Tuesday, June 4, 2019

TOS: Action Comics #385

Action Comics #385 (February 1970)
title: "The Fallen Star Boy!"
writer: E. Nelson Bridwell
penciller: Win Mortimer
inker: Jack Abel
letterer: Joe Letterese
editor: Mort Weisinger
reviewers: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage and Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Mission Monitor Board: 
Star Boy, Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Dream Girl, Brainiac 5

Yark Althu and his gang of criminals

Xanthu calls the Legion asking for help in capturing a criminal gang the authorities are not able to capture. Star Boy overhears the request and insists to Karate Kid that he be assigned the mission. Karate Kid agrees, and assigns Saturn Girl and Colossal Boy to go with him. 
When the Legionnaires arrive on Xanthu they learn that the gang of criminals seems to know where and when the most valuable shipments are going to be vulnerable to attack. That day, archaeological treasures are being transported from the discovery site to the Xan City Museum. The Legionnaires volunteer to escort the shipment. 
They are then attacked en route by the gang who are wearing anti-telepathy helmets to thwart Saturn Girl's power. When Colossal Boy attacks, the thieves fly down and into heavy traffic, stifling his ability to follow them at his large size. 
Later, the Legionnaires visit Star Boy's parents and then have a discussion on the case. Star Boy is missing Dream Girl, which makes him realize that the thieves are probably from her native planet, Walter* where everyone has precognitive powers. That would explain how they knew that Saturn Girl and Colossal Boy would be on the mission team. That still leaves the Legionnaires confused as to how to actually apprehend them, though. (*editor's note: Oops, I meant Naltor, of course!) 
Elsewhere, the leader of the gang tells his henchmen that the plan was to attract Star Boy back to Xanthu so that he could capture him and murder him, getting revenge for Star Boy having killed his brother. 
The next day the Legionnaires escort a huge shipment of radioactive materials, confident that the mass of the shipment would thwart the thieves. However, they arrive with a teleportation device. They begin to steal the material, then actually kidnap Star Boy! 
Star Boy re-appears in the thieves' head-quarters, a space-ship in orbit around Xanthu. Yark Althu introduces himself as the brother of Kenz Nuhor, the man Star Boy killed in self-defense. Yark has turned off the space-ship's artificial gravity, so he believes that in the weightlessness of outer space Star Boy will not be able to use his mass-controlling powers. 
Star Boy, however, is able to control mass, not weight. He makes the weapon Yark is holding too massive for the would-be murderer to fire. Then Star Boy makes Yark himself too massive to move towards him. Frustrated, Yark orders his men to blast Star Boy. Just then, Saturn Girl and Colossal Boy arrive and take out the gang of thieves. 
When Yark is apprehended, Saturn Girl tells him that although his gang wore anti-telepathic helmets, Star Boy did not, so she simply zeroed in on her team-mate's brain-waves. 

Russell: This is one of the better Action Comics back-up stories, in my opinion. This story is chock full of great plot ideas. I love the idea that the man Star Boy killed to want revenge. In fact, I would have liked to have seen him come back. The second idea I love is a criminal from Naltor. How do you stop a criminal who can "see" how you're going to come after him? This is awesome! And third, have we ever seen anti-telepathy helmets before!?! What a cool idea! I'm surprised that none of these ideas ever came back.

Just in general I love the spotlight on Star Boy. It's a great way to explain how he controls mass, not weight. At about this time in history, with so many astronauts flying to the moon, weightlessness and anti-gravity concepts were in surely in the news.

I do wonder why Dream Girl didn't just go with the mission team. They had no idea which Legionnaires would have been useful against the crime wave on Xanthu, so why didn't Dream Girl just volunteer to go with them?

Mike: So many of these back-up stories have felt like romance stories that it's been refreshing to get back to more classic super-hero adventures in this and last issue. I also agree that they did a great job spotlighting Star Boy here. Powers were not always portrayed consistently or logically at this time, so the thoughtful explanation of how his power works was appreciated.

Win Mortimer's art has been at best a mixed bag during this era, but I think he and Abel did a pretty solid job here on a story that demanded more action than he has had to draw for a while. Although the gangs' costumes were kind of lame, their design did not take away from the overall story at all.

I cannot recall what is coming over the next few issues but I really hope we get more tales like this one.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Star Boy shot and killed Kenz Nuhor in Adventure Comics #342. The Naltorian was in love with Dream Girl, and considered Star Boy his rival. As shown in this issue's flash-back, Kenz did in fact murder Jan Barth, a planetary surveyor, before threatening to also kill Star Boy.  
  • It is established that there are no "family" or "last" names on Naltor, which is why Kenz Nuhor can have a brother named Yark Althu. Several years later this issue will be used why the White Witch does not have the same last name as her sister, Dream Girl.  
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 9 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4.


  1. "Dream Girl... her native planet, Walter where everyone has precognitive powers."

    Ooops. :P

  2. Too bad the Naltorians couldn't predict Thom flying out of the way or Saturn Girl finding Thom.

  3. It's always "hit or miss" with them. What they dream about happens but they don't see everything. Hey, there's a concept. Maybe SOME Naltorians have the power, but it doesn't work so well with them.

    1. Of course. It was indicated that Dream Girl's power was the strongest on her planet. It therefore means that everyone else is weaker, and varies in strength and accuracy with each other.