Introducing the Legion’s Founding Trio, Redux

Last month’s LSH tale ended with General Nah’s incarceration, Aquaman’s trident being stolen, and a thoroughly confused Superboy FINALLY on his way to his Legion orientation. Let’s pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Ryan Sook and Mikel Janin, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger and Mikel Janin, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics,  February, 2020

5 Stars

Plot

Superboy begins his orientation courtesy of Computo, the Legion’s AI (artificial intelligence) system. He is able to experience the memories of the founding members immediately prior to the establishment of the Legion:

  • Imra Ardeen/Saturn Girl (super power – telepathy) of Titan, a moon of Saturn, is discontented with her life, yearning for greater adventure, and successfully applies to the new Young United Planets (YUP) intergalactic youth organization.
  • Garth Ranzz/Lightning Lad (super power – electrical manipulation) of Winath comes to the attention of U.P. President, R.J. Brande, because of his and sister Ayla’s activism on behalf of persecuted minorities on their planet. Both are invited to join YUP, but only Garth accepts.
  • Rokk Krinn/Cosmic Boy (super power – magnetism manipulation) of Braal is a planetary champion and is chosen by Braal’s congress to to be that world’s representative at YUP.

As the three travel together to the Young United Planets headquarters on Earth, the U.P. President, R.J. Brande, appears and informs the trio she envisions a special role for them as personal counselors. However, an abrupt attack by Horrazian pirates ends the meeting – the Legion’s inauguration – and Computo also ends Superboy’s orientation because of pressing business; the remaining Legionnaires learn of the theft of Aquaman’s trident from one of the team’s vaults. As the contingent debates whether to allow Superboy to finish his orientation or to begin the hunt for the trident, the U.P. Science Police abruptly arrive and place the Legionnaires under arrest by orders of Madame President, Brande. When Superboy questions why the Legion’s former patron and benefactor is now opposing the team, Cosmic Boy informs him that the answer was in the second-half of the orientation.

Comments

Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad were the Legion’s founding members in the Silver Age, making their first appearance in the inaugural Legion tale in Adventure Comics #247 way back in April 1958. Bendis pays his respects to Legion tradition by presenting the same trio as founders in this latest LSH permutation. I’m anxious to find out what soured the Legion’s relationship with Madam President and where this Aquaman’s trident-storyline will end up. Great story with snappy dialogue. Great pencils and colors. Bendis, Sook, and Co. have done an excellent job to this point.

Robin flies the coop as quickly as he arrived

At the conclusion of last month’s issue, the Legion was planning on sending two teams to investigate why Ultra Boy’s father and Mordru the Merciless both desired Aquaman’s trident, while Superboy was eagerly anticipating bringing Damian Wayne aka Robin to the 31st century. Let’s now pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Ryan Sook and Travis Moore, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger and Travis Moore, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, January 2020

5 Stars

Plot

The story begins with Superboy transporting Robin to to 31st-century Metropolis in the misguided hope that the Boy Wonder can help with the Legion’s investigation into all of the intrigue involving Aquaman’s trident. A contingent of Legionnaires – Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Shadow Lass, and Mon El – arrive on the planet Rimbor and attempt to find out why Crav Nah, the powerful leader of the planet and also Ultra Boy’s father, desires the trident. The meeting quickly turns into a violent confrontation and Mon El subdues Crav. In the meantime, another Legion contingent – Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Chameleon Boy, and Triplicate Girl – travels to Planet Gotham, where Mordru is being held prisoner, to try to ascertain why the wizard wants the trident, but without success. They are summoned back to Legion headquarters where Crav has been transported. The angry Rimborian warlord had freed himself from his bonds and was making short work of the entire Legion until Superboy KOs him. The Legion deems that Robin must be returned to the 21st century immediately and that the very confused and disgruntled Superboy MUST sit through the orientation the Legion had originally prepared for him back in LSH #1. The story ends with Crav in a Legion holding cell and disturbing news that Aquaman’s trident has been stolen from one of the team’s secure vaults.

Commentary

Bendis is doing a nice job with this story line although it was a little disappointing to see Superboy go to all the trouble of transporting Robin to the future for zero effect. It’s interesting from my Silver Age perspective to see these old characters actually act human, like frazzled Cosmic Boy’s lack of confidence as the Legion’s leader and Superboy’s frustration with being out-of-the-loop. I’m looking forward to seeing how Bendis is going to resolve the Legion’s first “intergalactic incident” involving the arrest of Crav. U.P. Madame President Brande is already quite annoyed with the Legion and this is only going to increase tensions. I’m also looking forward to a formal introduction to the new Legion via Superboy’s orientation. As an answer to a question I had last month, it appears Planet Gotham is one of the planet pods of the artificial New Earth.

