Tuesday, January 2, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #325 Group Review

Adventure Comics #325 (Oct 1964)
title: "Lex Luthor Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes!"
writer: Jerry Siegel
penciller: John Forte
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewers: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage, Tim "Kord Kid" Wallace, and Jude "Sarcastic Kid" Deluca

Mission Monitor Board:  
Sun Boy, Star Boy, Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Matter-Eater Lad, Triplicate Girl, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Light Lass, Shrinking Violet, Invisible Kid, Mon-El, Colossal Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy

Lex Luthor

Russell: I think it's just the three of us tonight. So let's do a Triplicate Girl review of "Lex Meets the Legion!" First, what do you guys think of the cover?
Jude: Oh wow, characters dying on the cover! How EVER will they make it out of this one
Russell: If I had seen this cover on the newstand I don't think I would have recognized it as a Legion story.
Tim: No! Not the disolver ray! Good point, Russell. It could be just a Super story.
Russell: Also, "Super-Hero Legion"?? WTH? DC still doesn't know their own properties?
Jude: I know! Let's burn down DC headquarters for this travesty
Tim: Now now...let's not be reactionary...the story might (emphasis on MIGHT) have an explanation.
Russell: So let's dig into it....

On the planet Khann, the only inhabitants are criminal outcasts from other worlds and their families. They kowtow to the Brain Lords of Khann, including Mighty Mog, Wondrous Incarno, and Atro. Each is an eternally living brain, removed from their dead bodies.
Tim: Didn't we cover another Legion story with brains in jars?
Jude: Oh crap is this where Bad Khann Mom came from?
On Legion World someone came up with "The Fabulous Fortes." All the hot female background characters from John Forte's run. (Bad Khann Mom is second down in the center)
Russell: Funny! I have never seen this. But what a concept! A planet FULL of bad guys! Run by evil brains. I can't believe DC never came back to this idea.
Jude: I need to find a copy of this issue.
Tim: Little did you know that it's actually EARTH! Damn it all to hell...we blew it up!
Jude: With the way things are right now we might as well blow it up
So, we've got criminal planet. I wonder what a Legionnaire from Khann would've been like.
Matter-Eater Lad and Triplicate Girl sneak onto Khann during space static storm so that they will not be picked up by the space defense forces. Their mission is to steal Atro away from the others. However, he is able to scream for help and the two Legionnaires dart back to their cruiser. They seem to be trapped by a power dampening ray until a mysterious space-ship blasts the ray and allows them to escape. When they arrive back on Earth, they are shocked to learn that their savior is none other than a young Lex Luthor.

Jude: But Luthor bad!
Tim: Is this the same universe as Earth 3? Where Luthor is the good guy?

Russell: How silly is it to send these two Legionnaires on this assignment? I mean, no strength, no speed, no defensive powers at all...
Tim: But if they sent qualified Legionnaires we wouldn't have a story.
Jude: Considering Tenzil could eat raw energy maybe not so ridiculous.
Lu: Am I one girl? Or am I three? AM I BLOWING YOUR MIIIIIND?
Tim: What's with his semi transparent tube ship? Every shot has a silhouetted figure inside?
Russell: And no cone at the end, Tim. Totally weird tube thing. British?
(linguistic joke). And Triplicate Girl's line: "I hope he's cute."
Quickly the Legionnaires realize that this is the scientific genius before he turned bad, and the Legion tries to not let it slip that he will eventually turn evil. He films the Legion doing super things until Mon-El arrives, and in bringing Mon up to speed with the situation they accidentally reveal that Lex will end up Evil.

