Back Issues
DC Comics History: Legion of Super-Heroes (1964 - 1967: The New Look)
By Deejay Dayton
March 1, 2020 - 16:31




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The period 1964 – 1967: the New Look was a golden age for the Legion of Super-Heroes. Universo, the Fatal Five, Evillo, Computo, Dr Regulus, and Starfinger all made their debuts. New team members joined, Star Boy was expelled, and Ferro Lad died. Even the Adult Legion were introduced during these years. Jerry Siegel and Edmond Hamilton would be joined by a young Jim Shooter in scripting the Legion, while John Forte and Jim Mooney would be succeeded by Curt Swan, who executed some of his finest work on this series.

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Dev-Em , who had made life miserable for Superboy in his earlier appearance in this book, returns in the Legion of Super-Heroes story in Adventure 320. Jerry Siegel may well have had this story in mind when he created Dev-Em, as his 2-part introduction saw him head off in the future at the end of it. This issue begins with another Legion try-out, and the introduction of Radiation Roy, rejected because his powers are potentially fatal.  He returns later in the Adventure run.

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Dev-Em crashes the try-outs, and Superboy relates his previous bad experience with the Knave from Krypton.  Superboy assumes this is another attack, but Dev-Em shocks them all with the news that he is working for the Inter-Stellar Counter-Intelligence Corps, and assigned to take down Morlock the Merciless, head of the Cosmic Spy League. Because Superboy has more experience, the head of the ISCIC asks him to disguise himself as Dev-Em and infiltrate Morlock’s organization. Morlock’s headquarters are accessed through a museum, and this scene includes the statue of Braino of Mrynah, who will be referenced in a story in the 90s.  Yes, one reference three decades later is all it takes to be included in my blog, when it comes to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

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Morlock attempts to kill Dev-Em (Superboy) with gold kryptonite, but the gold k is really Proty II in disguise. At the end, the Legion offer membership to Dev-Em, and in a change of pace, he rejects them, preferring to stay with the Counter-Intelligence Corps. Dev-Em would make occasional appearances in the Legion books, but his next return was not until the Great Darkness Saga, in 1982.

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The Time Trapper story in Adventure 321 deals with a mysterious machine, The Concentrator, and the Legionnaries vow to protect its secret. The story opens with Bouncing Boy losing his powers, in a manner as stupid as the way he gained them.  He bounces in front of a matter-shrinking ray being used by Element Lad.  The Legion has modified their previously harsh behaviour to members who lose their powers, now placing them in the Legion Reserve. Thinking about it, perhaps the change in rules was due to Sun Boy’s freakout a few issues earlier. 

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It’s possible the Legion felt that the horrible way they had treated him during his power loss had contributed to his breakdown. At any rate, that’s all dealt with in less than a page, and then we get onto the real story.  Ultra Boy joins Superboy and Mon-El in attempting a flying wedge to break through the Iron Curtain of Time, but with no more success than previous attempts. Commissioner Wilson of the Science Police shows up, informing the team that the Time Trapper is after the secret of the Concentrator, and takes them all to a empty planet to undergo tests, to see if they can withstand torture. The story could get really dark at this point, but instead turns kind of unintentionally funny.  The “tests” are often just laughable. Even so, Lightning Lad breaks under such lame pressure, and confesses the secret to Wilson.

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Once Wilson leaves, Lightning Lad reveals that he suspected Wilson was really the Time Trapper in disguise, and lied to him. The panel in which Time Trapper removes his mask, to reveal a bag on his head, does not help this story feel serious. The Time Trapper sends “dark stars” to wipe out the planet the Legion are on, but they rapidly construct a Concentrator, which concentrates “all the power in the universe” for a split second, and wipes out the stars. The Time Trapper’s plot is foiled, Lightning Lad is hailed as a hero, and skinny Bouncing Boy gets a fat girlfriend.  Cause fat girls are funny, right?  Sigh.

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You just can’t beat the Super-Pets when it comes to absurdity handled with dead seriousness.  They sit at a table behind the name-plates for goodness sake! Adventure 322 gives us a stirring tale of the extremely challenging initiation of Proty II into this team. Preparing for a major assault on the Time Trapper, the Legion ask the Suns to help them construct weapons, and Saturn Girl orders the Super-Pets to guard the Legion Clubhouse while the are away.

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Proty II applies for membership, and telepathically relates his background to the Super-Pets, giving us the story of the colonization of his planet, Antares, and how the Proteans were horrifically experimented on by colonizers, which gave them their powers. The Super-Pets give him challenges that the rest of them would be completely incapable of doing, such as impersonating Superboy, but he pulls each task off.  Finally Krypto challenges him to track and capture him. He succeeds, and is awarded membership in the team.

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OK, sure, Saturn Girl rigged the first leadership election the Legion held, so I can see that she would not suggest another one at the end of her term.  But leaving it up to who can figure out a bizarre puzzle by Proty II?  May as well use the Planetary Chance Machine. Nevertheless, that is what happens in Adventure 323. First off, we get two more Legion rejects, though.  Spider Girl and Double Header are turned away, despite Spider Girl having a far more useful power than some of the other members of the Legion, even if she needs to hone control of it.  Spider Girl would return later in the Adventure run, while Double Header would not be seen again until the 80s. Now, to be fair, Saturn Girl does suggest having a computer pick the new leader, and while one cannot fault Brainiac 5 for modestly suggesting that would give him an unfair advantage, allowing Proty II to play his weird game hardly seem like he best possible solution. After writing his name backwards and impersonating a Bizarro, Proty II sends various Legion members out on a variety of tasks. 

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Some are extremely dangerous, like having Element Lad stand next to a big block of uranium. Others are just odd, like having Jimmy Olsen take his Elastic Lad serum and entertain the team. Honourary member Pete Ross makes one of his rare appearances with the team, but none of these unusual challenges seem to have much of a purpose, or even be clues to a puzzle. In the end, it’s Saturn Girl who “figures out” that it’s a giant word game.  But seriously, could anyone have figured this out?  Isn’t it far more likely that she simply read Proty II’s mind, and scammed her way into a second term as Legion leader?

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Jungle King’s brother, Marden King, enacts a plan of revenge using the mutant heroes of a distant world as pawns against the Legion, in Adventure 324. The Heroes of Lallor include Beast Boy, who can become any animal, Gas Girl, who can become a vapour, Evolvo Lad, who can transform into a caveman of a futuristic genius, Life Lass, who can animate any object, and Duplicate Boy.  He is the leader of the team, and in this story has the ability to duplicate any super power.  That’s kind of vague, but also sort of all-encompassing, as in he can do absolutely anything at all, really. Later stories would modify his power, but not really clarify it, by stating that he can duplicate the powers of any member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  That leaves one wondering whether he gains and loses abilities as members join and leave the team. The teams are pitted against each other, each believing the other to be villainous. 