Postscript: In a conversation with a group of other Legionnaires, Chameleon Boy intimates that Damian Wayne/Robin could possibly grow up to be a very dastardly, Hitler-like character. That’s entirely predictable seeing he’s the grandson of Ra’s al Ghul.

Everybody wants that trident!

Legion of Super-Heroes #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ryan Sook, Inks: Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, December 2019

5 Stars

Plot

Issue #1 of the “new,” re-launched Legion of Super-Heroes ended with the Legion surrounded by a gang of angry Horrazian pirates eager to reclaim the contraband trident of Aquaman. In the midst of the battle, Ultra Boy slips the trident to Superboy, who attempts to escape, with the leader of the pirates, Tortor, in hot pursuit. Saturn Girl, with her power of telepathy/mind control, is able to induce the combatants into a stupor, but Superboy and Tortor are too far away to be affected. Saturn Girl then focuses all of her powers on the two adversaries and a mysterious flood of water – somehow brought into existence by the trident – subdues the Horrazian leader.

Elsewhere, at United Planets headquarters, the Legion’s diplomatic liason, Rose Forrest, attempts to smooth things over with the U.P. President, whose last name is Brande. Hmm. That’s a name that rings a bell with Legion fans. The negotiations between the two get off to a rocky start and devolve from there. Rose returns to Legion headquarters and informs the team of the tense tête-à-tête. It’s clear Madam President is not happy about Superboy’s presence in the 31st century or about the Legion’s possession of the trident.

The Legionnaires amble down to their “consumption hall” for a strategy meeting over dinner. Ultra Boy (aka Jo Nah) reveals his father is a powerful and dangerous leader on his civil-war-torn home planet of Rimbor. Both the elder Nah and Mordru were after the trident until Ultra Boy intercepted the Horraz pirates and took possession of the thing himself. A contingent of Legionnaires decides to travel to Rimbor to attempt to smooth things over with Jo’s dad before things escalate while another contingent heads to Planet Gotham to try to find out what Mordru had planned for the trident. Superboy is so excited about the existence of Planet Gotham that he makes the journey back to the 21st century to inform his buddy, Damian Wayne aka Robin. Looks like the Boy Wonder is headed to the 31st century!

Comments

We can predict a cataclysmic brouhaha ahead with the U.P. President, Ultra Boy’s father, and Mordru all in competition for Aquaman’s trident. I’m still a bit fuzzy regarding Gotham Planet. Is it one of the several domed cities of New Earth or is it off by itself somewhere? This was a good story with some excellent dialogue from Bendis. Also, I’m so pleased with Sook’s masterful illustrations. The Legion hasn’t been drawn this well since Curt Swan did the duty back in the 1960s.

Trivia alert: I forgot to point out Ultra Boy’s Biblical connection in my review of LSH #1. His civilian name is Jo Nah and he supposedly acquired his super powers after being swallowed by a space energy beast, which exposed him to strange radiation while inside.

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In this excerpt from Superboy #98 (1962), Ultra Boy explains the origin of his penetra-vision. Note Jo Nah being swallowed by the space beast. It would later be revealed that Ultra Boy had all of the powers of Superboy, although he was limited to using one power at a time.

After six long years, DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes

After a hiatus of six long years and then a lengthy preliminary introduction spanning five preludes over three months, DC Comics finally relaunched the Legion of Super-Heroes as a monthly comic on November 6th. Climb aboard our time capsule as we journey to the 31st Century in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ryan Sook, Inks: Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, November 2019

5 Stars

Plot

The action begins with Ultra Boy chasing a Horraz spaceship through the massive sewers of Planet Gotham. After the craft crashes, UB spots its stolen booty: a capsule. But what’s inside? A powerful alien suddenly appears to take possession of the contraband. Could it be…? Yes, it’s Mordru the Merciless, one of the Legion’s most powerful adversaries! A contingent of Legionnaires – Karate Kid, Star Boy, and Wildfire – arrive at the scene and help Ultra Boy to ward off Mordru and claim the capsule. When they open it they discover…gasp…the trident of Aquaman!

