Tuesday, February 19, 2019

TOS: Adventure Comics #375

Adventure Comics #375 (December 1968)
title: King of the Legion!
writer and layouts: Jim Shooter
artist: Win Mortimer
letterer: Joe Letters
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Neal Adams
reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Mission Monitor Board: the twelve contestants:  Karate Kid, Ultra Boy, Sun Boy, Chemical King, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Superboy, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf, Bouncing Boy, Mon-El, Element Lad; cameo appearances by Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Matter Eater Lad, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Starboy, and Supergirl

Opponents: The Wanderers - Celebrand, Elvo, Dartlag, Immorto, Ornitho, Psyche, and Quantum Queen.

Several Legionnaires appear at first to be confronting a team of opponents on a barren asteroid, but turns out to merely be a meeting between the Legion and a team of heroes called the Wanderers. After a brief demonstration of powers, they erect an obelisk in honor of their meeting and vow eternal friendship. Unfortunately, it seems that things may not go as planned as the Wanderers later pass through a mysterious space-cloud.
Elsewhere, the Legion is asked to help test a new, supposedly indestructible armor plate for the Galactic Security Force. Superboy is chosen to take the lead but in the midst of his test he is stopped by a giant gauntlet. Mysterious words appear on the metal.
Coincidently, the team is soon also advised that the Wanderers have stolen the Seven Stones of Alactos, and are believed to be under the influence of the Nefar Nebula. The Legion decides to make a contest out of stopping the Wanderers to determine who is the mightiest Legionnaire. Also, Ultra Boy decides to be an ass to Bouncing Boy and we get to see some classic 1960s sexism. 
Kinda feels like leaving Supergirl off the table sort of calls into question the whole validity of this test. Anyways, the story follows several teams of Legionnaires as they confront different members of the Wanderers. Impressively, after Mon-El and Element Lad fail to take down Dartalg, Bouncing Boy succeeds.
Saturn Girl, Chemical King, and Chameleon Boy go after the winged shapeshifter Ornitho, but it is Chameleon Boy who ultimately defeats him. Meanwhile, Karate Kid, Ultra Boy, and Sun Boy go after Quantum Queen, but its Karate Kid who conquers both her and his teammates.
Brainiac 5 and Timber Wolf fail to capture Immorto but Superboy succeeds. Chameleon Boy heads for the planet Fandua and notices that Proty has tagged along. Hmm. When he arrives he finds that Bouncing Boy appears to be under the control of Psyche.
She sets the two against each other, but the scene quickly cuts to a victorious Bouncing Boy carrying Cham to his ship for first aid. One of their satellites sends the equipment he needs to help his teammate and the two soon head out into space. But the story teases us with the question...who defeated Psyche?

Superboy confronts Celebrand at his fortress and warns him that he and Bouncing Boy have both exits covered. He surrenders, but chooses the exit guarded by Bouncing Boy, which means he is the winner. The team meets later at a ceremony to acknowledge Bouncing Boy as the mightiest Legionnaire but he suddenly disappears. Even more shockingly, right after Bouncing Boy disappears, who should enter the room and ask what is going on but...Bouncing Boy?
Commentary:  Well, let me start out with the positive...this story appears to be a showcase for Bouncing Boy, who I am really fond of as a character. I am generally a sucker for any story that lets him get some focus. And that wraps up the positive.

This issue just seems such a step back for the Legion. The premise of having them compete is interesting, but the execution is poor. The characters act immature, the female members are dismissed at the outset, and we open the competition with Ultra Boy being a jerk to Bouncing Boy. I do realize the time period this story was written so I guess I could give some allowance for one or two of those things, but given how many great Legion stories we have gotten to date, this feels like they are moving backwards.

The opening with the Wanderers is interesting but the members themselves are not (apologies to Wanderers fans out there) and it does not feel like the battles with them have any real stakes. It is pretty obvious that something unusual is up with the Chameleon Boy and Bouncing Boy scene given how much takes place off panel, which could possibly be intriguing if the story was otherwise interesting but by this time it arrived I could not bring myself to care. And like mentioning Proty being there in passing isn't going to mean something...

The art was also fairly lackluster, which I hate to say because I really love Win Mortimer's Golden Age work and I do appreciate some of his Bronze Age work. I guess he was in a transitional period at this time, but it just did not look that good. It was not terrible, but overall it did not help this story either.

I guess at the end, this is not a story I loathe but I also cannot muster the energy to have any strong feelings about. If you are a fan though, I would love to read your thoughts below. 

Will the second parter be any better? We will see!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dream Girl does not appear in this story. 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 8 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4.

This issue features the debut of The Wanderers, who would eventually receive their own title in the late 1980s. 


  1. I enjoyed the story when I was younger, but I haven't reread it lately. I remember enjoying that Bouncing Boy came out on top. It's not quite the same thing, but it's a bit like Batman beating the rest of the JLA. Sometimes being clever wins over greater physical powers.

  2. And the flustercuckery continues (to use my new favorite word lol).

    One small nitpick: in the Science Police Notes, it's said that Shrinking Violet doesn't appear. But, in the Supergirl panel shown above, who's the brunette in green who lstens in on Shady and Kara's chat?

    1. I feel like I've finally left my mark in the usage of "flustercuckery" in these boards.

  3. Kara taking herself out of the running was probably a good thing considering what happens in part 2, eh?

    1. Yeah, "awkward" would cover it. But by that same token, it'd be the same if Imra had won. Yikes!

    2. Either would have made a better story than what we actually got, haha.

    3. Now THAT'S Truth to Power! :)

  4. The Wanderers are but one Legion spin-off that got their own book. Karate Kid and Valor (Mon-El) being the others.