Monday, October 12, 2009

Baltimore Con 09

Still out of the country so I can't be the intrepid reporter you expect, but my Legion of Substitute Reporters is out in force. Here's a report from Ted from this weekend's Baltimore Con:

Two bits of Legion news occurred at the Baltimore Comic-Con this weekend.

First, when asked about his "wish list" for future projects, Perez discussed the creators with who he wanted to work rather than characters. Basically, L3W fulfilled his last wish from his fandom days. For him, working with creators is what is interesting when considering new projects. He volunteered that, having known Paul Levitz, since their days in fandom and would enjoy drawing a legion project for him.

Second, I asked Mr. Perez what his feelings were about L3W. His response reflected a lot of fan criticism of the mini. He was originally disappointed that so much of the story hinged on non-Legion characters. He wanted the Legion to be more directly involved in solving the conflict. He came to understand that Kid Flash, Superboy and Green Lantern characters were needed to help the Legion reach a larger audience. This reach was important to ensure that the Legion would survive in the current environment. He was very complementary of Geoff Johns and his answers were always positive and upbeat.

In an anecdote, Mr. Perez said that Johns sent him a full script for one of the early issues. In it, Johns listed all the characters to appear in one of those giant group scenes. Perez was not used to working from a full script and was a little taken aback. In COIE, Marv Wolfman's script basically said "draw characters here" without spelling out exactly who to draw. He then realized that Johns had essentially reversed engineered Perez' crisis work, spelling out in words the type of scene for which Perez is famous. Perez found it amusing.

Thanks, Ted!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Flashback: Bits of Legionnaire Business (part 5)

Part 5 of 6 (the end is in sight!) of the various Bits printed in the Adventure Comics letter columns.

Adventure Comics 342, March 1966
In this issue we introduce another hero suggested by a reader in "Bits of Legionnaire Business." Color Kid was submitted by Jeff Greenberg, Los Angeles, Calif. Now for some new super-doers thought up by fans:
David Krels, Milwaukee, Wis. - "Porcupine Pete. He can shoot quills from his body which are tipped with a stunning liquid. He's a great hero, but for some reason, nobody ever pats him on the back." . . . Greg Sanchez, South Gate, Calif. - "Glass Girl has the power to turn anything, including living beings, into glass for one hour." . . . Betty Borbely, Spencer, W. Va. - "Colorless Kate has control over anything that is black and white. She's a whiz with zebras and skunks." . . . Sal Iacopelli, Boonton, N. J. - "Negative Nell can explode objects or make them immaterial by projecting bolts of negative energy."
Greg Kent, Goleta, Calif. - "Rocket Roy. He can turn into any size rocket and carry other Legionnaires through space." . . . Phillip Cano III, Yuma, Ariz. - Disappearing Dan. He can make anything disappear temporarily."
[2009 note: a Sub]
Adventure Comics 343, April 1966
Arleen A. Abramowitz, Brooklyn, N.Y. - "Itch Witch, who can make her enemies itch terribly till they surrender to her." . . . Dan Solla, Freeport, Pa. - "Eve of Destruction. She can predict any disaster or hardship, but she can't predict anything good." . . . Michael Capobianco, Woodbridge, Va. - "Repeller Ray. He radiates a gravitational aura that enables him to control anything within one foot of his body. Thus, he could stop bullets or flying shrapnel before they hit him."
Philip Cobb, Charleston, Ill. - "Duplication Deb. She can materialize an exact duplicate of anything; however, the duplicate only lasts for one hour." . . . Mike Pigg, Pasadena, Tex. - "Petri-Pal can petrify anything." . . . Michael E. Colby, Hewlett Bay Park, L.I., N.Y. - "Venus Vamp. She can make others handsome or ugly and can make people love anything." . . . Veronica Brown, Philadelphia, Pa. - "Amnesia Al, who can make anyone lose his memory."
David Blank, Brooklyn, N.Y. - "Octi-Lad has six arms, which, with his legs, make eight limbs." . . . Melissa Cook, Bronx, N.Y. - Feature Femme can change other people's features." . . . Carol Ann Wendover, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. - "Wolf Girl can change into a wolf and see in the dark."
Adventure Comics 344, May 1966
Shirley Smith, Hazel Park, Mich. -"Tina Truth has the power to make any person blurt out the complete truth about who he is, where he is from, and what he's doing." . . . Daniel McShea - "Annihilation Lad: with a mere glance of his eyes he can destroy anything." . . . Keith Dale Kries, Honolulu, Hawaii - "Snake Kid can change any object into a living snake." . . . Dan Solla, Freeport, Pa. - "Calorie Kid: he can make anybody so fat and heavy he or she can't move."
Richard Smoley, Waterbury, Conn. - "Tropic Kid: he has the power to create monsoons, terrific heat, etc." . . . Kevin Martin, Houston, Tex. - "Speed Lad can speed up or slow down any moving object." . . . Phillip Cano III - "Metal Mike: he can change himself into any metal." . . . G. Abbott, Massachusetts - "Incredible Boy: by pointing to an object or person, he can make it go in the opposite direction."
Adventure Comics 346, July 1966
Dear Editor: In 1963, I sent you a "Bit of Legionnaire Business," suggesting "Color Kid," who can change himself or any object to any color of the spectrum. It was not only used in your column, but was used again later in a page of the BEST bits of business. I was happy that you'd printed it the first time, but now I was really overjoyed! Then, in your March issue, Color Kid showed up again, this time in the story, as an applicant for Legion membership. Even though he wasn't accepted, I was ecstatic! Never had I imagined that my creation would appear in print. It was a very big honor. Thank you! By the way, Color Kid was recommended to the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Did they accept him? -Jeff Greenberg, Los Angeles, Calif.
(Yes - Color Kid is now one of the Substitute Heroes. And while we're thinking of it, we'd like to correct an inadvertent oversight. Two of the heroes in our recent "Stalag of Space" story were also submitted by readers: Weight Wizard by Maggie Fraser of Pleasantville, N.Y., and Blockade Boy by Tom Kegley, St. Paul, Minn. -Ed.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Flashback: Bits of Legionnaire Business (part 4)