Next, we join the rest of the Legionnaires as they welcome Jon Kent/Superboy as the team’s newest member with plenty of high-fives all around. The Legionnaires give Superboy an aerial tour of Metropolis and inform him the entire city is the Legion’s headquarters. Wow! Remember back in the Silver Age days when that tiny, yellow faux spaceship shell served as the team’s clubhouse? The Boy of Steel then learns that the Old Earth was destroyed, including its oceans, in an enormous cataclysm and the artificial, ocean-less New Earth was created by engineers enlisted from across the galaxy. The Legion is then summoned back to their headquarters where Ultra Boy and his contingent inform them of the recovery of Aquaman’s trident. Immediately after one of the Legionnaires wonders out loud if the trident could possibly play a part in restoring the Earth’s oceans, a gang of Horraz criminals attacks Legion headquarters intent on reclaiming the trident. Is this curtains for Superboy on his very first day in the Legion? In the final scene, the President of the United Planets expresses her outrage at the Legion’s defiance of U.P. directives by bringing Superboy to the 31st Century, not to mention their possession of Aquaman’s stolen trident!

Commentary

It’s hard to believe the Legion is back after six-years. Bendis did a nice job with the appearance of Mordru and the dangling mystery of what the recovery of Aquaman’s trident is going to mean for the artificial Gotham Planet. The Legion is immediately off to a bad start with the administrators of the United Planets, a familiar theme for Legion readers. Sook, Von Grawbadger, and Bellaire do a tremendous job with the artwork. I’m thoroughly impressed with issue #1 and I hope many DC readers will climb aboard the Legion star cruiser.

DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes with ambitious relaunch: Part Two

DC Comics geared up for the auspicious relaunching of the Legion of Super-Heroes with five prelude books spanning August through October. Last week, we briefly reviewed the first three lead-ins (see here), and today we’re going to review the final two.


Capture25Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium: Part 1 of 2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino, Andre Lima Araujo
DC Comics, September 2019

2 Stars

Over the decades, DC Comics has created multiple universes, continuums, dimensions, and alternate realities. How to keep track of them all? A comic book reader these days needs a Sheldon Cooper-ish IQ to keep it all straight. One of the problems writer Brian Michael Bendis had in relaunching the Legion was in somehow connecting the team to the various future “realities” and dimensions. He attempts to do so, with the help of four different artists, via the character, Rose Forrest, who struggles with a split-personality. Her other identity, Thorn, is an angry, vigilante super-anti-hero. In the first sequence (drawn by Jim Lee), the very unstable Rose seeks help from President Supergirl. In the next sequence (penciled by Dustin Nguyen), she commiserates with an ersatz-Batman. Rose/Thorn then appears (courtesy of artist Andrea Sorrentino) in a desolate post-apocalyptic future that has something to do with something called “The Great Disaster” and a character named “Kamandi.” Finally, Rose journeys to a future reality featuring Tommy Tomorrow and the Planeteers (compliments of penciller, Andre Lima Araujo). Only an absolute comic book geek could possibly make heads or tales of all of these stops along the disjointed DC multiverse. But onward I pressed because I was confident that all of this chaos had something to do with the Legion.

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Capture26Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium: Part 2 of 2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Nicola Scott, Jim Cheung, Jeff Dekal, and Ryan Sook.
DC Comics, October 2019

2 Stars

In Millennium: Part 1, we followed tortured soul, Rose/Thorn, as she journeyed from one dissatisfying DC alternate future to the next. Part 2 continues along the same agonizing path. In the first segment, Rose travels to the 25th century and encounters an overenthusiastic Michael Jon Carter who would go on to become Booster Gold (drawn by Nicola Scott). In the following sequence, Rose meets up with OMAC after “The Great Disaster” (pencils by Jim Cheung). Next, we see Rose freefloating in the depths of space as she attempts to overcome Thorn, her violent second identity (art by Jeff Dekal). And then, finally, FINALLY, Rose somehow comes to grips with her raging inner-turmoil and shows up in 31st Century at the founding ceremony of the Legion of Super-Heroes (pencils by Ryan Sook).


Comments: One of the main reasons why the Legion franchise progressively lost readership over the decades was because it was the mothership of the depressing “Sad Astronaut” genre. While the first three Legion preludes in “Superman” and “Supergirl” were optimistic and coherent, these two Millennium preludes were the epitome of “Sad Astronaut” bleakness and incoherent navel gazing. The only optimism in these two Millennium preludes is the last few pages of Part 2 when Rose shows up at the Legion’s doorstep. I sure hope Bendis keeps things positive and buoyant moving forward.

