Tuesday, December 26, 2017

TOS: Adventure Comics #324

Adventure Comics #324 (Sept 1964)
title: "The Legion of Super-Oulaws!"
writer: Edmond Hamilton
penciller: John Forte
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Invisible Kid, Colossal Boy, Mon-El; cameos by Ultra Boy, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Sun Boy, Saturn Girl

Guests: 
The Heroes of Lallor: Beast Boy, Gas Girl, Evolvo Lad, Life Lass, and Duplicate Boy

Opponents: 
Dr. Marden King

Dr. Marden King, brilliant but warped scientist, (insert cackle here) has a blood-feud going on with the Legion. They may not know it, but we do. How do we know? Because he tells us.
It seems that his brother was the Jungle King, and Dr. King blames the Legion for his brother's death. Actually, he isn't dead. He changed his name, signed a long-term contract with National Periodical Publications, and starred in Bomba, the Jungle Boy. But that's another story. 
Dr. King checks in on the planet Lallor, and explains to us that several years ago an exposure to an accidental atomic explosion gave five children on that planet incredible powers. He then narrates a flashback sequence that he has no possible way of knowing, but, okay, Silver Age Comics.
Beast Boy can turn into any animal he wishes. Gas Girl can become any vapor she wishes. Evolvo Lad can more forward or backward in evolution as he wishes. Life Lass can animate any inamimate object she wishes. And Duplicate Boy can duplicate any other super-power he wishes. Gosh, if wishes were nickels!

Unfortunately for our Heroes of Lallor, it seems that Prime Minister Vorr, has decided that these five kids and their inherent goodness posed a threat to his reign. So in a moment of pure evil, he banished them into space. This is where Dr. King learned about them and contacted them and told them that they would be welcome to live on Earth, maybe in his very big mansion on the hill (insert dramatic lightning strikes). But then he tells them a great big fib: that the Legion may want to stop them from coming over and staying over at his place. They tell him they will fight if they have to. (Insert wicked cackle here).
Dr. King that Big Meanie calls for help from the Legion, telling them that the Lallorians are super-outlaws on their way to Earth! Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, and Invisible Kid decide to head out and do what they can when Super Dick arrives, too. He disses his friends like some type of Jock Jerk as they head off to meet the new threat. You don't believe me? Read the panel reprinted above! The others suck it up in order to hang out with the Big Man On Campus, enabling his bullying to continue. Meanwhile, Evolvo Lad becomes a futuristic future man with incredible wisdom who plans their strategy. (That's not a future man, that's a genius. Is everyone in the future a genius? Clearly not!)
When the Legionnaires arrive at Dr. King's home the Heroes of Lallor are ready for them. Duplicate Boy duplicates Superboy's powers, tossing him into a Green Kyrptonite cage that Dr. King had prepared (not weird, that). Gas Girl knocks out Star Boy, Beast Boy turns into  blind beast with terrific hearing who then hears and captures the invisible Invisible Kid. Shrinking Violet, showing that she isn't as dumb as everyone says she is, chooses to retreat. Unfortunately, Duplicate Goy goes after her and in one of Violet's most embarrassing moments actually saves her from a common weasel. This is a Legionnaire? She then, of course, falls in love with him. Who didn't see THAT coming? It must be the spit-curl and the swim trunks calling attention to his crotch. Who could resist him?
After Our Heroes are captured, Dr. King orders the Lallorians to kill them. They, being inherently good, refuse. They just want a place to live! So Dr. King suggests that the Heroes of Lallor take the initiative and break into the Legion Club-House to grab all of the Legions's weapons. They agree, and four of the five head off. Gas Girl is able to get thru the Club-House security and they successfully steal the Legion's arsenal. While this is going on, Duplicate Boy is on Guard Duty but all he sees is Violet; she is also making googly-eyes at him. Of course, Star Boy doesn't use his mass control powers on  him, and Invisible Kid doesn't try to sneak away. These are Legionnaires?
While the Legionnaires are imprisoned Dr. King records their voices and then splices their phrases together to make it sound as if they are plotting to kill the Lallorians. Duplicate Boy is convinced that the Legion is evil but is still unwilling to kill them, so Dr. King convinces him to place them all in suspended animation. When Duplicate Boy goes to get them, Star Boy and Invisible Kid fight with him, allowing Shrinking Violet to escape unnoticed. (I thought Dupe was just watching her?!) She gets to a Legion cruiser to warn the other Legionnaires, but Duplicate Boy goes after her and forces her to land on an uninhabited war-ruined planet called Mlain. Duplicate Boy admits that he likes her and is willing to let her go free, but she admits that she has already called in reinforcements. So there! Still, she begs him to retreat. Too late for that, more Legionnaires arrive on Mlain and attack Duplicate Boy.
Colossal Boy grows to face Duplicate Boy but he duplicates Gim's powers and knocks him out. The big dummy. Mon-El attacks next. While they are fighting, Violet calls out that she loves Duplicate Boy and doesn't want Mon-El to hurt him. Rather than risk her being injured in their fighting, Duplicate Boy gives up. They continue to eye each other shyly as Ultra Boy and Mon-El both think, "THIS guy?!?" 

