Tuesday, June 25, 2019

TOS: Action Comics #389

Action Comics #389 (June 1970)
title: "The Mystery Legionnaire!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Win Mortimer
inker: Jack Abel
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Mort Weisinger
reviewers: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board: 
Cosmic Boy, Shrinking Violet, Chemical King

Klim the robotic thief

A head-less body flies through outer space on its way to rendezvous with its head. These are parts of Klim, a robot criminal with a zutronic brain. It was created at the Alphatron Criminal Clinic on Voran, where handicapped criminals live in a nursing home prison. The inmate/patients combined their super-intellects and built Klim from stolen components they found at their home. 
It then went on a crime-spree until Cosmic Boy, Shrinking Violet, and Chemical King confronted it on the jungle world, Nara. When Klim was attacked its body was captured in liquid Oxygen by Chemical King; however, its head separated from its body. Klim's head was able to function independently. As it flew away it vowed vengeance on the one Legionnaire it blamed for its defeat. 
The three Legionnaires go to Security Station 2J, where Klim's body had been until it suddenly became "active" and flew off on its own. The three then head to Voran, where they hope Klim's body is heading. They do catch sight of the headless body. They rush after it as it disappears into a hidden tube in the ground. 
They follow, and are confronted by web-vines that stop Cos and Chem. Violet is able to shrink through the gaps in the netting and fly on. Chemical King uses his powers to cause the vines to burst into flames. Flying on they find Violet, encased in some force-field beam. Cosmic Boy magnetizes the rocks in the walls, pulling the force-field apart. As the walls collapse, Chem saves Violet. They are happy to see that the collapsing rocks have encased Klim's body. 
The three Legionnaires fly on and confront Klim's head, safe inside a prisma-glass case. It prepares its electronic stun-vision to kill the Legionnaires, upset that the Legionnaire it hates most is not present. Cosmic Boy tries to clear up the robot's confusion. He surmises that when Klim's head separated from its body, its vision sensors somehow short-circuited, causing it to see an amalgamated Legionnaire. 
Klim doesn't believe Cos, but vows to kill them all regardless. However, while Cosmic Boy has been talking Violet has had enough time to sneak into Klim's circuitry and alter its voice circuits, causing its own sound-waves to shatter the prisma-glass. Rendered powerless, the head is angry that it was Shrinking Violet who managed to stop it both times. 

Russell: This is the wackiest Legion story I've read in a while....I was totally not surprised to see that it was credited to Cary Bates! It not only has a "hook" of keeping the identity of Klim's hated rival a secret, which really, is too convoluted for its own good, but then has an additional "hook" of it not being either of the Legionnaires we assume it will be, AND then giving us one extra special hook at the end where tiny little Shrinking Violet saves the day.

So this story has a lot going for it, but there are two or three pages where no Legionnaire appears at all (due to trying to keep Klim's rival's identity hidden) and that's just silly.

I can't say enough about how cool a concept the Alphatron Criminal Clinic is, though. Here's a low-security prison for "handicapped" and otherwise injured bad guys and villains. Why did we never go back to visit THIS locale? It sounds like all sorts of interesting! (Although, how the big brains managed to create a robot that was simultaneously thrown together by bits and pieces they acquired AND an engineering marvel with zutronic brain is beyond me!)

I don't think I've ever heard the expression "caught like a raisin in a muffin," but I want to use if from now on.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Neither Klim nor the Alphatron Criminial Clinic is ever mentioned again. 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 9 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4.

This is the first Legion story written by Cary Bates, who would eventually become the group's main writer. He would work with them for the next six years.

1 comment:

  1. Not a great story, but a passable one. Gotta agree about the prison for handicapped criminals. They can't steal so they built a robot to do it for them. Cool.