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Shrinking Violet goes up against Duplicate Boy, but his actions to save her life make her doubt that he is the evil person he is supposed to be. The other heroes of Lallor are also getting suspicious of the situation, and discover records of the Legion’s deeds, realizing that they have been lied to and manipulated. They capture Marden King, and the two teams reconcile, while Violet and Duplicate Boy begin a long-distance romance. Considering the later developments with Shrinking Violet’s sexuality, one cannot but think there is a bit more going on here, and why she is content to have a boyfriend on a planet very far away.

To paraphrase “Avenue Q”:

I wish you could meet my boyfriend/But you can’t because he is on Lallor
I love him, I miss him, I can’t wait to kiss him/My boyfriend who lives on Lallor

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Both Superboy and Supergirl take part in the story in Adventure 325, which pits the Legion against Lex Luthor.  It starts strong, but in the end is one of my least favourite stories from the period. The Legion encounter a time-travelling Lex Luthor, who aids them against the Brain-Lords of Kahnn.  Because he has hair, they believe him to be from the time before he hated Superboy, and befriend him. In fact, he is wearing a wig, and getting the Legion to trust him solely so that he can kill them all. He builds a disintegrator ray that he spotted in the Clubhouse, and uses it to kill the Legionnaires, one group at a time.  But oops, he actually built a Phantom Zone projector.  Mon-El of course realizes where he is immediately, and helps the other Legionnaires use the mental abilities the Zone endows them with to make Luthor reverse the ray and free them.

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Adventure 326 has one of those uncomfortable sexist stories that were far from uncommon in comics from the 1960s.  While it does show the female Legionnaires as capable of besting their male counterparts, the fact that they are being controlled by the leader of the planet Femnaz prevents this from being as fun as it might.  Like seriously, why shorten it?  Jerry Siegel was pretty obviously thinking Feminazi. Saturn Girl sends most of the male members of the team on a fake mission, and then the rest each pick one of the remaining boys to take down.  Triplicate Girl takes on three boys!  Tramp. Supergirl gets a role in this story, though that’s nothing to really crow about.  Her victim of choice is Chameleon Boy, and in defeating him she invents Cancellite, which freezes Durlans in the form they are in, preventing them from shape-shifting.  Cancellite will appear again over the years. Saturn Girl’s target is Superboy, instead of the more obvious Lightning Lad, but as she is leader and he is the star member, that is easily explained. 

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More curious is the scene with Phantom Girl and Star boy making out before she tricks him into plunging into the ground.  Ultra Boy was one of the ones sent on a mission, but Star Boy is always shown enamoured of Dream Girl. Much later, this story would be referenced as a fling Phantom Girl had before settling down with Ultra Boy. The conclusion is even worse than the story, if that’s possible.  Queen Azura releases the women from her mind control after the women of her planet accidentally blow up their own moon.  Split it in half, actually, in some really poorly drawn panels.  Because Mon-El and Ultra Boy save them from dying as a result of their stupidity, she realizes how important men are. Let’s just move on to the next story, shall we?

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Adventure 327 contains a very complex tale introducing a new character into the Legion mythos. While checking out the new Monitor Board, Saturn Girl receives two emergency calls, one from the planet Zoon, where a person with superhuman powers has stolen some “space crystals,” and another from Earth, about dangerous circus beasts.  She sends Ultra Boy and Lightning Lad to Zoon, and Brainiac 5 and Light Lass to the circus. Light Lass and Brainiac 5 encounter a powerful acrobat, Karth  Arn, who performs under the name Lone Wolf.  Light Lass tries to interest him in Legion membership, but he rebuffs her, only showing interest when she mentions the robberies on Zoon, which is his home planet. He winds up saving her, along with Brainiac 5 and Sun Boy, but when she again mentions membership, he reveals his dark secret – that he is not human. On Zoon, the heroes meet Brin Londo, the son of a dead professor who experimented with androids, and he really pushes the notion that Karth Arn is the villain. And he’s right, but not in the way he implies. 

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Lone Wolf is really Brin Londo, given powers by his father who exposed him to Zuunium as a child, while the being claiming to be the son is really the android, Karth Arn.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that it took Brainiac 5’s computer brain to piece it all together. At the end Light Lass is once again on the make, trying to lure Brin into the Legion.  He seems to accept, though wanting to drop the name Lone Wolf. In fact, we would not see or hear about this character again for a few years.  When he returned, using the name Timber Wolf, it would be as a member of the Legion Academy, where he had been training, and overcoming the brainwashing the android had subjected him to.

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The first magic user to appear in the Legion, Command Kid joins for Adventure 328. Hailing from the planet Pretzor, Command Kid has the power to create realistic illusions, but is also extremely arrogant and rude.  He manages to belittle the Legion members enough that many of them accept his offer to “improve their powers,” which involves taking a pill he created, which renders them unconscious. His plot is to kill the Legion, which is fairly obvious to the reader.  Throughout the story he has displayed an intense aversion to certain objects: a gold badge, a gold trophy.  At one point he insists that he could save Superboy from a gold kryptonite meteor, but “allows” Ultra Boy to do it instead. Saturn Girl and Element Lad return from a mission just as Command Kid is about the kill the Legion, and Element Lad turns his death machine into gold, which knocks him out.

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Saturn Girl explains that the boy is actually possessed by a demon, and that gold has the power to drive the demon out.  Once he has been exorcised, his powers are gone, along with his memory of the events. Although Command Kid never appears again, he can clearly be seen as a forerunner of Princess Projectra, another magic user who casts illusions. This story also has a really asshole-ish scene for Superboy, as he builds a ray that returns Bouncing Boy’s powers to him, but only for a minute or so.  Poor kid looks more miserable afterwards than he was before.

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I really wish I had lots of wonderful things to say about the story in Adventure 329, but about the best review I can give the story is that it’s not awful, and occasionally amusing. The tale starts off by reminding the reader that the Time Trapper is still out there, and Mon-El, Superboy and Ultra Boy have a lot of determination to break that Iron Curtain of Time, if no success at it. Brainiac 5 reveals the new Legion flight rings, replacing the ugly flight belts that had been seen in previous issues.  This story does not connect it with the anti-gravity metal invented by Mon-El a while earlier, but later continuity would link the two. At first the ring simply enables flight, through mental control, but as time passed it would be modified to include communications and monitoring abilities.

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A Bizarro Superboy appears, wanting to join the Legion, but is turned down.  This is an entirely new character, not any of the Bizarros that have appeared before, and he never appears again after this story. He returns to Bizarro World and uses the Duplicator Machine to create a Bizarro Legion of his own. The rest of the tale is Bizarro wackiness, although it does build to a climax as they threaten Superboy, demanding that he turn diamonds into coal.  This impossible task is achieved thanks to Element Lad’s transmutation abilities. The Bizarro Legion does not appear again, but a different Bizarro Legion is created in the Reboot Legion (post-Zero Hour).

