Tuesday, May 14, 2019

TOS: Action Comics #382

Action Comics #382 (Nov 1969)
title: "Kill A Friend To Save A World!"
writer and layouts: Jim Shooter
penciller: Win Mortimer
inker: Jack Abel
letterer: Milt Snapinn
editor: Mort Weisinger
reviewer:  Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board: 
Ultra Boy, Karate Kid, Shrinking Violet, Light Lass, Timber Wolf; cameos by Superboy and Mon-El

Cosvarr and Zorla

Ultra Boy is shopping for a present for his girl-friend at the Metro Village Shopping Center when he is challenged by an entity named Protector One. He turns out to be an android with super-strength, super-speed, and super-reaction time. Ultra Boy is soundly defeated. Two people step forward, Cosvarr and Zorla, who claim that it was only a demonstration. Cosvarr begins his sales pitch to sell Protector androids. 
Cosvarr sends his tele-image to the Interworld Security Council and then shows up at Legion Head-quarters, as well. Cosvarr wants to sell every world his Protector androids, playing on the fear that any planet that doesn't have them would be easily defeated by any planet that did. He tells them that the Protector defeated Ultra Boy,who has been hospitalized. Newly elected Legion Leader Karate Kid  recognizes this for what it is: a protection racket. He sends out an alert, but only three members respond. 
A few hours later, Cosvarr and Zorla are at their android factory waiting to meet one of their potential investors, billionaire Carina Walter. Cosvarr greets her with what he considers his smooth manners, but what Zorla calls his "playing Casanova."  
When Carina asks how the androids were made to be so powerful, Cosvarr admits that he kidnapped Superboy and Mon-El and experimented on them to learn how solar energy makes them super-strong. He then created a solar battery for his Protector androids. 
As Cosvarr is telling Carina his spiel, we learn that she is really Light Lass and that several other Legionnaires smuggled themselves onto the facility asteroid with her. Shrinking Violet investigates the assembly line, Timber Wolf dresses as a human employee to scout around, and Karate Kid himself is outside with the space-ship waiting for their signal to bound in. 
As Light Lass stalls for time by letting Cosvarr do all the talking, an angry Zorla comes across Timber Wolf. He panics, and signals Karate Kid for help. However, he is able to bluff his way past Zorla until Karate Kid is seen. He then has to fight Karate Kid to prove his loyalty to Zorla and Cosvarr. Zorla manages to knock out Karate Kid using assembly line parts. 
Zorla bursts in to tell Cosvarr that the Legion is investigating them. However, not only does Cosvarr dismiss her and her allegations, he puts the move on Carina. Zorla overhears him, and goes ballistic (literally). She tells the Legion to get out as she threatens to blow up  the whole facility via a Destruct Button. The Legionnaires grab Superboy and Mon-El and barely fly off as the asteroid does indeed explode. 
Russell: This is another very odd Legion story. It's entire premise is built on the idea that some nobody could take down Superboy and Mon-El with something he calls "super-hypnotism." While I understand that this could be possible (I know Universo took down both of them with something similar) the idea that this is a THROWAWAY PLOT DEVICE is just ludicrous.
Hero: How do you power your androids?
Villain: Oh, I just happened to capture the two most powerful men in the universe and used them as my guinea pigs for testing. No biggie.
Yeah, right.

Also, the title is a *tad* misleading. The fight it references lasts all of three panels (I have reprinted two of them, plus the splash page recreation) so it doesn't really do the story justice. A title like "Android Protection Racket!" would have been more appropriate.

Although Karate Kid wishes Chameleon Boy would have been here, his team seems to do okay under the circumstances. With this story and the one last issue, there seems to be a trend to get the Legionnaires out of their uniforms and into civilian clothes. I don't know if I approve. If I'm only getting 10 pages or so of Legion appearances, I want them all in uniform all the time! Don't you? On a side note, I wonder if later artists such as Mike Grell referenced this story and started drawing Light Lass with short blonde hair? That was her (mistaken) look for several years in the mid Seventies.

And the ending! Here's another Legion story where the male and female villains don't get along, and end up committing suicide rather than fight the Legion off. Last time (Adventure Comics #380) it was the man who killed them; this time it is the woman. Was Jim Shooter having relationship problems at about this time? Seems like an odd coincidence to me!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Ultra Boy is out shopping for a present for Phantom Girl's birthday. According to the 1976 DC Calendar, her birthday is April 21. 
  • Karate Kid has been elected the new Legion Leader, taking over from Ultra Boy.   
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 9 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4.


  1. How long was Karate Kid's tenure as leader?

    1. He was replaced by Mon-El in the last Action Comics story. So about a year in real time.

  2. Yeah, this story was a mess. But I don't have an issue with Light Lass being blond for a while, don't women die their hair on occasion?