Tuesday, January 30, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #328

Adventure Comics #328 (Jan 1965)
title: "The Lad Who Wrecked the Legion!"
writer: Jerry Siegel
penciller: Jim Mooney
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewers: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Invisible Kid, Triplicate Girl, Superboy, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Element Lad, new member Command Kid

Legion Reservist Bouncing Boy

new member Command Kid

At the Legion Club-House, Cosmic Boy is learning about his family ancestry via an Ancestor-Visualizer, which reads his supra-conscious mind to introduce his family to him. Elsewhere, Invisible Kid and Triplicate Girl are in The Rogue Room adjusting the anti-grav Molock bust and the android copies of Zaryan and the Jungle King. Then Invisible Kid shows off the Celestial Chamber, which features models of all of the planets that are the homes of Legionnaires. 
In the laboratory, Legion Reservist Bouncing Boy shows up and Superboy blasts him with a ray that temporarily gives him back his old bouncing powers. When they wear off, he dejectedly walks off. 
Suddenly, a Danger Alert sounds in the main club room. The Legionnaires see on their mission monitor board Command Kid foiling some jewel thieves by making them think that their get-away rocket has turned into a monster and that a group of Science Police officers have them surrounded. Impressed, they rush off to meet him. 

After the real SP arrives and takes away the jewel thieves, Command Kid introduces himself as having come from the planet Preztor. He has the power to create hypnotic hallucinations. Oddly, he has never heard of the Legion, so they show him what they can do by helping complete the amusement park Galaxy Land. And Lightning Lad causes the hot weather to cool when his lightning bolts cause clouds to form in the sky. Command Kid, without a shred of humility, agrees to join the Legion "as a valuable addition to your ranks." 
A few days later, Command Kid foils an attack on Science Police head-quarters. The next day during a ceremony to award each Legionnaire a gold arm-band citation for their distinguished service in the aid of law enforcement, Command Kid rudely refuses his award. 
Later, back at the Legion Club-House, Command Kid overhears other Legionnaires talking about him, so he makes them think that Superboy has gone crazy and in a fit of anger attacks Mon-El and Ultra Boy. Of course, he laughs at them when he reveals it is only an illusion. 
When Star Boy wishes he had more impressive powers, Command Kid gives him a pill that he promises will improve Star Boy's mass-controlling abilities. Star Boy falls into a coma-like sleep. 
Later, Command Kid rudely walks away from Cosmic Boy when he tries to show off the present he made for his parents' golden anniversary. And later still, Phantom Girl and Command Kid are on patrol in Metropolis when they are asked to get through a force-field that terrorists have put up around an atomic generator. Phantom Girl prepares to stop them when Command Kid takes the lead and scares them into giving themselves up by creating an illusion of a monster. 
Sun Boy is the next Legionnaire to come to Command Kid asking for a power upgrade. Command Kid gives him a pill and he, too, falls into a deep sleep. When a Gold Kryptonite meteorite streaks through the atmosphere and threatens Superboy, Command Kid orders Ultra Boy to stop it, rather than do it himself. 
Command Kid gets word that there is another dimensional fleet on its way to invade Earth, so orders Superboy, Ultra Boy, and Mon-El to investigate. As they leave, he offers all of the other Legionnaires a chance to improve their powers. Each takes a pill and falls asleep. Then Command Kid turns on his Xral Energoid to destroy them. 
Suddenly, Saturn Girl and Element Lad return, and Element Lad turns Command Kid's machine into gold, which makes Command Kid pass out. They revive their friends, and then explain that they had watched Command Kid on the monitors from their cruiser. 
They noticed that Command Kid had been avoiding gold, so they contacted Preztor, where they learned that Command Kid fit the description of a young man who had crash-landed on an isolated island of demons. They learn that gold can exorcise Preztorian demons, which is why Element Lad turned the machinery into gold. 
Sure enough, the demon rises from the unconscious body of Command Kid and returns to Preztor. Phantom Girl follows it to make sure it returns to its home. Command Kid, who lost his powers when he lost his "spirit," apologizes for the trouble and quits the Legion.   

This is one of the first "old" Legion stories I came across after I first caught the Legion bug. I think partly because of this story Saturn Girl and Element Lad were always two of my favorite Legionnaires. They show up at the end and save the day quite dramatically, ya know? Likewise, I think that because of this story I never really warmed up to Star Boy. I mean, just a few days after you meet a new co-worker you're taking drugs from him!? Just how gullible (i.e. stupid) can these Legionnaires be!?!

This story is preposterous. We have a group of super-powered teen-agers and one super-egoist with illusion powers is enough to give all of them inferiority complexes? I can imagine some of the members, such as Shrinking Violet, Triplicate Girl, or Matter-Eater Lad buying into the "I can make you a better Legionnaire" shtick, but for characters like Sun Boy and Cosmic Boy (who was Legion Leader twice!) being shown as having fragile egos....it just doesn't make sense.

Basically, I would have much rather have read a story where Superboy really did go wild and fight Mon-El and Ultra Boy. I feel cheated with this story having such a great cover.

The one point of order that I didn't quite understand is how the Legion and their monitors can see what Command Kid is showing to the thieves at the very beginning. Were they all being controlled to see the illusions? That seems super impressive. Or was one panel showing what the thieves were seeing, and the other panel was showing the reality? It's a bit unclear.

I do like the idea of an island full of body-snatching demons. I would have liked to have seen a return to Pretzor, maybe with Phantom Girl leading the team to defeat them? The concept that this demon simply went back home to its planet without any punishment or justice at all is kind of a creepy idea.

And of course, we will soon have another Legionnaire whose powers were basically the same as Command Kid's. It would have been interesting to see Princess Projectra confront this previous illusion-caster.

Long-time Supergirl artist Jim Mooney steps in to do the art chores this time around. Although he did design several of the Legionnaires' uniforms, there is something about his style that I just don't think works with the Legion.

This cover was the subject of a "Who Drew It Better?" article from two years ago that you can read by clicking here. 

As an extra bonus, here's a copy of the letters' page from this issue:

Science Police Notes:  
  • Molock first appeared in Adventure Comics #320, Zaryan first appeared in Adventure #304, and the Jungle King died in Adventure #309
  • Although Command Kid is officially inducted into the Legion in this story, because of the circumstances his membership is reneged and he is not counted as a "true" Legionnaire. 
  • No mention of Command Kid is ever made again, even when a very similarly powered Princess Projectra joins the Legion in Adventure Comics #346. 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 3 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2. It was also reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 1) #1. 

Command Kid joins, then quits, the Legion in this story.


  1. I love that cover. Looks like Superboy wrecked Jo-Nah for sure!


  2. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the futuristic setting with the ancient evil of an honest-to-gosh demon.

  3. Is it just me, or do 3 out of 4 issues of the original Legion series involve someone joining under false pretenses, or turning out to be a traitor, or being suspected of being a traitor but not actually being a traitor?

    1. It certainly does seem that way lately, doesn't it?