“I’m bewildered by the “Sad Astronaut” genre and there’s a lot of it in comic books.” – Brian Michael Bendis

Hmm. We’ll see. On the plus side, Nicola Scott’s artwork in Millennium: Part 2 is extraordinary and Ryan Sook, the Legion’s new regular penciller, isn’t far behind. After decades of uncomplimentary artistry adorning Legion tales (e.g. Keith Giffen), it will be sweet having a top-flight illustrator presenting the stories.

Next Up: The Legion of Super-Heroes #1! Yay!

DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes with ambitious relaunch: Part One

DC Comics originally introduced the Legion of Super-Heroes way back in 1958 and the venerable franchise featuring a team of 30th, then 31st Century super-powered teenage crime-fighters from planets across the galaxy bounced around the DC Universe with several re-boots until it was shelved in 2013 due to low readership. In the last couple of years, members of the Legion made appearances in several titles, giving hope to fans for a relaunch. This past June, DC announced that it was finally returning the Legion, with Brian Michael Bendis as the writer. But it wouldn’t be a hurried revival. To build anticipation and an audience, DC would gradually reintroduce the Legion storyline in five books over a ten-week period prior to the publication of Legion of Super-Heroes #1 on November 6th. I picked up the five prelude books as they were published and am finally getting around to reading and reviewing them. Below are short reviews of the first three prelude books, which will be followed by reviews of the last two next week.


 

Capture20Superman #14: The Unity Saga: The House of El, the Conclusion: Part One
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ivan Reis
DC Comics, August 2019

5 Stars

Superman/Kal-El and his father, Jor-El, are observing the ruins of Krypton from their spaceship when another ship appears bearing Zod, Jax-Ur, and Rogol Zaar, the destroyer of Krypton. Overcome with anger at the site of his former planet, Zod turns on Zaar, destroying their ship, which exposes the trio to deadly radiation. Superman and Jor-El watch momentarily, but Superman cannot allow the trio to die and intervenes. Supergirl and Superboy then show up and join in the fray. Units of the elite Thangarian Black Guard suddenly arrive and arrest everyone, but just as the dust is settling, the warlike Khunds invade Thangar. With the galaxy on the verge of absolute chaos and self-destruction, Superboy pleads for an inter-galactic governing body to resolve conflicts, in the mold of the United Nations. Superman seconds the motion, but the distrusting representatives of other planets are hesitant. At that moment, the Legion of Super-Heroes arrives from the 31st Century, honoring Superboy for initially inspiring the United Planets intergalactic federation, which continues to guide the galaxy in the future. In gratitude, the Legion invites Superboy/Jon Kent to become a member. But did the Legion jump the gun? It doesn’t appear a consensus had yet been reached regarding the proposed United Planets. Keep reading.*


Capture21Supergirl #33: The House of El: United: Finale
Writer: Marc Andreyko, Penciller: Kevin Maguire
DC Comics, September 2019

4 Stars

The plotline for this book is very similar to that of Superman #14, above, but the story is told from Supergirl’s perspective.

Supergirl and Superboy come to Superman’s aid in capturing Rogol Zaar, the destroyer of Krypton, but, like everyone else, are arrested by the Thangarian Black Guard. The Khunds suddenly attack Thangar and Superboy wistfully proposes a peaceful “time-out.” Superman expounds on the idea by suggesting some type of agency for intergalactic cooperation. As representatives of the galaxy’s planets mull over the proposal, the Legion of Super-Heroes suddenly arrive from the 31st Century to commemorate the historic origin of what would become the United Planets. In a subsequent private moment, Supergirl has a virtual conversation with Z’ndr Kol, an apparent romantic interest, and relates that the Legion has invited Jon Kent/Superboy to become a member. Supergirl then says her goodbyes to her cousin, Superman, and finally returns to Earth after her year-long crusade to bring Rogol Zaar, the destroyer of Krypton, to justice.


Capture22Superman #15: The Unity Saga: The House of El, the Conclusion: Part Two
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ivan Reis
DC Comics, September 2019

5 Stars

The book begins with Superman commiserating with Adam Strange following the events detailed in the two previous reviews. We then find out that the Legion did arrive prematurely* because of Brainiac 5’s miscalculation. But the Legion’s testimony to the success of the United Planets convinces the gathered planetary representatives to unite and to mark the occasion in perpetuity as “Unity Day.” Superboy then mulls over the Legion’s invitation to join them in the 31st century. Adam Strange informs Superman that his father, Jor-El, has been convicted of the crime of creating Rogol Zaar and sentenced to return back in time to Krypton at the precise moment before the planet was destroyed. A sorrowful Superman, along with Supergirl and Superboy, establish a truce with General Zod, his wife, Ursa, and their son, Lor-Zod. With the crisis over and the United Planets established, the Els return to Earth.


