Episode 78 — Geeking on the First Team-Up Brainiac and Lex Luthor

It’s back to the Silver Age for the first team-up of Superman’s two worst enemies!

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3 thoughts on “Episode 78 — Geeking on the First Team-Up Brainiac and Lex Luthor

  1. Thanks for another fun trip back to the Silver Age. Our perspectives on this story are a bit different, because I read this when it was originally published in 1964, when I was 8 years old, which, at the time, was pretty much the target audience for Superman comics. You, I think, are of a later fandom which reads this kind of story with a bit more of a jaundiced eye, seeing (and scoffing at, a little) things like meteors with visible rocket exhaust. I know that, at the time, I reveled in such things.
    To address some of your questions/confusions: This story, as you noted, retconned Brainiac into an artificial life form. Consequently, the Legionnaire Brainiac 5 (previously described as a descendant of Brainiac) had to be retconned into the descendant of Brainiac’s “adopted” humanoid son, so writers Cary Bates and Edmund Hamilton killed two birds with one stone. Also, yes, in the Silver Age, Superman’s heat vision had no effect on lead. As you surmised, this came from the evolution of heat vision from “the heat of Superman’s X-Ray Vision” to a separate power. Early writers (I think, based on the idea of “radiation burns”, which actually had nothing to do with heat) wrote of x-ray vison as causing things to burn or melt, because they thought it was somehow hot. Once heat vision began to be described as a separate power, this limitation was retained for years (although sometimes forgotten or ignored).
    All that said, I enjoyed your coverage of this story, especially given that the Silver Age is not your favorite period of Superman stories. It does you credit that this old Silver Age fan had fun listening to you. Thank you.

  2. I don’t know how “steeped” in Silver Age Legion of Superheroes lore you are, but the Legion, at one time, had a “no duplication of powers” rule. Ultra Boy was described as having the powers of Superboy, but only able to use one of them at a time. This should have excluded him from membership, but his “Flash Vision” could melt lead, which Superboy’s heat vision could not, and his “Penetra-Vision” could see though lead, which Superboy’s X-Ray vision could not.

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