Posts tagged ‘Brainiac 5’

Adventure 378 – Brainiac 5’s deadly birthday

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A birthday party for Brainiac 5 turns into a deadly event in Adventure 378 (March 1969), but gives Karate Kid his most notable achievement during Jim Shooter’s tenure on the Legion.

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Superboy, Duo Damsel, Karate Kid and Princess Projectra are the guests at Brainiac 5’s birthday.  Apparently the other 20 members of the Legion simply don’t like him?  At any rate, those who don’t attend are the lucky ones, as Brainy and his guests all get poisoned.  They have only 24 hours to live.

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While Brainiac 5 desperately hunts for a cure, Luornu goes to spend her time with her parents, Sueprboy flies off to do as many good deeds as possible, Projectra hangs in a park and feeds birds, and Karate Kid decides to die in battle, and seeks out the Fatal Five.  He plunges into an attack, and defeats the entire group single-handed!

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The five gather together as their deadline approaches.  At the last minute, Brainiac 5 remembers the Miracle Machine, but collapses on the way there.  A mysterious man enters to gloat, and then time freezes.  WTF?

Concluded next issue.

Adventure 377 – The Legion gets greedy

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This off-beat tale by Jim Shooter is the first to really make use of Chemical King, a sadly underused character, whose powers were much greater than most people understood.  Adventure 377 (Feb 69) also has one good page of psychedelic 60s art.

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Brainiac 5 goes all hallucinatory after a chemical attack by thieves from the planet Modo, operating under the aegis of the crime lord Modulus.  But rather than take him on, the story goes in a curious direction, as the Legion start charging people for their assistance.

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Leland McCauley makes his second appearance, with Superboy charging for rescuing him from a crashing spaceship.  This is the last appearance of the character until the 80s.

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The purpose behind the acquisition of money was two-fold; to make the Legion an attractive target for Modulus to rob, and also to gather a variety of currencies, of different materials, that Chemical King could use his powers of speeding up (or slowing down) chemical reactions on.  He causes a chain reaction among the currencies that turns them into a paralyzing gas, which takes out the criminals on Modo.

The story does point out that the Legion confiscate the loot they find on Modo, and use it to reimburse those they had charged.

With better art, this could have been a memorable tale.

 

 

 

Adventure 368 – The Legion’s battle of the sexes (reprise)

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After the embarrassingly sexist “Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires” a few years ago, one could be sure that this version, by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan, would be much better, right?  After all, this is May of 1968.  But nope, Adventure 368 is just as bad as the earlier version.

Thora, an ambassador from the matriarchal world of Taltar comes to Earth, supposedly to meet with Kandro Boltax but really to increase the powers of the female Legionnaires, and get them to turn against their male teammates.

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At first the power increase seems to just be a plus all around.  Duo Damsel can make hundreds of bodies, Shrinking Violet can grow or shrink, Phantom Girl can make others intangible, Supergirl is immune to kryptonite, and so on.

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Brainiac 5 is suspicious of the situation, and acting on his advice, Invisible Kid orders the women quarantined.  They take that as jealousy, and, fanned by the effect of Thora’s power charge, rebel and battle the boys.

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There has been no element of the romances on the team through much of this story, but when Shadow Lass starts expressing her disdain for Brainiac 5, whom she feels rejected her, Supergirl’s love for him causes the “spell” on her to break.  She figures out that Thora is behind it, and causes her bracelet, the source of the power charge, to break.  Thora kills herself, and we hear that the matriarchy on her planet has been overthrown, and men returned to their rightful place of dominance.

OK, just as bad as before.

 

Adventure 367 – The Legion vs the Dark Circle

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A new headquarters, a new enemy and a mysterious machine in the Jim Shooter/Curt Swan tale in Adventure 367 (April 1968).

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The Legion are constructing a new headquarters after their battle with the Fatal Five, and the story spends a lot of time showing us the new facilities.  They also receive many gifts from around the galaxy.

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The Dark Circle are introduced, though who they are and what they want is kept a mystery – for many years, as it turns out.  But seeing the Legion busy with the reconstruction, they figure this is a good time to attack the Earth

They assault Tokyo while Karate Kid is there, meeting with his Sensei.  At this point, all we learn of the man is that he trained Karate Kid, but he will return in the 70s, and his story expanded.

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When the Dark Circle’s forces attack the headquarters, Brainiac 5 wishes silently that Karate Kid was there to help defend them, and then abruptly, Val is there.  Brainiac 5 correctly theorizes a mysterious present is the cause, and uses the device, the Miracle Machine, to repel the invasion and complete the new headquarters.

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Every Dark Circle operative on Earth is shot off into space, and Curt Swan creates a 60s sci-fi masterpiece in the new hq, which would last until the rebuild in the 80s.

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One of the Controllers appears, explaining that the Miracle Machine was a present from them – although at the same time warning them that it can make any thought into reality, and a stray wish could obliterate the universe.  Christmas must be a riot with the Controllers.

