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CONTINUITY ERRORS ARE RIFE IN THIS STORY. WHOOPS, WAS THAT A SPOILER WARNING?


Title: "The Legion of Super-Villians!"
Release Date: August, 1961
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: My GOD! They actually gave a tracer a credit in this issue! Sheldon Moldoff, take a bow!
LSH Roll Call: Lightning Man, Saturn Woman, Cosmic Man
Guest Stars: None
Bad Guys: Lex Luthor, and the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Villians: Lightning Lord, Cosmic King, and Saturn Queen!
Cameos: None


So what happens?
(remember, most of these stories take place pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths)

An adult Lex Luthor is cooling his heels, again, in prison. Suddenly beset with a burst of altruism that completely snows the warden, Lex volunteers to fix all the broken radios in the prison. Lex uses this opportunity to cannibalize the radios for the parts with which to make a time-communicator! Y'see, back in the day, a teenaged Lex was thwarted by Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. He observed then that if there was a club made up of teenaged super-heroes, then surely there must be one made up of villians, too, right?

Of course right! Using his newly-constructed communicator he makes contact with the villanous Legion, and they beam him devices with which to make a breakout. Picking up Lex in their flying saucer the Legion of Super-Villians each tell Lex their secret origins!
  • Cosmic King was exposed to an unknown type of radiation during a science experiment gone wrong, and gained the power of transmutation!
  • Lightning Lord is the brother of the LSH's own Lightning Lad! When young the two were struck by the lightning beasts of the planet Korbal. Instead of dying, though, the youths somehow attained the power to hurl lightning bolts! While Lightning Lad decided to use his powers for good, Lightning Lord uses his for evil.
  • Saturn Queen came to Earth from, well, from Saturn. On that world, everyone has the power of telepathy, so her Majesty came to Earth to feel unique. Soon after arriving, she felt she should use her telepathic powers to ... seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade, I guess. It's not really made too clear why she wants to be evil.

    Origins all told, Luthor and the LSV get down to some serious plottin' to humiliate AND DESTROY Superman. The LSV wants 'im since he was an ally of the LSH, and are more than willing to help Luthor bring the Man from Krypton down. Later, Superman is attending a celebration at Orphan Town when Lightning Lord shows up AND DESTROYS most of the buildings making up the large orphanage. Superman chases Lightning Lord into Metropolis, but he charges with electricity the surface of a city bus, telling Superman to back off or else he'll fry the passengers. Superman has no choice but to retreat allowing Lightning Lord to escape.

    Later, Superman is attending a charity event and is tossing plastic gliders--really, wasn't Olsen available for this??--into the crowd, pleasing them greatly. All of a sudden Cosmic King appears AND DESTR, uh, I mean transmutes the plastic toys into gold, and the crowd goes wild. Superman tries to calm the madding crowd, but Cosmic King transmutes a statue of Superman into Kryptonite and topples it on him, then takes off, laughing like a damn fool maniac. The crowd regains its senses somehow and helps Superman from underneath the statue. When his strength returns, he takes off into downtown Metropolis where he sees his lady love Lois Lane imprisoned within some kind of space beast. The beast launches itself into space -- it is a space beast after all -- and Superman follows it to a remote planetoid where he discovers both beauty and beast to be nothing more than telepathic illusions cast by Saturn Queen. The entire Legion of Super-Villians, plus Lex, entrap Superman in a kryptonite force field and gloat for a few moments considering the many ways they will inflict misery upon their nemesis.

    Villians never learn, do they? While they gloat, the adult Legion of Super-Heroes bursts in on the scene, and begin battling their counterparts. Lex threatens to increase the Kryptonite radiation to lethal levels unless one of the heroes volunteers to die in Superman's place. Villains also never understand the concept of self-sacrifice so are stunned when the Legionnaires draw straws to see who will die to save the helpless Superman. Saturn Woman wins the honor, and Superman begs Luthor to let him do something nice for her before she dies, promising that he will do nothing to aid Saturn Woman to help him escape. Villians also are too trusting of their counterparts, because Luthor vouches for Superman's word of honor and lets him go off to Saturn where he scoops up some of its rings and returns to the planetoid, scattering the dust so they form rings around this world. This reminds Saturn Woman of her home, and she accepts her impending doom with equanimity.

    Right before the fatal switch is thrown to end Saturn Woman's life, Saturn Queen telepathically commands Luthor to abort the execution, and subdues the other villians. Superman, gloating over a continuity error, tells us that when Saturn Queen told him (him? You mean Lex? Sloppy writers!) her origins, he realized that it was the rings of Saturn that caused everyone there to be peaceful and loving. Only when her Majesty left the planet did she feel the need to turn to evil. So by placing some of the material of Saturn's rings around the planetoid, he figured Saturn Queen would instantly reform. Got it? Good. There's a quiz later.

    With everyone safe and sound, the Legion returns home with the villians in their custody, Lex is returned to prison, and Superman, presumably, goes back to tossing plastic planes at the proletariat.

    Cool Moments!
    It's the first appearance for the LSV, which in later years gets much larger ... and much nastier.

    Khronic Kryptonite Kalamaties Kause Kal-El Konstant Konsternation Department, Section 4
    Not only is Superman squashed by a kryptonite statue of himself, the LSV somehow has made a force shield out of the stuff!

    Comics Were Definitely a Boyzone Back in the Day Dept:
    Cosmic King and Lightning Lord both get illustrated origin tales with four panels devoted to each of them. Saturn Queen gets one panel and a paragraph;her word bubble's so large it almost pushes her out! Oh, and lets not even get into the "she's evil, she's good, she's SATURN QUEEN" silliness. I mean, really, what's her motivation?

    The Future Hasn't Been Written Yet Dept:
    This story was obviously meant to get the Legion and Superman together, but they didn't want to pair teenagers with a grown up Superman. Thus, the "Adult Legion" as a concept was born. You'll see them, or parallel world analogues of them, or whatever, again. This wasn't a very good gimmick to use in this issue, as the story pretty much goofs up what little Legion continuity has been set up thus far: For some reason, the LSV tells Luthor that they're from the 21st century, not the 30th. There's also no time travel demonstrated, so I'm not sure why Lex needed to build a time-communicator in the first place. The Legion can travel in space, sure, but they also would have needed to travel back in time to rescue Superman, and they didn't. They just sort of showed up, and then sort of left with the LSV in tow. Hell, the story had its own continuity problems with Superman remembering Saturn Queen telling him, rather than Luthor, her origin.

    This episode was badly written!

    The Legion appears to this day in monthly comics published by DC Comics.

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