Tuesday, April 3, 2018

TOS: Adventure Comics #336

Adventure Comics #336 (September 1965)
title: "The True Identity of Starfinger!"
writer: Edmond Hamilton
artist: John Forte
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & George Klein
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

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


Starfinger is still at large to carry out his threat to destroy the Seven Wonders of the Modern Age unless he is given the recently discovered Rejuvium, a mineral that restores youth to the elderly. At Legion head-quarters Triplicate Girl, Shrinking Violet, Chameleon Boy, and Superboy join the others in searching for the villain. Also, Brainiac 5 is able to cure most of the Legionnaires who were altered by Starfinger, except for Phantom Girl. Chameleon Boy turns into Starfinger inside a laboratory to draw Starfinger out into the open, but all manages to do is throw suspicion on himself. 

The other Legionnaires keep searching for Starfinger. For example, Triplicate Girl splits into three different women but searches the same place all together. Phantom Girl may be a permanent phantom, but that won't stop her from trying to find Starfinger. 

Meanwhile, Starfinger strikes at the Third Wonder, the Global Tunnel, which is being protected by Matter-Eater Lad and Cosmic Boy. Starfinger uses a robot drill decoy to trap the Legionnaires under-ground. Superboy flies to their rescue, but Starfinger is successful at destroying the force-field projector that enables the Tunnel to stay open. 

At the Fourth Wonder, the Giant Hall of Fame, Starfinger destroys several statues and makes them fall on Ultra Boy. At the last moment he switches from super-strength to invulnerability, but couldn't move because he was trapped under the rubble. 

Brainiac 5 tracks Starfinger's flight path back to Metropolis, somewhere near the Fusion Power Sphere. That makes Brainiac 5 think of Inertron, the element that can withstand any force. He and Saturn Girl begin to make Inertron shields for each Legionnaire. 

At Reversed Falls Saturn Girl gives Matter-Eater Lad, Light Lass, and Chameleon Boy their shields just as Starfinger attacks. Light Lass keeps the water flowing upwards as the other two Legionnaires chase after Starfinger. 

Chameleon Boy calls for help in catching Starfinger. At the Sixth Wonder, the Great Wind Control Center Sun Boy, Element Lad, and Invisible Kid split up as Sun Boy stays on duty and the others rush off to give chase. At the Seventh Wonder, Superboy and Colossal Boy stay put. 

Eventually, the Legion is able to over-power Starfinger while their Inertron shields protect them from his blasts. They grab off his bubble-head to find that Starfinger is really Lightning Lad! 

Back at the Legion head-quarters Saturn Girl is able to break through the hypnotic control, and Lighting Lad tells them that Starfinger is really his physician, Dr. Lars Hanscom! Lighting Lad recognizes Inertron as part of the building where he had been held hostage. The Legion guesses that Starfinger is hiding in or near the Fusion Power Sphere. 
Because Superboy is invulnerable, he digs underneath to get into the facility. Starfinger threatens to destroy the Power Sphere unless Superboy lets him go, but Superboy calls his bluff knowing that a coward like Hanscom wouldn't kill himself. 

There is a lot of really cool stuff in this story, wrapped up inside a whole bunch of crazy. First of all, why did Starfinger go to so much trouble to get the Rejuvium? It is never explained why he wanted it or what he planned to do with it. Dr. Hanscom was not shown as being elderly, and no personal reason was given for his obsession about it.

Secondly, for a guy who was willing to go to such lengths to get the Rejuvium, you would think he would have just stuck to robbing Interplanetary Banks. After all his efforts, what did he really get? A reputation as a loser, that's what. Also, how did he manage to get inside the Fusion Power Sphere in the first place? I mean, it's a cool hiding place, but it's not somewhere you would naturally have access to, right?

Lastly, when or how did Dr. Hanscom manage to create a star-finger hand that he got onto Lighting Lad's body? This guy needed a whole lot of things to happen for him to get this far: successful invention of the star-fingers (either bolts themselves or as alterations to Lighting Lad's powers), successful hypnotic control of a Legionnaire, power and connections to hire a gang, successful creation of the Starfinger suit (including jet-pack and defensive weaponry), and as just mentioned, access to the Fusion Power Sphere.

I didn't like how Star Boy had to be (literally) baby-sat by Mon-El while he orbited around the Sun. Seems like a robotic jet propeller or something could have served Mon-El's function. Or why not Supergirl? She never did anything in Legion stories. (Just kidding!!)

I liked the idea of having Seven Wonders of the Modern Age, but I didn't particularly like some of the choices. A bunch of statues of dead Earth men is one of the Seven Wonders? Personally I would have chosen the Planet of Dead Robots or Puppet World as something more Wonderful before I picked a bunch of statues....but whatever.

Science Police Notes:  
  • There are only 15 Legion portraits on the cover, even though there are 18 Legionnaires in this story. Missing from the "list of suspects" are Mon-El, Matter-Eater Lad, and Phantom Girl, and of course, Supergirl, who is missing in action (again).  
  • The statues in the Giant Hall of Fame that are clearly identified include Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig van Beethoven and his piano, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Edison.  
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 4 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 2.


  1. Is that the same "global tunnel" dug by Supergirl during her first Legion tryout? If so, continuity points for that.

  2. I have very warm feelings toward this story, being my second Legion story and the one that sealed the deal.
    Even coming in-media-res (I did not see the previous issue until much later), I was hooked. This is the template of what a good legion story should have (even if problematic in this case): many members, preferably using their powers and using them in clever ways, separate missions around a similar theme, things to do other than confront the villain (such as defending the wonders).
    Also, the cover was PRICELESS for this young fan trying to navigate the complex Legion world.
    Still love it, and probably one of the Archives I most anticipated (and it was the fourth!)