Tuesday, March 26, 2019

TOS: Adventure Comics #380

Adventure Comics #380 (May 1969)
title: "The Legion's Space Odyssey!"
writer and layouts: Jim Shooter
penciller: Win Mortimer
inker: Win Mortimer
letterer: Milt Snapinn
editor: Mort Weisinger
cover: Curt Swan & Mike Esposito
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board: 
Bouncing Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid, Light Lass, Mon-El, Sun Boy, Superboy, Ultra Boy

convoluted plots, Dream Girl's badly interpreted dream, two would-be assassins

At Legion head-quarters Superboy and Invisible Kid are doing their daily diagnostic on the Communication System when Dream Girl calls in on the Scrambled Circuit Code A to talk to Superboy privately. The call ends and Superboy lies to Invisible Kid about it. 
Every time Dream Girl calls on a private line and a Legionnaire lies, an angel loses its wings.

Moments later, the radiation in the building suddenly begins to spike. Invisible Kid tries to get everyone out, but it's too late. There is an explosion. 
I reprinted this explosion panel because, believe it or not, it's the best piece of art in this story.

When the Legionnaires regain consciousness they find themselves on a remote asteroid in an uncharted area of the galaxy. Before they can do any exploring, however, a huge monster with Kryptonite teeth attacks Superboy and eats him. 
Two things from this page: 1) I don't like it when the artists can't be bothered to draw all of the characters in the story: Light Lass isn't in panel one, and Cosmic Boy isn't in panel five; and 2) a monster with Kryptonite teeth? How is that even possible!?!? 

After Superboy is devoured, the Legion lets the lummox wander off. 
The Legion builds a grave marker for Superboy. Ultra Boy and Invisible Kid talk to make an escape plan while the others create a shelter out of large rocks. 
SO....the editor thought it was a better idea to show Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy's shocked faces than a monster somehow swallowing (?) Superboy? And then in the very next panel, Superboy's indestructible cape has somehow been torn? Oh, yeah, because of Kryptonite teeth. Sorry, I forgot. But what's that other thing in his mouth in panel 2? And....I find it hard to believe that Ultra Boy and the others just let the monster walk off.

While all the other Legionnaires are working on the cave, Duo Damsel feels sorry for herself, admitting that she had a huge crush on Superboy and does not feel like she deserves to be a Legionnaire. Bouncing Boy tries to cheer her up. 
This is the best scene in the story: Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy acting as they would if they really existed as Legionnaires. All of us have felt this way when around nicer looking or more out-going friends. Jim Shooter really nails the dialogue here, although this is the second story in a row where Duo Damsel questions her abilities. Seems like she would have had self-confidence by this point....?

Later, Invisible Kid explains the plan to build a ship that will take them back to Earth. 
The next morning Bouncing Boy bounces around the asteroid to find iron, copper, and other necessary metals. 
I like how Bouncing Boy does a good job here. I'm not a fan of him being drawn like an overweight Sumo wrestler, though.

Working together, the Legionnaires are able to build a make-shift space-ship. Duo Damsel also is over her pity-party, boasting that she was able to find water and food. Ultra Boy throws the ship into the atmosphere and then hops on-board. 
This is my favorite page, because it shows just how cool the Legionnaires' powers are when working together. I do kinda think that Duo Damsel's bit is shoe-horned in, but it parallels nicely to her previous bout of self-doubt, so, I guess, never mind.

They head out into space until a huge meteor heads directly towards them. Ultra Boy is able to smash it, but some of the smaller pieces manage to hit their ship and damage it. They manage to land on another asteroid, consisting of rocky islands on a huge ocean, to make repairs. 
By this point I was sure there was some specific reason that the Legionnaires had been stranded, and I was relatively sure that Superboy had something to do with it. I just wish the "odyssey" that they were facing was more interesting.

As soon as they land, the Legionnaires think that they see a Legion cruiser in the distance, and then when Duo Damsel swears she sees Superboy she rushes off to investigate. 
Bouncing Boy tries to bring her back, but the storm gets worse and Ultra Boy can't go after them. As the storm and violent waves threaten Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy, a whirlpool forms around their small island, keeping them safe.  
Although I liked the initial scenes with Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy, this scene just makes them look like idiots: her for thinking she saw Superboy (she did, but why?) and him for chasing after her.
And of course....the idea that Ultra Boy and the others couldn't go after them!?!? The Legion, defeated by a storm. Wonderful.

When the storm subsides, the two Legionnaires return to the others. The ship has been repaired, and Ultra Boy throws the cruiser into "the dimensional barrier" so that they arrive back on Earth five seconds later.  As they approach Earth, they are denied permission to land and are accused of being imposters. Ultra Boy uses his penetra-vision to look in on their head-quarters. 
Sure, they break the dimensional barrier and....HUH!?! Appear on a parallel world!? Is this going to be the  Earth-2 Legion!? Now THAT would have been a great conclusion!!

Ultra Boy is shocked to see himself and the others getting blasted. They are then allowed to return, and Superboy and Mon-El explain what has been happening. Dream Girl had a prophetic vision of them being killed by an old man on a sail boat;  Superboy, thinking his friends would not take the vision seriously, caused the radiation meter to read as if it was dangerous and then staged an explosion and whisked all of his friends away. 
I love how nonchalant Superboy is, "a little hoax to save your necks." Super-Dickery at its finest.

Superboy then explains how the Legion of Super-Pets helped him out in fooling them but also keeping an eye on them while he and Mon-El waited for the attack. 
I have no words to describe how stupid this whole page is. If they had used Saturn Girl and Princess Projectra to keep the others occupied, it would have been SO MUCH BETTER.

