Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes

The Legion of Super-Heroes: Silver Age volume 1.

The book, published August 2017, is 329 pages and contains 24 stories about one of the most popular superhero groups in the history of superhero comics. It all started with yet another Superboy story that was perhaps a bit more innovative than most and as it turned out more popular than many.

The Legion of Super-Heroes (LSH) has been described as a very clever title for a group of teenage heroes who lived one-thousand years in the future. Part of their reason for organizing was to pay tribute to the boy they considered to be the greatest teenage superhero to have ever lived, the Boy of Steel, Superboy.

Comic fans loved this group so much they were brought back time and time again in most of the Superman family titles – Adventure Comics, Action Comics, Superboy, and Superman.

On the cover of this volume we see Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl. Behind the group is a Time Bubble, a conveyance by which the LSH traveled throughout time. Cosmic Boy holds in his hand a flight ring as though he is offering it to the reader; asking them to come along and join them in their adventures. How appropriate it was that most of the LSH stories in the early days appeared in Adventure Comics series?

The period covered in this volume is from 1958 to 1963. If I had to choose only one character or group that represented the Silver age of comics, without a doubt I would have to choose the Legion of Super-Heroes, a group of teen superheroes from the 30th century. The stories in which they appear have everything that made the Silver age what it was. Lots of Fifties sci-fi, outer space rockets, other planets, other dimensions, and time travel! Big giant computers! Robots! There are space aliens, space monsters, and lots of dinosaurs! Also, there are lots of pretty girls with names like Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, and Dream Girl. In the very first story that the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared in, Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), we only meet three members of the Legion: Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl. From then until the end of the 60s, we were introduced to a dozen or more members such as Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Brainiac 5, Triplicate Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Phantom Girl, and Ultra-Boy.

The stories told were not just fun and games. Being a superhero in the 30th century was serious business. Who can forget that time when Triplicate Girl became Duo Damsel when one member of the trio was killed or when Lightning Lad died and then was later resurrected?

Of the two-dozen stories in this collection, my favorite also happens to be my all-time favorite LSH story. It is titled The Legion of Super Traitors and it appeared in Adventure Comics #293 (February 1962).

The story was written by Superman creator, Jerry Siegel and was drawn by the great Silver age Superman artist, Curt Swan. The story is classic Silver age DC comics. It begins with Superboy acting in a very strange and disturbing manner. He loses his temper and after almost crashing an airplane, he then goes on to treat his pet dog Krypto in a very terrible and abusive way. His foster parents, concerned about his behavior, think that he has been poisoned by red kryptonite.

The very next day after this exhibition of strange behavior, Superboy receives a call from the Legion of Super-Heroes asking him to meet them in the middle of the Gobi Desert.

Flying to the provided coordinates, Superboy finds Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl have arrived from the future in one of their time bubbles. They have brought with them a device that allows for viewing into the Phantom zone. They tell Superboy that they need to upgrade their records regarding the inmates of the Phantom zone. While Superboy is busy identifying criminals who are appearing on the screen, suddenly a pair of hands reach out and grab him. It is his friend Mon-El and he is attempting to warn him that the three members of LSH are planning to betray Superboy.

Before Superboy has a chance to do anything, the trio reach out their arms and begin blasting Superboy with deadly kryptonite rays from special rings they are wearing on their fingers.

We learn that the LSH members are under the control of weird outer-space creatures known as the Brain Globes of Rambat who are planning to conquer Earth. Once Superboy is incapacitated the Brain Globes focus all their attention on him, thereby releasing the Legion from their control. When Superboy’s dog Krypto shows up and it becomes apparent that the Brain Globes are incapable of controlling animals, Saturn Girl comes up with the idea that they should take their time bubble and then go throughout different time periods collecting the animals that they know from history as being super pets.

They pick up Streaky the super cat, Beppo the super monkey and Comet the super horse forming the Legion of Super-Pets. Bringing the super pets back to Superboy’s time they unleash the animals on Brain Globes thus bringing about the defeat of the alien invaders.

When Superboy asks what happened while he was out of it, Saturn Girl is forced to keep a secret from her 20th Century friend.

It is a remarkable story and in the end the reader is promised that in the future we will see more of this group. Throughout the 1960s there were at least ten more appearances by the Legion of Super-Pets.

Available on Kindle & Comixology

When I found that the book was listed at Amazon, I had to have it. However, the very next day I saw it listed on Hoopla where with my library card I am able to read collections such as this for free.