Tuesday, January 23, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #327 - Timber Wolf!

Hey all, it's Anj, jumping into the original series reviews to cover 'The Lone Wolf Legonnaire' from Adventure Comics 327.

I assume I was offered to review this issue based on Timber Wolf's long standing romance with Ayla Ranzz, one of my favorite Legionnaires and an early comic book crush. How could I say no? As is typical for stories of this time, there is definitely a 'love at first sight' attraction between Ayla and Brin. Also, this is one of those classic overstuffed Silver Age stories with an insane number of plot points and wacky events careening through the fifteen pages!

Writer Edmond Hamilton introduces us to Lone Wolf, a new character with a very convoluted origin as well as a new set of powers, super-acrobatics. John Forte is on art and brings the classic house style of the 50s to the proceedings. Since this story is so rapidly paced, Forte is called on to draw circuses, mine shafts, and battle sequences.

This would have easily been an arc in a new book if not a drawn out plot. Think of Gazelle in the threeboot, slowly introduced with an origin revealed in bits before she joined the team.

On to the book!

We start with a nice opening panel of the Lone Wolf stridently walking away from our team. He doesn't want to join the team. He must always walk alone!

The question Light Lass raises is why does this young man feel he needs to be alone.

I definitely like the craft of this half splash. Our heroes are in the background, making us focus intently on the new character. And there is definitely space between them. He is really walking away from them. This POV is very cinematic. Think of how clumsy this would look if seen from a different angle, let's say from the side with the Legion on the left and Lone Wolf on the right.

The story starts with the Legion getting pulled in a couple of different directions. Their spiffy new monitor board is pinging with activity. Superboy and Mon-El are pulled away to planet Krallak, I think a convenient way to remove the two most powerful Legionnaires from the rest of the story.

And then the team gets an alert from planet Zoon that their space crystals have been stolen by someone with super-powers. Saturn Girl sends Ultra Boy and Lightning Lad. Before the two can arrive, Zoon calls to say another super-theft has occurred. It's a crime spree!

Other Legionnaires are about to head to Zoon to help when they are needed more urgently on Earth. Space beasts in a local circus have broken free. Nothing says Silver Age Legion like giant beasts from a circus or zoo escaping!

At the circus, the team is impressed when the Lone Wolf shows up, using a mix of acrobatics and super-strength to corral the animals before the Legion can join in.

In an unprecedented move, perhaps showing how early we are in the team's adventures, Light Lass asks him to join the team right then. No vote, no tryout, no committee needed! But he lives up to his name of Lone Wolf and walks away.

But when Zoon is mentioned, the Wolf bristles. Could he be the thief on the lam? The main team thinks it is possible. Ayla can't imagine it. She is too smitten with him ...

But the plot thickens. Brainy trails Lone Wolf and sees that he had just arrived on Earth that day. And then he jumped onto a speeder to head back to Zoon. Seems suspicious.

On Zoon, the Legionnaires see film of the super-thefts. Someone with enough strength to rip a vault door off the hinges stole the space crystals. At the site, on closer inspection, it is noted that there are no fingerprints. That could easily be the Wolf.

That is enough evidence for the Legion second team to head to Zoon and try to capture the Wolf.

As their two ships fly through the air, a dimensional warp opens up which threatens to suck the Legion in forever. Their ship cannot break free from its tractor beam.

The Wolf saves them heroically, risking his own life by crashing his ship into the Legion cruiser, knocking it out of the beam.

Light Lass rushes to his help and again seems quite taken with him. Look at how cute she is kneeling next to him.

But it seems like this possible relationship is doomed from the beginning. Lone Wolf reveals he isn't a living being at all. He's a robot! And he's tortured by this. He wants to be accepted by the living; it's why he fled to Earth. And it's why he runs from the tearful Ayla.

Armed with the knowledge that he is an advanced robot, the Legion does further digging which leads them to the lab of Dr. Mar Londo.

Londo had a lab in the Ebony Mountains which lie in the path Lone Wolf ran. The game is afoot!

There they meet Londo's son Brin.

Londo wasn't just an expert in robotics. He also was a biochemist! He hoped to mine the rare element Zuunium to create a ray to create super-humans. Unfortunately, the way to the Zuunium was dangerous. Giant worms, volcanos, and other natural calamities all block the way.

So Londo made an army of androids to gather the element.

Only Karth Arn, the Lone Wolf, returned. Londo passed away shortly after creating the ray. Arn ran off.

I love how Ayla is still struck by his tragic story of an artificial boy hoping to be real. It is like a futuristc Pinocchio!

Finally the Wolf arrives at the lab.

As the Legion restrains him, Brainy see the stolen space crystals powering a dimensional penetrator.

Suddenly it all becomes clear. Lone Wolf isn't an android or a criminal. He is the real Brin Londo. He has fingerprints. The fake Londo does not, has all the stolen items, and is actually an android.

With the truth revealed, the android confesses.

When Mar Londo treated his only son with the Zuunium ray, the actual Karth Arn android became jealous. He dealt with the risk of retrieving the Zuunium, he should reap the benefits.

So he brainwashed Brin into believing he was an android. He took over the life of Brin. And then he prepared for when Brin would return by stealing the weapons he did.

And he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those meddling Legionnaires!

With the truth revealed, Brin can live his life as a human. And he doesn't need to walk alone. So why not join a Legion!

Whew ... that was a lot happening! I do like how much emotion is packed into this story. I don't usually consider Brin Londo a sympathetic character, or someone swayed by emotions such as longing. So to see this origin and see him crying was fascinating. He truly lived as a Lone Wolf. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised when he chose to stay with the Legion later in his career.

As I said before, the art is standard house style for the time. But I think it works well. The landscapes, monsters, and battles are all pretty fresh and dynamic.

Of course, this was the set up for the Brin/Ayla romance which lasted about 30 years! So interesting to see how early those feelings flared!


  1. It was weird to read this after later stories with Brin, like in Levitz's run. He's so... staid here. It's a very 1960s Legion idea of rebel. "He disagrees with us... in a POLITE MANNER!"

  2. It is weird that Timberwolf dropped up of sight for 4 years in this story, only reappearing in #372.

  3. Matter-Eater Lad appears in the splash panel but not the story itself.