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Adventure 330 begins a 2-part story that sees Dynamo Boy join the Legion, and tear it apart. Dynamo Boy is really Vorm, part of a space pirate brigade, who comes to Earth specifically to join and destroy the Legion.  He impresses Star Boy with his powers, and gets a try-out where his radiation powers far outshine the other applicants. Eye-ful Ethel, a reject, does return in the 80s, but is only used really well by Geoff Johns in his Legion story in Action Comics in the 2000s.

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Once he becomes a member he sets out to have the rest of the Legionnaires expelled. He frames Colossal Boy and then Mon-El, prevents other Legionnaires from getting messages from the Science Police, appoints himself temporary leader and tosses them out. By the end of the story he is the sole remaining member of the Legion, and sets out to build a new team, this time of villains.

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The Legion of Super-Villains had been introduced in the Superman series, adult criminals corresponding to the three founding Legionnaires.  Adventure 331 marks their first appearance in the Legion series itself. Dynamo Boy holds try-outs for new Legionnaires, but uses his power belt to determine if they are corruptable, eliminating ones like Animal Lad, whose powers are much the same as Beast Boy.  Tusker is rejected simply for being inept, but will return in the 80s. The Legion of Super-Villains come to apply, pretending to be heroes, and we get the origins of these characters for the first time.  It was always unusual that Cosmic King had powers along the lines of Element Lad, rather than Cosmic Boy, but at least we get his alchemist background. Lightning Lord is the elder brother of Lightning Lad and Light Lass, and we get another retelling of the crash landing on Korbal and encounter with the lightning beasts, now with Mekt a part of the group.  As usual, they are shown in their costumes before gaining their powers. Saturn Queen is not given an origin, and her powers are illusion-casting in this story, though later tales would endow her with the ability to control minds.  I suppose the two are mildly related.

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Dynamo Lad knows they are really evil thanks to his power belt, and gives them Legion membership.  The Legion of Subs try to apprehend them, but not only fail to do so, but are sent away and mocked by Dynamo Boy. The Legion of Super-Villains turn on Dynamo Boy, tricking him into fleeing into the distant future, which he is unable to return from. Superboy returns to Earth and challenges the villains to a showdown on a distant asteroid.  They accept, but find themselves no match for Superboy, Mon-El and Element Lad. Dynamo Boy is never seen again, but the adult Legion of Super-Villains do return in a classic tale.

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Aside from its title and the silly looking space whale, Adventure 332 has a decent adaptation of Moby Dick, and a major change for Lightning Lad. Lightning Lad attempts to take down the space whale, which has been eating entire rockets whole, but his valiant attempt backfires, costing him his arm. He gets a robotic arm in replacement, but vows vengeance against the creature, and heads out to kill it.  Saturn Girl argues that the Legion code prevents killing, but this is a curious interpretation of that.  I cannot think of another Legion tale where that code is applied to murderous beasts. 

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Nonetheless, it’s sort of important for the connection to the Moby Dick tale, as it makes Lightning Lad’s obsession one that could destroy his Legion career. He leads an expedition to hunt down the space whale, and though he does defeat it, he simply shrinks it back to its original size.  The doctor who replaced his arm had also accidentally enlarged the animal to its gigantic size, and Lightning Lad’s “madness” was only temporary. But that robot arm would stick around long past this story.  Highly unusual in the 1960s for a super-hero to lose a limb, but one of the things that made the Legion unlike other super teams.

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The Legion goes to war with itself in Adventure 333, an event so abrupt that it must reveal some long-simmering tension within the team. It all begins innocently enough, with Phantom Girl helping out at an archaeological dig, where a plaque is discovered that refers to a war between Krypton and Earth.  Saturn Girl and Superboy travel back in time to ancient Krypton, along with Lightning Lad, Colossal Boy and Element Lad, while Brainiac 5 takes Phantom Girl, Light Lass, Star Boy and Chameleon Boy back in time on Earth. Superboy discovers a group of his fellow Kryptonians are leaving the planet to set up a colony on Earth, and his group of Legionnaires accompany them.  Meanwhile, Brainiac 5’s group discovers some alien settlers who are building the city of Atlantis. When the two colonizing parties meet, Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 immediately start a furious argument, which quickly escalates into war.  Just to be clear on this, the war is NOT started by the Kryptonians or Atlanteans, but by the Legionnaires themselves! 

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Superboy, who ought to be on the Kryptonian side completely, is instead trying to make time with Atlantean Leta Lal, fatally attracted by her initials. The war is, at least, a sort of peaceful one.  Neither side actually wants to kill the other, although the Atlantean weapons do accidentally cause some Kryptonian deaths. In the end, the environment determines the winner, as the Atlanteans cannot exist with the xenon in Earth’s air.  Brainiac 5 artificially “evolves” them into mer-people, and Star Boy sinks their city below the water.  The Kryptonians fare no better in the long run, being killed off by the giant lizards they brought from their home planet. Although all seems well with the Legionnaires, and Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5, at the end of the story, his resentment over this may be the cause of his behaviour during the Computo story a few months down the road.

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Adventure 334 presents a decent mystery story, though anyone familiar with story structure would figure it out, even before the mystery begins. The most enduring element of this tale is actually a location in it, the Prison Planetoid, which appears for the first time.  Later, this location would acquire the name Takron-Galtos, and be a frequent location in Legion stories. The Legion are tracking an escaped felon, Dr Eldor, and follow him to Antares, the planet of the Proteans.  He was the one who gave them their powers, and they now use those abilities to shield him, and fight the Legion on his behalf. A mysterious helmeted hero comes to the aid of the Legion, and much of the story is devoted to figuring out who it is. 

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Mon-El and Ultra Boy are the two most obvious suspects, based on the range of powers the hero has, and the fact that Superboy is involved in the story, so not a viable suspect. Sadly, the solution is a bit of a let-down, a bit of deja-vu.  It’s Supergirl, with red kryptonite-induced memory loss.  Shades of Satan Girl.  In the opening pages of the tale she headed back to Stanhope College. The simple fact that she was in those pages, and had no function in the tale, alerts any experienced reader that she must return and serve some purpose.

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No question where the inspiration for Starfinger’s name came from, the cover to Adventure 335 even has the balls to point it out.  And his fingers even do things, unlike the Bond villain. The opening two panels of the story, while not bearing directly on the action, had long term implications for the Legion.  Sun Boy’s casual dismissal of Nila is the first indication of the womanizer he would become, and the shot of Cosmic Boy’s family introduces his younger brother Pol Krinn, one day to be a Legionnaire himself. The we meet Dr Lars Hanscom, the doctor maintaining Lightning Lad’s robotic arm, and the story implies he is also the physician for the rest of the Legion as well. Starfinger first shows up to attack the Legion as they are protecting a shipment of rejuvium, taking out Ultra Boy immediately with a force blast, and the holding the rest of the team at bay while his gang tries to steal the valuable resource.  Sun Boy saves the day by heating the rejuvium so much that no one can touch it. Starfinger claims to have all the powers of the Legionnaires, but the reader is also alerted early on that there is something fishy going on, as Starfinger fakes powers in front of his own men. 

