains that his people have magnetic powers, developed to battle the metal monsters of that world, and that, since he is considered an adult at fourteen, he is hoping to use his ability to find work on Earth. Garth, in turn, tells how he, his twin sister Ayla, and older brother Mekt gained the ability to wield lightning when they were attacked by lightning monsters on the wild planet Korbal, where their ship was forced to land. Mekt later disappeared, and Garth hopes that the Science Police on Earth can help find him.

Meanwhile, a shuttle craft from Saturn brings new passengers to the ship, including the richest man in the universe, R.J. Brande, and a gorgeous blonde bound for Earth's Science Police Academy, Imra Ardeen.

The ship finally reaches Earth's Metropolis Spaceport, and as its passengers debark, two men run up to them and reach for guns. Imra reads their minds and screams a warning, and Rokk and Garth immediately use their powers to disarm the killers. Imra's telepathy further tells her that Brande's cousin, Doyle, had sent them to kill the rich man, so that he could inherit his money and pay his debts to a gambling syndicate.

A grateful and impressed Brande summons the three youths to his office the following morning, where he suggests that they band together as a crime fighting organization to be bankrolled by him, and uses Superboy and Supergirl as examples. They all agree, and before long, Brande has them outfitted in new costumes and gives them new names to go with them: Rokk is now Cosmic Boy, Garth is Lightning Lad, and Imra is Saturn Girl. Brande Industries erects a yellow, rocket-shaped clubhouse for the trio, and their new computer selects Cosmic Boy as their leader.

The three then write a Legion Constitution, which contains strict-by-laws, and are voted honorary citizenship on all member worlds of the United Planets. They are also made deputies of the Science Police.

Some days later, they gain two members, Triplicate Girl, who reveals her power to them by having each separately accompany one of her three selves to the clubhouse, and Phantom Girl, who easily infiltrates their supposedly impenetrable headquarters, and is made a member on the grounds that she help secure them against "ghostly" intruders. Not bad for eight pages of story! Reprinted in Secret Origins #6, Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8 HC and Superboy #147 Replica Edition #1.

"The Boy with Ultra-Powers" from Superboy #98 is by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and George Klein. A costumed youth called Ultra Boy secretly arrives in Smallville with his adult mentor, Marla, intent upon discovering Superboy's secret identity. Ultra Boy at first suspects that Pete Ross is the Boy of Steel, but then correctly deduces that Clark Kent is actually Superboy.

When Pete accidentally becomes locked in a bank vault, Ultra Boy’s power of penetra-vision which, unlike Superboy’s super-vision, can melt and see through lead, enables him to assist Superboy in rescuing Pete. He then reveals that he is a time-traveler from the future planet Rimbor and an applicant for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, who have assigned him the task of unmasking Superboy as an initiation test. Having completed the test, he and Marla, actually the Legion’s Senior Advisor, return to the future.

"The Legion of Super-Traitors" from Adventure Comics #293 is by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and George Klein. When powerful alien creatures known as the Brain-Globes of Rambat scheme to move Earth to their own solar system, they realize that they must first subdue Superboy. After unsuccessfully attempting to control Superboy themselves, they summon the Legionnaires from the Earth’s future, and mentally command them to defeat him.

Once this is done, the overconfident Brain-Globes release the heroes from their trance. Together, they are not powerful enough to defeat the aliens, until they notice that the Brain-Globes are incapable of controlling the minds of animals. Manning the Time Sphere, the Legionnaires gather Krypto, Streaky, Beppo, and Comet (aka Super-Dog, Super-Cat, Super-Monkey, and Super-Horse), who, united as the Legion of Super-Pets, defeat the Brain-Globes. The Legion returns them to their proper time eras before Superboy recovers to dismantle the Brain Globes’ machines. Superboy remains unaware of the pets’ involvement, and thus unaware of the future existence of Supergirl.

"Supergirl's Three Super-Girl Friends" from Action Comics #276 is by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney. One year after first meeting the Legion, Supergirl is once again invited to try out for membership. In the 30th century, she is told that new rules allow two members to join each year, and meets several other applicants, including Brainiac 5, the descendant of the original Brainiac, one of Superman’s greatest foes. She distrusts him until, after her own initiation test, he risks his life by giving her his force-shield belt to protect her from a giant Kryptonite meteor.

Along with Brainiac 5, who allows her to keep the belt, Supergirl is inducted into the Legion. She returns home confident that she’ll never have to worry about Kryptonite again; however, an explosion damages the belt beyond repair, and she is vulnerable once more.

"The Secret of the Seventh Super-Hero" from Adventure Comics #290 is by Robert Bernstein and George Papp. Tom Tanner, a juvenile delinquent escapee from the state reform school, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Clark Kent, arrives in Smallville and is mistaken for Clark by everyone, even Ma Kent, who unwittingly gives away Superboy’s secret identity. Tanner decides that he likes his new life as Clark and intends to remain in his place.

Meanwhile, outside Smallville, Superboy meets with Sun Boy, the newest member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who has arrived from the future. He explains that he is in the 20th century to gather and return to a secret vault the six pieces of a super-weapon once dismantled and buried in Superboy’s time by the Legion. However, once the Boy of Steel gathers the pieces, Sun Boy, actually a villainous impostor, assembles them into a robot which emits a ray that can change good people into evil, and vice versa. He then sends the robot after Clark Kent.

Shortly thereafter, Superboy appears and begins an evil rampage, until such time as the bogus Sun Boy's guard is down. Then he destroys the robot, and takes the villain back to the future, where he explains to the Legion that the impersonator had given himself away by not giving the official Legion handshake.

The "Clark Kent" affected by the robot’s ray was Tom Tanner, who as a result is reformed and loses his knowledge of Superboy’s secret.

"The Legion of Super-Villains" reprinted from Superman #147 is by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff. Lex Luthor, who has known of the existence of the Legion of Super-Heroes for years, theorizes that there should also be a Legion of Super-Villains, and, working from prison, he constructs a device that allows him to contact them. The Super-Villains break him out of jail, and, with him, lure Superman to a remote planetoid and capture him.

However, before these criminals can execute Superman, the adult Legion of Super-Heroes intervenes, and fights the Super-Villains to a standstill. Unable to defeat them, the Legionnaires listen as Luthor challenges them to sacrifice one of their number for Superman. Saturn Woman volunteers, and the villains allow the Man of Steel time to perform one last deed in her honor. With a giant shovel, he gathers some material from the rings of Saturn, and creates a similar ring around the planetoid. When he does, Saturn Queen surprises everyone by suddenly using her powers to defeat her partners.

Superman then explains that he had theorized that radiations from the rings of Saturn would cancel out the evil tendencies of inhabitants of that world. He gives the reformed Saturn Queen a small chunk from the rings that will prevent her from returning to evil, then takes Luthor back to his prison on Earth as the Legionnaires likewise take the Super-Villains to jail.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

1 comment:

RAB said...

This is the first comic I can remember seeing on a rack and asking my parents if I could get it. It cost a whole 25 cents...but it was eighty pages long! I also blogged about this issue here.