A Tribute to the of






The ol’ Comics Code. It’s been a source of a lot of conjecture over the years, even though it’s a relic of history now. Then again, history is what we’re about, eh? The text for the Code can be found at this link.

While there is no specific mention of drug-related restrictions, it is assumed that since it was something illegal, it was within that broad category of things that would constitute a crime.

So, most of us know about Stan Lee publishing a story and bypassing the Code approval altogether, which, by the way, I’ve never read and later on it became routine to explore the problems of drug addiction, for example the often-cited Green Lantern/Green Arrow series with Speedy on the cover depicted as a junkie and then the later cover prominently showing a syringe.

It was recently brought to my attention that in Strange Adventures #205, more famously known as Deadman’s origin story, a pretty clear reference to opium seemed to slide by without a peep. Page #15 has a Boston Brand controlled Tiny busting in on the bad guys and the dialogue isn’t at all vague: “I came for the dream dust, Heldrich! You know—snow—poppy juice—opium, baby!” Despite the numerous times I’ve read that story it never crossed my mind that it might have been skirting the line on the Code.

Long time readers may recall that when I interviewed Jim Shooter back in 2008 [for Sage #194 & #195] he recalled a story he wrote that had a more subtle drug reference:

BDS: It sounds a lot like the story Neal Adams was telling me with the drug scene and so forth where Stan, as you said, just marched ahead with it and then all of a sudden, “Gee, they’re doing it. I guess maybe we could.” (Chuckle.)

JS: You know I don’t know whose came first, Stan’s or mine, but we actually did a drug story in the Legion. It was around the same time, and I certainly hadn’t read his when I did mine so I don’t know whose came first, but basically I did a backup story, this was when the Legion was moved into Action Comics, and did a backup story called “The Lotus Fruit,” where Timber Wolf gets addicted to this Lotus fruit, which is a hallucinogenic fruit and in the original ending he did not kill what’s her face, but he did remain addicted and had to go through like rehab and stuff like that and it was rejected by the Comics Code. So for Mort it was the only story I ever had to do any re-write on. He said, “You’ve got to change the ending. It’s got to be that when his girl was in danger he just heroically somehow throws off this addiction and then he’s cured. Period. And drugs are bad.” So I wrote it, the hokey ending. We caved in and Stan didn’t. (Mutual laughter.) So there you go, the two companies in a nutshell for those days. It’s different now.

I’d long been curious about this story and am an avowed Legion fan, so I started doing some searching, but couldn’t find any story titled “The Lotus Fruit.” Thanks to a little assistance, though, I did finally locate it, in the back of Action Comics, as Jim referenced. It’s in Action Comics #378 from July of 1969 [For a synopsis of the Superman cover story visit this site.] and the actual title is The Forbidden Fruit! As we already know, it was written by Jim Shooter with Win Mortimer pencils and inked by Mike Esposito. Lettering credit goes to Charlotte Jetter with editing by Mort Weisinger, assisted by E. Nelson Bridwell.

Things in 30th Century Metropolis are off with a bang when thieves ambush an armored car by using a laser to cut the road from beneath it, where it lands in a prepositioned grav truck on the track directly beneath. As luck would have it, however, Timber Wolf of the Legion of Super-Heroes is passing by and leaps into action, hurling a massive chunk of loose pavement at the perpetrator’s vehicle. Using his handy flight ring he heads for the trio of thieves, but their thoughts reveal it’s part of a bigger plan.

It turns out they’re equipped with Rip Ray guns, which can cut right through steel, so while Timber Wolf has some impressive skills, invulnerability isn’t one of them. He uses some impressive acrobatics to dodge the bursts while cleaning house, but isn’t able to completely avoid being struck and his right arm is now painfully wounded and out of commission. A doctor appears, binds up the wound and gives Timber Wolf a beverage, then quickly slips away.

Later, when Brin Londo (Timber Wolf) meets up with Light Lass, his girlfriend, he appears to be elsewhere. She reasons that his years of being Lone Wolf still manifest from time to time, but Brin wonders why he’s feeling strangely.

As the night wears on, the odd feelings continue, from euphoria to sleeplessness to finally a hunger. He’s very confused as to what is happening to him when he’s approached again by the “doctor” who offers him the answer. He states that he is responsible for Timber Wolf’s feelings as he gave him a serum that was the distilled juice of a rare Lotus fruit, which happens to exist only in his greenhouse within this galaxy. Brin asks if it’s like the Lotus of Greek Mythology. “Right! One taste and you lose all desire for anything else!Mort Weisinger tells us the story of the Lotus eaters is from Homer’s Odyssey.

Brin is ready to rough up the “doc,” seeing as how it’s illegal, but the doctor reminds him he is his only source and he gives Timber Wolf two fruits. One for his use and one to share. Who better than Light Lass? Ayla Ranzz, however, is suspicious. She asks why his eyes seem glassy and when she doesn’t get a satisfactory response, she grows angry, tossing the fruit he offered, but Brin reacts swiftly to save the precious fruit.

She observes as he staggers off into the night, consuming the fruit. Light Lass then realizes what’s going on. Her boyfriend is addicted and whoever supplies him is trying to gain control of the entire Legion, one by one. She follows as he seeks out his supplier, who has arrived with a whole bushel basket of goodies, but using her light inducing capabilities, she causes the basket to fly over to her, where she swiftly takes action, placing a motion sensitive wire into the basket that runs to a blast grenade on her belt.

So, Timber Wolf is faced with feeding his need or harming his love. After a mighty struggle, Brin cries out, “No!” and emphasizes it with a right cross to the “doctor.”

So, there it is. A drug-related story right in the midst of the days of the Comics Code and with a little background on one of Jim Shooter’s few re-writes.

The next edition of this ongoing feature will hit the World Wide Web the first of April. Until then, feel free to send suggestions, comments or other feedback to my always available e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com

See you then and…

Long live the Silver Age!



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