Tuesday, May 22, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #341

Adventure Comics #341 (February, 1966)
title: "Colossal Boy's One-Man War!"
writer: Edmond Hamilton (plot by Jerry Siegel?)
penciller: Curt Swan
inker: Sheldon Moldoff
letterer: Milton Snapinn
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewers: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage and Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Mon-El, Chameleon Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, Light Lass, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, Superboy, Sun Boy, Star Boy, and new Legionnaire Duo Damsel; cameos by Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid

Bouncing Boy, Proty II


Computo and his army of robots have taken over Metropolis, capturing several of the Legionnaires while doing so and murdering Triplicate Girl. Taking a moment from their fight against the Computer Conqueror, the Legion first argues amongst themselves, then holds a funeral for Triplicate Girl. 
Mike: This story has raised the stakes in a way that several previous Legion stories have tried but failed to do. (I am looking at you Earth/Krypton War in Adventure Comics #333.) The splash page introducing a new Legionnaire is...unusual, which I will return to later, but the next page has some fantastic classic sci-fi images by Curt Swan of the robot army terrorizing the citizens of Metropolis and shows a number of Legionnaires having been captured already. That's a heck of an opening.
Russell: No argument there. This story starts with a bang!
Because the Legionnaire was totally disintegrated by Computo, Brainiac 5 creates a machine to attract the inert matter that used to be Triplicate Girl. This cosmic dust is set in a rocket and sent off to Shanghalla, the cemetery planet. 
Mike: Matter-Eater Lad had a great moment there standing up to Brainiac 5, I only regretted how quickly he backed down when Superboy confronted him. I wish the feelings of Matter-Eater Lad had become an ongoing plot in the issue. Also nice to see the team acknowledge the tragedy of Triplicate Girl's apparent death last issue, which was almost a blink and you'll miss it moment at the end.
Russell: I liked this scene as well, and wished more of the Legionnaires had spoken up to support Superboy here. Brainiac 5 messed up, and he never really paid for it.
By the way, check that first panel, Phantom Girl is mis-colored as Triplicate Girl. Kinda creepy!!
Moments after the rocket cenotaph departs, Triplicate Girl herself appears! She had already split into three before Computo grabbed her, so only one of her selves died. Much to everyone's joy, she decides to fight on as Duo Damsel. 
Mike: I admit some of these  epitaphs read a bit goofy now, but I still love any moments that show a history of either the Legion or this futuristic universe in general that occurred off panel. Those scenes always add a certain depth and meaning to this world, and this one in particular emphasizes that there are risks to what they are doing.
Of course, that is immediately undermined by everyone's relief at meeting Duo Damsel, and thinking "oh, they only killed one of you, then everything's all good again! Yay!"
Superboy calls in "the Weirdo Legionnaire" who confronts Computo. Totally at a loss as to who this being is, Computo is stymied in how to respond. 
Mike:  As I said, I really love the Computo story, but I admit, this is where things start to go off the rails a bit.  I am still willing to go along, but...Weirdo Legionnaire?  This is one of those moments where you fear could either go in an amazing direction or terrible one, but there will be no in-between. I do like that people in the 30th Century will still know what an erector set is though...
Russell: I guess the point was to throw weapons or ideas at Computo that it wasn't familiar with from having read Brainiac 5's mind. Still, I can't argue that this is where the story starts to fall apart.
As Computo is distracted, Colossal Boy grows and smashes two robots together, swearing to kill the Legionnaires inside. This is the scene shown on the cover. Actually, he is freeing Star Boy and Sun Boy by pretending to try to kill them. The Weirdo Legionnaire reveals itself to be Proty II and escapes before Computo can harm it. 
Because Computo knows about all the official Legion secret meeting places from reading Brainiac 5's mind, the Legion retreats to the Bat-Cave in Gotham City. As they review the weapons that were stored there, Computo's voice arrives as well. Computo tells them that in order to make them suffer, he is going to kill Saturn Girl in one hour. 
Mike: Ah, things get back on track with a nice display of power by Colossal Boy, an often underused character to date.  But then...Proty II shows up...one of my least favorite aspects of Silver Age Legion...I am trying not to let this interfere with my love for this story so far but it's hard. Fortunately, things take a fun turn with a surprise appearance of the Bat-Cave. This came out in 1966, right? I wonder to what extent the Batman TV series may have been in the creators mind when they stuck this in. I may be off timeline-wise though, but I have to wonder.
Russell: This story appeared in early 1966, so the BATMAN TV show would not have been on the air yet when they were writing and drawing this.
I do wish that Mon-El or Phantom Girl or someone had also "gone crazy" and freed a few more Legionnaires while the Weirdo Legionnaire was distracting Computo.