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And while the costume may look bulky and silly, it does serve to completely conceal the identity and gender of the foe, a critical point later in the tale. Starfinger then begins a reign of terror, announcing he will destroy the 7 wonders of the 30th century.  The Legion prevent him from sending Sun City to its death in the ocean, but Star Boy is critically wounded in the battle. Starfinger succeeds in topping the Stratosphere Laboratory, but Saturn Girl picks up a disturbing thought as he flees – that Starfinger is a Legionnaire! See, that’s why the bulky costume was important! The story concludes next issue.  Curiously, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the story in the previous issue, with a masked Legionnaire, and a mystery as to their identity. 

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Suspicion runs rife within the Legion, as the team wonders which of them is really Starfinger, in Adventure 336, the conclusion of this 2-parter. Starfinger destroys the tunnel that runs through the centre of the Earth, though it is seen again in a later story, so clearly gets rebuilt.  Although it is not stated, I have always assumed this is the same tunnel that Supergirl bores as part of her initiation to the Legion. Edmond Hamilton also introduces two bits of 30th century tech that would take a while to be referenced again, but eventually become s standard part of their universe.  The first is inertron, an extremely dense and impenetrable metal.  Great name for it.  The second sounds so plausible I fully expect them to exist one day, fusion powerspheres. Though they probably won’t be as twinkly in reality. Starfinger’s attempt to destroy the powersphere is foiled by the Legion, and they unmask him. 

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The team is stunned to discover Lightning Lad in the costume, but it quickly becomes apparent that he is being mind-controlled. Saturn Girl uses her powers to break the spell over him, and Dr Lars Hanscom is revealed as the true Starfinger.  Lightning Lad’s robotic arm was rigged with devices that gave “Starfinger” his powers, while Hanscom himself had none, which was why he needed to con his gang. Lars Hancom returns down the road, but the Starfinger identity will also be adopted by other villains over the years.

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Wedding bells are ringing in Adventure 337, but the Legion Constitution forbids married members, and spies from Murra plot to take advantage of that. Brainiac 5 has been elected as the new leader of the team, though the election is not shown or its process explained.  It’s no surprise that it’s Brainiac 5, who had been touted as a possible leader in the last “election,” and lead the side against Saturn Girl when the Legion warred against itself. The two established inter-Legion romances come to the fore, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl.  When they announce plans to marry, they are also forced to resign from the team, but none of the four seem to mind that in the slightest. The unusual sticks with figures of the members on them, shown both in the story and on the cover, re-appear in a story in the early 90s, in which they are called “ceremonial wedding sticks,” and their use is very formal and old-fashioned.  In that story, we learn that the couple that wed get to keep the sticks, as a memento of those who were part of the wedding party.

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Try-outs are held to replace the four members, and though Subs Night Girl and Chlorophyll Kid apply again, they are rejected (again) in favour of three Murran spies who have been temporarily endowed with powers, and join as Size Lad, Blackout Boy and Magnetic Kid.  While there would later be a Legionnaire named Magnetic Kid, his powers would be identical to Cosmic Boy, not the abilities of this one, to draw anything or anyone towards him.  Blackout Boy has basically the same shadow casting abilities that later member Shadow Lass would have, The remainder of the story simply reveals that the weddings were a ruse to draw out these spies, the “Plan R”, for Romance, that was referred to in the first panel.  Brainiac 5 neutralizes the powers of the spies, while Superboy and Mon-El destroy the machine that created the powers. As the weddings were a sham, the four members never really had to resign, but their relationships are pretty open from this time forward.  Curiously, the first Legion marriage would not be between these Legionnaires at all.

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The long-running stand-off with the Time Trapper comes to a disappointing resolution in Adventure 338, because the villain himself is kept off to the side of the story for much of the issue. Glorith of Baaldur is introduced in this tale, an operative of the Time Trapper, who he sends out to attack the Legion.  The Time Trapper gives her an hourglass that has the power to reduce people’s ages, turning them back into – well, it’s called “protoplasm” in the story, to be polite. Interestingly, it’s Saturn Girl who leads this mission, not the new leader Brainiac 5, who is on a different mission when this story begins.  This could be read as a bit more tension between these two, Saturn Girl wanting to defeat the villain that had eluded her through her two terms of leader before Brainiac 5 can steal her glory.  If that is her intent, it fails dismally, as she and her squad are reduced to children.  A chemical fountain at the amusement park she chooses for her assault prevents them from de-aging any further. Annoyed that his plan has failed, the Time Trapper comes to the park himself, and tries to use the children to commit crimes.  But the kids view it all as play, to his frustration, and the frustration of the reader, who couldn’t help but want more out of this long-awaited face to face confrontation. The Time Trapper eliminates Glorith, using the same hourglass she had been using. 

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She does return, but not for a very long time, restored to life as a side-effect of the reality warping spells of Mordru in the late 80s. Element Lad uses his powers to turn the Time Trapper’s rocket into candy, and the Legionnaires eat it.  Oh, the intensity.  Clearly this is intended to be funny.  Maybe it made someone laugh. In the end, it is Brainiac 5 who outwits the Time Trapper, as he and Superboy arrive.  He makes a deal with the Trapper, who restores the Legionnaires to their proper ages in exchange for his freedom.  But in fact his own force barrier is used against him, and the Trapper is trapped. Saturn Girl appears happy at the end of the story, but Brainiac 5 has shown himself far more adept at handling the Legion’s greatest foe, even if the story was not quite up to par. The Time Trapper is next seen in a story in Action Comics, where he torments Superman.  He does not face the Legion again until the mid-70s.

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What does a comic book company do when they wind up with two different heroes with the same name?  Kill one off!  At least that’s my theory of how the story in Adventure 339 came about.  Beast Boy (Gar Logan) had recently been introduced into Doom Patrol, and was a much more important character in that book than the Beast Boy who had only appeared once in Adventure Comics. The Science Police request the Legion’s help dealing with beasts running wild on the planet Vorn.  They discover that one of the animals footprints abruptly change to human prints, and suspect the creature is really Beast Boy. Heading to Lallor to investigate, they learn that Beast Boy had become withdrawn, and left the Heroes of Lallor. The Legion track him down, and though at one point it seems he has turned the tables on them, imprisoning them all and stealing their powers, that turns out to simply be an illusion he created as a “flasher beast.” In the end, he sacrifices himself to save a little girl.  Sob. Can’t help but laugh at how not-chewed-up and stiff his corpse is. Not a great story, but at least it cleared the path for Gar Logan to be a much better Beast Boy.

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Curt Swan starts doing the art on this series, just in time for one of the Legion’s greatest tales.  Adventure 340 delivers what it promises, as Triplicate Girl gets fried exactly as she does on the cover of the issue. Brainiac 5 displays some curious notions of what leadership is, as he locks himself away in his lab and screams abuse at any Legionnaire who comes to talk to him. He has been constructing Computo, a massive robot with advanced computer intelligence.  An A.I., although that phrase was not known at the time this story was written.  Almost immediately Computo turns on its creator.  The odd glass bubble at the top of the robot was meant for piloting and controlling it, but Computo finds a completely different purpose for it, as he captures Brainiac 5 and imprisons him within it.

