Bizarro Back Issues: Saturn Girl For President! (1963)
It’s an Election Year here in America, which means that the strange eccentricities of our political system are in full swing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly a logical progression any other time, but it’s only once every four years that things get truly insane, with mud-slinging ads, people pretending to be plumbers and the occasional celebrity yelling at a piece of furniture.
Even so, as a proud citizen of the good ol’ U.S. of A., I have to admit that I’m proud of our democratic process, which is why I was glad that the combination of elections and sheer insanity is a tradition that lasts well into the 30th Century. And if you think our campaigns are weird, just wait’ll you see what happens when Saturn Girl takes a run at the Presidency of the Legion of Super-Heroes: There’s mind control, power-mad dictatorship, and somebody actually dies!The election in question went down in a story called “The Stolen Super-Powers,” for reasons that will shortly become apparent. Written by Jerry Siegel with art by John Forte, this little political drama originally ran in Adventure Comics #304, and is one of the earlier examples of the Legion’s hilariously complex set of rules and bylaws. They would later be written down as an official LOSH Constitution for the benefit of reader, detailing how they forbade marriage and duplicate powers (when they felt like it), and fans really took to the explanation. Because really, how are you supposed to enjoy the adventures of Bouncing Boy and Triplicate Girl if you don’t know how their super-hero team structures its membership dues?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the franchise, the Legion was a group of teenage do-gooders founded in the far future of the 30th Century. As a result, they have ways and customs that may seem strange to those of us here in the past, like the way they usually make their decisions:
Laugh if you want, but if some dude from the Middle Ages saw you Instagramming a sandwich, he’d think it was pretty weird too.
While sitting around and waiting to be conked on the head by a miniature Uranus is a good enough method for most of their tough choices — like, say, who’s going to go on a suicide mission — elections are still handled the old fashioned way. Whenever the current president’s term is up, which tends to be whenever the hell the writers decide to do an election story, everyone gathers at the clubhouse.
And apparently, they show up packing heat:
This, incidentally, is the only time I have ever seen Saturn Girl carrying a gun in a quick-draw holster on her belt, and I’ve read a lot of Legion of Super-Heroes stories. I guess it might be some kind of weird, futuristic Election Day tradition, but I prefer to think that the Legionnaires were just flat-out gunning down their enemies in the street whenever Superboy’s not around. “Of course we have a code against killing, Clark!” says Lightning Lad, distracting him from Cosmic Boy shoving a pile of AK-47s into the other room.
Speaking of Superboy, where is that guy? He’s a core member of the Legion, right? Shouldn’t he be there for the elections?
Oh, right, he’s off in the past. There’s obviously no possible way that a guy who can travel through the time barrier under his own power could make it to a meeting.
Anyway, the voting begins, and while a few of the Legionnaires crack bizarre jokes about how easy it would be to scam their voting machine — a box with a lever that doesn’t even have a curtain, because technology apparently doesn’t advance that far in ten centuries — Saturn Girl actually goes through with it.
And not only that, but she actually votes for herself, a break with tradition that thoroughly scandalizes Colossal Boy. Sure, you can go back in time and torment your hero and tell him he sucks before letting him into your super-club, but voting for yourself? At long last, Imra Ardeen, have you no shame?
As it turns out, she doesn’t. No sooner has her term begun than she goes into full-on dictator mode. The first step: Raiding the Legion treasury for their latest award, a block of rare rainbow metal valued at, and I quote, “$200,000.00.” Which, adjusted for a thousand years of inflation, may actually be a piece of Fruit Stripe gum. Either way, everyone’s pretty cheesed off when she throws it into their creepiest machine and turns it into a set of commemorative medallions:
Once everyone has begrudgingly donned their new jewelry, she starts in on the tests. The other Legionnaires are put through their paces in a series of impossibly rigged challenges, with President Saturn Girl watching and dishing out judgments with all the nuance and venom of an Internet comment section:
Seriously, a “fail” and a “you forgot” at the same time. She might as well be posting that performance review on YouTube.
One by one, Saturn Girl bans the entire Legion from active duty, while at the same time using those rainbow medallions to steal their powers for herself. Eventually, she’s the only one left when the aforementioned Zaryan the Conqueror shows up looking for a fight, and after giving her best friends one last snarl about how much they suck, she heads off all by her lonesome to fight.
Or at least, that’s the plan. At the last minute, Lightning Lad grabs a spacesuit and flies off after her. And then he dies. Like, immediately.
Not exactly their most successful mission.
So why did Lightning Lad disobey a direct order from his duly elected leader? Because he found out the terrifying secret of the Saturn Girl Administration: That she was stealing her teammates’ powers and ordering them off of active duty so that she could sacrifice herself after that weird crystal probe told her that one of the Legionnaires was definitely going to die in the battle against Zaryan. And he knew this, of course, because an invisible thousand year-old teenager told him so.
Right, of course.
See, at the time, Mon-El was living in the Phantom Zone, having hung out there for well over a thousand years while people worked as slowly as they possibly could on curing his fatal lead poisoning. Apparently he could figure out how to get a message to Lightning Lad, but he couldn’t let everyone know a week ago so that they could figure out how to deal with Zaryan without somebody getting murdered. Great job, Mon-El.
Thus, Lightning Lad is dead!
For real! Well, comic book real, anyway. The story actually ends with Lightning Lad having shuffled loose this mortal coil, and he wouldn’t make his return until Adventure #308, when Chameleon Boy’s shape-shifting pet, Proty, sacrificed its own life to bring him back. And was, of course, almost immediately replaced by an identical pet named Proty II.
So when you head to the polls this November, ask yourself if the candidate you’re voting for would be willing to telepathically mind-control you, steal your super-powers, and fly off into space to die fighting a rocketship pirate on your behalf. And if the answer is no, write in Saturn Girl. She’s change we can believe in. From space.