Posts tagged ‘Jim Shooter’

Adventure 380 – Legion of Super-Heroes ends

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After 81 issues, the Legion end their run in Adventure with issue 380, by Jim Shooter and Win Mortimer.  The story is “inspired” by the Odyssey, and the title of the story clearly derived from the Kubrisk film.

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Superboy receives a call from Dream Girl, who warns him of a prophetic dream she had.  Immediately after, he, as well as Ultra Boy, Bouncing Boy, Duo Damsel, Light Lass, Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy and Invisible Kid are teleported to a strange planet, and Superboy is devoured by a dinosaur with kryptonite teeth.  Cause, you know, it makes total sense for an animal to have teeth made from kryptonite.

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The Legionnaires are in shock, but Ultra Boy rouses them and gets them working on a space ship so they can get back home.  Bouncing Boy consoles a distressed Duo Damsel, the first hint at the romance between them, forecast in the Adult Legion story that saw them married.

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The ride home lurches from disaster to disaster.  Ultra Boy really shows his mettle in this story, saving the rest of the team time and time again.  But repeatedly unusual events occur, strange things appear and disappear, enough that there is clearly something going on that the Legionnaires are not aware of.

 

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Upon returning to Earth, they see robot duplicates of themselves being killed.  Superboy then pops up to explain it all.  Dream Girl foresaw their deaths, and the entire “odyssey” was arranged to keep them out of the way, while the robots suffered their fate.  The Super-Pets had been acting in secret, causing the strange events.  The villains behind the murder plot?  More irrelevant characters who kill themselves without explaining their grand plan.

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Not a high note to go out on.

The Legion switch places with Supergirl after this issue, being demoted to the back-up spot in Action Comics, while she takes over Adventure.

The Super-Pets appear again, in a few stories, but this is the last time they have a major role in any Legion tale.

Adventure 379 – The not-quite-dead Legionnaires

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The concluding half of Jim Shooter’s 2-parter is not much better than the first.  His final few Legion tales have lost the spark of his earlier stories.  Adventure 379 (April 1969) is mediocre at best.

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Ultra Boy and other Legionnaires return from a mission to find their dead friends, and time stopped by an odd alien, who convinces them to go to his realm of Seeris.  The beings from that world have mental abilities, but frail forms, and are being over run by brutal invaders.

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The best scene takes place between Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl, some sincere elements of their relationship, and Ultra Boy agonizing over his responsibilities as leader, which none of the previous ones were ever shown to do.

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Chemical King also gets a good bit, using his powers on himself, to increase his metabolism, briefly endowing himself with super-strength.

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The Legion convince the aliens to use their mental powers to defend themselves (sad they had to be convinced), and that turns the tide.

They return home, and Ultra Boy uses the Miracle Machine to restore the dead-ish Legionnaires to life.  The biggest disappointment in the issue is that the killer is a nothing character, a person who never appeared before, or since.

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 376 – Chameleon Boy fights alone

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Chameleon Boy is revealed as the winner of the contest in the previous issue, and spends almost all of Adventure 376 (Jan 69) in solo action in another dimension, even getting a romantic storyline, thanks to Jim Shooter.

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The story reveals how Chameleon Boy beat Psyche, and adopted the identity of Bouncing Boy, having Proty II impersonate him to complete the cover-up.

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Although he has won the championship, and was teleported to the dimension to face off against Kodar, the King gets upset that his daughter, Princess Elwinda, has fallen for the Durlan, and wants to stop him from fighting to save the kingdom.  Pretty racist king there, willing to lose everything just to keep his daughter from marrying a man he doesn’t like.

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But though he defeats Kodar, the Legionnaires track him down just as he is undergoing a bizarre wedding ritual (derived from the native ritual in the wedding between John Smith and Pocahontas, in fact), and teleport him back to “safety,” which also seals the gap between the worlds.

Chameleon is less than pleased to be home.  Princess Elwinda never appears again, but he will meet a woman who resembles her in a story in Action Comics.

 

Adventure 375 – The Legion vs The Wanderers

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The Wanderers are introduced in Adventure 375 (Dec 68), another team of super powered heroes in the 30th century, but they quickly get mind-controlled and the Legion must battle them rather than work with them.  Jim Shooter crafts a decent tale that is sadly undermined by Win Mortimer’s art.

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The two teams meet in peace at first.  But just as the Wanderers get mind-controlled the Legion receive a mysterious message challenging their “mightiest member” to combat.  Quantum Queen, another of the dead heroes shown in the Adult Legion story, is part of the Wanderers.

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Ultra Boy merges the two situations, arranging a contest between the Legionnaires interested in winning the right to stand for the team, by taking down the Wanderers.  There is even a nifty little chart to show the breakdown.  Curiously, Celebrand is at the highest point of the competition, despite having no powers.

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The Legion progress through the chart, with some surprising winners.  The Wanderers, on the other hand, do little to impress, not even Quantum Queen.  Of all the battles, Karate Kid does the most impressive job, defeating Ultra Boy and Sun Boy despite having no powers.  Chemical King and Timber Wolf both take part, but neither fares very well.

