A Tribute to the of

I can admit to being a little scattershot here at times. For example, when Iím particularly on the ball, Iíll mark an anniversary when it matches up with the actual distribution date of the book, which was typically a few months before the date printed in it. Other times itís the publication date or whenever I feel like showcasing a particular story or character or what have you. And while I like to think one of the services we provide here at the Silver Lantern beyond simple nostalgia and entertainment is a little dash of comics history in the bargain. Goodness knows the many interviews I was privileged to conduct were invaluable to that end.

Therefore, depending on your point of view, this month is either the 60th anniversary of the first appearance of Supergirl in Action Comics #252 [Sage #32] with a publication date of May, 1959 (courtesy of Otto Binder and the much-missed Al Plastino) or it was actually a few months earlier when the book actually hit the outlets or, it could even be that youíd select the first Super-girl appearance in Superman #123 from August of 1958, which seemed to be a successful test run for the Girl of Steel. Whatever you choose, thatís your right and I wouldnít argue, but for our purposes, Iíve decided to mark it with this edition of the Silver Age Sage, although Iíve chosen a bit of an unorthodox story. It may be due to the fact that Jim Mooney was so heavily identified with Supergirl. He did a bajillion commissions of her, from the classic to the racy and in many of them, (the one I own included) heíd insert Streaky the Super-Cat, in large part due to Jimís affection for felines. So, as I was digging through the collection, I thought maybe Adventure Comics #364 might be a good candidate, even though itís not a straight Supergirl story. She does appear in it, which is a little unusual for a Legion of Super-Heroes tale, and it prominently features the so-called Super-pets. In fact, the script, written and laid out by Jim Shooter is titled, ďThe Revolt of the Super-Pets!Ē it has a publication date of January, 1968 with editing by Mort Weisinger (but probably E. Nelson Bridwell did the heavy lifting), cover art by Curt Swan and George Klein (who I recently discovered died fairly young of cirrhosis) and penciled and inked by John Costanza with cover lettering by Gaspar Saladino and interior letters by Milt Snappin.

Letís see whatís cooking on 30th century Earth, or more precisely the space above the earth where the super pets, including Proty, Comet the super-horsse, Krypto, Streaky and Beppo the super-monkey are romping about. Abruptly they see some ships heading for the earth and determine that theyíre remote-controlled crime machines. The pets seem to be able to communicate telepathically, so in a united effort, they ward off the threat as a team.

When they return to the Legion clubhouse to report, rather than gratitude, they get a dose of derision as Brainiac 5 demands to know why they didnít let a couple of the ships escape so they could be tracked back to their point of origin. The legion soon leaps into action, but makes a point of leaving the pets behind to guard the clubhouse. They are not happy with this development and the seeds of rebellion are sown.

Comet muses that he was once human, born as Biron a centaur who lived on the isle of Aeaea. He fell in love with Circe, the reigning sorceress, but could not tell her of his love. One day a rival wizard was attempting to poison the spring where Circe took her water and Biron used his archery skills to make short work of the flask containing the poison. Once Circe learned what had happened, she granted his wish to be transformed into a human, but the wicked wizard had sabotaged the potions of Circe and instead he became all horse. As sort of a consolation, Circe was able to give him the powers of the gods, including immortality. Later a sorcerer from another world (Biron did seem to encounter them often, eh?) granted him the ability to temporarily become human whenever a comet is visible in the sky, hence his name, Comet.

Krypto then monologues that he and Beppo paved the way for Superboy to come to Earth as each of them were used in Jor-Elís experiments, first Krypto in the first rocket launch, where he was put into orbit around Krypton and was later struck by a meteor and ended up on Earth years later and Beppo was tested in chambers to make sure Kal-El could survive in space, but he stowed away on the rocket that transported the babe to Earth.

Proty, it seems, was an inhabitant of a far away world when the peace-loving and super-scientific race of Llorn colonized their world. When atmospheric and sun-spot conditions made the world uninhabitable, the Llorn fled, but used their technology to allow the indigenous creatures to become shape-shifting proteans, who could adapt to any condition, ensuring their survival.