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Computo then constructs dozens of replicas of itself, and they range through the city, taking control of anything and everything it wants.  Superboy and Ultra Boy are capable of withstanding Computo’s attempts to capture them, but shows that it is willing to kill the hostages it has taken, unless the heroes back off.  With so many Computo bodies, they have little choice but to agree. Displeased with the limitations of the form Brainiac 5 created, Computo tosses him out of the bubble, and designs his own upgrade.  Apparently Computo feels yellow is a superior colour to green when it comes to conquest. The Legion clubhouse proves to be no refuge, as Computo takes control of the computers within the building, and somehow even gives it legs. The story culminates in the death of Triplicate Girl. 

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The panel is identical to the cover.  At this point, DC would often reproduce the cover exactly, in miniature, in the story itself.  In previous years many readers had complained that the events on the cover did not occur exactly the same way in the story, so this was designed to appease that.  In truth, it doesn’t work.  The interior panel just looks small and cluttered compared to the cover.  So I won’t bother to reproduce it, just look at the cover and cry in sorrow for Luornu Durgo.

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Computo’s reign of terror concludes in Adventure 341, but Brainiac 5 seems almost as destructive in his attempt to defeat it. Triplicate Girl’s remains are gathered and sent off to Shanghalla, a cemetery satellite that will appear in a number of Legion stories.  An urn for Beast Boy is also shown, a nice nod to continuity.  And of course, we can all mourn over the loss of Hate Face. But wait, Luornu isn’t dead after all!  Have to give Siegel kudos for killing off one of her bodies, without killing off the other two.  Rather than a cop-out, this adds some interest in exactly how Carggian physiology functions, and as the years pass, we will learn more about it.  True, she does not seem even mildly distressed at the loss of a body in this scene, but the trauma she has experienced will be dealt with in later years as well.

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Proty II once again shows himself far more than a mere pet as he adopts the identity of the Weirdo Legionnaire to distract Computo as the Legion free their captive teammates Star Boy and Sun Boy from his robot army. Sun Boy leads the team to the Batcave to hide out, although Computo finds them relatively easily.  Another nice nod to continuity, and the Batcave will appear again in Legion stories. At this point, Brainiac 5 seems to have a mental breakdown.  He somehow comes to the conclusion that creating a Bizarro Computo is the best bet they have to defeat the monstrous computer.  Need I say that he is very wrong on this? Chuck Taine shows courage, if not brains, by charging in against Computo, who temporarily restores his Bouncing Boy powers, only to show how useless his attempt to rescue Saturn Girl truly is.

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Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 has activated an anti-matter force cannon he found in the Batcave.  While this does have the desired effect of destroying Computo and his robot army, the anti-matter force also threatens to destroy Earth.  The big three, Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy, do what they can to rescue people.  Brainiac 5 finally gets it right, figuring out how to rewire the cannon to send the anti-matter force back to its own universe. Whew!  For all the power the Legion has as a team, until this story they never really had faced anything that challenged their abilities to this degree.  Ironic that their most powerful enemy to date was created by their own leader.

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Another rarity in comics from this era, Star Boy murders a man in self-defense in Adventure 342. Kenz Nuhor is a rejected suitor of Dream Girl, who blames Star Boy for that.  He hunts down the hero, and equips himself with a shield that reflects Star Boy’s density increasing power, so Star Boy simply incapacitates himself.  In desperation, Star Boy grabs a gun and kills Nuhor before Nuhor can kill him. Star Boy is acquitted by the Science Police, who have no problems accepting his self-defense explanantion, but Brainiac 5 is having none of it, and holds a trial among the Legion to determine whether his explanation is adequate justification for breaking the Legion code against killing.Superboy acts as defense council for Star Boy, believing that the Legionnaires who are not, like him, invulnerable should have the right to defend themselves this way in extreme circumstances.

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Brainiac 5 leads the prosecution, and uses a nifty little model to illustrate how Star Boy could have saved himself, using his powers on the tree Nuhor stood under, without killing him. The vote is close, 10-9.  Invulnerable heroes Mon-El and Ultra Boy support Superboy’s side, agreeing with his views, while most of the female Legionnaires do as well.  But their views are kind of appallingly attributed to voting to acquit Star Bay because of his romance with Dream Girl. Jimmy Olsen even gets to vote, and votes guilty.  What a jerk.  And as Star Boy gets expelled as a result of this, we can all blame Jimmy Olsen for it.

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Although he gets booted from the Legion, Star Boy is accepted into the Subs, which Dream Girl has recently joined as well. As a side note, early in the story another hero is rejected by the Legion and sent to the Subs, Color Kid.  Just hate spelling it that way, but it’s his name so I will follow the spelling the comic uses and not call him Colour Kid as I so desperately want to. In such a usually positive and light-hearted series, this story comes as a real shocker.  And there is no obvious right or wrong decision on Star Boy’s plea of self-defense.  A landmark for the Legion.

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Adventure 343 introduces the Luck Lords, and the possibility that all the bad things that have befallen the Legion recently have a supernatural origin.  Curt Swan does his usual excellent work on this story, and I particularly like the bizarre tower he created for the Luck Lords. The Legionnaires discuss the ideas of bad luck on various worlds, in various cultures.  Chameleon Boy gets Proty II to turn into a jinx stone, which Durlans consider unlucky.  As a joke, the other Legionnaires touch it (as do the Super-Pets), and then bad luck starts to befall them. Suspicion begins to run rife within the team.  Lightning Lad, Star Boy, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel all realize they did something “unlucky” before their tragedies struck them.

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The Legion head to Thaun, the most superstitious planet in the galaxy, and the home of the legendary Luck Lords. The resolution is a bit of a let-down, as the Luck Lords turn out to be nothing more than aliens with a long range hypnotic ray, the cause the of the Legion’s recent problems, but not the events from earlier issue.  The Super-Pets, who are immune to the ray, are called on to defeat them, which is fun. The Luck Lords return many years down the road, but in all further stories they truly are supernatural beings.  So these ones are just straight out frauds.

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The Legion story in Adventure 344 is loosely based on The Great Escape. The Legion learn that Brainiac 5 is being held as a prisoner of war, and head to free him.  Exactly what Brainiac 5 did to merit this is never explained, likely because he probably did something awful that deserved it.  Anyway, the Legion’s cruiser is shot down, and the rescue team imprisoned as well, in gender separate prison camps.  This issue takes place almost entirely in the men’s camp. They meet other heroes being held by Nardo, a ruthless camp commander, including Shadow Kid, making his debut here.  They all spend much of their time trying to figure out how to escape, while Nardo tries to find out their plans. The cover image of Superboy being shot is deceptive.  The Legion are surprised to discover Superboy already in the camp, but in fact it is a Durlan, frozen into Superboy’s shape.

