Posts tagged ‘Legion of Substitute Heroes’

Adventure 403 – new costumes for the Legion

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Adventure 403 (March/April 1971) is a reprint issue, collecting the stories of Lightning Lad’s death and resurrection, all of which I have already written about.  But it also has three pages of new costumes for the Legion, sent in by readers.  Most would be used, at least once, though they vary from decent to horrible.

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Saturn Girl’s bikini would become her standard outfit through the 70s, as would the two-tone splitting costume for Duo Damsel.  But the Saturn Girl one is a bit of a cheat, as it’s by comic pros Andru and Giordano.

I think the Phantom Girl outfit does appear in one story, though the legs are not seen. Light Lass and Shrinking Violet costumes would not appear.  Violet’s is wildly off the mark for her character.

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A host of awful costumes on this page.  Cosmic Boy, Ultra Boy and Lightning Lad would never wear these clothes, but astonishingly the hideous outfits for Karate Kid, Princess Projectra and Shadow Lass would all appear once.  It’s difficult to imagine a princess of any world wearing a bra with a crown on it, and the slave girl look does not suit Shadow Lass at all.

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The outfit Saturn Girl adopts in the 80s is a bit like the one shown here, but the removable jacket was never a part of it.  Of the outfits proposed for the Substitute Legion, Chlorophyll Kid’s really isn’t that bad, but Night Girl looks like she was caught in an s&m club.  Neither of these would be used either.

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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 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 354 – The Adult Legion

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There have been many stories that show the future of various heroes.  As I write this, “Future’s End” is showing the entire New 52 line five years ahead.  But no story influenced later tales as much as the Adult Legion story in Adventure 354 (March 1967), another classic by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan.

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.

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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.  More surprising was Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel and their “triplicate” son.

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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.

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After all the revelations, the story gets into some action, as a masked figure starts destroying the Legion headquarters.

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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.

The story concludes next issue.

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 342 – Star Boy is expelled for murder

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Another rarity in comics from this era, Star Boy murders a man in self-defense in Adventure 342 (Match 1966), in a story by Edmond Hamilton, with art by Curt Swan.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Adventure 337 – A Legion Double Wedding

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Wedding bells are ringing in Adventure 337 (Oct 65), but the Legion Constitution forbids married members, and spies from Murra plot to take advantage of that, in this Edmond Hamilton story.

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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.

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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.

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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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