Commentary: I jumped into this Superman storyline, endstream, but Bendis made it relatively painless. I quickly picked up the drift of what was going on. Of course, I especially enjoyed the re-introduction of the Legion! Brainy’s time miscalculation was a humorous slant. Excellent stories! Regarding Unity Day, Bendis no doubt had in mind the complete disunity in American politics these days. Pencillers, Ivan Reis, Kevin Maguire, and the rest of the illustration team do a fantastic job! Comic art has advanced by leaps and bounds since the Silver Age.

Next up: Next week, we’ll be reviewing the remaining two preludes; The Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 and #2.

Postscript: I was a fan of the Legion back in 1966-1968 and checked in every so often for 45 years until DC pulled the plug in 2013. See the index to my reviews of 35 Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes tales here.

Trivia alert: It’s no coincidence that Superman/Kal-El’s surname is “El.” El is a shortening of Elohim, one of the Hebrew words for God, and Kal-El could be interpreted as “voice of God” or “vessel of God.” Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were both Jewish. In several aspects, the Superman mythos resembles the story of Moses.

Legion of Super-Heroes Index: Adventure Comics #346 thru #380

Way back in mid-April, 2018, I began this series of bi-monthly reviews of Legion of Super-Heroes tales in Adventure Comics from DC Comic’s Silver Age. I began with issue #346 and ended with #380. That stretch was very significant because it marked the writing debut of young Jim Shooter. Teamed up with DC’s premier penciller, Curt Swan, the duo created some of the Legion’s most iconic stories that are still being talked about fifty years later. The stretch was personally significant for me as well because I became a fan of the Legion after buying Adventure Comics #350 and I continued buying the comic up to and including Adventure Comics #372.

So, without any further ado, below is an index to my 35 reviews of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics, #346 (July, 1966) thru #380 (May, 1969). The titles hyperlink to my reviews:

“One of Us is a Traitor!” –  Adventure Comics #346, July, 1966 – Ferro Lad, Karate Kid, Nemesis Kid, and Princess Projectra join the Legion, but one of them is a traitor.

“The Traitor’s Triumph!” – Adventure Comics #347, August, 1966 – In the conclusion, the Legion’s traitor is revealed.

“Target – 21 Legionnaires!” – Adventure Comics #348, September, 1966 – Dr. Regulus wages war against the Legion.

“The Rogue Legionnaire!” – Adventure Comics #349, October, 1966 – The Legion opposes Universo.

“The Outcast Super-Heroes!” – Adventure Comics #350, November, 1966 – Superboy and Supergirl are forced to quit the Legion and two mysterious strangers take their place.

“The Forgotten Legion!” – Adventure Comics #351, December, 1966 – In the conclusion, the Legion defeats the “Devil’s Dozen” and Starboy and Dream Girl become members.

“The Fatal Five!” – Adventure Comics #352, January, 1967 – The Legion teams up with the most powerful group of criminals in the Universe, the Fatal Five, to battle the Sun Eater.

“The Doomed Legionnaire!” – Adventure Comics #353, February, 1967 – In the conclusion, Ferro Lad sacrifices himself to save the Solar System.

“The Adult Legionnaires!” – Adventure Comics #354, March, 1967 – Superman visits the Legionnaires when they are adults and the team tangles with Ferro Lad’s twin brother.

“The War of the Legions!” – Adventure Comics #355, April, 1967 – In the conclusion, the adult Legionnaires battle the grown-up Legion of Super Villains.

“The Five Legion Orphans!” – Adventure Comics #356, May, 1967 – Five Legionnaires are transformed into tykes.

“The Ghost of Ferro Lad!” – Adventure Comics #357, June, 1967 – The Legion battles the Controller and gets some unexpected help.

“The Hunter!” – Adventure Comics #358, July, 1967 – The Legion battles the Hunter in the 30th-century version of “The Most Dangerous Game.”

“The Outlawed Legionnaires!” – Adventure Comics #359, August, 1967 – The Legion is banned and its members are hunted down like common criminals.

“The Legion Chain Gang!” – Adventure Comics #360, September, 1967 – In the conclusion,  the Legion’s nemesis is revealed to be Universo.

“The Unkillables!” – Adventure Comics #361, October, 1967 – An alien manipulates descendants of the most famous assassins in galactic history into attacking the Legion.

“The Chemoids Are Coming!” – Adventure Comics #362, November, 1967 – The Legion must stop Dr. Mantis Morlo and his environmentally-toxic experiments.

