Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes

It’s time to take a respite from theological discussions, so let’s review…

Atomic Batteries to Power, Flight Rings to Speed:
Batman ’66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes
Created by Lee, Michael, and Laura Allred
DC Comics, September 2017

This one-off, crossover features the Batman and Robin characters as they were presented on the hokey “Batman” ABC television series (1966-1968) featuring Adam West (d. June 9, 2017) and Burt Ward, and the DC Silver Age version of the Legion of Super-Heroes as they were written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Curt Swan.

Plot

Six members of the 30th century’s Legion of Super-Heroes track one of their arch-enemies, Universo, back in time to Gotham City in the year, 1966. The villainous super-hypnotist believes that by intervening in the past, he will be able to prevent the formation of the Legion in the future. The Legionnaires make a surprise visit to the top secret Bat Cave, hoping to enlist Robin into their club and to seek his help in apprehending Universo. When it’s discovered that one of the Legion’s time bubbles has been stolen, Batman deduces the culprit to be the criminal genius, Egghead. The team splits up with Batman traveling with three Legionnaires to 2966 to find Egghead, while the Boy Wonder teams with the three remaining LSH members to search for Universo in Gotham City.

Robin and his team find Universo but are no match for the combined police and military forces who are compelled to do the bidding of their mind-controlling master, and must retreat. Meanwhile, Egghead searches 30th-century science museums hoping to find some technology or information that will give him an advantage back in the 20th century, but comes up empty and returns to 1966. A meeting between Egghead and Universo reveals the former to be the ancestor of the latter.

Robin’s team engages Universo once again but is thwarted by the super-hypnotist’s powers. Just when all appears lost, Batman’s team shows up from the future and joins in the fracas. The battle appears to be a standoff until Batman suggests it’s time for the Legion to unleash its “secret weapon.” Universo is defeated and Saturn Girl once again invites Robin to join the Legion, but Batman insists the Boy Wonder is indispensable in the fight against crime in the 20th-century.

Commentary

This is as absolutely hokey as it gets folks with no redeeming value other than lots of laughs for fans of the old Batman television show and the Silver Age Legion. There are plenty of “insider” jokes and miscues that will resonate with aging baby boomers like myself who were glued to the family television set on Wednesday and Thursday evenings back in 1966 watching the Dynamic Duo. Many of the villains and “good guys” featured in the TV series make cameo appearances in this story. If you can remember the campy, tongue-in-cheek dialogue of the show and some of the outrageously complicated deductions West’s Batman would extrapolate from some ridiculously minuscule and vague clues, then you’ll enjoy this book. The Allreds capture Adam West’s Batman to a tee.

Final thoughts

A believer contemplates the Lord God in even the most “secular” of circumstances. The “legendary star” of the Batman television show, Adam West, died a couple of months ago at the age of 88 of leukemia. Out of curiosity, I googled “Adam West” along with “God,” “Jesus,” “Christian,” “faith,” and “religion” and came up empty. We won’t know if West accepted Christ this side of eternity, but we do know that fame, fortune, and good health do not last.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” – Proverbs 27:1


What does it mean to be a born again Christian?
https://www.gotquestions.org/born-again.html

It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! You’re both wrong, it’s (gasp) Super-Bugs?!?!?!

No, I haven’t gone entirely “looney tunes.” With this post, I’m taking a short respite from theology, but I’ll be putting my “serious cap” back on very shortly.


When I was a little guy, my Dad used to bring home comic books for me every so often. “Sad Sack” and “Hot Stuff” were my favorites. As I got a little older, I began buying comics on my own at the local drug stores. They were only 12 cents back in the day (compared to $4.99 today!) so a loose quarter from my parents’ bedroom dresser* could buy me two. Oh joy! One title that I became a particularly big fan of was Adventure Comics featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes, a team of teenagers living in the 30th-century who hailed from different planets and had various super powers. Superboy and sometimes Supergirl traveled to the future to join the Legion on their planet-saving missions.

