Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who's Who: Chemical King

Chemical King
by Russell & Siskoid 

Real Name: Condo Arlik
Super-Power(s): Ability to control (speed-up or slow-down) all chemical reactions. 
Planet of Origin: Phlon
Legion Seniority: Chemical King joined the Legion at the same time as Timber Wolf, but was listed first in alphabetical order. That made him Legionnaire #26.

Legion Log 
Chemical King made his debut as a student at the Legion Academy. He had come to Earth from the planet Phlon in order to better understand and use his mutant power over chemical reactions. Going under-cover as a spy to infiltrate the Legion of Super-Villains, he was instrumental in helping the Legion defeat that newly formed group. At the conclusion of that adventure he and his Academy room-mate and friend Timber Wolf were both granted Legion membership. 

However, Chemical King as a character had already appeared. He was in the infamous "Adult Legion" story (Adventure Comics #354) where it is revealed that he was a "future" Legionnaire who was fated to die preventing World War VII. Approximately two years later, writer Jim Shooter introduced the character into actual continuity.

Chemical King served as a Legionnaire for approximately three years. For the first year he served enthusiastically, joining in on missions with dedication. He made efforts to make friends, especially as Timber Wolf was spending more and more time with Light Lass. During his second year, however, Chem's participation level dropped. Instead of going out on missions, he usually stayed close to Legion head-quarters, working on guard or monitor duty while other Legionnaires went out.

Chemical King had the ability to speed up or slow down chemical reactions, which means that he could make things burst into flame or to decay, he could make living creatures fall unconscious, and he could short out or weaken energy and force beams. In extreme conditions he could give himself temporary super-strength. In fact, he considered himself extremely powerful, but he was not a dynamic personality type. He did not make friends easily, only spending time with Element Lad, Invisible Kid, and Timber Wolf.

Chemical King's last case was when he helped the Legion defeat Deregon, an agent of the Dark Circle. Initially participating to stabilize a hyperspace communication beam so that the Legion could track Deregon, Chemical King entered the fight when Deregon detonated a nuclear powersphere. Chemical King stepped up and controlled the nuclear reaction, slowing it until the weapon imploded. He thus saved Australia and all of his friends; unfortunately, in doing so he had absorbed a fatal amount of radiation.

Several years after his death, the detailed story was told of how Chemical King's mutant abilities had actually been harming him. Well-known biochemist Invisible Kid (Lyle Norg) took an interest in Chemical King's case, and convinced him to join the Legion Academy. After Chem joined the Legion, they spent many hours honing Chem's abilities and working on his body's stamina. In these untold stories, Invisible Kid became Chemical King's best friend. After Invisible Kid was killed in action, Chemical King became more withdrawn and moody. He was depressed and feeling sorry for himself, so when the opportunity arose to sacrifice himself to save his friends, he took it.   

With such a specific power set, Chemical King was hardly ever written as a dynamic character. During the nearly ten years (real-time) he was a Legionnaire, he was only featured as a lead character in six stories. In the last two years before his death he was only featured once. Retroactively, writer Paul Levitz made Chemical King a victim of his abilities, a plot device that explained Chem's lack of appearances but did not help him appear very heroic. It was up to Robert Loren Fleming to write the definitive Chemical King story, "The Unique Properties of Condo Arlik," in Secret Origins #47. 

After the Reboot, Condo Arlik is not a Legionnaire, but a journalist (and no longer Caucasian). He wrote an article about the Legionnaires who went to Paris, getting Chameleon and Sensor in trouble with the governments of their native planets. He interviewed Invisible Kid following the arrest of Winathian ex-president Zakk Arn, possibly after the two may or may not have struck up a relationship. Such a relationship is revealed in The DC Comics Encyclopedia, and perhaps confirmed by a note once slipped to Invisible Kid.

After the Threeboot, no version of Chemical King is known to exist.

After Infinite Crisis, Chemical King's original history has more or less been re-established, which means he has been dead for some time. He has since been replaced in the Legion by Chemical Kid, also of Phlon, whose father imbued him with the powers of the planet's greatest hero.

Chemical King appeared on the animated Legion of Super-Heroes series in a crowd of Legionnaires in the Season 2 episode "Dark Victory, part 1".

Major Chemical King Appearances:
due to the low number of times Chemical King actually appeared, here are ALL of his Original Series appearances:

Adventure Comics #354
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 6)
Chemical King makes his debut... as a statue in the Hall of Heroes

Adventure Comics #371
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8)
Chemical King makes his actual debut as a student at the Legion Academy

Adventure Comics #372
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8)
Chemical King joins the Legion

Adventure Comics #375
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8)
Chemical King considers himself powerful

Adventure Comics #377
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
 Chemical King causes the Legion's blackmail money to be eaten

Adventure Comics  #379
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
Chemical King gives himself super-strength

Action Comics #381
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
Chemical King wants to give his friends a ride in his Sky-Car

Action Comics #389
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
Chemical King teams up with Cosmic Boy and Shrinking Violet

Superboy #176
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Chemical King teams up with Mon-El and Invisible Kid

Superboy #195
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Chemical King teams up with Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, and Wildfire

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #197
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Chemical King is at Legion HQ when Timber Wolf greets Superboy
(bottom right corner next to Karate Kid) 

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #198
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Chemical King is at Legion HQ when the Fatal Five strike 

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #200
Chemical King attends the wedding of Duo Damsel & Bouncing Boy
(directly behind Saturn Girl, standing next to Supergirl)

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #201
Chemical King's recent adventure with Wildfire is shown in flashback; 
he is judging applicants next to his best friend, Timber Wolf

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #208
Chemical King is on guard duty at Legion HQ

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #209
Chemical King is at Legion HQ

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #211

Chemical King helps save the day when Element Lad faces Roxxas

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #218
Chemical King attends Tyroc's induction ceremony
(he's in the far right top corner with Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet)

DC Special #28
Chemical King helps prevent the Metropolis power-sphere from exploding

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #228
Chemical King dies preventing a nuclear explosion

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #229

Chemical King is buried on Valhalla, the cemetery asteroid

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #23
Chemical King's statue is in the Hall of Heroes

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #59
An untold story of a sickly Chemical King being 
treated by biochemist Invisible Kid 

Secret Origins #47
Arguably the greatest Chemical King story ever told

Legionnaires #59
Reboot Invisible Kid receives what might be a love note from journalist Condo Arlik

Legionnaires #60
Condo Arlik causes problems for Sensor and Chameleon by covering their date

Legionnaires #64
Condo Arlik covers the war on Durla (his first Reboot appearance)

Legionnaires #65
Condo Arlik interviews Invisible Kid

Adventure Comics (v1) #524
Chemical Kid explains his origin story, which includes Chemical King's DNA
The DC Comics Encyclopedia

The confirmation that Condo Arlik and Invisible Kid (I) are in a relationship

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series
Chemical King's silent cameo in a crowd scene in "Dark Victory, part 1"

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