Thursday, March 5, 2015

Adventure Comics # 357, June 1967

We were traveling across the country in a shiny, new 1967 Pontiac and pulling a Coachman trailer when I first read this classic Legion of Super-Heroes story by Jim Shooter. The artwork is by Curt Swan. I had this comic book with me when I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. Curt Swan was my favorite comic book artist that year. This comic book had a strong affect on me for several reasons. First, the artwork by Swan was stunning, and of course this was the era when comic books still had that tactile quality because of the paper stock and printing process, unlike modern comics that are printed on slick paper and lacking in depth. Secondly, the story concludes in classic ghost story tradition and leaves no doubt that Ferro Lad’s ghost had saved Superboy. It wasn’t until years later that I learned about Jim Shooter, Curt Swan and others responsible for the comic books that I read, and as a boy all I cared about was reading about my heroes. I loved the Legion of Super-Heroes and I coveted their stories in the pages of Adventure Comics. Later, the group would loss its appeal primarily due to bad writers and editorial directives that altered story-lines, changed costumes and generally mucked up the tried and true formulae that Shooter and Swan had mastered with stories like “The Ghost of Ferro Lad.” But in 1967 they were all at the top of their game, and these were best years for The Legion. All of my favorites are here – Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy and Princess Projectra – and you even get Brainiac 5. There’s a reason why the so-called “Silver Age” DC and Marvel comics are so highly prized, and Adventure Comics # 357 is a great example of their quality. Reprints exist in hardcover collections but I recommend e-bay if you’re looking for the actual book.

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