My first issue of Adventure was #350, “The Outcast Super-Heroes!,” published in November, 1966 (see photo below) and I eagerly bought each of the following issues up to and including #372, “School for Super-Villains!,” published in September, 1968. It was a coincidence that I just happened to pick up the Legion at the beginning of what many consider was its finest run, with the writing of Jim Shooter and the artwork of Curt Swan. The Legion and I drifted apart after that but every once in awhile I would check in just to see the latest team permutation. The franchise went dormant and was revived several times, but DC Comics finally pulled the plug on the Legion in August 2013 because of low readership. The main drawback of the Legion is its dizzying number of characters, names, powers, planets of origin, etc. However, the team continues to pop up in other titles every now and then.

Fellow blogger, Slim Jim, often posts about comics, which fueled my nostalgia and curiosity for the Legion, and whaddayaknow, the team had a new book recently published, sharing paper and ink with a rather improbable ally.


“The Imposter Superboy”
Featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes and…(gulp)…Bugs Bunny???
Written by Sam Humphries and pencilled by Tom Grummett
DC Comics, August 2017

The Legion’s resident genius, Brainiac 5, desperately struggles to save the sick and dying Supergirl. His robotic assistant, Computo 2, determines the only cure is Illudium Phosdex, an element that went extinct back in the 24.5th century. Brainiac orders Computo 2 to travel back in time to the 21st century and enlist the help of Superboy in acquiring the element, but rather than summoning the Boy of Steel, the robot inexplicably transports Bugs Bunny, yes, THAT Bugs Bunny, back to the future. The Legion is flabbergasted by Bugs’ appearance as is the rascally rabbit. Computo 2 blames the goof up on a mysterious “malfunction.” Brainiac attempts to convince Bugs to submit to a medical examination in the hope that he can provide the needed element, but the strong-willed and feisty hare refuses to cooperate and demonstrates that he has a few super powers of his own thanks to his special batch of super carrots. The tussle is interrupted with a BOOM! as one of the Legion’s most feared enemies, the gigantic Validus, crashes through the walls of the team’s compound. One by one, the Legion’s members succumb to the powerful and merciless blows of their legendary foe. All hope seems lost as Validus looms menacingly over the comatose Supergirl. But just in the nick of time, Bugs appears, clad in a Superboy-style outfit and with a half-eaten super carrot clasped in his hand…er, foot…er, paw. Super-Bugs predictably makes short work of the impressive villain. As the dust settles, Computo 2 admits it orchestrated the entire fiasco because it was jealous of Brainiac’s love for Supergirl and wished to eliminate its Kryptonian rival. Bugs’s super carrots prove to be an abundant source of the needed element. Supergirl is cured and Bugs is delivered back to the 21st century, a new hero in Legion lore.

As improbably looney as this crossover story was, it had its fun moments and that was the point. There are many, many comical allusions to Legion history, which fans will enjoy. For instance, the cover is a spoof of Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), the very first appearance of the Legion. Bugs is his delightfully sarcastic and rascally self that I remember from the 1960s. Bugs Bunny made his animated film debut in 1940 and his first comic book followed the same year.

The artwork from penciller, Tom Grummett, is actually pretty good and a big improvement over the disappointingly amateurish penciling in most of the Legion’s incarnations. But, of course, I was spoiled by the classic artwork of Curt Swan. A shorter version of the story, done in a faux Shooter/Swan style, is tacked on at the end of the book.

Coming up in a couple of weeks, the Legionnaires drop in on the Dynamic Duo in the year 1966. Ah, what a great year that was!

Thanks, Jim, for the fun!!!

Final thoughts from a Christian believer: People are strongly attracted to fictional (and non-fictional) stories in which “good” overcomes “evil,” and where “justice is served,” but they fail to acknowledge their own evil thoughts and actions, e.g., like *stealing money to support a comics habit. Jesus Christ is the ultimate victory over sin and evil. Won’t you repent of your sins and trust in Him as your Savior by faith alone?

 

Adventure350
Adventure Comics #350