 Adventure Comics 319, Apr. 1964
Bits of Legionnaire Business
From Bobby Flash, Jersey City, N. J. "WEAPON LAD - he has the power to create any weapon in the Solar System after seeing it once." . . . Roberta Davidson, New Shrewsbury, N. J. "SONG GIRL - she can charm any person into obeying her orders by singing to them."
Michael Pochan, Pittsburgh, Pa. "ANTIDOTE ANDY - he can concoct an antidote to neutralize any disease, poison or magic spell." . . . Chuck Davis, Ferndale, Mich.: "MEDUSA MAID - she has the power to turn any living matter to stone and back again." . . . Andy Purcell, Leoma, Tenn.: "MAGIC MISTRESS - she is a descendant of the wizard Merlin and has the power of super-sorcery, inherited from him."
[2009 note: powers of White Witch]

Adventure Comics 323, Aug. 1964
Dear Editor: Why don't you have a story featuring the characters suggested by readers in "Bits of Legionnaire Business"? -Mark Santori, Chicago, Ill.
(Coming up in the next issue! In this great story, the Legion battles the Legion of Super-Outlaws, all of whom are based on suggestions by our readers. We'll give credit to those who suggested these super-characters in our next Legion Outpost column. -Ed.)

Adventure Comics 323, Aug. 1964
When you have read "The Legion of Super-Outlaws" in this issue, you many wonder how these five super-youths came to be created. The truth is that we got them from you - our readers! All five were suggested in "Bits of Legionnaire Business" in the letter columns of ADVENTURE COMICS No. 309, 310, 311 and 314. Here are the names of the readers who thought up the members of the Legion of Super-Outlaws:

BEAST BOY - suggested by Thomas Raimondo, Brooklyn, N.Y.
GAS GIRL - suggested by Charlie Hendrix, Greenville, S.C.
EVOLVO LAD - suggested by Mark Wade, Livermore, Calif.
LIFE LASS - suggested by Eric Heidman, Hancock, Mich.
DUPLICATE BOY - suggested by Steven Cohen, Newburgh, N.Y.
From time to time, in our Legion stories, we plan to feature other super-characters submitted by our readers as "Bits of Legionnaire Business".