The Legion returns to Metropolis post-haste with two weapons. The first is an Imperfect Duplicator Ray, which makes an imperfect Bizarro copy of Computo. It attacks the Legion, then takes a mop and tries to "mop up" the real Computo. Computo destroys him in a fit of pique. 
Suddenly, Bouncing Boy challenges Computo, who grants the former Legionnaire his wish to have his bouncing powers back. However, Bouncing Boy is ineffectual against the robot army before his bouncing abilities fade away again. 
Mike: While the Proty II interlude dragged things down for me a bit, things really picked back up here. I mentioned with part 1 how I viewed this story as really being a transitional one in which the Legion moved out of being part of the Superman world and into becoming their own thing.  This is another example of that with us seeing what is essentially an epic battle by the standards of what has come before but it still rests on the Bizarro premise of the Superman titles. That one line from Computo though..."Thanks for nothing, for creating me Legion clucks!" I laughed out loud at that.
Russell: I hate the whole Bizarro concept and really disliked it being brought in here. Besides, WHY would Batman of all people have a Bizarro Replicator in the Bat Cave? Never mind, I don't want to know.

Brainiac 5 then decides to use the second weapon he brought from the Bat-Cave, which creates an anti-matter creature. 
It attacks and destroys all of the robots as Mon-El, Superboy, and Ultra Boy rescue the captured Legionnaires. Finally, Computo itself is destroyed. 
Mike: Some of those panels of the robot army being destroyed were wonderful, and gave Curt Swan a chance to shine beyond what he often got the chance to do in the main Superman titles. I refuse to believe people would still say "Holy Toledo" in the 30th Century though, especially since they do not even say it now.
Russell: You don't have the right friends. I say it atleast once a week.
Brainiac 5 then frantically re-wires the ancient weapon and blasting the anti-matter creature. This forces the anti-matter creature back into its own anti-matter universe. 

Russell: Compared to the set-up from the first part of this adventure, this conclusion is a big let-down. I don't know about anybody else, but I anticipated a huge rock 'em sock 'em battle royale between the Legionnaires and Computo's robot army. Instead we get a deus ex machina that is *almost* as much of a threat as Computo was. Brainiac 5 does all the heavy lifting story-wise, and Mon-El's comment to the contrary, all the Legionnaires really do is "stand around gaping." 

Mike: I cannot argue the overall point of this being a let down in some ways. I do think I got more pleasure out of it than you but there were some elements (like Proty II!) that I felt were unnecessary and did not live up to the promise of the first part. That was a problem in the Silver Age, even some of the best tales often got wrapped up way too conveniently. I give some allowances for it being a product of the time, but it's still a shame given the promise of the first part. And nowadays, we would have a far deeper character focus, and moments like Matter-Eater Lad's outburst at Brainiac 5 would have been carried forth into a deeper subplot.

Russell: I'm also very disappointed in the way Triplicate Girl becomes Duo Damsel in this story. The build-up of the funeral and the introduction of the cemetery planet Shanghalla are awesome...and then we have Duo Damsel practically prance in and say, "no problem, only one of me died and I'm not suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whatsoever!" I mean, sure, it's unrealistic to apply modern sensibilities to a 1966 comic-book, but on the other hand....one of you just died! Your girl friends cried at your funeral. You're saying that losing one-third of you isn't a trauma at all? I wanted to see more background on Carggian culture or SOMETHING. Sadly disappointed. 
Mike: Again, I have to agree. The time taken to mourn her death was quite touching and powerful, and got completely undercut by the joyous reaction everyone had when Duo Damsel revealed herself. I am not expecting the level of follow through we would get in the Bronze Age or later to such an event, but at least some acknowledgement that she had experienced a loss from the death of her third incarnation would have been welcome.

Russell: I wonder how much of this story belonged to Edmond Hamilton and how much was in place from Jerry Siegel? Siegel wrote the first chapter, and then was fired from DC for daring to ask for more money for co-creating Superman. Did he already have a plot in hand when he quit, or is this ALL Hamilton? I ask because the introduction of Bizarro elements suggests that Siegel may have had something to do with this....although the anti-matter creature is a typical Hamiltonian Sci-Fi element. I've never seen any mention of how this story was written in any histories, however, so I guess we'll never know.
Mike: I would love to find out. I do think there are a greater number of "sillier" Silver Age moments in the second part than in the first, so that does suggest things did not go in the direction Siegel would necessarily have taken it. But its also not like Siegel did not have plenty of that himself, so who knows. The specifics may have been different, but I do think the ending would likely have remained something of a letdown just because that was so common for the era.
Nevertheless, I still really love the Computo story overall because of how it advanced the Legion in many ways. In the end, the wrap-up may have been something of a let down, but I appreciate the ambition shown and I do think this story paved the way for much of the deeper characterization of our heroes later and some of the epic storylines we would get in the 70s and 80s.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although he did not appear in the last issue, Invisible Kid is shown to be a prisoner of Computo in this story. 
  • Although he appeared in the last issue and is listed in the Roll Call, Element Lad does not appear in this story.  
  • Supergirl does not appear in this story. 
  • First appearance of the cemetery planet Shanghalla. 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 5 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2. 

This issue marks the official change of Triplicate Girl into Duo Damsel.


  1. Surprised that the Bat Cave isn't a protected site like Superboy's childhood home was and that it still had a Bizarro maker and the other gadget, both clearly dangerous items, kicking around and that they still worked after a thousand years.

  2. I think it made more sense for the site to have been the Fortress of Solitude. Don't know why they went with the Batcave.

    1. Maybe they saw it a as a way to further gin up interest in the upcoming Batman TV show, which premiered just a few weeks later.