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In the end, it appears Bouncing Boy triumphs, but the way the scene is drawn makes it clear the reader is missing something – and indeed, as we discover next issue, as the story continues, it is really Chameleon Boy who won, but disguised himself as Bouncing Boy to keep an edge, and is teleported away.

The story concludes next issue.  The Wanderers make occasional cameos over the years, eventually getting a dismal, sort-lived series in the 80s.

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 373 – The Legion meet the Tornado Twins

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Win Mortimer takes over the art on the Legion series with Adventure 373 (Oct 68), as Jim Shooter introduces a pair of mysterious siblings, the Tornado Twins.

For the rest of the run of Legion in Adventure Comics, the art is not impressive.  Part of that is due to the backlash against costumed heroes that followed the Batman tv series.  Costumed villains would all but disappear over the next few years, and none of the characters introduced in the remainder of the Legion tales would have costumes worth noting.  Even the Legionnaires themselves would suffer from this.  Most notably,Ultra Boy’s symbol would reduce, or even vanish completely, in these last 8 issues.

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The Legion spend most of this issue showing up late to crime scenes and disasters, repeatedly encountering the Tornado Twins, whose powers seem only equalled by their obnoxious arrogance.

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The Legion try investigating them, but can find no information on them at all, and for much of the issue, their powers are not even clearly defined – we see the results of their actions more often than the actions themselves. Karate Kid loses his cool and gets into a fight with them, but they quickly defeat him.

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Ultimately, it turns out that they are Don and Dawn Allen, “descendants” of Barry Allen, who temporarily acquired super-speed in order to erect a statue of the Flash, and memorialize the hero by acting like complete jerks.

Don and Dawn Allen would appear sporadically over the years, and eventually be acknowledged as the children of Barry Allen, not merely his descendants.

By the way, take a look at the highlighted letters in the third picture reproduced above.

 

Adventure 372 – Timber Wolf and Chemical King join the Legion

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Adventure 372 (Sept 68) sees Timber Wolf’s long-awaited entry into the Legion, as well as Legion Academy member Chemical King, but Jim Shooter and Curt Swan also provide the earliest chronological appearance of the Legion of Super-Villains in this tale.

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After being expelled last issue, Colossal Boy gets recruited by Tarik the Mute for his new Legion of Super-Villains.  He joins expelled member Nemesis Kid, as well as Legion rejects Radiation Roy, Ron Karr and Spider Girl.

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Meanwhile, Bouncing Boy gets around to showing Ultra Boy the “life gem” he discovered at Gim’s place.  Shame he didn’t bother to do that when he showed him the missing training manuals.  Realizing the actual situation, Ultra Boy has Superboy, Chameleon Boy, and Academy members Timber Wolf and Chemical King adopt disguises to infiltrate the LSV.

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As well as the villains mentioned before, they also discover Lightning Lad’s missing brother Mekt, in his earliest story.

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Colossal Boy figures out who the Legionnaires are, and exposes them, rather than risk his parents’ lives.  Neither Timber Wolf nor Chemical King show particular prowess in their first outing.

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Chameleon Boy pulls off a really impressive transformation, impersonating Superboy, and then pretending to turn to glass, and then into shards of broken glass.  That last change really should be beyond the range of his powers, being dozens of separate objects, but there would be a couple of stories in which he adopted multiple forms like that.

The Legion raid the LSV, and Colossal Boy is restores to Legion membership, while Timber Wolf and Chemical King, neither of whom did anything particular in this story, become members as well.

This story is also the final Curt Swan Legion tale in Adventure.

Adventure 371 – The Legion Academy and a semi-reprint

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For reasons known only to DC, the cover of Adventure 371 (Aug 68) represents the back-up feature, a reprint of “The Valhalla of Super-Companions,” which originally appeared in Superboy 101.  The story is not a Legion tale at all, and they are added to two panels in a feeble attempt to make it one.

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Aside from noting that Ultra Boy, Sun Boy, Duo Damsel and Light Lass make their cameos, I will skip over this tale, and write more about it when I get around to the Superboy series in this blog.

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Ultra Boy becomes the new leader of the Legion in this Jim Shooter/ Curt Swan story, but Colossal Boy is the star, as his parents, making their debut, get turned into living glass statues by henchmen of Tarik the Mute.  They threaten to kill them unless Colossal Boy gets them information on the Legion training program.

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To do so, Gim Allon intentionally messes up on a mission, and Ultra Boy sends him to the Legion Academy for re-training.

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Bouncing Boy is serving as a temporary instructor at the Academy, beginning his long association with it.  Colossal Boy meets Condo Arlik there, a trainee soon to become Chemical King, another Legionnaire introduced as dead in the Adult Legion story.

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Bouncing Boy is suspicious of Gim`s situation, and hoping to get some insight and help him, he breaks into his parents apartment, where he finds Legino training manuals.  Apparently taking these home is really awful, much worse than breaking in to someone else`s apartment, because Chuck gets no punishment when he reports this, but Colossal Boy gets expelled from the Legion.

The story concludes next issue.

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