Adventure Comics 337, Oct. 1965
The three new super-characters who appear in this issue's feature story were thought up by three of our readers, who submitted the ideas to the "Bits of Legionnaire Business" department we used to run in this magazine. The creators of these characters were: James Vincent, Fairfax, Va. -BLACKOUT BOY; Tony Edwards, Yuma, Ariz. -STAR LAD [sic; should be Size Lad]; Bill Martin, Milwaukee, Wis. -MAGNETIC BOY.
In the past, we have occasionally used other heroes suggested by our readers. For instance, the very first "bit of business" submitted was POLAR BOY, who became leader of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. We intend to use still others in the future.
[repeating a number of suggestions from past issues, deleted for duplication]
Our thanks to those who contributed these and other suggestions. If you have any original "Bits of Legionnaire Business," send them on a postal card and we'll publish the best ones in The Legion Outpost. Also, we'll have author Edmond Hamilton put many of them into his Legion stories. Send all cards to : THE LEGION OUTPOST, National Periodical Publications, 575 Lexington Ave., N. Y., N.Y. 10022.

Adventure Comics 340, Jan. 1966
Our recent request for more ideas for Legionnaires had brought an overwhelming response. So great has it been, in fact, that we're devoting this space to your suggestions. Many, unfortunately, were not usable - some because they were similar to others already submitted; others because they were variations to the real Legionnaires, or possessed powers close to those of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, or other DC characters. But here are the best suggestions submitted to date:
Eric Hodges, San Francisco, Calif. - "Projecto Lad, who can project or retrieve anything from any dimension." . . . Rand Lee, Roxbury, Conn. - "Rainbow Girl - she has the power to split into four separate forms, each a different color and with a different power (Red - super-heat; blue-super-cold; yellow - super brightness; green - Kryptonite rays.)" . . . Lee Zimmerman, Lawrence, Kan. - "Sleep Lad, who has the power to make anything go to sleep." . . . Julie and Jack McLaughlin, Scarborough, Ont., Canada - Energy Lad. He can become pure energy and go anywhere in that form."
Unsigned - "Molecule Moe - has the power of controlling every molecule in his body. He can speed them up and separate them until he's a liquid or even a gas. Or he can do the opposite, slowing down his molecules and moving them so close together that nothing can pass through him." . . . Peter Cooper, Detroit, Mich. - "Vampire Boy, who has the powers of the legendary vampire. He can become invisible, and turn into a bat, a wolf, a mist, or even specks of dust in the moonlight."
Johnny Fulce, Dallas, Tex. - "Crystal Youth can turn to pure crystal." . . . Mike Young, Yakima, Wash. - "Plant Lad. His power is to change himself into any plant - for instance, long vines, a strong tree, or a cactus." . . . Brian Olmstead, Rochelle, Ill. - "Joking King. He can make people laugh so hard they're helpless." . . . Steven Petryszyn, Rochester, N.Y. - "Power Boy. He can drain the power - even a super-power - from any object or person and restore it or place it in another person."
Paul Burns, Wilmington, Del. - "Distortion Boy - can project waves that distort vision and make him appear to be 30 feet away." . . . Brian Atherton, Stratford, Ont., Canada - "Alter Kid. He has the power to alter the shape, size, or controls of any machine." . . . Richard W. Gowen, Lynn, Mass. - "Imitation Kid . . . he has the power to vocally imitate any sound in the world." . . . Tom McCall, Jonesboro, Ark. - "Emotion Lass. She can change anger to calmness, sorrow to happiness, etc."
Melissa Wiebers, Lanark, Ill. - "Length Lad can lengthen or shorten anything in less than a second - even parts of people's bodies." . . . Paul Stevenson, Kansas City, Kan. - "Quantity Kid. He can make one object into more than one, or make several into one. For example, he can turn Superboy into 3 or 4 Superboys; or he can make Sun Boy, Element Lad and Chameleon Boy into one person with all three powers." . . . Ken Grabarek, Chicago, Ill. - "Age Boy. He has the power to make himself or anyone else young, old, or middle-aged."
Patrick Peduto, Jersey City, N.J. - "Mist Lad - he can change himself into mist and make weapons out of mist." . . . Dennis Coughlin, Palo Alto, Calif. - "Shadow Kid: has ability to turn himself into a shadow, in which form he has cold ray vision." . . . Gilbert Aubin - "Crazy Kid: he can upset a person's sense of balance, causing them to appear 'crazy.'" . . . Richard Bratt, La Puente, Calif. - "Hitch-Hike Hector, a youth who possesses the power to leave his physical body and enter another person's without their knowing it."
[2009 note: a Reject later brought back by Geoff Johns, a couple of Legionnaires (Wildfire and Crystal Kid); two prisoners in the Super-Stalag, and a member of the League of Super-Assassins and LSV. Shadow Kid later turned out to be Shadow Lass' cousin Grev.]