On the surface of the sun, two would-be invaders from another dimension wait for news on whether their death ray had killed the Legionnaires or not. They are surprised when the Legion bursts into their "sail boat" space ship. Fearing imprisonment or execution, the two would-be assassins kill themselves. 
I can't believe I'm about to say this, but....for the second page in a row, I can't believe how stupid this is. We learn ZERO about who or what these characters were, and then they kill themselves. What a conclusion.

As you probably know, this was the last issue of Adventure Comics that featured the Legion. With the level of stories that have been featured in the last six issues, I'm not surprised that they were moved out. I AM surprised that the level of quality went down so drastically SO quickly, though. This is probably one of the worst Legion stories I've ever read; definitely one of the worst of the Adventure run. The plot of trying to outwit Dream Girl's prophecies has been done before (like in her debut appearance!) and done much better. Why Superboy couldn't just level with his friends and send them to, say, Rimbor for a few days, is just plain stupid. It's a damn shame that the Legion had to go out on such a sour note.
I have read that Jim Shooter based this story on Homer's The Odyssey. I haven't read that tale, but I did do a quick investigation of it. I don't really see the resemblances. Anybody out there want to educate us as to the similarities?

And lastly, on the letters' page, we found the following announcement:
Why anybody at DC thought that moving the Legion into a back-up series in Action Comics was a good idea is beyond me. Why Supergirl and the Legion couldn't share Adventure Comics is also beyond me. The Sixties was obviously a weird time. By the way, none of Clifton Watkins' predictions (above) came true.

Although we will continue to review the Legion series as they move over to Action Comics, we are going to take a two-week rest. So join us here next week as the Legion of Super-Bloggers get together to toast the Adventure Comics run with the first of two commemorative posts.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dream Girl appears in only one panel of this story. Mon-El appears in only a few, but has no words of dialogue. 
  • This was the last Silver Age adventure of The Legion of Super-Pets. Although they make a cameo appearance in Action Comics #387, they do not participate in that adventure. 
  • Homer wrote The Odyssey, the tale of Odysseus' efforts to return to his homeland, Ithaca, sometime in the 8th Century BC. 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (the film and the book) made their respective debuts in 1968.  
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 9 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4.

This was the last issue of Adventure Comics to feature the Legion as head-liners. 


  1. These last few issues have been much worse than I remember, but nowhere near as bad in quality as the Action stories after this were.

    The entire Action run was already covered on this site several years ago. I'm surprised that you are doing them again.

    1. The Action backups have NOT been reviewed here yet. We skipped right to the Superboy backups. And some of those were pretty awful, too.

  2. Some last stray thoughts:

    * This is the first time, but not the last, that a group of stranded Legionnaires include Ultra Boy as the resident powerhouse. This is to take advantage of Jo's singular weakness of only being able to use one power at a time. If Superboy or Mon-El were there, he'd solve the whole problem in maybe one page. With Jo, you have a multi-powered character without the obvious advantages.

    * I liked the idea of Bouncing Boy being the Legion's self-appointed morale officer. Some of his comments here, however, make him look like a horse's ass, which I'm not sure is in the job description.

    * One of Clifton Watkins' predictions did come true, sort of. Shadow Lass did marry Mon-El towards the end of the Legion's Baxter run (I'm open to correction about the Baxter part) in a traditional Talokian ritual, which involved the loss of part of a finger. Yeesh.

    And one last random thought, for which I'll borrow from a Bronze Age Superman story:

    "Aye, flustercuckery have these post-Swan Legion stories have ever been, and flustercuckery will they ever remain in the annals of the Legion of Super-Bloggers."

    Peace out from Anon to the original Adventure Comics Legion sotries. I look forward to the Action Comics posts. Until next week.

  3. All good things must come to an end and all that. Still, despite the shortcoming of this story, there were some good moments. Superboy's massive hoax on his fellow members, although intended to save their lives, kind of makes up for his initial treatment at their hands, eh? Was this the beginning of the Chuck/Luornu romance foreshadowed in the "adult Legion story?

    The "Silver Age" is generally regarded as beginning in 10-56 with Showcase Issue 4's reboot of the Flash. The Legion premiered in April 58's Adventure 247. Do people regard this issue as the end of the end of the Legion's silver age? The Adventure Comics run certainly represented their pinnacle, but the Action (and later Superboy) back-up stories certainly didn't allow for the sweeping story lines that you could get from, say, a two parter in a 24 page book but they did provide some great character moments and kept the flame alive. Or does the Legion's Silver age end with Superboy 195. (The introduction of Wildfire or, as he was known initially, ERG-1.)

    Has this blog ever commented on the Adventure 205 (10-54)story "Journey of the Second Superboy"? I kind of regard this story as Legion Zero, as it established a race of humanoid telepaths on Titan (although the story does misidentify Titan as a moon of Jupiter, not Saturn.)

    1. The Bronze Age of Comics (I'm still not sure that should be a thing, but it's now established) is thought to begin c. 1970, so a case could be made that the Action Comics stories are the last of the Silver Age, and the Superboy back-up tales mark the transition to the Bonze, particularly with the arrival of Dave Cockrum.

      I agree, Emsley, that 8-page back-up stories don't normally allow for grand multi-part stories, especially given that at the time, readers weren't encouraged to follow a multi-part arc closely (that came with the advent of comic book specialty shops). I've seen it done in later years in other books before the original Crisis, but those were more action-oriented (no pun intended).

      Yes, this was the start of the Chuck/Luornu relationship, which an upcoming Action story will focus on.

    2. Yeah, it was a pretty short gap between the Superboy backups and the Legion becoming the "main" feature in that mag, it did seem like the start of a new thing, especially with Timber Wolf's "new look".