Tuesday, May 21, 2019

TOS: Action Comics #383

Action Comics #383 (Dec 1969)
title: "Chameleon Boy's Secret Identity!"
writer: E. Nelson Bridwell
penciller: Win Mortimer
inker: Jack Abel
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Mort Weisinger
reviewer:  Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Mission Monitor Board: Chameleon Boy, Karate Kid, and Princess Projectra.


Princess Projectra has been invited to a party at the home of her friend Janice Warren and is in need of an escort. Karate Kid explains that he is unable to go because of his responsibilities as leader so Chameleon Boy agrees to go along instead. He admits that he is not fond of parties by Projectra insists it will be good for him because he has spent too much time mooning over Princess Elwinda since the passageway to her dimension was cut off several issues ago. When they arrive, Cham is amazed to see how much Janice resembles Elwinda.
Janice tries to show off a light jewel she just received from her father but the reflection temporarily blinds her and Projectra. Cham uses his shapeshifting powers to block the sunlight and explains that light jewels are used on Karmath for illumination at night because whatever light strikes them and inteisify it. A few more seconds of the intensified sunlight would have permanently damaged their eyes. Janice thanks him and takes Projectra to show off their avery.

Cham is intrigued by Janice and takes the form of a bird to follow. Projectra wants to bring him along but Janice says that his shapeshifting abilities give her the creeps. What the hell Janice?? And she even takes it a step further and says that his orange skin, bald head and antennae turn her off. What...the...hell Janice.

While Cham should take this as a lesson on why he should not eavesdrop, and realize that perhaps Janice is not for him, he instead decides to take the form of a handsome human to win her affection. Projectra seems to realize this is a bad idea but for some reason decides to go along with the deception anyways.
Things go well for Janice and "Dane" on their date and afterwards they return to her estate. He accompanies her as she goes to put her jewel away in the vault and on the way they meet the service man who is there performing maintenance on their robot servants. Dane retires to a guest room that evening but the next morning finds Janice in a panic. 
Later, Projectra warns Cham that the Science Police are going to discover that there are no records of a Dane Roberts and that he needs to come clean. He refuses because he believes he can find the person responsible on his own. He believes the robot guard outside the vault holds the key and takes the form of a small snake go get inside of it. There, he finds a small tv camera behind on eye. (Gotta love that advanced 30th century technology.) Cham and Projectra suspect that the service man he saw at the estate is the thief but decides they need more proof. Unfortunately, the Science Police are not willing to wait and have come for Dane. 
Cham and Janice go to the service man's shop and discover that he has several closed circuit TV sets set up, ne of which turns into her vault. When they hear someone coming, they try to hide, but the service man discovers Janice. 

Cham takes the form of Janice and steps out from his hiding place. The site of two Janices distracts the man long enough for Cham to disarm him and knock him out. Only then does Janice realize who Dane really was but it appears her opinion of Cham has changed for the better.

I have been enjoying the recent focus on the personal lives of our heroes and this is one of several stories recently that read more like a romance comic than a superhero adventure. Janice's harsh comments about Cham early on were a bit jarring, and frankly his decision to take another identify was horrible and should have come back to bite him more than it did with Janice. (How long would he have been willing to continue deceiving her?) But the plot of him becoming a suspect and having to prove his innocence was interesting albeit fairly simplistic in how it played out. This was not a particularly memorable story, and Cham's deception was a troubling premise, but in the end I would not go so far as to say this was a bad issue either.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Cham is mentioned as still pining for Princess Elwinda, who he met and fell in love with in Adventure Comics #376. 
  • Janice Warren never re-appears again. 

This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 9 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4.


  1. Pretty lame story. Doubles are always a warning sign. But I did dig Cham's flying car. Looks inspired by '57 Chevy.

  2. My immediate thought was "Cham why are trying to date rape someone" when I saw the preview image.

  3. I don't know, perhaps Cham's disguise was just the extreme end of padded bras, yoga pants or a toupee (i.e. things are not always what they seem at first meeting). :Þ

    I thought it was hilarious that he was so amazed by the underwater breathing apparatus! SO 'fab'!

  4. Isn't he mentioned as dating her in Superboy 202?

    1. If you mean in the text profile for Cham, yes. We meant she never reappears in a story.