Adventure Comics 341, Feb. 1966
Bubba Caton, Tampa, Fla. - "Water Boy, from the water world of Zeron. His people evolved the power of controlling water and shooting from their fingertips jets of water so intense they can knock out a person." . . . Billy Hayden, Oak Harbor, Wash. - "Suction Lad. He has the power to turn anything to smoke and inhale it, then eject it as smoke and cause it to materialize in any form he chooses." . . . Phil Morrison, Van Nuys, Calif. - "Atmosphere Girl. She can change the atmosphere of any world."
Tommy Miers, Lone Star, Tex. - "Chemical Kid - Can produce any chemical or mixture of chemicals via rays from his eyes." . . . Brain Olmstead, Rochelle, Ill. - "Give-Up Girl can give off vibrations that make crooks surrender." . . . Dennis Coughlin, Jr., Palo Alto, Calif. - "Beam Boy; he can change into a beam of light to travel anywhere."
Ronald Gillis, Dorchester, Mass. - "Detector Dick has the power of detecting the plans of any evil-doer on Earth." . . . Melissa Wiebers, Lanark, Ill. - "Backwards Boy can reverse the motion of anything and make it run backwards." . . . Patrick Chupp, Muskegon, Mich. - "Crystal Kid. He can change himself or anything else into unbreakable crystal."
[2009 note: Lazon and Crystal Kid. I'm not going to comment about Ronald Gillis' character's name if reversed.]

Monday, October 05, 2009

Trivia Quiz #40

The theme this week is "random questions that don't have a theme". And of course this didn't post last week, it was scheduled for today, the first Monday of the month.

1. When did the Legionnaires stand in line with the Doom Patrol, Plastic Man, and Sargon the Sorcerer?

2. Who were the two Martians shown at Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel's wedding?

3. What does C.O.M.P.U.T.O. stand for?

4. Who made the flight rings in the Adult Legion's time frame?

5. Which Legionnaires' first appearances were posthumous?

6. Which Legionnaires have been related by blood?

7. What did Mordru serve for dinner when Rokk visited (early v4)? Why?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Flashback: Bits of Legionnaire Business (part 3)

Remember, these are the BEST of what was sent.

Adventure Comics 310, July 1963
Dear Editor: I've been reading with a great deal of relish the letters in your SMALLVILLE MAILSACK, particularly the paragraphs at the end you call "Bits of Legionnaire Business". Inasmuch as I have had the privilege of writing several of the Legion of Super-Heroes stories for your magazine, I have been amused, startled and overwhelmed by the ingenious suggestions of your readers for new characters and the imaginative powers attributed to them. Would it be possible for me, in the near future, to write a Legion story in which I would try to give some of these proposed heroes a "guest try-out?" I'm sure it would be a lot of fun.
Edmond Hamilton
(Great idea, Ed. Go ahead - and we'll give credit to the fans whose ideas you use. As most of our readers are probably aware, Author Edmond Hamilton is a highly successful science fiction novelist and we are honored to consider him our most versatile staff writer. Ed has written some of our greatest 3-part novels, including that recent smash hit, " The Last Days of Superman." His wife, who writes under the name of Leigh Bracket, is one of Hollywood's most talented screen writers. Her recent picture, "Hatari," was one of the ten top box-office hits. She is currently busy writing a new picture for her producer, Howard Hawkes, which will feature Rock Hudson. -Ed.)
* * * *
"Bits of Legionnaire Business"
From Arthur Davis, Jr., Roanoke, Va.: "ESP KID - has extra-sensory perception powers." . . . Gregory Gallagher, Brooklyn, N.Y.: "WEAPONS LAD - can design ingenious new weapons without a workshop." . . . Steve Cohen, Newburgh, N.Y.: "DUPLICATE BOY - he has the ability to duplicate the power of any Legionnaire." . . . Gordon Thomas, Pilot Mountain, N.C.: "GEOGRAPHY GIRL - she has the unique talent of being able to exist in several different areas at one time!" . . . Phil F. Leibfred, Bronxville, N.Y.: "BACTERIA BOY - he can transmit a disease which gives enemies temporary sleeping sickness." . . . Jim Tilley, Rockaway, N.Y.: "SPIDER LASS - she has the power of converting her hair into a super web, and casting it around opponents." . . . Michael E. Colby, Long Island, N.Y.: "ILLUSTRATOR YOUTH - he can draw anything he has ever seen in seconds."
Charles Christesson, Rio Grande City, Tex.: "LUNAR LASS - she has the power to turn people into lunatics for short periods." . . . Jon Ingresoll, Cleveland, Ohio: "MIDAS MAID - she can transmute anything she touches into gold." . . . Roger Ho, N.Y., N.Y.: "VOCAL WHIZ - he can perfectly imitate anybody's voice." . . . Randy Steele, Tunkhan Rock, Pa.: "CYCLONE KING - he can create twisters, monsoons typhoons, etc."
[2009 note: a Sub, a member of the LSV, and powers of Infectious Lass and Element Lad.]

