A Tribute to the of

Good old Adventure Comics. One of the long running stalwarts from way back, but typically when I think of the title I think of all the terrific issues I enjoyed featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes. So many great stories involving the many different Legionnaires and scads of futuristic baddies like the Fatal Five or Mordru. The exploits of these teen-aged heroes just never ceased to give me a thrill.

As the Legion run began to wind down before Supergirl moved in, there were still some good tales to be told and Jim Shooter’s stories were always great, so I’d like to present one from his typewriter and one on which he also did layouts for artist Win Mortimer. It’s issue #373 from October of 1968, titled “The Tornado Twins!” Cover art was by Neal Adams with lettering by Gaspar Saladino. Mort Weisinger edited the title with Ben Oda on interior letters.

The splash page gives an idea of what our heroes are up against when a brother and sister team are literally throwing the Legionnaires around like rag dolls. The story begins with several members of the team being summoned to respond to an emergency from various locations. It seems the United Planets’ vehicle research center is being ransacked of some experimental vehicles designed for super speed.

Oddly, by the time the members arrive, things have been mopped up by the same pair of teens we saw on the splash page. They soon meet Don and Dawn Allen, who are not only quite capable, but sporting a bit of an attitude as well. Karate Kid doesn’t take kindly to their dismissiveness and is thrown end over teakettle for challenging them. Something is obviously up as the two giddily tell one another once out of sight that things are going according to plan.

Later another emergency sends the Legionnaires on a hasty trip to a disaster at a distant iron mine. It seems some VIP’s were touring the facility when a cave in occurred. Down they go and their first encounter is with some mining robots who have malfunctioned and are now battling our heroes. Superboy is rendered moot by an exposed green kryptonite piece, but who should arrive but the Allen’s who manage to slip right through the cave in and begin to systematically take down the rogue robots with what appear to be superhuman abilities. Ultimately they show up the Legion, gaining the thanks of the rescued personnel. Even the headlines describe the Legion as “outclassed.”

This is a bit much for the team to take, so they take a serious interest in the mysterious Allen’s and start a search to see what they can learn. Their detective work yields no fruit, however and they continue to wonder what they’re up against as Part I closes.

Part II is sub-titled, “The Fun-Loving Allens – Super Heroes!” Things begin with a bang when yet another emergency alarm sounds at Legion HQ alerting them of a massive fire at a chemical plant. In a familiar scene they arrive in time to see the Allen’s hard at work, dousing the flames and using impressive speed whipping the flammable material into a drain.

Brainiac 5 proposes they consider joining the Legion, but the Allen’s turn him down flat. Karate Kid, meanwhile, still feels he has a score to settle for his humiliation and challenges Don, who obliges with a left hook. The melee is brief, with the Kid using strategy against superior speed until he manages to collar Don, but his sister interferes, causing every member to jump in, only to be taken down by the Allen’s. As the triumphant pair depart, Don remarks that they’re going to put the Legion out of business.

Back at HQ, Don’s prediction seems to be prophetic as the Legion morosely discusses the rumor that their backers may be pulling out, based on their being upstaged by Don and Dawn. When another alarm sounds, the Legion is apathetic, convinced that the Allen’s will beat them to the punch once again. Ultimately, however, their sense of duty prevails and they arrive at Central Square where a huge spaceship has landed. As they go on the offensive, they discover it’s a mock-up of plastic and wood, but inside is another surprise when they discover a huge statue of the Flash.

They then spot Don and Dawn, garbed in duplicates of Kid Flash’s costume and then learn the rest of the story. It turns out the Allen’s are descendants of Barry Allen and the United Planets have declared it Flash Day, to commemorate the memory of their famous ancestor. The Allen’s were put in charge of publicity and thanks to a little help from a scientist, who took advantage of their similar genetic makeup and duplicated the lightning and chemical bath that created the Flash, the Allen’s were temporarily endowed with the same super-speed abilities of Barry.

This, of course, explains how they seemingly moved through cave-in debris like Phantom Girl and were able to knock robots across the room by waving their hands. Classic super-speed techniques of the Flash. Dawn goes on to explain that by besting the Legion they drew attention to themselves and therefore to the honor and memory of Barry Allen/Flash.

The final note points out something to the reader: “Reader…did you spot the clue to Don and Dawn’s secret in the title of Part II? Take the first letters of Fun-Loving Allens – Super-Heroes…and what do you get?!?

Pretty good stuff with a nice twist ending. No disrespect to Win Mortimer, but my favorite Legion artist will always be Curt Swan and so I missed his able artwork. Despite that, this is a good 7-point story from a beloved series. Well worth your time if you’d like to read the tale for yourself.

This marks the final Silver Age Sage of 2013. A very Merry Christmas to our readers and the New Year will bring another review. Until then, feel free to drop me a line with questions or comments. In case you might have forgotten I can always be reached at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2013 by B.D.S.

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