“Black Day for the Legion!” – Adventure Comics #363, December, 1967 – The conclusion of the Legion’s confrontation with Dr. Mantis Morlo.

“The Revolt of the Super-Pets!” – Adventure Comics #364, January, 1968 – The Legionnaires’ super-pets stage a rebellion.

“Escape of the Fatal Five!” – Adventure Comics #365, February, 1968 – The Universe’s most powerful criminal team returns and the Legion is in trouble. The introduction of Shadow Lass.

“The Fight for the Championship of the Universe!” – Adventure Comics #366, March, 1968 – The conclusion of the epic battle between the Legion and the Fatal Five.

“No Escape from the Circle of Death!” – Adventure Comics #367, April, 1968 – The Legion faces certain destruction at the hands of the “Dark Circle,” until they remember the “Miracle Machine.”

“The Mutiny of the Super-Heroines!” – Adventure Comics #368, May, 1968 – First, the super-pets revolted and now, the Legion’s female super-heroines.

“Mordru the Merciless!” – Adventure Comics #369, June, 1968 – The Legion confronts one of its most powerful enemies.

“The Devil’s Jury!” – Adventure Comics #370, July, 1968 – In the conclusion, the Legionnaires battle for their lives against Mordru, one of the most powerful villains in the Universe.

“The Colossal Failure!” – Adventure Comics #371, August, 1968 – Colossal Boy appears to betray the Legion.

“School for Super-Villains!” – Adventure Comics #372, September, 1968 – In the concluding story, the Legion determines the Legion of Super-Villains is extorting Colossal Boy.

“The Tornado Twins!” – Adventure Comics #373, October, 1968 – The Flash’s 30-century descendants give the Legion a “run for their money.”

“Mission: Diabolical!” – Adventure Comics #374, November, 1968 – It’s gang warfare, 30th-century style, and the Legion is caught in the crossfire.

“King of the Legion!” – Adventure Comics #375, December, 1968 – Bouncing Boy? King of the Legion? C’mon!

“The Execution of Chameleon Boy!” – Adventure Comics #376, January, 1969 – In the conclusion, Chameleon Boy is robbed of wedded bliss.

“Heroes for Hire!” – Adventure Comics #377, February, 1969 – The Legionnaires feign that they’re soldiers-for-hire in order to trap the crooks on the planet, Modo.

“Twelve Hours to Live!” – Adventure Comics #378, March, 1969 – The lives of five Legionnaires hang in the balance after being poisoned.

“Burial in Space!” – Adventure Comics #379, April, 1969 – In the conclusion, the Legion is forced to assist a race of weaklings in order to save their five dying comrades.

“The Legion’s Space Odyssey!” – Adventure Comics #380, May, 1969 – Superboy stages a convoluted ruse to protect his comrades.

The Legion navigates a convoluted ruse

Yes, my friends, it’s time to once again climb aboard our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for one final adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“The Legion’s Space Odyssey!”
Adventure Comics #380, May, 1969
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Win Mortimer, Inker: Jack Abel, Cover: Curt Swan and Mike Esposito

3 Stars

Plot

At the Legion’s headquarters in Metropolis, Superboy is performing a routine inspection of communications equipment when he is contacted by Dream Girl, who informs him of a mysterious pending catastrophe. The Boy of Steel immediately proceeds to gather up the other Legionnaires present at the compound – Bouncing Boy, Cosmic Boy, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Sun Boy, and Ultra Boy – when they are all suddenly transported to a distant planet. As the team contemplates how they’re going to get back to Earth, a powerful, dinosaur-like creature attacks and apparently kills Superboy (see cover).

After the team builds a monument to their fallen comrade, they create a temporary shelter on the apparently hostile planet and then proceed to build a makeshift spaceship using their unique powers. The team begins their slow “odyssey” back to earth, but encounters several challenges along the way, which they overcome.

As the returning wayfarers approach Earth, Ultra Boy, using his “penetra vision,” observes a deadly ray apparently annihilating everyone in the Legion clubhouse. But after the dust settles, Ultra Boy sees Superboy and Mon-El standing unharmed amidst the strewn parts of faux decoy Legionnaire robotic-doubles. The Legionnaires land their ship and learn from Superboy that he sent them to the distant planet to protect them from the prophesied attack, and the Legion of Super-Pets assisted in delaying their return by staging the multiple challenges.