Jude: Oh God imagine how awkward that would be if he found out?
Legion: So yeah you're gonna turn evil!
Luthor: Oh.
Legion: And bald.
Tim: Isn't there certain rules for time travel they should be adhering to? I mean not only does Mon-El slip...but then they play "This Is Your Life" with Lex and give him all the sordid details!
Russell: Yeah, this story takes a curve into weirdness pretty quickly.
I would have preferred to have read the sad, secret story of Lex finding out he was bad and THEN going back to BE bad.
Jude: God I hope they weren't planning to erase his memories.
The Legion shows Lex on the TimeScope how Superboy's super-breath blew chemicals on Lex and made his hair fall out. Young Lex is devastated. Brainiac 5 tries to recondition Lex via his Potential Factors Re-Organizer Complex, but it fails.

Jude: Yeesh, guys.
Russell: I wonder how the story would have gone if on page 6 the Legion did help Lex to not turn evil. He's begging so earnestly!
Tim: Didn't we learn in a previous story they're not supposed to mess with history? Why is it ok for B5 to screw around with potential outcomes?
Russell: Dig panel 4 on page 6, Brainy's scientific mumbo jumbo equals "failure."
But Tim, "Your future can't be changed." He admits it right up front.
After looking around the club-house a little longer, Lex leaves, seemingly depressed. In actuality, this is evil Lex, who is committed to destroying the Legion!

Tim: But wait! It's really Evil Lex in a wig! Like Gene Hackman in the Superman movies!
Russell: Is it just me, or did DC REALLY try to equate baldness = evil?
Love that shot of him pulling his wig off, though.
Jude: "It was me, Evil Lex, the whole time!"
Tim: Yes...but I don't think DC had the lock on that...Dr Sivanna, Kingpin, Red Skull...all bald baldies from other companies.
Jude: Yeah I'm not sure the baldness = evil started with them
Russell: I guess not, but take note of how when Lex does something bad, he pulls his wig off. Atleast three more times in this story....
Tim: lol
Russell: Starting on the splash of the 2nd chapter and then again just a page later!
Jude: He only brought the wig with him for dramatic effect.
Russell: Drama Queen Lex.
Jude: He's all about the dramatics.
Lex creates a lead-encased Dissolver weapon and then at Metropolis Space Zoo pulls a Legion Alarm Box that summons Mon-El. He allows Mon to "accidentally" blow his wig off, then Lex uses his dissolver on Mon, utterly destroying him.

Tim: That splash page looks like Lex is in charge of a foam cannon at a Legion Rave.
Russell: Haha! Yeah, groovy groovy! Hit that perfect beat, boy!!

Russell: Anywho....lead-encased weapon? Who says that? It's just a ray-gun made out of lead, Lex.
And I love the convenient "Legion Call Box" at the zoo. How fun!
Tim: I kinda dig tht tiger/elephant thing.
Russell: I knew you would. Plus, it has a name-plate.
Tim: YES! It's not the first in the story...but the most prominent I think.
Russell: We didn't talk about the Evil Brains' name-plates. Sorry!
Tim: There were some when they showed Lex the melted ray too
Russell: Right!
Jude: I love the little bits.
Russell: Well, there goes the wig....and there goes Mon-El!
Next, Lex summons several Legionnaires to the planet Yorgg, where he claims he crash-landed and is being turned into a "lizard-like thing" by the locals. Four Legionnaires speed off to rescue him, but when they arrive he instantly dissolves them!

Jude: And after they told him about how he was gonna turn evil the ungrateful ass!
Russell: The jerk!
Tim: Sometimes the Legion is written like they are the most gullible bunch of goofs to ever fight crime
Russell: No kidding!
Jude: "Does Brainy really have 12th level intellect?" "No but he makes a good cup of coffee so we humor him."
Russell: You know I was hoping for a little bit more continuity here, because Lex has actually met Lightning Lad before. I kinda hoped that previous meeting would be referred to here and explain WHY Lex wanted to kill the Legion in the first place! As it is, it's never explained.
Tim: You ask too much, Russell...It's a Silver Age story.
Jude: Everyone was killing everyone back then. Lois Lane would try to murder Superman like five times a week.
Russell: I just want recognizable motivations. WHY in the world would young Lex build a time machine to go to the 30th Century to kill the Legion? It just doesn't make sense! But he had already met Lightning Lad, so maybe there was a tie-in there....! No? (Sigh)
Off goes the wig, and there goes four more Legionnaires....!
Lex then returns to the Legion club-house, where he calls in several specific Legionnaires. All of them, due to telepathy or super-vision, would know that he was lying if he pretended to be Good, so he dissolves them in one fell swoop.

