Friday, June 13, 2008

Future Shock

In my last entry I made a reference to how, if my Exploding Head Syndrome had some sort of useful application, I could join the Legion of Super-Heroes as Explolding Head Boy.
Upon reflection, I realized that this wouldn't be true even if there were such a thing as the Legion of Super-Heroes.
If I tried out for the Legion, here's the most likely scenario of what would happen:

Even in the future most teenagers are douchebags.

The image above is, of course - well, "of course" for people who know comics - a riff on the classic cover to Adventure Comics #247, the comic book that introduced the world to the Legion, which can be seen below:

The story behind that shocking cover image is as follows:

Superboy is flying on patrol over Smallville before school when some smirking teen waves to him and says, "Hello, Clark Kent!" Superboy, of course, denies being Clark Kent - albeit a little too nervously to be considered believable - and, trying to convince himself that his experience was just some fluke, goes about his day, eventually encountering yet another strange teen, while in his Clark Kent disguise, who says, "Hello, Superboy!"
Clearly there's something fishy going on. Before Superboy can think to himself, "Fuck! Now there are two more teenagers I have to kill before they reveal my secret identity," a third teen reveals the truth behind what's going on.
(Just kidding; Superboy would never think about killing anyone. Nope, he's a boy of action; he'd just kill them without a thought. Kidding!)
It turns out that these teens are actually from the future, exactly 1,000 years in the future, to be precise, where, or rather, when, Superboy's secret identity as Clark Kent is a matter of historical record. Because reruns of Punk'd are the latest fad in the 30th Century, they simply decided to play a little prank on him.
In addition to being from the future, these teens - Cosmic Boy, Lighting Boy, and Saturn Girl - have super powers, and are member of a club of teenaged super heroes known as the Legion of Super-Heroes. Turns out that the legendary exploits of the Teen of Steel were the inspiration for the Legion's creation, and these three have traveled back in time to meet their idol and to offer him the opportunity to go to the future with them and try out for membership.
(It's beyond me why Superboy has to "try out" for the team that only exists because of his shining example, but whatever.)
Superboy agrees, and is transported to the year 2958 (I think; you'll have to bear with me if I'm off on the details, as it's been a long time since I read this story.), where he is amazed to discover that Smallville is now a bustling metropolis by his standards, even though it's still considered a small town by snobby, elitist 30th Century standards.
After his tour is over, Superboy is presented with the first of three trials he must complete in order to earn membership in the Legion. Each test will involve competing with one of the three Legion members. Given that each Legionnaire only has one power, while he has many, Superboy is confident as always that he'll come out on top (Just ask Lana Lang. She's been dying to try the Reverse Cowgirl for years, but Superboy is strictly Missionary Position.).
However, we readers learn that Superboy's confidence is misplaced, as the Legionnaires intend to sabotage Superboy's efforts, using their powers to create diversions that will give his competition the advantage. Yep; while Superboy is busy saving lives - lives endangered by the shenanigans of these future "heroes" - his adversaries easily complete their appointed tasks.
Superboy is then told that, because he failed to complete his tasks, he's not suitable for membership in the Legion, and he's also told that, damn, those "history tapes" must have been full of outright lies about how great he was, because he's not history's greatest hero, he's history's greatest zero.
Still, being a trooper, Superboy takes the news like a Superman, and refuses to try to excuse his failure by pointing how he'd been busy doing more important things, and though he's saddened by losing the opportunity to hang out with other super-teens, with a *Choke* and a single tear, he nobly accepts his fate and turns to walk away.
But not so fast! This was the real test. Completing those tasks was just the set up. What the Legion really wanted to see was how he would handle those other challenges they secretly presented him with, and, more importantly, how he would conduct himself upon hearing that he wasn't good enough for the Legion.
In other words, they wanted to find out how well he could handle being dicked around by some future douchebags.
Anyway, because he proved that he wasn't a whiny bitch by not crying, "It's not fair!" Superboy proved himself to be worthy of inclusion and became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, a feat that, at my age, and with my lack of powers and my tendency to complain a lot, I could never hope to accomplish.
(Especially since, you know, none of it actually exists. Stupid boring reality.)
The Legion eventually went on to become a regular feature in Superboy comics, with the title eventually becoming Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and then dropping Superboy and simply becoming The Legion of Super-Heroes.
Despite my snarky comments, I loved the Legion as a kid, and at one point, I could have told you the real names, home planets, and origins of pretty much every member (and there were a lot of them, what with them being a legion and all). Now, not so much, thanks to my leaky memory and multiple reboots of Legion continuity that have rendered much of what I once knew irrelevant.
Interesting sidenote: Jim Shooter, who would later go on to become the Editor-In-Chief over at Marvel Comics, began his career wrting Legion stories for DC...when he was 13.
Lousy over-achieving punk.
It probably says a lot about the quality of the comic book writing of the time when the quality of stories written by a teenager was on par with that of stories written by adult professionals...

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

Don't worry, Jon, you'd be a shoe-in for the Legion of Substitute Heroes!

That's got to be the funniest write-ups of the Legion origin I've heard.