Finally, Streaky weighs in, having been an ordinary cat until exposure to X-Kryptonite, developed by Supergirl as a way to try and negate the effects of Kryptonite on Kryptonians. The official story is that Streaky gets temporary super-powers when near the X-Kryptonite. No explanation as to how long, but apparently long enough.

So, a consensus is reached, and the super-pets agree to leave for good, with Comet and Beppo leading the way. Saturn Girl has been eavesdropping via her super-telepathy and implores them to reconsider. When they refuse, she clandestinely gives them an extra charge of telepathic power to hopefully ďtalk things over

Soon, the gaggle of animals encounter Rikkor Rost, who had overheard their thought conversation with Saturn Girl. Feature a pink-skinned Sinestro with pointy ears and a steep widowís peak and that pretty well describes this character and indeed all the inhabitants of Thanl, his home world, where he informs the group that they would be welcomed and honored there. They quickly agree and he uses a teleportation device on his wrist to instantly transport them all to Thanl.

The Legion team soon return to the clubhouse where Saturn Girl tries to tell them what has happened, but they insist on relating what they encountered in space, first, which was a ferocious battle in space with more of the looting machines, but when they tried to tail a few, they simply vanished into space. Feeling sheepish, Superboy suggests they owe the pets an apology, but Saturn Girl then informs them of their departure. They agree to head to Thanl to try and smooth things over. Part II, entitled, ďFang, Claw and Hoof,Ē shows the arrival of the Legion rocket and the discovery that the super pets are being celebrated and the residents of Thanl even have statues to each of them in a memorial park. The pets give the Legionnaires the cold shoulder, even when reminded of the key role they played against the Luck Lords (Adventure #343) and the Ghost Ship of Space.

Finally, Chameleon Boy is irritated enough to try and bring Proty back by force, so the other pets go on the attack, ultimately sending the Legionnaires back to Earth in their ship. Despite their joy at the victory, Rikkor Rost plants the thought in their heads that the Legionnaires could be plotting against them. A plan is quickly hatched for Comet and Proty to infiltrate the Legion HQ as a comet is in view near the Earth and of course Proty is a shape-shifter.

They appear as candidates to join the team, with Comet posing as Biron the Bowman and Proty as Blockade Boy. Supergirl thinks to herself that Biron looks an awful lot like Bronco Bill Starr, a rodeo rider from the 20th Century that sheís met, while Saturn Girl recalls that Blockade Boy was killed while attempting escape from the Stalag of Space in issue #345. Proty/Blockade Boy quickly explains that he was his brother, but endowed with the same ability to form his body into an impenetrable wall or blockade and after a quick demonstration, both candidates are made members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Then, in their first official meeting, the undercover heroes discover that the Legion isnít plotting against them at all, but are intent on dealing with the mechanical menaces. The plan is hatched to send a couple of their number to search for them while the rest remain on guard. Biron and Blockade Boy get the nod for the mission.

Meanwhile, back on Thanl, the high council is in session and they are congratulating themselves on having lured the perfect dupes in the super-pets to protect their world. Just then, Comet and Proty burst into the chamber and alert the other super-pets that the looting ships originated on Thanl and that theyíve been tricked. The pets are nearly beaten with special weaponry, but then the Legionnaires arrive and quickly mop things up, ultimately turning the malefactors over to the Science Police.

In the final panels, the Legion members admit that they recognized Comet in his guise as Biro because theyíd read about Bronco Bill Starr in the history books, put two and two together and followed them to Thanl. And that puts another adventure of the Legion of Super-Heroes, along with the super-pets into the books.

A little goofy? Sure. Good olí Silver Age fun? You betcha. Iíll give this one a 6 on the rating scale for the fun factor and keeping in mind that James C. Shooter was all of 16 or 17 when he wrote it and was doing it while trying to be a full-time student, never mind toiling for the notoriously difficult Mort Weisinger. Check out my interview with Jim [Sage #194 & #195] for a few choice stories about that.

Happy 60th, Kara Zor-El! Your successful television show and the inability of your death in Crisis on Infinite Earths to keep you down are a testament to your viability as a beloved character.

Shameless plug department: Please check out the new issues of Alter Ego ( #158) and BACK ISSUE ( #112), where I have my byline in each publication!

Join us again here June 1st for the latest installment and donít forget to write: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you then andÖ

Long live the Silver Age!

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