Adventure Comics #317
‘The Menace of Dream Girl’
By Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
This is a really strange story. From the cover (featuring a group of Legionnaires de-aged to babies) onwards, everything about this story is basically just nonsensical.
The antagonist, Dream Girl, is introduced on the cover, and again on the opening splash page:
We’re supposed to believe that this woman is so beautiful that a group of otherwise sensible male Legionnaires go completely daft over her, showering her with gifts. Immediately I smell a rat (helped by the clue that the story title calls her a ‘menace’). She might be a new member of the Legion, but she’s clearly a villain who has infiltrated them using her super-power to control men’s hormones!
As the story progresses, she does act more villain-like, but her power is revealed to be foretelling the future, not mind control. So we are left to assume that she really is so beautiful that the male members of the Legion cannot resist her. Sorry, it’s hard to swallow. Ok, yes, the Legionnaires are supposed to be teenagers still, but come on, this is ridiculous:
Then there’s Dream Girl’s plot, which is to manipulate certain Legionnaires into violations of the Legion constitution and get them expelled because of it. It makes the Legion look incredibly stupid. Yes, their devotion to the rules is very commendable, but at what point do you stop blindly following rules and start thinking for yourself, ‘This woman is screwing us all over?’ (Probably when your teenage hormones stop running wild.) Again, I could accept the plot if her power was some kind of mind control, but it clearly isn’t.
Then there’s the twist, which is that Dream Girl isn’t evil, she’s expelling specific Legionnaires to foil a prophecy that says they will all die in an explosion in the near future. There are a number of problems with this.
First, it’s basically a re-tread of Adventure Comics #304, ‘The Stolen Super Powers!’, by Jerry Siegel, in which Saturn Girl steals all the Legionnaires’ powers in order to prevent a prophesy of them dying. Dream Girl has slightly more excuse than Saturn Girl (being an outsider, she couldn’t be sure that just explaining to Legion would work), but it’s still a really dumb plan.
Second, we’re told that Dream Girl’s predictions always come true:
…so her plan isn’t going to prevent anyone dying, is it? Unless she’s lying about it always coming true, which she might be I suppose. It’s still pretty silly, though. And in the end, lifeless dummies made to look like the Legionnaires are blown up, so her prophesy does come true (sort of) – and she could have avoided all the convoluted plot by going to the Legion, proving her power, and saying ‘But if you make a set of lifeless dummies…’ (‘Oh, here’s some we prepared earlier!’)
Along the way, though, it’s the classic SF touches that Edmond Hamilton always introduces that make this comic worth reading. As always, he packs the story with exotic worlds and creatures and imaginative ideas, so there’s some fresh new wonder on every page, all of it rendered in John Forte’s uniquely whimsical style. For that alone I would highly recommend this issue, as always, but first I would have to caution you to leave your critical faculties at the door before thinking too much about the basic plot.
Oh, but one final point I must raise before ending this review. And it’s these panels:
Who is the Time Trapper? No idea! And I’ve read every comic to feature the Legion of Super-Heroes so far! Edmond Hamilton is introducing a mysterious new threat by referring to past things we haven’t even seen yet! And does this plot get resolved in this story? No! It’s a complete mystery!
This has nothing to with the main plot. You could almost call it a … ‘sub-plot’! And maybe it will be picked up again in a future issue? A continuing story, giving the comic a sense of something we might call … ‘continuity’!
If this is the future of how comic stories will be told, we are in for exciting times indeed!