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They are women, hear them roar – Adventure Comics #368

August 15, 2010

This one seems like an example of comics writers working out some sexual kinks in their craft and trying to masquerade it as a parody of feminism run amok.

“The Mutiny of the Super-Heroines!” is written by the Legion’s own Jim Shooter — he also did the breakdowns, with the great Curt Swan handling the finished art. And it’s a Neal Adams cover, for all you Adams-ites out there.

The action ramps up as the Legion rushes to the site of an alien spaceship’s crash landing — it turns out the spaceship is extra important because it’s carrying a new ambassador. When they find the legate they make what’s for them a shocking discovery:

The ambassadoress soon puts her cards on the table:

Uh oh. Here we go. And, not to nitpick, but the anonymous Legion voice that says that Earth believes in gender equality… really? A second ago they were all literally gasping at the ambassador being a woman.

Just saying.

To drive home the point that Earthwomen are all girly and stuff, we’re soon given a few panels where the gals flop around their shared digs doing housewifey things:

No word yet on whether their menstrual cycles are synced at this point.

Soon the alien ambassador (Thora is her name) goes all uber-Gloria Steinem and uses an irradiated bracelet and voodoo dolls to amplify the powers of the female members of the Legion and in so doing hopefully start a new matriarchy. We’re then treated to a seemingly endless run of scenes of the women saving, trouncing and in general totally emasculating their Y-chromosomed counterparts. Here’s one, just to give you a taste:

I think you get the picture.

Thora soon starts to fiddle with the ladies’ minds, but Supergirl’s love for Brainiac 5 is enough for her to overcome her conditioning and sabotage the radiation-bracelet. This dooms the ambassador and returns everything to normal:

Take that, feminazi! Everything is once again right with the universe! The men are back in charge! The women can go back to making curtains for their dorm!

Well.

I enjoyed reading this issue — Shooter and Swan both knew how to handle the Legion — but a lot of my enjoyment was of the head-shaking, eye-rolling variety. I have to think that there are more than a few people out there that would, how shall I say, get off on this one. I mean, all the bits with the girls roughing up the boys, binding them up, tossing them around… It’s a bit much. It’s not up to an R. Crumb level, but it’s something.

Then again, so much of superhero comics is sexual in nature. Everybody knows that. We’re talking about beefy guys in tights and women with ever-increasing breast sizes. Sometimes the sexuality is buried deep, sometimes it’s close to the surface, sometimes it’s pretty straightforward, sometimes it’s crazy out there stuff. I guess whatever sexual subtext there is here lies somewhere in that admittedly broad range.

“*Gasp!* The ambassaodor … a woman!”

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2010 8:06 am

    Gotta love too that the ambassador of a space-faring world is carrying a small sword on her hip. BTW, this is something of a swipe of an earlier Legion story from Adventure #326.

    • August 16, 2010 9:23 am

      In light of the rest of the issue’s content, perhaps I should say this — “Sometimes a sword is simply a sword.”

      Thanks for the swipe info.

      • November 8, 2015 2:12 pm

        The fun thing about the “swipe” is that the two stories really showed the view of the sexes at the time they were written. The earlier story involved the girls using their “feminine wiles” to ensnare the boys, and only minorly involved their powers. This one acknowledged how lopsided the genders’ powers were, with the girls’ predominately defensive in nature, and beefed them up, and then matched them physically against the boys; not a seduction in sight. Levitz seemed to have used a couple of the ideas in writing the women as more capable during his later run.

  2. August 16, 2010 2:42 pm

    The voodoo doll gizmo is what fascinates me. Thora’s brainwashing was a seperate ingredient to the power boost effect. Seems to me we have yet another mind-boggling super villain gizmo left glaringly idle. After having their powers upped a couple of orders in magnitude, one would think Brainiac 5 would have a look at the effect to see how to put it directly into the Flight Rings.

    Strange a more mature (or not) writer never revisited the world of Thora. Super powerful amazonazis with a totaltarian government? A bellligerent force to rival the Khunds.

    • August 16, 2010 2:57 pm

      If I recall a review on the Comic Treadmill long ago correctly, this was a story Shooter wasn’t really interested in writing since girls vs. boys is a recurring Silver Age theme (along with turning the Legionnaires into babies). His ideas were more about teamwork and characterization and this plot ran counter to that.

      I’ve got this in reprint and it is one of the weaker stories in the run. Sometimes you’ve got to suffer the good with the bad when it comes to the Legion. There’s a lot that’s lackluster but when they shine, it’s pure golden goodness. Hang in there.

      • August 17, 2010 10:11 am

        I’m not surprised that Shooter wasn’t nuts about this one — he’s always struck me as nothing if not serious. Thanks for the info — I’ll have to check that Treadmill review.

    • August 17, 2010 10:09 am

      The Silver Age seems to have a veritable treasure trove of material that writers could mine. I’m always surprised when I check on an old issue and see that a character’s/world’s/concept’s first and only appearance was in that comic. This definitely applies to Thora’s harsh matriarchy.

  3. David Morefield permalink
    August 17, 2010 12:26 pm

    Is it just me, or does the Ambassador’s outfit have a very “Cockrum-esque” design to it, still several years out from Dave’s assignment to the book?

    The pointy shoulders, the thigh-high boots, the “tattoo”-like graphic on the boot fronts…this character must have had a huge impact on young Mr Cockrum, who incorporated those elements into the X-Men, the Legion, the Starjammers, et al.

    • August 17, 2010 3:49 pm

      Nice thought. Who knows? Maybe it did register with him. I do indeed see the similarities.

  4. Michael Rebain permalink
    August 20, 2010 12:55 pm

    I’m old enough to remember reading both “girl revolt” stories when they were first published (at the ages of 8 and 11, respectively), and what I remembered most about them was how the Curt Swan art of the Thora version made it a much “better” story. The renditions of 30th Century Metropolis in the first pages of this story are some of the best ever done in a 60s Legion story.

    • August 20, 2010 10:15 pm

      It’s hard to go wrong with Swan — one can nitpick here and there, but certainly not with his work with the Legion.

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