The source of the deadly attack upon the Legion’s headquarters came from a ship that improbably plies the Sun’s molten surface. Inside the vessel, two criminals, Skyzznx and Alrrk, celebrate their assumed victory over the Legion, but the heroes teleport themselves inside the craft and confront the villains. With no way out, the dastardly duo destroy themselves.

Commentary

Shooter’s plot line in this tale is rather ridiculous. Why didn’t Superboy just warn his teammates of the impending attack you ask? He justifies the complicated ruse by saying he knew his teammates wouldn’t have believed him. Ach.

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This was our last review of DC Comic’s Silver Age Legion tales. We began our Legion “odyssey” way back on April 2018 with our review of “One of Us is a Traitor!” (Adventure Comics #346, July, 1966), Jim Shooter’s writing debut, and continued with the next thirty-four issues of Adventure Comics.

Following this issue, DC pulled the Legion from Adventure Comics and consigned the franchise to the secondary story in Action Comics. Jim Shooter’s last Legion tale appeared in Action Comics #384, January 1970.

I hope you had as much fun looking back at these old Silver Age Legion tales as I did! I’ll be posting an index of all 35 reviews shortly. In the meantime, DC is in the process of relaunching the Legion franchise and I’ll be posting about that very soon.

Postscript: Human beings have been attracted to tales of good heroes overcoming evil foes and dispensing justice for millennia after millennia. I’ll be writing a post about mankind’s fascination with heroes, super and otherwise, down the road.

Dead Legionnaires buried in space?

It’s time to once again climb aboard our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“Burial in Space!”
Adventure Comics #379, April, 1969
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Win Mortimer, Inker: Jack Abel, Cover: Neal Adams

4 Stars

Plot

At the conclusion of our previous issue, Adventure Comics #378 (see here), five Legionnaires – Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, and Superboy – teeter on the brink of death, with their enigmatic executioner gleefully celebrating over them, when suddenly, time mysteriously stops. Let’s pick up the action:

We learn that a strange alien from a highly-advanced race from the planet, Seeris, has intervened and stopped time at that specific location to momentarily save the dying Legionnaires. He had been hoping that the heroes could assist him with some unspecified problem, but their current condition makes that impossible. As he monitors the situation, another contingent of seven Legionnaires arrives at the team’s headquarters to find their five comrades and mistakenly assume them to be dead. The Seeron immediately transports to Legion headquarters and informs the heroes of all that transpired and proposes that he will cure their teammates if they will assist him with his problem.

The seven are quickly transported to Seeris where they are informed a warlike race of brutes has invaded the planet. The aggressors are of such low intelligence that they are almost impervious to the Seerons’ impressive mental powers. The Seerons are unable to resist the invaders because their complete emphasis on intellectual prowess over the centuries has rendered them physical weaklings and they have no defensive capabilities.

The seven Legionnaires – Chameleon Boy, Chemical King, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Star Boy, Timber Wolf, and Ultra Boy – agree to the deal and set out to stop the vanguard of the advancing horde. A battle ensues and the brutes prove to be more powerful than expected, forcing the Legionnaires to retreat.

In the meantime, ANOTHER contingent of the Legionnaires arrives at the team’s headquarters, also mistaking the five that are in stasis for being dead, and proceed to give them a burial with honors in space. Back on Seeris, the seven Legion members regroup and formulate a plan to build an impregnable fortress to stop the enemy’s advance. The brutes easily breech the citadel’s walls, but Ultra Boy is able to buy some time with his impressive powers. Ultra Boy then sends out an appeal to the entire Seeron race to join in the conflict despite their physical limitations. The sheer number of Seerons proves too much for the invaders and they are defeated.

In gratitude, the Seerons transport the septet back to Earth and send a “thought force” to end the localized time stasis and cure the five heroes of their poisoning. However, upon arriving, the seven discover their five teammates had been mistakenly buried in space. Taking a cue from Brainiac 5 in the last issue, Ultra Boy suggests they use the mysterious “Miracle Machine” and the quintet subsequently reappear at Legion headquarters, none the worse for wear. Who was it that poisoned the five Legionnaires in the first place? Come to find out it was only a penny-ante crook by the name of Alek Korlo. Sheesh!

Commentary

This was an entertaining conclusion to the two-issue tale. Perhaps the most interesting element of the saga was back in the previous issue when writer, Jim Shooter, employed a “park bench philosopher” to counsel the dying Princess Projectra to “accept the inevitable without brooding about it,” and to “think of what’s been good in your life…don’t bother regretting a moment and squeeze your last hours dry, too!” The lost certainly don’t have much to offer when it comes to dealing with death.