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The concluding half of the prison story in Adventure 345 ups the drama, as we discover a spy in the barracks, and Matter-Eater Lad faces a firing squad. As Nardo always seems to know the escape plans the boys are forming, Brainiac 5 realizes there must be a spy among them.  He builds a little flying “bug” and discovers that Weight Wizard is the traitor.  Confronted by the other prisoners, he flees, but his escape costs him his life. Nardo proves ever more sinister as the story progresses.  Invisible Kid’s failed escape attempt results in Nardo shrinking him and leaving him to some nasty insects, though Lyle Norg is resourceful enough to survive. It’s the female Legionnaires who save the day, really. 

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Saturn Girl mentally contacts Brainiac 5, alerting him to their plans.  Light Lass uses her powers to weaken a gate, and Duo Damsel breaks it down, while her other body distracts the guards.  They free the boys, and Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy swoop in to the rescue. Matter-Eater Lad’s execution is deflected by Superboy, as shown on the cover, but the ray gun still has an effect, enlarging him to Bouncing Boy size. Shadow Kid has little to do in this story, but will return over the years. This also marks the final Edmond Hamilton Legion tale, and possibly his final comic book story, as he retired at this point.

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Jim Shooter was only 14 years old when he wrote and drew his first Legion of Super-Heroes story, in Adventure 346, which introduced Ferro Lad, Karate Kid, Nemesis Kid and Princess Projectra, as well creating the Khunds, a militaristic alien race bent on conquering the Earth. Much of this issue, the first half of a two-part story, is devoted to introducing the new characters at their Legion try-out, which is not a bad thing at all.  It gives an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and provide some background before we discover that one of them is really an agent of the Khunds. Princess Projectra is up first, showing off her illusion-casting powers.  She is royalty from the planet Orando, a magic user like Command Kid. Nemesis Kid is Hart Druiter, who hails from Myar, the “alchemists planet,” and has taken a potion he created that gives him whatever powers he requires to defeat any individual foe he is up against.

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Ferro Lad, Andrew Nolan of Earth, is a sort of an upgraded Stone Boy, as he can turn his body into iron, but loses no mobility by doing so. Karate Kid is also from Earth, and has the curious name Val Armorr.  He has mastered every form of martial arts, and while he has no super powers per se, the fact that he is able to take on Superboy and almost defeat him is impressive enough to win him membership. Garlak, the leader of the Khunds, announces his intent to attack Earth, which is very sporting of him.  Had he not alerted the Legion, his army might have succeeded. 

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But thanks to the warning, the Legion split into teams to guard three electro-towers, which they are counting on to defeat the invasion. Comic Boy and Phantom Girl head to Alaska with Karate Kid to defend the tower there.  When it gets destroyed, Phantom Girl notes a variety of suspicious circumstances, all of which seem to indicate that Karate Kid was working to aid the Khunds.

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Jim Shooter’s first Legion story concludes in Adventure 347, and although the resolution is a tad lame, it’s better than the crap I was writing at 14. Unlike last issue, this story is almost non-stop action as the Legion fight off Garlak and his Khund army.  All three electro-towers fall to the Khunds, and suspicion continues to grow about Karate Kid. Superboy uses his telescopic vision to find Karate Kid, who is back at the Clubhouse, and they follow him there, discovering him in the arsenal, which has been destroyed. In the one shamefully weak sequence Karate Kid is confronted by the rest of the Legion, and then Nemesis Kid pops out to confess, having assumed they were confronting him.  Duh.  Loooo-ser.

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The traitor exposed, and a secret electro-tower put into action, the Legion board some odd flying platforms for the climactic battle with the Khunds.  These have never been seen again, and look far less stable than the flight rings they have been relying on. Nemesis Kid escapes from the team, his power to take on any one foe defaults to teleportation when he is confronted by a group. Both Nemesis Kid and the Khunds would return, though Garlak would not.  Later stories would make it clear that the Khunds have no sympathy for leaders who fail.

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A new leader, a new villain, and a story inspired by Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” in Adventure 348. Invisible Kid is elected leader of the Legion, although it’s frankly a bit of a puzzle why.  He had not been in a lot of stories, or had very many major roles.  One must assume that the Saturn Girl/Brainiac 5 rivalry had worn down the group, and he was seen as a mediator, or peacemaker.  Anyway, that’s how I interpret the results.  Duo Damsel’s crush on Superboy is also introduced in this sequence. Once the results are in, the story kicks into action as Sun Boy is knocked unconscious by an earthquake, and wakes with amnesia, running off and hiding.  We meet the gold-suited Dr, Regulus, who hates Sun Boy, and attacks the Legion to get at them, stealing their clubhouse and then attacking the members one by one.

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He does fairly well with his scheme, taking out Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Phantom Girl, Cosmic Boy and Superboy.  Invisible Kid fares the best, almost being able to confront him, but even he falls to this new baddie. Sun Boy regains his memory and has an extended flashback to his origin, just in time to scare off Regulus.  Young Dirk Morgna interrupted Regulus, who was a scientist at his father’s laboratory, and Regulus was fired after the resulting explosion.  In vengeance, he locked Dirk in an atomic reactor, which endowed him with his powers. Regulus flees, vowing revenge, and would return many times to face Sun Boy and the Legion.

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Universo debuts in Adventure 349 which also gives us the first view of the Chrono-Reasearch Lab and its Time Cube.  The lab would return under the more appealing name of the Time Institute. Universo makes a sort of bizarre entrance to the tale, breaking into the Clubhouse to demand membership.  And it’s not like he even wants it.  His true purpose is to hypnotize the Legion, and he succeeds, even with Superboy, except for Brainiac 5.  He steals a time bubble, and the Legion head to the Chrono-Reasearch Lab to use the Time Cube recently invented by young Rond Vidar. At the lab they determine that Universo went to five different time periods, so Legionnaires head to each era.  None of them find Universo, but each falls prey to his hypnotized pawns in the different eras.

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But all this was just another ruse to get the Legion out of the way as Universo tries to take over the United Planets with his hypnotic abilities. In the end, it’s Rond Vidar who saves the day, rescuing each of the Legionnaires with his Time Cube, so they can capture Universo, who is revealed to be Rond’s father. All in all an unusual story, extremely complex plotting for a straightforward goal.  Universo, and Rond, would return again before too long, in a much better tale.

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There are so many things in the two-part story starting in Adventure 350 that I am going to make fun of, you’d think this was a terrible story.  And I suppose it is, but I love it dearly.  E. Nelson Bridwell steps in to write this tale that has new villains, new members, and nonsense galore, but it’s more than just Curt Swan’s lovely art that makes this a lot of fun. Superboy and Supergirl discover their powers fading, and Brainiac 5 explains that a cloud of kryptonite dust has encircled the Earth, and despite the efforts of the Legion, it will remain there for years.  Since the two heroes will not be able to stay in the 30th century during that time, the Legion give them a going away party, and some nifty presents. “Hey, Supergirl, remember when red kryptonite made you try to kill all the female members of the team?  Wasn’t that fun?” Or better yet, Saturn Girl giving Superboy a memento of the time the Legion wound up at each others throats.  “Remember how you were on my side, until you met that Atlantean bitch and betrayed me?  So many laughs.” But it’s not as if they get to keep the gifts anyway.  Invisible Kid immediately takes them all back, so they won’t have any foreknowledge of the future. 

