Posts tagged ‘Element Lad’

Adventure 374 – The Legion vs the Taurus Gang

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The Legion gets drawn into a war between gangs on Earth in Adventure 374 (Nov 68), a Jim Shooter tale that introduces Leland McCauley, a business rival of RJ Brande.

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The Legionnaires get attacked at a variety of locations, and the five who remain, Ultra Boy, Supergirl, Element Lad, Dream Girl and Matter-Eater Lad, are teleported by the leader of a gang called Scorpius, who informs them that their teammates will be killed unless the five take down the members of a rival gang, Taurus.

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The Taurus Gang are a kind of half-assed Fatal Five.  None would appear again after this story, except for Black Mace.  For many years though, Legion fans would theorize a connection between Quanto and the similarly costumed Reflecto from the Adult Legion story.

The Legionnaries fight them in disguise, so out of costume, but the Substitute Legion try to break up the fight, and Polar Boy recognizes them.

The current chief of the Science Police, Zoltorius, is the actual leader of the Taurus Gang, but disguises himself as RJ Brande, and tries to frame rival millionaire Leland McCauley as being the head of Scorpius.  This is kind of pointless as far as the story is concerned, but Leland McCauley will appear again in a number of stories.

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Dream Girl infiltrates the Taurus Gang by posing as Mystelor, and Quanto reforms on his own, leaving the gang, but it’s the Subs who get to swoop in and save the day at the end, their last appearance before the end of the Legion’s run in Adventure.

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 351 – The Legion, the Subs, the Super-Pets, guest stars, villains and happy endings

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The concluding half of E Nelson Bridwell’s 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.

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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.

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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 conteract 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.

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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.

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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 Legion epic.

Adventure 338 – The Legion vs the Time Trapper

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The long-running stand-off with the Time Trapper comes to a disappointing resolution in Adventure 338 (Nov 64), largely because writer Jerry Siegel keeps the character off to the side even with this story.

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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.

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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.

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The Time Trapper eliminates Glorith, using the same hourglass she had been using.  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.

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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.

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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.

Adventure 333 – The Legion goes to war – against itself

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The Legion goes to war with itself in Adventure 333 (June 1965), written by Jerry Siegel, an event so abrupt that it must reveal some long-simmering tension within the team.

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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.

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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.

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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!  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.

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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.

Adventure 331 – The Legion of Super-Villains join the Legion of Super-Heroes

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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 (April 1965) marks their first appearance in the Legion series itself.

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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.

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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.

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Lightning Lord is the elder brother of Lightning Lad and Light Lass, and we get another retelling of the crash landing on Krobal 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.

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.

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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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