Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #338


Adventure Comics #338 (November 1965)
Title: The Menace of the Sinister Super-Babies
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: John Forte
Letterer: Milton Snappin
Editor: Mort Weisinger
Cover Artists: Curt Swan and George Klein
Reviewer: Sarcasm Kid

Mission Monitor Board: Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Matter-Eater Lad, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Superboy, Ultra Boy

Opponents: Glorith of Baaldur, Time Trapper

I picked Adventure #338 out of all the Silver Age issues to review because Glorith is my favorite of the Legion Big Bads. She is so nasty and petty compared to the Time Trapper and Mordru, but nasty in a non-complicated way....unlike Mordru with all that stalking abuse subtext between him and White Witch (again, Johns, thank you SO much for bringing all that back in LO3W). As a sidenote, I’ve been referring to the universe the 5YL Legion comics take place in as “Earth-338” since this was Glorith’s first appearance. Also this issue is hilarious with the way the Time Trapper is acting like some Saturday Morning Cartoon Villain with all his evil plans.

We start off with Superboy, horrified by the sight of several of his Legion teammates having been turned into super toddlers. And even worse, they’re all flying towards the Time Trapper! The Trapper gloats to Superboy that his friends would rather play with their “Uncle Time Trapper.”

(Stranger Danger... in the FUTURE)

But how did we get to this point?

The book turns back to start the story at what seems to be a desolate, destroyed city-scape in the far future. This is the era of the Time Trapper, and inside his hideous base he laughs a horrible laugh, much to the displeasure of his brutish, underdeveloped servants. The Trapper summons forth his beautiful hench-woman, Glorith of the planet Baaldur. And wow, those eyebrows of hers are not playing around.

Because the Trapper is so eeeeeeevil, he calls Glorith to his side so he might whisper his new fiendish plan to her. Glorith can’t help but congratulate her master on fostering such a wicked scheme of wickedness. To start off, the Trapper hands Glorith a special hourglass and orders her to give it to one of his slaves. That slave shall go free AND he’s gonna get all the riches his heart could desire.

Ohmygodthatssoevil!

Glorith gives the hourglass to the ugliest, stupidest slave. The moment the slave touches the hourglass with his bare skin, he begins to get younger. And younger. And younger. Until he becomes a puddle of protoplasm, much to Glorith’s delight.


Of course she was unharmed because she was wearing her special gloves rendering the hourglass’s effect useless. Having tested out the hourglass, Glorith is granted passage to the 30th Century past the Trapper’s Iron Curtain of Time so she might turn the Legion of Super-Heroes into slime. Before she departs, the Trapper gives Glorith a ring, knowing the old saying about puttin’ a ring on it.


Meanwhile, in the 30th Century, Invisible Kid is on an awkward date with man-hungry Markita…
Element Lad’s finished a statue commissioned by Matter-Eater Lad for Tenzil’s parents…


And Chameleon Boy’s on set as “The Terrible Cyclopean Creature”…


When they’re all summoned back to HQ by Saturn Girl. Imra’s got great news for everybody! It’s almost time for the fight against their deadliest enemy, the Time Trapper! The Legionnaires arrive at a nearby amusement park to meet Glorith, who is supposedly going to betray the Time Trapper to the Legion.


GUYS. GUYS NO. LOOK AT HER EYEBROWS. THOSE ARE EVILBROWS.

AND IMRA FOR GOD’S SAKE YOU’RE A MIND READER HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT THIS WOMAN’S GONNA MURDER YOU ALL.

Ultra Boy asks how they know Glorith really does work for the Time Trapper. She tests the Legionnaires to seize her; most of the boys try and Glorith repels them with the Trapper’s ring. The ring creates an effect similar to the Iron Curtain of Time. As further proof, she presents the Trapper’s hourglass and invites them to take it. And for some convenient reason, ALL the Legionnaires manage to grab the hourglass and they rapidly begin to de-age, much to Glorith’s delight.


However, the process stops as the Legionnaires become infants. A horrified Glorith quickly deduces that the nearby fountain of rare chemicals from other worlds must’ve had an effect on the atmosphere in the area, neutralizing the hourglass’s effect. Because okay.