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And to make sure the Kryptonian cousins do not accidentally remember the Legion, he has Shrinking Violet implant kryponite capsules in the parts of their brains that control memory. She flies up Superboy’s nose and gets stuck in….ummm…antibodies.  Yes, thats what that is.  Not snot.  Antibodies. So before they leave, Superboy and Supergirl appoint replacement members for themselves.  Two being sealed up in metal uniforms that make them look like robots, who go by the names Sir Prize and Miss Terious.  Because those are the best names they could come up with, I guess.

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Meanwhile, on the planet Tartarus, Evillo summons the four people he calls his Devil’s Dozen.  Either there is a completely different math system on Tartarus, or Evillo’s vision is so bad he sees three of everyone.  At any rate, he sends each of them off on separate criminal endeavours, cause that’s the kind of thing you do when your name is Evillo, even if you rule your own planet. Sir Prize accompanies the group who head to defend the Interplanetary Bank against Apollo. 

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Apollo’s charms are almost enough to sway Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad has his robot arm eaten by crystal creatures.  The Legionnaires thwart the robbery, but Apollo’s men take Lightning Lad back to Tartarus with them. R.J. Brande makes his first appearance.  The financier of the Legion, he is referred to as the richest man in the Universe in this tale, although later stories would amend that.  All he does in this story is appear briefly calling for help, setting up his appearance next issue. The story ends as Ultra Boy plans to use his penetra-vision to determine the identities of the new members.

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The concluding half of the Legion epic brings in not only the entire line-up of the team, and the Substitute Legion, and the Super-Pets, but even former members of the team are a part of this.  In a way, this reads as if the series was being concluded on a high note.  A season finale, so to speak.  Excellent art by Curt Swan helps make this ascend from silliness to a pure delight. Invisible Kid is not keen on Ultra Boy using his vision powers to find out the identities of Sir Prize and Miss Terious, and knocks him out.  I believe this is the first time we see someone taking advantage of his limitation of one-power-at-a-time. Miss Terious accompanies the team who head to RJ Brande’s private planetoid, where they encounter the Hag, who threatens them with paintings!  No, not art!  This sequence is actually more effective than it seems at first, as Ferro Lad’s painting hints at his death, which happens only a few issues down the road.  Miss Terious refuses to let Cosmic Boy see what future his painting shows.  Nothing awful happens to Cos in the short term, or middle term, so I figure this must show his ultimate fate from End of an Era.

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Miss Terious then puts the Legion to work gathering elements for a magic spell that will counteract the Hag’s hexes.  This proves extremely complex, and both the Substitute Legion and the Super-Pets get involved in its creation.  A lock of Mr Mxyzptlk’s hair is required, so the Legion head to Smallville and Element Lad changes the kryptonite implanted in Superboy, allowing him to remember the team, and aid them. Meanwhile, both Chuck Taine and Matter-Eater have been captured by Evillo’s men, but Evillo is none too pleased with Sugyn, and we get to see their nifty powers.  Sugyn can super-spit.  Yup, wow.  That’s a power.  Evillo can grow little horns out of his head, which emits beams that banish Sugyn to “the realm of darkness.”  This is not, in fact, a polite way of saying he is dead, but we do not see the realm of darkness, or Sugyn, or even Evillo for that matter, again until the 90s. OK, time to start wrapping things up here.  Sir Prize and Miss Terious are revealed to be Star Boy and Dream Girl, and the spell transforms the Hag into the White Witch, Dream Girl’s missing sister.  Remember her?  She appeared in…umm….well, she was mentioned in….ummm.  Ok, she was missing and just take our word for it.

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And holy crap, wouldn’t you know it EVERYONE is healed and back to the way their way, all thanks to Evillo’s doctor. Apparently that was the reason to kidnap the three Legionnaires. To heal them. Oh, what a nasty nasty man that Evillo is, having people cured.  All right, I concede that Evillo supposedly didn’t know what his doctor was doing, but even still. But does this actually bother me?  Not at all, it’s such a joyous, all-encompassing ending you just want to cheer out loud for thin Matter-Eater Lad, fat Bouncing Boy and two-armed Lightning Lad. Even Superboy and Supergirl get to rejoin the team, as Color Kid, now part of the Subs, has used his power to turn the green kryptonite dust into blue, which only kills Bizarros.  And may explain why the Bizarro Legion never appeared again. Love it, despite its flaws.  A true Legion epic.

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The Legion’s greatest foes, the Fatal Five not only debut in Adventure 352, but are actually assembled by the Legion itself, in order to combat the Sun-Eater. The story begins with the Legionnaires reviewing tapes of the galaxy’s five greatest villains: Tharok, who is half man, half robot, the Persuader, armed with an atomic axe, the Emerald Empress, with her extremely powerful Eye of Ekron, Validus, a giant mindless monster, and Mano, whose touch can destroy anything.

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Shortly after, they are alerted to the fact that a Sun-Eater is approaching Earth.  Unlike the Sun-Eater shown in an earlier issue, this appears to be almost a force of nature, much like a black hole, consuming everything in its path, and drawn by the energy given off by stars. The story never really explains where all the rest of the Legion are, even the leader, Invisible Kid, does not appear in the tale. 

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Superboy, as deputy leader, takes charge and he, Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Ferro Lad and Princess Projectra all set out to recruit the five villains they had been observing earlier. While recruiting the Emerald Empress, she, and the reader, discover that both Superboy and the Eye of Ekron are vulnerable to kryptonite.  Sadly, nothing is ever made of this intriguing fact, and over the years it simply gets ignored and forgotten. Validus is shown to be able to speak in this story, though later ones would restrict him to growls rather than words.

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The tragic conclusion to this two-part story must have been terribly shocking when it came out, irrespective of the major hint given two issues earlier.  Along with the first part of this tale, Adventure 353 was a ground-breaking story, and another that proved that Legion of Super-Heroes was a team like no other. When the Fatal Five first meet each other it is anything but harmonious.  It was quite wise of Superboy to split everyone up almost immediately, having the two teams form a V shaped gauntlet in the Sun-Eater’s path. Tharok uses his scientific knowledge to boost the power levels of everyone, even Superboy, but none of them have any effect on the creature. And then, the big finale. 

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Tharok devises a bomb that will absorb the Sun-Eater’s powers, which Ferro Lad steals and flies off with. A mere 7 issues after being introduced, Ferro Lad sacrifices himself. While the death of Lightning Lad was hinted almost immediately to be reversable, and the death of one of Triplicate Girl’s bodies left the other two intact, there was no question that the death of Ferro Lad was permanent.  The rest of the Legion show up for the funeral – but what in the world were they doing during the big battle?