Jude: Saturn Girl is performing in the circus and Chameleon Boy just HAPPENS to be on a parallel Earth?
Tim: I love how Superboy says "That phony wig doesn't fool my x-ray vision!"
It's fooled EVERYONE else so far...but darn it x-ray vision is smarter.
Russell: Yeah, I REALLY saw red in this panel. So Mon-El is an idiot? He never thought to check if Lex was wearing a wig!?! I'd argue Mon's smarter than all three of these super-jocks. Or should be shown to be.
Jude: Oh, that's Daxamite x-ray vision. It doesn't count.
Tim: Poor Daxamites. Always coming in second to Kryptonians.
Jude: DC is racist against non-Kryptonians.
Russell: Clearly Superboy is the smartest boy ever.
Looking at the next page, I would have liked Ultra Boy, Saturn Girl, and Cham to have made the cover. And hold on, Lex doesn't shuck his wig before killing Superboy!! WTH!?!
Jude: "The last thing I want you to see is the very thing you robbed me of, that ruined our friendship and turned me into this... THING."
Russell: You're thinking he waved his wigged head at Superboy as they ffffaded away? Brilliant!
Lex locates the remaining Legionnaires on the planet Rygor participating in a ceremony for law enforcement officers throughout the galaxy. Lex plans to destroy the Legionnaires on live broadcast so that the entire galaxy will see that the is the greatest super-villain of all time. Shockingly, he manages to dissolve all of the Legionnaires!

Tim: They walked right into it like prisoners in a firing line
Russell: "W-we haven't a chance!"
Jude: ...this is gonna be one of those things where it turns out they were just playing along, isn't it?
Tim: Kinda weird that everyone in the 30th Century is watching on antique cathode tube TVs
Russell: It's not like Light Lass couldn't make him lose the weapon.
Or Element Lad change the lead to water. Or...MEL eat it? Nah.
Tim: And also weird that those same people watching look like characters from Space Ghost. 
Russell: Alex Toth probably stole his ideas from this story.
Tim: Good call!
Russell: I would have liked to have seen that yellow & black suited bad guy again, though!
Tim: Yes!
As Lex is trying to make his escape,  the entire Legion of Super-Heroes re-appears! Mon-El makes Lex admit that the "dissolver" was actually a fancied-up Phantom Zone projector. So the Legion was never dissolved at all; they were simply sent into the Phantom Zone. Once in the Zone, Mon and the others were able to concentrate en masse and send a telepathic order to Lex to push the button on the projector to free them.

Russell: Okay HOLD ON!!
Russell: So the phantoms in the Phantom Zone can get together and make humans DO things?!!
Do the other bad guy phantoms not KNOW this?
Tim: Apparently...and we'd better hope that they don't know!
Jude: Haven't they done stories like that though? Or were those the ones that involved jewel kryptonite?
Russell: You mean like making Jimmy get naked and run around Metropolis?
Tim: Ewww
Jude: Oh he does that every Wednesday
Russell: Haha!
Jude: "Superman and the Naked Boy of Metropolis"
"Jimmy! Why are you shedding your clothes in public like that?"
"I have to, Superman, or Clark Kent will die!"
"Ha! Little does Jimmy know he's ensuring Clark Kent's death!"
Humiliated by having the entire 30th Century see his defeat, Lex is allowed to return to his 20th Century time-line without any punishment whatsoever.