Adventure Comics 311, August 1963
From Mike Thompson, Dearborn, Mich.: "COPY BOY - he doesn't work on a newspaper, but he can copy anything he sees." . . . Billy Muffett, San Jose, Calif.: "WEIGHT LAD" - he has the power to make anything lighter or heavier." . . . Peter Sipchen, Richardson, Tex.: "SLOW-MOTION KID - he has the ability to slow down any moving object or person." . . . Michael E. Colby, L.I., N.Y.: "SPORT YOUTH - he is a champion in every type of athletics." . . . J. Adam King, Yellow Springs, Ohio.: "DEGREE DAMSEL - she has the power to alter the temperature of anything." . . . Leslie Leibow, Fair Lawn, N. J.: "COLOR KID - he can change the color of any object."
Daniel Camerford, Buffalo, N. Y.: "BIZARRO BOY - he can turn into a Bizarro and fight against the Bizarros for the Legionnaires." . . . Mark Wade, Livermore, Calif.: "EVOLVO LAD - he has the power of going back, or forward, the Evolution track. For instance, he can change from a boy to a cave-boy, an ape, lemur, amphibian, fish, invertebrate, amoeba, and then to protoplasm. Or, from boy to a big-brained future boy." . . . Edith Frome, Newark, N. J.: "EL LASS - she can give super-powers to anyone whose initials are L.L." . . . Ben Wright, Waltham, Mass.: "ENDURANCE GIRL - she can survive without air, water, or food for several years."
Karen D. Argis, Detriot, Mich.: "RADIO ROVER - he can connect with any radio in the Universe, without wires." . . . Mark Hawley, Burbank, Calif.: "COMPUTER KID - he can predict any future event." . . . Jeff Baker, Ft. Worth, Tex.: "MEDIC MASTER - he can cure any disease or illness ever shown on the Ben Casey or Dr. Kildare shows." . . . Jeanie Cox, Joplin, Mo.: "MIRROR MISTRESS - she can reflect, in her mind's eye, anything another person is thinking."
[2009 note: a Sub, a Wanderer, and the powers of Dream Girl. Note that Mark Wade, creator of Color Kid, is not the same as Mark Waid, the writer. These days, Wade is, among other things, a space historian who runs the excellent Encyclopedia Astronautica. Color Kid was first suggested in issue 309 with the same name and powers.]

Adventure Comics 312, September 1963
Bits of Legionnaire Business
From Dennis Persica, New Orleans, La.: "BIRD GIRL - she has the power of doing anything that any bird in the solar system can do." . . . Rex Osborne, Essex, England: "TIME GIRL - she possesses the power to alter time and evolution." . . . Mike Meridier, Kenner, La.: "BANISH BOY - he has the power to exile anyone to the Phantom Zone for a temporary time, without the need of a projector."
John Maynard, Columbus, Ohio: "AIRLESS BOY - he can live anyplace without having to breathe." . . . Gary Haught, Akron, Ohio: "SPELL BOY - he has the power to cast a spell on any outlaw." . . . Tom Holberg, Forest Park, Ill.: "E.S.P. KID - he has the powers of second sight, telepathy and hypnotism." . . . Maggie Fraser, Pleasantville, N. Y.: "WEIGHT WIZARD - he can make himself weigh any amount, from an ounce to ten tons." Tom Kegley, St. Paul, Minn.: "BLOCKADE BOY - he can change himself into an invulnerable steel wall of any size or shape."
[2009 note: a Wanderer and two of the imprisoned people in the Super-Stalag of Space.]

