Comics Ate My Brain

October 7, 2008

Olivia Vs. Super-Babies

Filed under: legion — Tom Bondurant @ 3:25 pm
Now that I have finished the Essential Defenders books, I’ve moved on to a different set of black-and-white reprints for Olivia’s story time. I’ll get back to the Marvel stuff eventually, but for now we’ve been reading Showcase Presents Legion Of Super-Heroes Vol. 2 … and guess which story came up to bat last night?

That’s right, “The Menace Of The Sinister Super-Babies!” from Adventure Comics #338 (November 1965). This particular story was a revelation to me, and not just because of how the dialogue sounded when read aloud. If you’re unfamiliar with it (as I was), basically the plot involves the Time Trapper’s attempt to destroy the Legionnaires by, appropriately enough, de-aging them from teenagers to infants and eventually into the “protoplasmic slime” from which all life comes. Because the point of the story is to show the Legionnaires as infants, though, there must be complications.

See, the Time Trapper is an omnipotent villain who lives in a post-apocalyptic dinosaur-shaped building on a devastated planet at the end of time. His “Iron Curtain of time” prevents the Legionnaires (who live in the 30th Century*) from attacking him directly. His plan, however, involves sending a henchwoman (Glorith) back to the 30th C. with a device which, when touched by anyone not properly protected, will de-age them ultimately to the aforementioned primordial goo. Thus, Glorith tricks the Legionnaires into touching the device — but unfortunately for her, they are only de-aged to infancy, thanks to the interfering spray from a nearby “Fountain of 1,000 Chemicals.” I failed to mention that Glorith and the Legion are at a theme park, where the fountain is one of the attractions, next to the merry-go-round.

Anyway, hilarity ensues, and the Time Trapper (who eventually enters the story as a sinister “Uncle,” tricking the Legion Babies into stealing for him) ends up so annoyed with his “Infant-ry” (the story uses that term repeatedly) that he gives the few unaffected Legionnaires the cure for their colleagues’ condition, in exchange for them replacing the spaceship the super-babies trashed.

This story was written by Jerry Siegel, Superman’s co-creator, and drawn by regular Legion artist John Forte; but it reads like the result of a three-day ether binge. Still, because it introduced the character of Glorith, who later became one of the main Legion villains ’round about the time I started reading the title regularly (the “TMK”/Five Years Later era), I suppose it has become an important milepost in Legion history.

An aside: I keep forgetting how far into the 1960s these stories were advancing. It’s easier for me to see the march of time reflected in more serialized books, namely the Marvel titles. Therefore, by way of unfair comparison, the November ’65 issue of Fantastic Four had them battling the Inhumans and Dragon Man.

For a more informed view of this story, I recommend H’s recap here (scroll down). You can read all of “Menace of the Sinister Super-Babies” here.

By the way, I haven’t been doing distinct voices for the Legion stories like I was for the Defenders issues. I tried to do a deep, booming Time Trapper, but this story’s dialogue suggested more of a cranky Uncle Leo. Besides, these characters speak pretty much in paragraphs (that is, when they’re not laughing at someone), so it’s hard to concentrate on a voice while getting all the words out.

Anyway, we’ll stick with the Legion for a while, but probably back to ’70s Marvel before too long.

* [I know most of you know this, so it’s primarily for my family members who aren’t so into the superheroes.]

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