It’s time once again to climb aboard our time bubble and travel to the future for another adventure with those crime-fighting heroes of the 31st Century.
The Legion of Super-Heroes in “Playing Hooky II”
Writer: Paul Levitz, Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
Adventure Comics #519, DC Comics, December 2010
Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, and Shrinking Violet, the Legion’s “espionage squad,” sneak aboard Zaryan’s space cruiser as it orbits the planet Rimbor, hoping to apprehend the smuggler-villain. Invisible Kid inadvertently sets off an alarm and the team must fight off sentry robots. After overcoming the opposition, the team makes its way to the bridge and a battle ensues with Zaryan and his minions. Zaryan escapes once again and vows to defeat the Legion on Earth.
In the meantime, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl travel in a time bubble back to Smallville in the 20th century. Brainy won’t divulge the purpose of the mission, although he does have a checklist. Superboy joins the quartet and they set off to a) experience some old fashioned weather in a rainstorm and tornado, and b) while in disguise, participate in a barn-raising for Pa Kent with some of the young Smallville locals, culminating in some delicious apple pie baked by Ma Kent. That night, the quintet does some star-gazing, but the serenity is interrupted by a “Brainiac probe,” that had honed in on Superboy’s Kryptonian ship. From historical archives, Brainiac 5 had ascertained that the probe would be arriving at that precise time and he subsequently neutralizes the invader with his superior 31st-century technology. By destroying the probe, Brainiac 5 delays his arch-villain ancestor, Brainiac, from coming to Earth until Kal-El matures from Superboy to Superman and is suitably able to vanquish him.
It was refreshing to have just a small number Legionnaires to follow in this issue. The Zaryan storyline continues to be pretty simple, but I sense a tragedy coming up next issue with the story ominously titled, “Tragedy.” It was fun seeing the future kids dealing with 20th century bad weather and a rural barn-raising. Levitz did a nice job with that. The “Playing Hooky II” in the title refers to the similarly simple activities of Superboy and the Legion in Adventure Comics #12’s “Playing Hooky” that we reviewed in February. The ending of this issue involving the Brainiac probe was head-scratchingly convoluted for a non-DC regular. Where was Sheldon Cooper when I needed him? Instead, I had to google “Brainiac probe” and find out what that was all about. Pansica’s artwork is excellent in some panels and amateurish in others.
I’m enjoying these “young Legion” issues with their simpler plotlines. The next issue, Adventure #520, is the last in the young Legion series, and then we pick up the “older Legion” plotline where we left off back in January with LSH #7.