Adventure Comics 314, Nov. 1963
"Bits of Legionnaire Business"
From Karen Hailey, Gholson, Miss.: "WISH GIRL - she gets anything she wants by wishing for it." . . . Billy Ilhany, Roanoke, Va.: "LANGUAGE LAD - he can translate any language in the universe." . . . Vincent Auleta, Long Island City, N.Y.: "HISTORY HANNAH - she can remember the exact date, year, hour and minute, in which any event occurred." . . . Philip McCrum, Chula Vista, Calif.: "INSECT KING - can duplicate the powers of any insect." . . . Charlie Hendrix, Greenville, S.C.: "GAS GIRL - she can change herself into a vapor and go under doors, through cracks, etc., and change herself into tear gas, laughing gas, etc." . . . Mervyn La Floyd, West Orange, N.J.: "NASAL HAZEL - she has the power of super-smell." . . . Dale Jenkins, Chicago, Ill.: "DAZZLE DANNY - has the power of temporarily blinding any person or animal with blinding colors." . . . Bill Schupp & Jim Cooper, Hinsdale, Ill.: "ROBOT MASTER - he can control any robot."
[2009 note: one of the Heroes of Lallor, and the powers of Insect Queen.

Adventure Comics 315, Dec. 1963
Bits of Legionnaire Business
From John Vogel, Silver Spring, Maryland: "ORBIT KID - he can hurl any object in perfect orbit around any world." . . . Greg Flood, Needham, Mass.: "EARTHQUAKE LAD . . . has the power to create earthquakes." . . . Arthur Collins, Crystal Lake, Ill.: "A.G.BOY . . . he can make any object float via his power of transmitting anti-gravity." . . . Frank Jennings, Eufaula, Ala.: LANGUAGE LASS . . . she has the power to speak in any language in the Universe." . . . Ernest Fode, Medicine Hat, Canada: "BIZARRO BOY - he can make a Legionnaire's powers work in reverse."
Virginia Bruce, Bennetsville, S.C.: "CALENDAR GIRL . . . she knows every important date in past and future history." . . . R. Goo, San Bernardino, Calif.: "OMNIBOY . . . he can travel on and under land, beneath the sea, and in air or space." . . . Robert N. Behnke, Cresskill, N.J.: "GHOST GIRL - she is able to pass through any solid object."
[2009 note: there was an Earthquake Lad of sorts in the Waid/Kitson Legion, but wasn't there someone with those powers (besides the Earthquake Beast) before that? Don't know why they put Ghost Girl here, that's the same as Phantom Girl who had already been introduced years before.]

Adventure Comics 316, Jan. 1964
Bits of Legionnaire Business
From Mike Jones, Orlando, Florida: "BAT BOY - like his namesake, the bat, he has the power of hearing super-sonic frequencies." . . . From Carol Ogden, Hawthorne, Calif.: "CURSE KID - he has supernatural powers and can put hexes and spells on his enemies." . . . Eddie Jones, Rogersville, Tenn.: "DIMENSION DAMSEL - she has the power to visit the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th dimensions." . . . James Vincent, Fairfax, Va.: "BLACKOUT BOY - he has the power to blackout vast areas." . . . Glenn Rifkin, Paramus, N. J.: "TRACK LAD - he can track anything in the Universe."
[2009 note: one of the spies from Murra as well as the powers of Shadow Lass, and the powers of Dawnstar.]

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Flashback: Bits of Legionnaire Business (part 2)

Part 2 of my look at Silver Age Bits of Legionnaire Business. Characters of interest are in boldface, italics are the editor (in parentheses) and my notes [in brackets].

