Tuesday, December 5, 2017

TOS: Adventure Comics #321

Hey Fellow Legionnaires! It's your old pal Tim, aka Kord Kid, back again! 

As I've mentioned before, Russell, our fearless leader, has tasked me with looking back at some of the Legion's Silver Age adventures. I love these goofy early adventures, so of course I said "Sign me up!" I thought, "One day I might regret this..." but what the heck right? It's the Silver Age, how bad can they be? Today I'm taking a look at Adventure Comics #321...and the story, "The Code of the Legion!" by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte! I'm especially excited, because Russell said it's a Time Trapper story! Let's jump in...

Saturn Girl has sent out a general alarm summoning Legionnaires from far and wide. It's rare, but it means something big is happening. As the team gathers, Star Boy says he doesn't recognize a stranger in the group. 

This stranger just happens to be wearing a slimmed down version of Bouncing Boy's costume. Turns out it is Bouncing Boy! There was an accident in Element Lad's lab that transformed him, and took away his bouncing ability. The Legionnaires let him know they're not expelling him, but they are moving him to the Legion Reserve. Superboy reminds everyone why they're here, the alarm, and asks about absent members Chameleon Boy and Triplicate Girl.

Superboy then updates everyone on the attempts Mon-El, Ultra-Boy, and he have made to capture the Time Trapper (including one of the oddest flight sequences I've ever seen). 

Unfortunately the villain has created an Iron Curtain of Time that they just can't penetrate. Star Boy suggests using the Concentrator, but Saturn Girl reminds him that the device is one of the Legion's most closely guarded secrets, so they mustn't use it!

Meanwhile, on the planet Graa, Chameleon Boy works on a radar dish until he hears someone call him from the nearby jungle. It's a trap! He's sprayed by a poison that inhibits his shape-shifting power, and locked up in restraints, while a voice from a floating speaker demands to know about the Concentrator! Luckily, one of his hands wasn't touched by the spray and he forms it into a key to try and escape his bonds. 

On another world, Triplicate Girl is also lured into a trap, and sprayed with some sort of liquid metal. Again a voice demands information about the Legion's secret device, before she uses her ability to split into 3 and rushes to inform the team.

Back at the clubhouse, the duo update the team. As they do, Commissioner Wilson of the Science Police shows up, asking questions about the Concentrator, too. While the Legion acknowledges the existence of the device, they won't reveal any more information on it. The Commissioner isn't completely satisfied and decides the only way to be sure is to subject every Legionnaire to grueling tests to make sure they don't crack under pressure. 

So the team gives up on the search for the Time Trapper and agrees to be tested. Sun Boy goes first. He enters a dark room where he hears the question "What is the secret of the Concentrator?" blasted at him from hidden speakers all around him. Nearing his breaking point he blasts out in the darkness, blindly trying to destroy the speakers, only to discover the room is made of mirrors that bounce his energy back at him. 

Unwilling to give up, he intensifies his attack. Finally disabling the speakers, he is released, having passed his test. Next Shrinking Violet is led into a room, filled with giant creatures and again a voice repeating through speakers, "What is the secret of the Concentrator?". She cracks, unable to resist the urge to spill the beans, but quickly she uses her powers to shrink so that no one can hear her tell. 

She passes the test. (Wait, what?) Next the Commissioner takes Superboy into a room and informs him that if he doesn't reveal the secrets of the Concentrator hollow lead walls of the room will open to spill kryptonite on the Boy of Steel. He refuses and is suddenly covered by a down pour of green rocks...but not kryptonite. He, too, has passed. Saturn Girl is subjected to a mental attack, but fights back by projecting images of great feats from her fellow Legionnaires

Mon-El is placed in an isolation chamber full of poison gas and two of his friends are brought in. If he tries to escape, the gas will kill his friends. He struggles to resist the  "What is the secret of the Concentrator?" voice, until finally shattering the chamber...after deducing it was android doubles and not his friends. Finally, while being tested, Lightning Lad cracks and tells the Commissioner about the device. As the Legion prepares to imprison him for his betrayal, though, he reveals to Superboy that he only told the Science Police official about Element Lad's matter generator as he suspected the man of being an impostor! He was really the Time Trapper in disguise! 

And even with that set up, the villain still manages to get away...but hey, they all vow to never rest until they catch him.

I wanted to like this one. I really did. I tried reading it, and walked away. I came back to it, and walked away again. I finally finished it and...it's not the worst, but it's far from the best Legion story I've read. I get that the Commissioner/Time Trapper was trying to get the info he wanted, but it went on way too long, and dragged. I think that's why I had trouble getting through this one. I was hoping for a good Time Trapper story, but he ended up feeling (to me anyway) more like a Scooby Doo villain, rubber mask and all. But why did the Legion just ditch the plan to take out the Iron Curtain of Time and the Time Trapper to play along with the Commissioner's tests? That made no sense! Not only that...but Shrinking Violet gets a pass because she told the secret while shrinking?! Seriously? She still told the secret! Not going to dwell on this one too long...just maybe eye Russell with more suspicion when he suggests the next one!

This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 3 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.


Bouncing Boy loses his super-power in this story and leaves the Legion of Super-Heroes in this story.


  1. Unfortunately, in the Silver Age there aren't any good Time Trapper stories. There are a few silly ones, then he just disappears. I suspect they forgot about him.

  2. But how can you not love a villain who wears a mask OVER a hood!?

    (Okay, this story is terrible.)

  3. Batman's done the "mask over the hood" thing too. Impersonating Superman to protect him from a Kryptonite trap. Off comes the mask, he's got the cowl on under it.