Tuesday, October 2, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #359

Adventure Comics #359 (August 1967)
title: "The Outlaw Legionnaires"
writer and layouts: Jim Shooter
penciller: Curt Swan
inker: George Klein
letterer: Milton Snappin
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan and George Klein
reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Mission Monitor Board:
Brainiac 5, Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Dream Girl, Duo Damsel, Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad, Matter Eating Lad, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, and Ultra Boy.

The people of Earth.

After completing separate missions throughout the galaxy, the Legion reunites on Earth at the Metropolis Space Port. Instead of their usual heroes' welcome, the team is shocked to learn that they have been outlawed while they were away. A crew arrives to dismantle their cruisers, and the team rushes back to headquarters to contact the United Planets High Council.

They find that their clubhouse has been barricaded shut and our heroes are soon placed under arrest for being out after curfew. A few Legionnaires are bailed out by their parents, which is how Duo Damsel learns what occurred while they were away.

Duo Damsel shares the tale with her teammates and they arrange to meet the next day at the Midtown Terminal. Shortly after their arrival, Dream Girl predicts that an incoming monotrain is about to crash and some of the team uses their powers to save the day. Unfortunately, nearby street cleaners turn out to be police in disguise and the Legionnaires who rescued the train are placed under arrest for using their powers. There is a quick trial and they are sentenced to ten years of hard labor at Takron-Galtos. The rest of the team is given a twelve hour grace period, after which if they are found in uniform, they will also be jailed.
As they walk the street the Legionnaires face an angry mob. They defend themselves but Princess Projectra is severely injured. Although initially arrested again, the team is released when it is shown they only acted in self-defense.
After everyone returns to their homes, Invisible Kid discovers a bugging device in his room and learns that his own parents are spying on him. He uses his secret communicator to contact Brainiac 5, who surmises that someone must be controlling everyone on the planet.
On Takron-Galtos, Saturn Girl has used her telepathic powers to reconstruct the full story of what happened back on Earth, but she cannot project her thoughts to the free Legionnaires because there is an invisible barrier around the planet. Back on Earth, the team has decided that their only chance lies with their billionaire sponsor, R.J. Brande. That meeting does not go well!
Brande calls for the police but the team is able to fight them off and flee. Hunted as criminals throughout Earth, they go into hiding. With their options limited, they agree that they have no choice but to operate as an underground resistance movement.

This is a very intriguing, high stakes first parter. We get to see every Legionnaire to date appear, which gives some extra weight to their predicament. It was a good choice to have many of their more powerful members end up at the prison planet, which made the situation for the team seem much more desperate.

There are also some great smaller touches here. The issue opens with the Legion split into separate teams completing missions throughout the galaxy, and it is always fun to see the team's importance emphasized like that. Having Princess Projectra injured and potentially placed in a coma for years added to the drama nicely.

Of course, this is the Silver Age so there are a few odd moments. For example, I am not sure why Saturn Girl can use her power to learn what has caused all this on Earth but is still unable to reach out to her teammates.

The biggest problem is how they took Supergirl off the table. After half the team is imprisoned and the rest go home to beat the curfew, she returns to her time period. Because their time-signal devices are locked in their headquaters they are unable to call her back later. But why would she leave knowing their situation? Its hard to imagine she could not hide with one of them or at least somewhere else. Or that she would not have just planned to return the next day to help. As nice as it was to have the stronger members taken off the table, this was just silly and made no sense. Seems just as easy to have her sent to the prison planet, too.

I want to give a nod to Curt Swan and George Klein because they did a very solid job on the art. There are some nice action scenes, such as the missions at the beginning and the team fighting the angry mob. But their best moment was certainly the rescue of the mono train when we got to see the most powerful Legionnaires show their stuff. And with every Legionnaire appearing, plus several crowd scenes, they were having to do George Perez-level work here with so many people present.

I purposely did not mention the person or persons responsible for all this drama since it is not revealed until next issue. It's fun to imagine kids in 1967 trying to theorize on their own, though! So will the second part live up to the promise of the first? We will see soon!


  1. My favorite thing about this story was the alternative costumes we got for everyone.

    I always felt that Supergirl was written out and minimized so much because Shooter (and others) were uncomfortable with the notion of physically strong women. Notice that all of the other girls have passive powers. The two he introduced follow that pattern; Projectra and Shadow Lass.

  2. I consider this to be one of the "great" Legion Silver Age stories. Another Shooter two-parter told in the inimitable Marvel style.

    I totally agree with Mike's assessment on the Swan/Klein art, along with his shout-out to George Perez. Hey, can you IMAGINE what this story would've looked like if Perez HAD drawn it?

    I'm OK with the Saturn Girl situation. She was able to read the minds of the slavedriver warden Brugol and his crew (Spoiler: next issue will show that he's in league with the plot's main villain), so she's able to piece together what happened. But, it's shown that there's a barrier around the planet that blocks her telepathy from going interstellar. (Probably for the express purpose of keeping her from warning the others - or the purposes of the plot.) I do agree, however, that Supergirl's removal was rather contrived.

    Light Lass and Cosmic Boy are missing from the Mission Monitor Board. Thought I'd mention it.

    Random nit-pick: Karate Kid mentions to Cosmic Boy that "I spoke to my folks," but he was later made an orphan in a back-up story in the '70's.

    1. My mistake. It's actually in Adventure #367 that first shows KK is an orphan. Sorry.

    2. D'oh! You'r right, I left two of them off the monitor board...

  3. Agree that this was one of the great ones. It's all well to point out plot holes, decades now, after the fact but you don't notice them while you're reading the story. And that final panel of the hands linked in solidarity sure promised that part two would be great as well.

    1. Yeah, its easy to notice those when I sit down to review and spend much more time pouring over every detail, but when I just read it for enjoyment, most of them just fly by me.

  4. Nice job on the review, Mike!
    I have loved this story ever since the first time I read it, as a reprint during the first Levitz run of Superboy/Legion.
    The only thing I ever really hated was the exclusion of Supergirl. That bit just seemed way out of character for her.

  5. Yeah. Supergirl was like um. "I've got finals this week but good luck with the whole 'being banned' thing."

    1. I think someone should do a piece on Supergirl's entire Legion career, chronologically from her first Action stories to DC's first big Crisis. Really, at first glance -- there's aren't that many. (One of the infamous Action Legion back-up stories even mentions her absenteeism.) I personally believe that the DC writers were mostly unaware that Supergirl was even a Legionnaire, and when they did use her, they didn't know how to do it. (With the exception of Levitz in the early 80's, of course; he brought her in for a few issues and really managed to make her shine.)

      Anyone game for such a project?