Back at Legion Club-House, the other Heroes of Lallor stumble upon the records and citations of the Legion and realize that they are not evil after all. You think? Dr. King plans to use a power-stealing ray on the Legionnaires, but when he is confronted by the Heroes of Lallor and his plan is unravelling he threatens to use it on them instead. In an incredibly clever bit, Life Lass animates the chair that he is sitting in to hold him and he is captured. Inherent goodness for the win!
When Duplicate Boy and Shrinking Violet return to Earth together, the other Heroes of Lallor have already freed the imprisoned Legionnaires. Down-heartened at being so easily manipulated by Dr. King, they are preparing to use his power-stealing ray on themselves when Superboy stops them.
He suddenly knows humility from spending the entire adventure in a Kryptonite cage and tells them he thinks the Lallorians are swell. The Legion escorts them back to Lallor, where Prime Minister Vorr has been driven from office. Holy Plot Device! Shrinking Violet and Duplicate Boy then say their tearful good-byes, with Duplicate Boy promising to visit Earth again soon. Gosh!!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Beast Boy of Lallor is not to be confused with Beast Boy of the Doom Patrol and New Teen Titans. Gar Logan made his debut in Doom Patrol #99 (Nov 1965), more than a year after this story appeared. Their looks are totally different, but their powers are basically the same.  
  • Duplicate Boy is cited as the leader of the Heroes in this story, although in all future appearances Evolvo Lad is shown to be their leader. 
  • Is it just an odd coincidence that the bad guy this time is called Dr. Marden King? Isn't that a BIT too close to the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner author and activist Dr. Martin (Luther) King, Jr? Is it just a coincident that the good doctor is lying to young people and "leading them astray"? Or was this some attempt at white writer/editor at subtlety? I don't know, but the name leaves a bad taste in my mouth, regardless. 
Status: 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 3 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.

Milestone: 
This is the debut of the Heroes of Lallor as well as the Shrinking Violet-Duplicate Boy romance that lasted for the next twenty years.

7 comments:

  1. I always thought that the ultimate fate of Beast Boy (of Lallor) was a result of the popularity of Beast Boy (of the Doom Patrol) as you couldn't have two characters with the same name, even in different centuries.

    As for the King/King thing, if there was any political intent behind it, it went right past me and still would have if you hadn't pointed it out.

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  2. When I first read the "Dr. Marden King/Dr. Martin Luther King" thing, my first reaction was "oh, great. LSB has gone full Social Justice Warrior, just like Comic Book Resources."

    But then I gave it some more thought. In addition to your points, I came up with one more.

    This Dr. MK was trying to avenge his brother. Our Dr. MLK was working to promote brotherhood.

    Kind of a stretch, but it does tie in.

    My gut says maybe a 5% chance -- at best -- that this was a deliberate reference. I'm more inclined to think that it's more a matter of the name being in the popular consciousness and Hamilton subconsciously echoed it.

    But it's not as out there as I initially thought.

    On the story, though... nice, fun early Legion silliness. And the heroes of Lallor -- especially Duplicate Boy -- would become very important in Legion history.

    For example, his confrontation with Colossal Boy over (the fake) Shrinking Violet was huge in the post-Great Darkness stories, and eventually led to the Shrinking Violet/Lightning Lass relationship.

    And, oddly enough, both ended with him getting his ass kicked a bit...

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  3. I only pointed out the King/King similarities because I noticed them. And please note, I do leave open the possibility that it was simply a coincidence. *I* just can't like this character.

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  4. Oh, please don't get all defensive. My INITIAL response was that your observation was worth mocking, but you got me thinking about it.

    There's a lot of nuttiness in the comic book world going on right now, with the Social Justice Warriors going whole hog -- and ruining a whole lot of stuff. And it's hurting them - the saying is developing: "get woke, go broke."

    Here, I thought we had another case of it, and I was initially grossly disappointed.

    But then I set aside my prejudices and looked at your observation objectively, without putting it in the context of the nuts at Comic Book Resources and Marvel. And good grief, there was a grain of possible truth there.

    The "Dr. Marden King"/"Dr. Martin Luther King" is a hell of a coincidence, and I think it's more than possible that Hamilton had Dr. King in mind -- even subconsciously -- when he named the character.

    You made my brain hurt in an interesting way.

    Hey, has anyone ever done an article comparing Earthwar and Great Darkness? I jumped on to Legion about 6 months before Earthwar, and when Great Darkness came out, I saw some interesting parallels...

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    Replies
    1. Haha, okay! I wasn't trying to be defensive, but I can see where I maybe sounded like I was.

      We would love to read your comparisons between Earthwar and Great Darkness. Write it up and send it to legionbloggers@gmail.com and we'll probably use it!

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  5. Crap, that first line didn't come out right. I didn't mean "don't get all defensive" in the context of being condescending, but in the sense of "you raised an interesting point that is worth considering, own it!" sense.

    Outside of the prejudiced context I brought to it (Marvel and CBR ruining comics), it's a fun little conspiracy theory that is worth kicking around. It's not as fun as "Jar-Jar is a secret Sith Lord," but it's not complete garbage.

    And it's a hell of a lot better than "Svaughn is secretly a man" or "Garth is really Proty." Those stories should be taken out and shot.

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  6. Duplicate Boy could have been a great addition to the Legion but the writers couldn't figure out how to use him .

    Marvel came along with "Exiles" and used the "Mimic's" characters abilities perfectly, making him only 50% as powerful as the being he duplicating and five powers tops !

    DC also missed the boat on "Nemesis Kid" as neither has been used in over a decade in the Legions books !

    ReplyDelete