Below is a detail from the cover of this issue that I wanted to emphasize. Note what appears to be a minister in ceremonial robes sending off the apparently-dead Boy of Steel while holding a book clearly labeled “Bible.” Great! God gets His digs in even in a comic book from DC’s Silver Age!

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Detail from the cover showing a robed minister holding a clearly-labeled Bible!

Only one more issue to review in our Legion Silver Age series. That’ll be coming up in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, DC is currently in the process of reintroducing the fabled Legion franchise, so I’ll be replacing my bi-weekly reviews of Silver Age Legion tales with monthly reviews of new LSH stories hot off of DC’s presses.

Five Legionnaires must decide how to spend their final twelve hours

It’s time to once again climb aboard our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“Twelve Hours to Live!”
Adventure Comics #378, March, 1969
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Win Mortimer, Inker: Jack Abel, Cover: Neal Adams

5 Stars

Plot

A small contingent of Legionnaires – Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, and Superboy – are gathered at Legion Headquarters in Metropolis for a celebration; Brainiac 5’s birthday. As the quartet shares a toast to Brainac 5, he notices a strange powder coating the lining of his cup. He rushes to the lab and determines that he and his teammates have all been poisoned with a lethal substance for which there is no antidote and have only twelve hours to live (Superboy’s cup was specially treated with a Kryptonite-based poison, the only substance lethal to the Boy of Steel). Brainiac 5 suggests each person use their remaining time as they see fit and that they all reassemble in twelve hours to “face death together.”

Each Legionnaire chooses to spend their remaining hours differently. Braniac 5 returns back to the lab, racking his twelfth-level intellect for an antidote. Superboy returns to 20th century Smallville and his adoptive parents, the Kents, but grief overcomes him and he departs back to the 30th century to perform heroic good deeds as his final legacy. Duo Damsel spends her last hours with her parents, although without burdening them with her impending doom. Karate Kid opts to die battling crime and seeks out the most powerful team of villains in the Universe, the Fatal Five. With “nothing to lose,” the Kid is a formidable opponent, but the Five – Tharok, Mano, the Persuader, the Emerald Empress, and Validus – manage to escape. As for Princess Projectra, she sits alone on a park bench, overcome by grief, but a stranger intervenes who counsels her to “accept the inevitable without brooding about it.” Huh? Easy for him to say.

With time quickly running out, the Legionnaires glumly reassemble at their headquarters and Brainiac 5 sadly informs his teammates that he was unable to find an antidote in the interim. Superboy then writes the quintets’ collective legal will on a huge steel tablet using his “super-hard fingernail.” After Duo Damsel, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra sign the will with a “laser stylus,” they, along with Superboy, weaken and collapse. As Brainiac 5 also begins to feel the poison’s effects, it occurs to him that the mysterious Miracle Machine (featured in Adventure Comics #367, see here) could possibly save the dying quintet. Braniac 5 struggles to make his way to the storage room, but can’t crack the impenetrable “inertron” casing that seals the device. As life slowly ebbs from the collapsed Legionnaires, a shadowy figure enters the headquarters. However, just as the mysterious villain celebrates his victory over the dying heroes, time suddenly stops and all remain motionless.

Is this the end for Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, and Superboy? Who is the mysterious criminal who poisoned them and what force has stopped time for the dying Legionnaires and their executioner and why? We’ll have the answers to those questions in two weeks when we review the ominously titled, “Burial in Space,” in Adventure Comics #379.

Commentary

It’s strange that writer, Jim Shooter, chose to use the very same small contingent of Legionnaires that were featured in the preceding issue, Adventure Comics #377. It’s also interesting how Shooter portrays the different ways the fivesome individually attempt to cope with their impending deaths, especially Princess Projectra and the godless advice she received from the “park bench philosopher.” I’ll have more to say about that topic in next issue’s commentary. For the purposes of this review, I only devoted a few words to Karate Kid’s reckless suicide mission, single handedly battling the Fatal Five, but the minor plot line actually consumed eight full-pages of this issue. Superboy using his last ounce of strength to engrave the Legionnaires’ last will and testament on a mammoth steel tablet is a glaring example of over-the-top Silver Age melodramatics.

Dumb question: Am I missing something? Since Superboy and the other Legionnaires are able to time travel, why didn’t Superboy just go back a few minutes in time immediately after the poisoning and destroy the lethal beverage?

Count it down, my friends! Only two more Silver Age Legion tales left to review! and only 33 more days until DC reintroduces the Legion after a six-year hiatus with “Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1,” due in comic shops Wednesday, Sept. 18.