Russell: Okay, HOLD ON! They effin' LET HIM GO!!?!
Tim: Yup...because comics.
Jude: It's kind of one of those things where if they, like, killed him now it would sort of completely destroy the future.
Russell: I thought per the Comics Code the bad guys had to be captured!
Jude: They'd have to send him back anyway
Tim: Maybe someone should have told that to the Legion?
Jude: They can't realistically keep him in the future for very long or it would still change stuff.
Tim: Or maybe...because this takes place in the future the Code no longer applied? Huh? I bet that's it!
Russell: I can't imagine Superboy not escorting Lex back to the past and dropping him at Smallville Juvie Hall.
Jude: Literally dropping him through the ceiling
Russell: Right! I do love how those Legionnaires are so happy to see Mon-El in the Phantom Zone on the last page, though. "Yo, Mon, how's it going!? You're here, too?"
Tim: DC loves sending him there don't they.
Jude: "Eh, you know, maddening concept in incorporeal eternity and all."
Russell: I also love that green alien laughing at Lex. "To think Lex called THEM fools!'
Jude: And then they all spit on him
Russell: On Mon?!?
Jude: On Lex!
Russell: That makes more sense.
Jude: The last time somebody spit on Mon, well, he's with Space Jesus now.
Tim: I thought Supergirl was the last to swap spit with Mon?
Jude: Yeah but that time there was consent.
Tim: HA!
Russell: So....overall impressions? Tim, did you love it or hate it?
Tim: I enjoyed it, Russell...send more like this the next time you want me to review a classic story! Jude: I want this issue for Bad Khann Mom and Lex literally flipping his wig seven times.
Russell: I would have preferred a few less panels of the Legionnaires showing off to Lex (pp 4/5) and a more logical conclusion. Maybe Phantom Girl breaking thru the Phantom Zone and knocking him out or something. Or maybe a full-on raid on Khann. That would have been exciting, too.
Tim: These Silver Age stories all seem to have that hurried 1/2 page rush to the finish though.
Russell: Such great potential and set-up, for such a blah conclusion.
Jude: Oh they don't mention Khann anymore because everybody killed everybody else.
You've got an entire planet of criminals what do you think would happen?
Russell: Jude, yeah, I suppose. But why just take ONE brain when you could have taken three?
Tim: I wouldn't say blah, I really did like this one...I think for me it was more of the expected "oh crap we need to wrap this up...so...the Legion survives and Lex gets away."
Jude: Yeah it does seem rushed
Russell: Maybe we should end our Silver Age reviews like that. "Oh crap look at the time, make one last comment and then we're done."
Tim: Uh...yeah...I gotta go...so...always check for a wig!
Jude: I'm... WIGGING out!
Russell: See you in the future! Thanks, guys!!
Tim: Wait...last order of business---Long Live the Legion!
All: Long Live the Legion!

Science Police Notes:  
  • The entire membership of the Legion, all 19 members and Proty II, are featured in this story. 
  • Although he vowed revenge, Lex Luthor never faced off against the Legion again. 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 3 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.

As a Legion of Super-Bloggers extra, here's a copy of the actual Legion Outpost letters' page from Adventure Comics #325. 


  1. I think that the humiliation that Lex received in this issue was what inspired him to build the "Urthlo" robot that we saw in Adventure 300. And it has been established that Phantom Zone inmates can mentally influence people in the real world. Having Saturn Girl, already a trained telepath, made it that much easier.

  2. It's probably a good thing that I didn't start with these issues. Holy cow was this dumb. Lex's plan could have been thwarted at least a half dozen ways before it started.

  3. And while he was in the 30th century, he could have visited the Superman museum and learned Superboy's secret identity, but I guess the criminal genius didn't think of that.

  4. I too wished the solution had been Phantom Girl using her powers to exit the Phantom Zone -- maybe to warn the remaining heroes, at least? -- but this is an era where the girls hardly ever get to do anything cool or heroic. Sigh.