Tuesday, March 27, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #335

Adventure Comics #335 (August 1965)
title: "Starfinger!"
writer: Edmond Hamilton
penciller: John Forte
inker: Sheldon Moldoff
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Ultra Boy


Sun Boy cancels a date and Cosmic Boy says good-bye to his family so that they can attend the newest Legion meeting. They then join the others at the Medical Center to visit Lightning Lad. Garth is being checked out by Dr. Lars Hanscom, who is trying to grow Lighting Lad a new limb. The others get their annual physicals until they get an urgent summons from the Science Police.  
The newest mission is for the Legion to go get Thomas Keene and Rejuvium and bring it back to Earth. Several go off to do that. 
As they return to Earth, Starfinger and his gang show up at Nullport to try to steal it. The Legion stops them, but then Starfinger blasts a star freighter so that the  Legion has to save the people caught in the fire. Starfinger and his gang escapes. 
At Starfinger's head-quarters, we are shown that he has a body hidden in the back-room. His gang seems to think that he isn't as powerful as he seems. So he then tricks his men into thinking he has destroyed a satellite.  
Later, while the Legionnaires are together to discuss how to capture Starfinger, he and his gang go on live TV to make his demand: turn over Rejuvium to him or he will destroy the Seven Wonders of the Universe. However, the UP refuses Starfinger's demands, so he vows to destroy the seven wonders. 
We see Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy, and Star Boy are on-site at Sun City, a moving city that follows the sun that is always in sunlight. In fact, Starfinger attacks using his force-thrust ray, blasting the rail the city is moving on. Colossal Boy stops the city from crashing while Star Boy uses his mass control to drop Starfinger into the ocean. They can't let him drown, so he stops blasting him. That gives Starfinger a chance to blast Star Boy in turn, putting him in a strange, death-like coma. 

Saturn Girl rushes Star Boy back to Legion head-quarters, where Brainiac 5 looks Star Boy over and says that Star Boy's star-based powers were neutralized. Brainy asks Mon-El to orbit around a colossal star for several days so that the star-energy can revive him. 
Meanwhile, four Legionnaires chase after Starfinger as he tries to escape from Sun City. Starfinger uses a reverse mirror defense against the Legionnaires' attacks and knocks out Element Lad. Cosmic Boy tries to use his magnetism, so Starfinger produces a steel net which Cosmic Boy accidentally brings to himself. Invisible Kid tries to catch up to Starfinger, but Starfinger uses super-hearing ear-phones to "hear" him, then uses fluorescent dust that sticks to Invisible Kid to catch him. So Starfinger escapes again! 
Meanwhile, at the Stratosphere Laboratory, Ultra Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, and Phantom Girl are waiting for Starfinger. Ultra Boy scans the area with his ultra-vision and thinks he sees Starfinger in a truck. However this is actually a gang member made-up to look like Starfinger, and the real Starfinger attacks Ultra Boy, knowing that he is busy using his vision power. 

The other Legionnaires arrive and Starfinger shoots Green Kryptonite at Superboy, turns Matter-Eater Lad into metal, shrinks Colossal Boy, makes Phantom Girl into a permanent phantom, and makes Light Lass super-heavy. As the laboratory platform falls, Saturn Girl says she got a fleeting thought that Starfinger was actually a Legionnaire! 

I know that Starfinger gets a bad rap because he is not a well-designed character, but as a story this issue is not all bad. Starfinger proves a pretty difficult foe for the Legion and his five specific blasts are formidable. However, I am a little bit confused as to how he is suddenly able to turn Matter-Eater Lad into a metal man and otherwise affect the Legionnaires as is shown on the cover. I think this was probably one of those instances where the cover was drawn first and then the writer, in this case Edmond Hamilton, had to write a story around it? Maybe he decided not to stress the situation that he was actually given. For example, Superboy doesn't show up until the end of this story, which I liked, and a character who can "reflect" the Legionnaires' powers back against them is not that interesting an idea...atleast, as shown here.

Anyway, I liked how Starfinger threatened the Legion and managed to escape from them several times. Of course, the bit with Starfinger convincing his henchmen that he's *really* super-powerful even though he's not....probably left a lot of readers confused. Even though I know how this story ends, I found this bit "off" and not really a coherent part of the plot. If you don't know what's coming, come back next week after you read next issue's review and let us know what you think.

Starfinger's powers seemed to be as follows:
Thumb: Neutralizer Ray
1st Finger: Lightning
2nd/Middle Finger: Force-Thrust Ray
3rd Finger: Heat Ray
4th/Pinky: Freezing Ray
All Together: Power Distortion Ray

....although the Freezing Ray and the Heat Ray seemed to be mixed up a couple times.

And the last panel reveal that Starfinger is actually a Legionnaire...!?! Was the idea that one of the Legionnaires may have gone "bad" new in 1965? It's kind of hard to believe that this was an actual threat, but of course that was exactly what made the reveal of Nemesis Kid two years after this so dramatic...

The design of Starfinger, though....yeah, one of the worst looks ever. I can only assume that artist John Forte came up with this concept. Not one of his better ones, shall we say?

As an extra added bonus, here's the Legion Outpost letters' page from this issue.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Cosmic Boy's family makes their debut in this story: unnamed mother, father, and younger brother who will eventually become Ewa, Hu, and Pol. 
  • Although Cosmic Boy's mother worries about him because the Legion "has had more than one casualty...." at this point no one has actually been killed. Methinks she meant to say "injuries." 
  • Besides being the name of one of the 30th Century's 7 Wonders, Sun City was a notorious luxury resort and casino located in the northwest area of South Africa. Founded in 1979, it became famous in the late 80s for paying singers high wages to play there. In 1985 it was immortalized by Steven Van Zandt and Artists United Against Apartheid with their pop hit, "(Ain't Gonna Play) Sun City." 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 4 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.


  1. "Casualty" can refer to both injuries and deaths. (Which means that Lightning Lad fulfills Cosmic Mom's "more than one casualty" all by himself!)

  2. I stand corrected. Who'd have thought Cosmic Mom's command of the English language would be better than mine!