Adventure Comics 301, Oct. 1962
Dear Editor: Now that "Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes" has taken the place of "Tales of the Bizarro World", will you encourage readers to send in "Bits of Legionnaire Business"?
Allen Pilcher, Memphis, Tenn.
(Only if you can define for us what's a "bit of L.B." -Ed.)
Adventure Comics 304, Jan. 1963
Dear Editor: In a recent issue, Allen Pelcher suggested that you encourage readers to send in "Bits of Legionnaire Business." You responded that you would go along with his idea if someone would define what a bit of "L.B." was to be. Well, how about if a "Bit of Legionnaire Business" is a postal card with a few lines suggesting the name of a NEW super-hero to be admitted in the Legion, plus a suggestion of the super-power he might possess. Thus, a bit of "L.B." might be: "I suggest a new character, POLAR BOY, who has the power of freezing to ice anything in his area." How about it?
Buddy LaVigne, Northbrook, Ill.
(Great idea. Readers, take note and start sending us your suggestions on a postal card. We'll print the best ones and use all accepted new characters in future Legion tales. -Ed.)
Adventure Comics 307, April 1963
Dear Editor: In one of your recent SMALLVILLE MAILSACKS you encouraged your readers to suggest new members for the "Legion of Super-Heroes" and to list their super-powers. You said you would print the best ones under the heading "Bits of Legionnaire Business." So here is my nomination: ANTI-GRAVITY BOY . . . he has the power to make anything rise at will. 
[2009 note: Ayla Ranzz got her "Light Lass" powers in Adventure 317.]
Leo Manning & Stephen Gilpin, Dorchester, Mass.
(We have been deluged with "Bits of L.B." from thousands of readers. Following is a list of the best of this month's lot. From time to time, Edmond Hamilton, the author of the current Legion series, will feature some of the new heroes and heroines suggested by readers which he deems the most interesting. So, if you have a "Bit of L.B.", send it on to us, ON A POSTAL CARD! -Ed.)
Bits of Legionnaire Business
From Lucinda Briggs, Port Alsworth, Alaska: "TELEPORT GIRL . . . she possesses the unique ability to teleport herself anywhere, through time, space, and matter." . . . From David Dickhereber, Wentzville, Mo.: "RADAR LAD . . . a boy who can detect any object and pinpoint its location on the map." . . . Roger Anderson, Eau Claire, Wis.: "BRAIN BOY . . . he has a super-intelligent brain." . . . Alexander Naumov, Paterson, N. J.: "GLASS GIRL . . . she has the ability to change into a glass statue." . . . Janet Hein, West N. Y., N. J.: "CREATIVE GIRL . . . she has the power of creating anything she wishes." . . . Mark Kaufman, Bronx, N. Y.: "RING GIRL . . . her power lies in her rainbow-colored ring, which can act as a stun ray, a blowtorch and also contains a super-compressed parachute."
From Toni-Joe Frazier, Atlantic City, N. J.: "HUMAN DRILL BOY . . . he can drill through any substance." . . . Bill Hodges, Huntsville, Ala.: "VIBRATORY BOY . . . his power consists of emitting vibratory pulsations with which he can shatter any object." . . . James Cook, Phila., Pa.: "HYPNO BOY . . . he has the talent of super-hypnosis." . . . Ronald Domsky, Phila., Pa.: "MOLECULE BOY . . . he can re-arrange the molecules of any object to form something else; for example, he could change a crook's ray gun into a harmless pencil." . . . Stephen Maloney, Boston, Mass.: "UNIVERSE BOY . . . his powers are that he can talk, understand and translate the language of any race or civilization in any solar system of the Universe, past or present or future."
Alan Geros, W. St. Paul, Minn.: "AMOEBA LAD . . . he can split in two, then each split part can split in two, and so on, just the way a real amoeba can multiply." . . . Jess & Steve Weiner, Little Neck, N. Y.: "RAIN GIRL . . . she can cause rainstorms at will, even in the Sahara Desert."
Adventure Comics 308, May 1963
Following are suggestions from readers for new members of the Legion of Super-Heroes: From Mike Meridier, Kenner, La.: "NIGHT OWL - a girl who has the power to produce darkness over a small area." . . . Richard Depoe, Syracuse, N. Y.: "ZODIAC BOY . . . who can change the future by altering a preson's horoscope." . . . Bob Marcus, East Meadow, L. I.: "BRITTLE BOY . . . who can break himself into hundreds of pieces and then re-unite." . . . Mike Witherspoon, Weatherford, Tex.: "KEY KID . . . a lad who has the power of opening any lock with his fingers." . . . Brenda Grant, Claremont, Calif. "Quiz Queen . . . a girl who can answer any factual question, because she has memorized every book in print." . . . Michael Colby, Hewlett, L. I.: "DETECTOR LAD . . . he has the power to learn the location of anyone in the Universe" . . . "JINX BOY . . . he can 'hex' criminals so that they encounter bad luck." . . . Harvey Pond, Milford, Conn.: "MIRAGE MASTER . . . he can create fantastic mirages merely by will power." . . . Jess & Steve Weiner, Little Neck, N. Y.: "RAIN GIRL . . . she can cause rainstorms." . . . Matthew Maynard, Seattle, Wash.: "NATURE BOY . . . he can cause tidal waves, stop waterfalls, make volcanoes erupt."
[2009 note: Shadow Lass, Calamity King, and Princess Projectra's powers.]
Adventure Comics 309, June 1963
"Bits of Legionnaire Business"
From Jeff Greenberg, Los Angeles, Calif. "Color Kid - he can change himself or any object to any color in the spectrum." . . . Thomas Raimondo, Brooklyn, N. Y. "Beast Boy - he has the power to transform himself into any animal he wishes." . . . Ed Stephenson & Dan Thompson, Risingsun, Ohio. "Computer Girl - she is a human lightning calculator and can figure out any problem in her mind." . . . Eric Heidman, Hancock, Mich. "Life Lass - she has the ability to transform inanimate objects into living things by willing it."
From Ed Lima, New Bedford, Mass. "Cloud Boy - he can control the elements." . . . Tommy Fine, Braddyville, Iowa. "Healing Boy - he can heal any wound with a touch of his hand." . . . Barbara Reed, Yuma City, Calif. "Atomic Kid - he has the power of atomic radiation and the explosive force of an atomic bomb." . . . John Derer, Chicago, Ill. "Ray Lad - he can detect the presence of any sort of ray, such as gamma rays, cosmic rays, infra-red, ultra-violet, etc." . . . Alan Geros, W. St. Paul, Minn. "Amoeba Lad - he can split in half and keep reproducing himself, like an amoeba."
From Reed Sechan, Chicago, Ill. "Snow Girl - she can create icebergs." . . . Rick Brown, Leasburg, Mo. "Mirage Lad - his mind can project any type of illusion." . . . Wayne Robinson, Louise, Texas. "Radioactive Boy - he can generate radioactivity at will." . . . Raymond Pearson, Jersey City, N. J. "Time Boy - who can travel into the past or future when he wants to." Judson Hoffman, St. Louis, Mo. "Key Kid - he can turn his fingers into keys to open any door or lock."
[2009 note: a Sub, two Heroes of Lallor, and powers of Princess Projectra and Radiation Roy.]