The Legion seal the Miracle Machine in a cube of inertron, where it stays for many years, though even encased it appears again in the early 70s.  The Controllers do not appear again until the late 70s.

Adventure 366 – Shadow Lass joins the Legion

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A great second half to the return of the Fatal Five in Adventure 366 (March 1968), though at no point do Superboy and Validus face off in a boxing ring, despite the cover.

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While Cosmic Boy, Superboy, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass and Karate Kid manage to avoid the Talokian army until the find and destroy the machine controlling their minds, the Fatal Five run rampant on Earth, capturing Metropolis.

The Five discover that the key they need to unlock the U.P. weapons cache is in the Legion Clubhouse, but when they get there, the five Legionnaires are already there, having returned from Talok VIII

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I suppose I should have said four Legionnaires, as Shadow Lass is not a member at this point.  Brainiac 5 wonders why she has chosen to accompany them, and we discover that Shadow Lass has fallen for him.  And its enough of a crush that she is willing to abandon her home and put herself in deadly danger for it.  Still, Brainiac 5 dismisses this possibility as “illogical.”  He likes using this word a lot in stories from this time, probably because Spock uses it on Star Trek, which was on television at this point.

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Besieged by the Fatal Five, Shadow Lass asks to join the team, making her the first member sworn in in the midst of battle.

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And she proves herself quite a capable member, taking out the Emerald Empress despite her broken arm.

The 5 teammates battle the Fatal Five to a draw, but when the U.P. army arrives the Fatal Five flee.

The Fatal Five return again a few months down the road.

Adventure 360 – The Legion in chains

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Adventure 360 (Sept 67) cuts between the Legionnaires imprisoned on Takron-Galtos, those running a resistance movement on Earth, and a mysterious villain whose identity is subtly hinted at, but not revealed until the conclusion of Jim Shooter and Curt Swan’s tale.

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After checking to see that Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy are still safely imprisoned, Kandro Boltax goes to check on his very immobile and unemotional son.  Really perceptive readers might be able to identify this lad, but this scene is about as close as the story gets to giving away the identity of the mastermind of the plot.

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Invisible Kid leads a breakout of the Legionnaires imprisoned on Earth, bringing them to an underground lair of Lex Luthor’s.  Though some of the team want to lead a breakout of those on Takron-Galtos, Invisible Kid insists they solve the situation on Earth first.

Duo Damsel gets to put her powers to use, infiltrating Kandro Boltax’s office and discovering secret info on the water purification plant (remember that?), which has been used to chemically control the minds of people on Earth.

Brainiac 5 devises an antidote, and Invisible Kid’s team leads an assault on the water plant, while the imprisoned Legionnaires manage to break out on their own.

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Everyone comes together as Boltax is revealed to be Universo in disguise, and the son, who managed to get the cure into the water, is, of course Rond Vidar, who is granted honourary membership at the end of the story.

Despite Universo not appearing, except in disguise, for the bulk of this 2-parter it works very well.  The story would heavily influence an 80s Legion tale, The Universo Project – in fact it would be the very similarities that would alert the Legion members to Universo’s actions in that tale.

 

Adventure 357 – The Ghost of Ferro Lad

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Adventure 357 (June 1967) has a pretty decent mystery story by Jim Shooter, with Curt Swan art.  It manages to play both sides, with a phony ghost and a real one.

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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.

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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.

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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.  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.

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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.

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This story also features a brief appearance by Cosmic Boy`s younger brother and future Legionnaire, Pol Krinn.

 

 

Adventure 356 – Baby Legionnaires

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E Nelson Bridwell returns to script the story in Adventure 356 (May 67).  Curt Swan’s art is the best thing about it.  The story isn’t awful, just nothing particularly special, although it does establish a few things about the Legionnaires and their universe.

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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.

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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.

Adventure 355 – The Adult Legion vs the Legion of Super-Villains, plus Insect Queen

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As with many of Jim Shooter’s stories from this period, the first half of the two-parter had introductions and set-up, while the second half, in Adventure 355 (April 1967) has the bulk of the action, again rendered by Curt Swan.

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The Legion of Super-Villains bring two members into their team for this, 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.

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They divide and fight, along the usual lines: Lightning Lad against Lightning Lord, Cosmic King against Element Lad, and Saturn Girl against Saturn Queen.

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Beauty Blaze us quickly bested by Polar Boy, and Echo falls to Cosmic Boy.

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.

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In the end, the day is saved by two masked figures who reveal themselves to be descendants of Mr Mxyzpylk 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.  It’s Curt Swan art again, but the story is by Otto Binder.

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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.

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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.

Adventure 350 – Sir Prize and Miss Terious, Evillo and the Devil’s Dozen

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There are so many things in the two-part story starting in Adventure 350 (Nov 66) 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.

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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.

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“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.  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.

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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.

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Sir Prize accompanies the group who head to defend the Interplanetary bank against Apollo.  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.

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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, and concludes next issue.

 

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