The Time Trapper’s watching the entire thing from his fortress and is all “BAH!” YOU HAD ONE THING, GLORITH.


Figuring if you want something done right, he heads into his personal rocket and decides to finish the Legionnaires off by himself.

At the same time, Superboy and Brainiac 5 are travelling in a time sphere to answer a future S.O.S. The two notice a weak spot in the Trapper’s Iron Curtain, and arrive into a future where Earth’s been decimated by nuclear war and humanity’s reverted to primitivism. Superboy steps in to beat up some beasts ravaging humanity’s survivors so they now have room to rebuild civilization, but now Brainy fears the Legion needs help. Unfortunately, they’re now stuck on the other side of the Iron Curtain, which Brainy realizes was the Time Trapper’s intent.


Via the bubble’s timescope, the two Legionnaires see the Trapper and Glorith gloating as they plan to finish off the other members.


Part II opens up with Ultra Baby stealing a damn TRAIN before cutting back to the Time Trapper and Glorith gloating about how they’re gonna kill a bunch of babies, while Superboy and Brainy are helpless to watch through the timescope. However, Imra, who despite being too young to have been potty trained at this point, is now apparently smart enough to read the Trapper’s thoughts to know that he’s bad.

As the Trapper kicks Invisi-Baby around, Chameleon Baby tries to scare away the bad man by turning into a monster. However, he just scares the other Legion Babies. Cham changes into a jack-o’-lantern thinking that will work, but the Trapper decides to smash him against a rock. As Lil’ Light Lass saves Cham from death, the Trapper comes up with a new plan to use the Legion Babies before he kills them.

Having conveniently stashed a bunch of pigor banks (like piggy banks but based on the pigor) in his rocket, the Trapper shares them with the Legion Babies to show he’s not such a scary hooded faceless man. The Legionnaires are thrilled by the noise the banks make when money is put in them;  unfortunately Uncle Time Trapper doesn’t have enough money. Luckily for them, he points them in the direction of a bank, which has got LOTS of money.


The Trapper proceeds to use the Legion Babies to commit several crimes for him, stealing a train loaded with a rare metal, an advanced robotic doll, and giant “jelly beans” (huge gems) buried under Metropolis. The general public are horrified that the Legion’s been turned into criminal babies, that is, babies who are also criminals, and are as powerless to stop them as Superboy and Brainy are.
Meanwhile, back at the amusement park, the Trapper is plying Glorith with compliments saying she was his inspiration, and asks to kiss her hand. Glorith’s completely full of herself and, believing she’s enchanted the most evil man in the universe, removes her glove… so the Trapper can place the hourglass in her grasp!

Glorith somehow has enough time to scream in perfect detail that the hourglass is gonna kill her before the next panel cuts to her immediately having turned into protoplasm. The Trapper mocks her for her incompetence.

The Trapper gets inside his spacecraft with his loot and the Legion Babies. The two Legionnaires in the time stream manage to navigate the time bubble so, even if they can’t enter to the 30th Century, they can follow the Trapper to his destination. The Trapper has unloaded his goods on a seemingly deserted planet (where one of his secret labs is located) with an atmosphere that will continue the age regression of the Legion Babies. However, the Legion Babies aren’t happy because those “jelly beans” taste awful.


Element Baby comes to the rescue, by turning the Trapper’s rocket into candy! The Trapper bemoans his horrible luck as the Legion Babies devour his ship, saying things can’t POSSIBLY get any worse…

And then they do, because the mechanism that generates the Iron Curtain was ON that ship. Now that the Curtain’s gone, Superboy and Brainiac 5 can re-enter the 30th  Century and are prepared to beat the Time Trapper’s ass. The Trapper cowers and begs the two to spare him as Star Baby says he found a “toy.” The Trapper points out he’s the only one who can save the Legion Babies from regressing into slime, so if they spare him and fix his ship he’ll save their teammates. Superboy refuses to deal with him, but Brainy, as current Legion leader, accepts the conditions.

The Trapper mentally gloats to himself as he whips out a chemical spray that restores the Legion Babies to normal. Superboy manufactures new parts for a spaceship from… stuff, and the Legion departs in the bubble. The Trapper can’t believe how easy that worked out, and Superboy chastises Brainy for making deals with such evil scum. Brainy, however, points to the timescope, and the Legionnaires watch as the Trapper is unable to enter his ship!


