Tuesday, July 16, 2019

TOS: Action Comics #392

Action Comics #392 (Sept 1970)
title: "The Legionnaires Who Never Were!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Win Mortimer
inker: Jack Abel
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Mort Weisinger
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board: 
Princess Projectra, Saturn Girl; Karate Kid, Cosmic Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, Brainiac 5; cameos by Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, Sun Boy, Mon-El, Element Lad, and Ultra Boy

Opponents:
Pozr-Du, mistaken identities, over-enthusiastic trust in technology


Karate Kid has assigned Saturn Girl and Princess Projectra to track down and capture the notorious criminal Pozr-Du, supposedly hiding out on the planetoid 7RK. However, before they can even approach him they are shot down and left for dead. 
When they return to Legion head-quarters to report their failure, they are not recognized as real Legionnaires. They are held at gun-point by several of their friends and chastised for trying to break into the head-quarters by trying to sneak in as members who do not even exist! 
None of their trophies exist, and they are not listed on the archive computer. Their super-powers, mental telepathy and the ability to project illusions, are not working, either. 
Suddenly, the two newest Legionnaires appear: Prince Projectur and Saturn Lad. They demonstrate THEIR powers, and the two women claiming to be Legionnaires are summarily thrown into the detention sphere. 
Once locked up, the two Legionnaires discuss their predicament. They consider that they might be dreaming, or that Pozr-Du's ray-blast somehow sent them to a parallel universe where they are NOT Legionnaires. Regardless, Princess Projectra suggests using their flight rings to fly in opposite directions to stretch their detention sphere to the breaking point.
After they succeed, Projectra goes alone to Karate Kid's chamber to confront him privately. She reminds him of how he recently admitted that he loves her, but he denies her. She kisses him, which knocks him out with Earther-only knock-out medicine in her lip-stick. She then attaches a device to his neck. Satisfied with whatever it tells her, she flies out into the hallways. 
Prince Projectur confronts her when suddenly a huge alien gas-creature attacks her, and Prince Projectur rushes forward to save her. Of course, it is only one of her illusions, and she unmasks Prince as really being Brainiac 5. 
Brainiac 5 explains that the new archive computer made a prediction recently that Princess Projectra would have a breakdown in the middle of a mission and cause injury to herself and others. So the Legionnaires decided to test her, not wholly confident in the prediction powers of the new and experimental computer. 
 Saturn Girl flies up and admits that she was the proctor, who mentally stopped Projectra from using her powers. Sun Boy admits that he was Saturn Lad, and Chameleon Boy admits to playing the part of Pozr-Du. Projectra admits that she used a truth disk from Brainiac 5's lab to measure the electro-static brain waves of Karate Kid, indicating that he was lying. 


Karate Kid arrives, after waking up from her knock-out kiss, and apologizes for putting her through her ordeal. He wishes that as leader he didn't have to have done it. The next day, Mon-El and Element Lad are sworn in as new leader and deputy.  
If I didn't know that this story was written by Cary Bates, I would definitely have guessed it. It has the "feel" of a Silver Age Legion story but the plot and characterization that was to come to represent the Bronze Age Legion stories....spear-headed by Mr. Bates himself.

First off, you have the characters themselves questioning their mission. This happened at Marvel all the time, but NEVER at DC. So the fact that these two women have been sent to apprehend Pozr-Du and wonder about their appropriateness is Red Flag #1.

Secondly, the inherent drama of the bad guy getting the drop on the two protagonists....but then letting them go!?! That never happened at DC, either, unless getting blasted was solely for the sake of the plot. Of course, we eventually find out that it was.

The fact that this whole incident was a total sham, put on in order to prove Princess Projectra's qualifications....I don't know about her, but if this had been done to me I would have confronted Brainiac 5 in a total fit! How dare his wire and bolts machine presume to judge Projectra's qualifications!?! She has shown her true heroism countless times before. "Oh, sorry, it was a misunderstanding...." Now THAT kind of crap happened at DC all the time!

The other huge bit of crazy that happened all the time at DC....characters pretended to be somebody else, and then peeled away a mask. If you look again at the confrontational page reprinted above, you'll see that Brainiac 5 was wearing his Prince Projectur suit OVER HIS OWN UNIFORM. That's just crazy.

The only thing I like about this story is the spotlight on Princess Projectra, and how she comes through the test with flying colors.

I almost got through this story without commenting on Saturn Girl's new uniform. I like it. In fact, I like the red-white a lot more than the hot pink it eventually morphs into. However, I *don't* like it on Saturn Girl. The fact that DC agreed to give one of the Legion's most respected and important characters a bikini uniform tells you all you need to know about the immediate future of this series. I wonder when the creative team worked on this story that they knew it would be the last Action Comics back-up. My guess is no, as we get a new uniform AND a new leader in it.
Why go to the trouble if the series is being cancelled?

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is the debut of Saturn Girl's "bikini" style uniform. In this adventure, instead of the hot pink it will eventually become, it keeps the traditional red & white color scheme of her original uniform. 
  • Pozr-Du is possibly named after Legion Outpost member and uber-fan Neal Pozner, who would eventually join DC Comics as a writer and editor. He also wrote what became "The Legion Guide" in The Amazing World of DC Comics #9
Status: 
This issue has been reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol 9 and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 4. It was also reprinted in the Tempo Book Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes in 1977.


Milestone: 
This is the last appearance of the Legion in the back-up spot in Action Comics. They would not re-appear in a new adventure until Superboy #172 (March 1971), nearly six months later. This is also the last Legion story to be illustrated by Win Mortimer, and the last Legion story to be edited by Mort Weisinger.

6 comments:

  1. So, now that the Action Comics stories are finished, what's next? The original Adventure Comics has been completed, along with the Superboy/Legion run. Will you be revisiting the Superboy back up stories? I know they've al ready been covered many years ago, and that quite a few of them are really bad, but maybe you could look at them again through the passage of time and see if any opinions have changed.

    If not, what will be the new Tuesday feature?

    Just a random thought. ��

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  2. We not only get a new leader and a new costume but the first good look at the "new" headquarters. The rotunda-like structure that I refer to as the "Hatbox Hilton". (Because that awning and large "L" logo remind me of a hotel. I think our first good look is also the last look. I kind of think that this might be some kind of annex or out building at the larger complex that replaced the old Clubhouse.

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  3. To be fair, "being total assholes to test someone rather than just talking to them" is a long, proud Legion history. Heck, their very first appearance involved being total assholes to Superboy, the guy they admired so much they founded the Legion in his honor. And, of course, there's the classic story where Lightning Lad died, which involved Saturn Girl being a total asshole, and the introduction of Dream Girl... really, this is SOP for the Legion, I think.

    But it does show that they did, indeed, found the Legion in honor of Superboy/Superman, since a lot of his Silver Age stories were all about him being an asshole to his friends as well. (The Superdickery is real!)

    Also, Imra and Jeckie's costumes really don't look good on male characters. Though, to be honest, that's true of far too many female comics characters. Male costumes on female characters are usually fine (unless they don't wear a shirt, I suppose), but not so much the other way around. But I don't think that problem's going away any time soon...

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    Replies
    1. "Superdickery" is one of the mostly forgotten powers.

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    2. Ranks right up there with "Flustercuckery". lol

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  4. I actually loved the "bikini" costumes very much.
    They're my Daughter's favorite too. She used to draw them growing up from reading my old issues without my input.
    Also I don't think THAT many Men's costumes look good on Female characters. It always depends on hair and build.
    Thanks for another good review

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