Friday, October 02, 2009

Flashback: Bits of Legionnaire Business (part 1)

Well, since my trivia quiz didn't go live as I planned (at least I don't think it has, I haven't been getting any emails from commenters on it; can someone tell me if it posted on the 1st?), here's something else I had planned while I'm waiting to get access to this blog again.

Part 1 of a series.

For those of you who are old enough, remember what it was like up to the late 80s/early 90s? Pre-internet, pre-Previews, into the early Direct Market. You might have had some fanzines or magazines (like Amazing Heroes) to tell you what was coming, but usually you just went to the drugstore every week and picked up whichever books came in. You didn't know what was coming up in the next three months, and there was nobody to talk to about your comics except your neighborhood friends. And the letters pages, of course. That's where organized Legion fandom came from in the early 1970s, those who created the Legion Outpost and Interlac APAs. But the Adventure letters pages were filled with notes about who they wanted to see next, suggestions for future stories, and bits of Legion lore as explained by "Ed" (Mort Weisinger, editor).

One of the unique things about the Legion is that the readers actually had input into what the writers wrote, from the voting on leader elections (Superboy beating Wildfire, Dream Girl, Element Lad's continual runner-up state, etc.) to the suggestion for new characters. "Bits of Legionnaire Business" was a section of the old "Smallville Mailsack" (and later the "Legion Outpost") in which readers wrote in with ideas for new super-powered people. Quite a few were used; I counted the characters and/or powers of over 30 future Subs, Legionnaires, Heroes of Lallor, villains, and rejects. In the next few installments I'll be reposting the Bits sections from the letter columns with some commentary. Note how "Silver Agey" all the names and powers will sound, relics of a simpler time dating back to the dawn of the Marvel Age. (Remember, the month that Galactus attacked in the pages of Fantastic Four, DC was publishing stuff like the Space Canine Patrol Agents.)

Thanks to Jo and Terri-Anne Sanning for hosting all the Silver Age letters columns at the Silver Age Legion Clubhouse.