Brainy explains he saw the “toy” Star Baby had was really Glorith’s forcefield ring. He tampered with the device so it would act on a timer, enveloping the Trapper’s ship in the forcefield and thus making it impossible for him to get inside. Hey, they said he could have a working ship, they never said he’d be able to get inside of it!

This issue is so ridiculous because of how cartoony the Time Trapper comes across, a far cry from the cold and malevolent schemer who did such things as try to drive Lightning Lad to madness and demoralize the Legion by revealing that he created Superboy. I recall they once mentioned the Trapper was being impersonated by one of the Controllers, so I wonder if they used that to explain his behavior in this issue.

However, the Trapper explicitly mentioned this case in "LO3W" as when the Legion humiliated him, so maybe not.

Even with how ridiculous this story is, the idea of being regressed into a lump of slime is a pretty terrifying way to die, and the Trapper doesn't shy away from doing just that on the unsuspecting Glorith. So even when he's a ham the Trapper is dangerous.

It was pretty contrived how the Trapper just happened to have so much stuff in that rocket of his, and even though the Legionnaires laugh at him stuck on that planet, they honestly forgot he's got an entire lab on that planet so it's not like he would've been trapped forever.

It impresses me the writers reached so far back to this issue and pulled out a one-shot baddie like Glorith to replace the Time Trapper during the 5YL era. Her design is gorgeous and equally ridiculous with how those eyebrows manage to scream "EVIL."

(Glorith by Robert Hack)

Over on "Legion Outpost" there were a couple of interesting letters. For starters, Roger Woods wrote complaining about how Superboy was able to hit a baseball into orbit with the ball being destroyed. The editors joke "When Superboy connects with a pitch, even the air molecules get out of the way-wouldn't you? Ha, ha!"

Hope Roberts wrote in asking why they changed the symbol on Light Lass's outfit from a cloud to a feather. Apparently people didn't understand that the cloud was supposed to represent her anti-gravity abilities in terms of lightness, so the symbol became a feather. I never knew this is why the symbol changed, but I always wondered about it.

The rest of the Legion Outpost included letters chosen after the editors asked readers to tell them who their favorite Legionnaires were.
  1. Marshall Carpenter chose Mon-El because he's smart, brave, terrific, and self-sacrificing. He thinks he'd be great even without powers.
  2. Thomas Tuna picked Superboy, because he's "Super-powerful, Upright, Polite, Extraordinary, Remarkable, Brave, Outstanding, and Young."
  3. Dominick Corrado picked Colossal Boy because he's the Jolly Green Giant of the Legion, and because Dominick's a big kid it gives him someone to sympathize with. He always plays Colossal Boy when playing the Legion. And hey, Dominick's from the Bronx like me!
  4. Michael Colby went with Cosmic Boy, because he's so magnetic and... attractive. Michael's fascinated by how Rokk always gets out of trouble.
  5. Jim Austin picked the entire Legion, because without them working together they're no good.
  6. Kirk Hall goes with Invisible Kid because Lyle's modest.
  7. Steve Games went with Lightning Lad, clarifying it's not because he feels bad for him for the shit he's gone through; he thinks he's great on his own.
  8. Naomi Kakritz likes Brainiac 5 because he's so smart, and because if Supergirl likes him so does she. She wishes she could be as smart as Brainy.
  9. Ben Wright likes Element Lad because his costume's cool, his power's original, and his backstory's interesting.
Status: 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 4 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.

Milestone: 
This issue features the debut of Glorith, who would become the Big Bad of the Five Years Later Legion, more than twenty years after this story was published. It is also the first time the Legion is shown facing down the Time Trapper. 

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Is he someone? Related to Charlie, perhaps?

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  2. The whole idea of being "de-aged" into a lump of protoplasm was pretty scary to my younger self. And this was also my first encounter with the whole "demonstrate how evil you are by randomly murdering a henchperson" trope.

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  3. EEE-EE-YAA AAA!

    Thanks for the recap on the power of The Hourglass, Glorith! Enjoy your protoplasmic interlude... ;)

    ReplyDelete