Thursday, March 20, 2008

Adventure #253

The October 1958 issue of Adventure Comics featured a rare team-up of the two major teen stars of DC at the time, Superboy and Robin. Of course, due to the constant timeline problems with Superboy, Robin had to be projected into the past in order to interact with Clark as a peer.

The plot is wildly incompatible with the rest of the Silver Age DC. First, Robin is sent back in time to prevent Superman from getting killed years later. But we know that one of the central tenets of the DC universe is that you cannot go back in time to change history, so presumably this was shortly before DC established that principle. And of course the notion of Lex Luthor being the same age as Superboy/Clark had not been established either, so this scene is not as embarrassing as it would appear only a few years later:

"Young" Luthor looks to be at least 30 in that picture.

That brings up another problem with the whole story. Robin and Superboy appear at a scientific lecture where the marvels of the future are discussed:

That dates the lecture to no later than mid-1945, which means it's taking place 13 years prior to the comic, which means Superman is at that time 13 years older than Superboy. But at this point, Superboy looks to be in his late-teens, which would put Supes at 30, several years older than he's supposed to be at that point in his career.

Still, the story does present some interesting opportunities for DC's Teen Titans of their time to show off:

Among the next set of ads is this terrific and hugely influential house ad.

How much more compactly can you tell Superman's origin than that? It's a perfect little bit of storytelling that introduces the major characters in the Superman family at the time and their relationship to him.

The Green Arrow story is part of the brief (7 issues) run of Jack Kirby on the Emerald Archer. In Prisoners of Dimension Zero, Green Arrow and Speedy find themselves transported to another dimension, of giant aliens. They meet Xeen Arrow, a huge counterpart to GA, who manages to send them back to our own earth:

The Aquaman story is somewhat disappointing; he travels back in time, encounters ancient dinosaurs in a cave, and is constantly attacked by a hungry brontosaurus. Of course, nowadays we know the brontosaurus did not exist, but even back then it was believed to be a vegetarian.

Update: Michael Grabois, who runs the terrific Legion Omnicon, asked in the comments whether the letters column in this issue included any comments on Adventure #247, which of course included the first Legion of Superheroes story. As it happens, Adventure #253 was the first issue that included the Smallville Mailsack, but the letters were mostly general questions/observations about Superboy and the other characters:

1. Why can't Lana Lang learn Superboy's real identity?
2. Where did Aquaman get his name?
3. Having Superboy around the house must be nice for the Kents.
4. Please give Green Arrow his own magazine.
5. Why doesn't Superboy make the Kents rich by squeezing coal into diamonds?

I looked in the next ten issues or so and didn't see a mention of the LSH in the letter columns.