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There have been many stories that show the future of various heroes. But no story influenced later tales as much as the Adult Legion story in Adventure 354. Of the five dead heroes that appear on the cover, only Ferro Lad had even appeared.  Chemical King’s fate would match the cover exactly, while stories of Quantum Queen, Reflecto, and Shadow “Woman” (Shadow Lass when she got introduced) would play with the dooms foretold here. Superman’s visit to the 30th century to see his adult team mates was not just a list of dead members.  Marriages were shown for Cosmic Boy and Night Girl, Duplicate Boy and Shrinking Violet, even Light Lass and Timber Wolf, the former Lone Wolf, who had not appeared in any Legion tale since his introduction. Aside from those shown as statues, the story let us see Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl with their children, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and Star Boy and Dream Girl all in wedded bliss. 

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More surprising was Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel and their “triplicate” son. Aside from the marriages and deaths, we discover that Matter-Eater Lad has become the president of his home planet, Bismoll, and Colossal Boy in retirement after an injury.  Polar Boy disbanded the Substitute Legion and became a member of the Legion.  All of these elements would come into play in later stories. After all the revelations, the story gets into some action, as a masked figure starts destroying the Legion headquarters. Unmasked, he is revealed to be Douglas Nolan, the brother of Ferro Lad, who had been mind controlled by Saturn Queen.  The story closes with her, Lightning Lord and Cosmic King preparing for the final battle between the Legion of Super-Heroes, and the Legion of Super-Villains. Douglas Nolan would not appear again until Legion of Super-Heroes 300, which would cast this whole two-parter in a completely different light.

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The Legion of Super-Villains bring two members into their team in Adventure 355, Beauty Blaze and Echo.  Neither would really return, although Echo made a cameo in a Legion story from the 90s, and in the 80s Flare joined the Fatal Five, a woman with powers identical to Beauty Blaze. They divide and fight, along the usual lines: Lightning Lad against Lightning Lord, Cosmic King against Element Lad, and Saturn Girl against Saturn Queen. Beauty Blaze us quickly bested by Polar Boy, and Echo falls to Cosmic Boy.

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But it turns out that the villains the Legion were fighting were all illusions, and the real group is holding Brainiac 5 hostage below the sea. In the end, the day is saved by two masked figures who reveal themselves to be descendants of Mr Mxyzptlk and Lex Luthor, who join the Legion.  Neither of these characters ever appeared again, and though I enjoyed the story as a child, the ending does feel weak.

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There is a second story in this issue, which sees Lana Lang attempt to join the Legion in her Insect Queen identity. She gets rejected because her powers come from her bio-ring, rather than being innate, but she gets to accompany them on a mission anyway.  Dream Girl warns her that she has seen disaster for Lana if she takes on the form of a moth, which of course happens eventually. After briefly losing her bio-ring, it is returned by Superboy, who “didn’t know” he had it in his cape.  Right. But as she saved Shrinking Violet and Sueprboy during the course of the adventure, she is rewarded with honourary membership, and does make a couple more appearances with the team.

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The story in Adventure 356 isn’t awful, there is just nothing particularly special about  it, although it does establish a few things about the Legionnaires and their universe. It’s Family Day, and all the Legionnaires with parents go off to celebrate, leaving Superboy, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Element Lad and Dream Girl to hold the fort.  Superboy`s and Element Lad`s origins make it obvious that they are orphans, and though it hadn`t been clearly stated about Mon-El, the fact that he spent a thousand years in the Phantom Zone makes it a bit of a given as well.  Brainiac 5`s descent from Brainiac had never been made completely clear, but this is the first time we hear of him being an orphan.  Similarly, this is new news about Dream Girl. They get called to the planet Zinth to investigate a stolen power crystal, but their attempts to retrieve it from a deep lake wind up reducing them all to infants.  Dream Girl warns Superboy and Mon-El that they would be vulnerable to this, but they arrogantly ignore her. They get adopted, while Brainiac 5, whose intellect has not diminished with his age, finds a cure. It turns out this was all a plot by the adoptive parents, who had lost their children earlier and wanted super-babies.  Not only are the Legionnaires in no way upset by this, Dream Girl even gives it all a happy ending, forecasting that they will have new children by the end of the year. The most significant thing is the mention of two planets, Yod and Rokyn.  Brainiac 5`s homeworld is always called Colu, but in this story it`s called Yod.  Later continuity would clear this up, giving it as an alternate name for the world, presumably from a different dialect.  The Rokyn reference is more significant, as the story states that this is the name the Kandorians gave to the planet on which their bottle city was enlarged, the first indication of that event, which came to pass in the late 70s.

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Adventure 357 has a pretty decent mystery story.  It manages to play both sides, with a phony ghost and a real one. The Legionnaires are feeling guilty over Ferro Lad`s death, many of them having bad dreams.  And then deadly accidents begin to occur, with ghostly messages left behind.  They decide the Clubhouse must be haunted, and Princess Projectra holds a seance to try to contact his ghost. Brainiac 5 is not at all impressed with her oracular background, the first tension between him and a magic user on the team. She manages to contact Ferro Lad`s ghost, who insists that he wants vengeance against the four members who `let him die,’ and demands that the Legion disband. Brainiac 5 orders this to happen, and they go their separate ways, but almost immediately after Superboy is snatched by a Controller.  This is the first time the Controllers appear in any DC book.

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There is as yet no backstory linking them to the Guardians of the Universe, but we do learn that the one in the tale was responsible for the creation of the Sun-Eater, which he planned to use for conquest.  It is the Controller who created the ghost of Ferro Lad, and wants revenge on the Legion. Superboy`s flight ring gets activated by a mysterious force, which summons the rest of the team, who free Superboy, while the same force, revealed as the true ghost of Ferro Lad, takes down the Controller.  Nicely done for a dead guy. This story also features a brief appearance by Cosmic Boy`s younger brother and future Legionnaire, Pol Krinn.

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Invisible Kid shows his skills in Adventure 358, in a tale based on the classic short story, The Most Dangerous Game. Otto Orion has hunted and killed every deadly beast in the galaxy, and lures the Legionnaires to his private zoo, challenging them to try to reach an idol before he can capture them. It’s a simple but effective tale.  Sueprboy gets taken out first, to the Legion’s dismay.  And it Invisible Kid who makes it to the idol.  Otto Orion may be twisted, but he has his own sense of honour, and rigged the idol to an explosive on his chest, which is triggered when Lyle Norg touches it. Although he obviously does not appear again, much later his son would go up against the Legion in vengeance.

Legion of Super-Heroes continues in the next period, 1967 – 1970: It’s a Happening!

Legion of Super-Heroes: Adventure Comics 320 – 358 (May 1964 - July 1967)

Next up – Doom Patrol!


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