Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #331

Adventure Comics #331 (April 1965)
title: "The Triumph of the Legion of Super-Villains!"
writer: Jerry Siegel
penciller: Jim Mooney
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, El
ement Lad, Mon-El; cameos by Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lad, Triplicate Girl, Invisible Kid, and Cosmic Boy

Guest Stars: 
The Legion of Substitute Heroes: Polar Boy, Night Girl, Stone Boy, Chlorophyll Kid, and Fire Lad

Opponents: 
Dynamo Boy, the Legion of Super-Villains (Cosmic King, Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen)

Last issue, as you may recall, we left the Legion of Super-Heroes consisting of only one member: Dynamo Boy had joined as a spy for a gang of pirates and then used his mysterious Power Belt to cause all the other Legionnaires to be expelled. He now runs interviews for new members. Using his Power Belt he can "read" applicants' auras to tell if they are secretly Evil or inherently Good. 
Suddenly, three members of the Adult Legion of Super-Villains appear from the future and request to join because they are reformed. Cosmic King has brought along a pistol to demonstrate his transmutation ability by changing bullets into sponges.  He then tells his origin, of how he accidentally gained the power of transmutation while doing experiments. Lighting Lord admits that he is Lightning Lad's and Light Lass's older brother. And Saturn Queen scares Dynamo Boy with her super-hypnotic powers. Dynamo Boy knows that they have not reformed, so gladly admits them as Legionnaires. 

Later, the Legion of Substitute Heroes confront the three Legion of Super-Villains and are in the middle of a pretty keen battle when Dynamo Boy arrives and chastises the Subs, telling them to get lost and mind their own business. 
The Subs fly off, terribly rejected. Then Dynamo Boy admits to the three villains that he knows they are not reformed. He tells them the truth and they all plan to act like super-heroes during the day and to steal at night. They all chuckle madly. 
The next day each new Legionnaire appears to do good deeds during the day-time, then steal various things at night. 


Later, Dynamo Boy returns to the pirate planetoid to receive a gold crown from the pirate leader. However, Dynamo Boy suspects treachery so makes the leader where the crown first. Sure enough,, the crown scrambles the man's brain. The pirates vote to make Dynamo Boy their new leader, but he defers and returns to Earth. 
As soon as Dynamo Boy returns, the three new Legionnaires confront him with terrible news. They tell him that they had used a Matter-Dissolver Beast to kill all of the other former Legionnaires, and now Superboy is after them for vengeance. He threatens Dynamo Boy, who he holds personally responsible.  Dynamo Boy's Power Belt is missing, so the Legionnaires offer him their time machine in order to escape from Superboy. Dynamo Boy rushes into it, but is shocked to find that the controls are pre-set to take him into the far future and strand him there. 
Back in the 30th Century, Superboy communicates with the three Legionnaires and challenges them to meet on Asteroid YW89. He promises that he and the others facing them will NOT use their powers to resist. Hoping for a great deal, the evil Legionnaires rush off to the asteroid. 

Superboy, Element Lad, and Mon-El are waiting for the Legion of Super-Villains. Element Lad turns himself into a lightning rod against Lighting Lord, Mon-El is invulnerable to Cosmic King's super scientific weapon, and Superboy's mind is powerful enough to resist Saturn Queen's command to turn Evil. 
Suddenly, the asteroid begins to self-destruct. When the evil Legionnaires used their powers it triggered a sub-atomic chain reaction that cannot be stopped. The Legionnaires tell the villains that they are leaving them to die. The villains beg to be saved, giving themselves up to the Science Police. Later, they are taken back to their time period. 

The Legion of Super-Heroes reforms, and their first act is to expel the four evil members. 


Review: 
Was it just last month that I said that the story I was reviewing at the time was the dumbest Superboy story I had ever read? Well, now I'm amending that this week, as THIS is the dumbest Legion story I have ever read. Let's see what this classic has going for it.

The idea that one member could come into the Legion and expel everybody else is an interesting one. I'm not against that as a plot device per se. However, the idea that he would then admit TIME TRAVELLING ADULT BAD GUYS is just something from an awful episode of Lost in Space. And really, why in the world was this story not the actual debut of young Cosmic King, Lightning Lord, and Saturn Queen!? It would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce them! It would have been infinitely better if they had all come forward to infiltrate the Legion at its weakest, just to find that they all got along great and decided they belonged together as a Legion of their own? Lighting Lad and Light Lass could have been involved in the drama as Lighting Lord's siblings. Cosmic King could have faced down Element Lad in a tour de force. As it is, the Ranzz Family drama is not mentioned at all in this story.

And of course, the betrayal of Dynamo Boy would have been better if he had simply been killed or disposed of by them. How disturbing would it have been if Saturn Queen drove him mad, Cosmic King turned his belt to water, and Lightning Lord shocked him to death? MUCH more dramatic than maneuvering him to time travel to the Great Disaster.

Also, I mentioned this last week in my review of part 1 but I was disappointed that Supergirl did not appear in this story. In fact, I was disappointed that the Legion didn't really appear in this story!

The best thing about this story BY FAR is the appearance of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. They nearly defeat the Legion of Super-Villains until Dynamo Boy orders them off. I especially like the idea of Stone Boy able to change only his fist into stone (cool!) and Night Girl carrying around black-out bombs ala Dr. Mid-Nite. I don't know why those two improvements were not allowed to "stick." Regardless, their fine showing here made it even more painful when Dynamo Boy yelled at them. I hope that the Legionnaires apologized to them the next time they met.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dynamo Boy is not shown to be rescued, although it seems unlikely that the Legion would have left him to die in the far-flung future. 
Status: 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 4 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.

Milestone: 
Dynamo Boy and the Legion of Super-Villains are expelled from the Legion in this story.

3 comments:

  1. It's kind of problematic to judge fifty year old stories by the standards of today. Back then, comic books were simply short-term entertainment and not meant to be thought about too seriously.

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    Replies
    1. Well, maybe, but on the other hand some stories DO stand the test of time. This one just doesn't.

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  2. This one breaks a fundamental rule of two-part stories. The problem addressed in the second part needs to be closely tied to the problem created in the first part. There's no real resolution to the Legion vs. Dynamo Boy dynamic, because it's totally derailed by this additional plot of the LSV.

    Although I do kind of appreciate the horror of Dynamo Boy being trapped in a distant, post-apocalyptic future. That's pretty harsh.

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