Posts tagged ‘Matter-Eater Lad’

Adventure 374 – The Legion vs the Taurus Gang


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.


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.


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.


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 354 – The Adult Legion


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.


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.


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.

The story concludes next issue.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 345 – Matter-Eater Lad faces execution


The concluding half of the Edmond Hamilton/Curt Swan prison story in Adventure 345 (June 66) 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.  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.

Adventure 319 – The Planetary Chance Machine!


Adventure 319 (April 1964) features almost the entire line-up of the Legion of Super-Heroes, only Supergirl is absent.  And if that weren’t enough, the Substitute Legion appear as well.  And if THAT weren’t enough, this issue also has the debut of the wonderful Planetary Chance Machine!


A fortress that looks very much like the Tower of Babel is constructed on the planet Throon, and emits rays that cripple any spaceships that come near it.  The Legion are called on by the Science Police to help penetrate the edifice and capture those within.

And how does the Legion choose which members should undertake this dangerous task?  By seniority and experience?  By picking the ones whose powers are most likely to be of use?


No!  They sit around a table and wait for a machine with spinning balls on it to whack a member in the head!  This is the marvellous Planetary Chance Machine.  Planetary because the balls resemble planets.  Brainiac 5 is the first to be bonked, and look how calm he is about it.

This machine would be featured in a couple of stories, but its full potential would not be realized until the Legion of Substitute Heroes Special in the 80s.


Wave after wave of heroes, selected by the machine, attack the fortress and fall to it.  Lightning Lad does manage to enter, but is taken prisoner immediately.

This is the first of a number of tales that see the entire Legion taken down, culminating in the End of an Era storyline, but its the only one that takes place entirely in one issue.  This means that few of the heroes get a chance to do much of anything other than fall to the enemy.


Matter-Eater Lad is one of the few who gets to use his abilities to a decent extent, hollowing out a meteor in an attempt to make a sneak attack, though this proves no more successful than any of the other waves.

After the Legion are wiped out, the Substitute Legion make their play, and it’s Night Girl who winds up saving the day, tunnelling into the building while the rest of the team create a distraction.


And look, it’s just two little old men who took out the most powerful people in the galaxy.  Not a shining moment for the Legion, but that’s not the main point of the ending.


Edmond Hamilton concludes the tale with a victory parade for the Legion of Substitutes.  The four tales they have appeared in have taken the team from outcasts and rejects to triumphant heroes, acknowledged and appreciated.

Adventure 318 – Sun Boy melts down


Edmond Hamilton gives Mutiny on the Bounty a Legion twist in Adventure 318 (March 1964), and puts Sun Boy in the role of the crazed captain.

Sun Boy and Cosmic Boy are returning from a mission when they intercept a distress call from the planet Xenn, which is about to explode.  Sun Boy takes charge of evacuating the entire population of the planet.


Power goes to his head pretty quickly, and while one might excuse an element of micro-managing during the evacuation, his behaviour on board as they transport the refugess becomes abrasive and insulting.

When Cosmic Boy discovers that Sun Boy has made an error in navigation, his attempt to inform him and correct it meet with accusations of treachery, and Cosmic Boy is thrown into the brig.

The Legionnaires mutiny, but Sun Boy keeps control of the ship using robots, and throws the rest of them out into space in a small ark.


The story then follows Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Light Lass, Triplicate Girl, Star Boy and Matter-Eater Lad as they journey through space, finding transport and food, while trying to get back home.


They succeed, and even manage to find Sun Boy, who has gone sort of comatose aboard the ship.  He is diagnosed as having “space fatigue,” and all is apparently forgiven.  But at no point in the next few decades is Sun Boy ever put in charge of a major operation, nor is he ever seriously a candidate for Legion leader.  The story is referenced in an issue in the 90s that focuses on his character.


Also notable in this issue is the first visual appearance of the Time Trapper, as Superboy and Mon-El again attempt to pierce the Iron Curtain of Time.  While technically the first appearance of the villain, his costume and powers are very similar to the Time Master who had battled Wonder Woman a few years earlier, and I’m not the only one who considers them the same character.



Adventure 303 – Matter-Eater Lad joins the Legion


Matter-Eater Lad joins the Legion in Adventure 303 (Dec 62) and almost immediately falls under suspicion as the team discovers they have a spy in their midst.


After a brief sequence in which Sun Boy and Lightning Lad have a medical check-up with Dr. Landro, and the reader is introduced to the capsule implants that are used in future medicine, we meet Tenzil Kem, from the planet Bismoll.  On his planet, people developed the ability to eat and digest anything.  He felt this qualified him for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, and apparently so did the rest of the team.


The Science Police also make their debut in this tale, replacing  the World Wide Police seen earlier. The Legion plans keep being known by the villains they are pursuing, and they come to accept that there must be a traitor on the team.  As the new boy, Matter-Eater Lad falls under suspicion, and when accused by Brainiac 5 runs off guiltily.


In fact, this was a ruse concocted by Brainiac 5 and Matter-Eater Lad to get the real spy to think he was safe.  He was shrunken and implanted into Sun Boy by Dr Landro.

Jerry Siegel gives a big explanation for how the spy was shrunk, instead of simply making him an Imskian, like Shrinking Violet.  Later continuity would attribute him as an early Imskian rebel.

Adventure 301 – The origin of Bouncing Boy


As new applicants to the Legion fret over whether they are good enough to join the team, Bouncing Boy relates his origin, and how he became a member, with the apparent message that, if someone as silly as him can become a Legionnarire, anyone can!

Adventure 301 (Oct 62) was written by Jerry Siegel, so perhaps that’s why there is something almost Bizarro about this story.


Thanks to Storm Boy’s embarrassing attempt to join the team, we learn that one must have actual powers to become a member, that high tech devices are just not good enough.  Storm Boy is so bitter about this that he spends years and a fortune having devices implanted into his body, returning 40 years later in vengeance.  Triplicate Girl gets to show off her ability to single-handedly gang up on someone.


Then we get the intense origin of Bouncing Boy.  Check Taine was a lazy delivery boy, who stopped to watch a robot gladiator tournament while carrying an experimental formula to the Science Council.  He then mistook it for a bottle of pop and drank it.

This borders on Jimmy Olsen level stupidity, so it’s appropriate that it endows him with Jimmy Olsen level goofy powers, in this case becoming a big bouncing ball.


He applies for Legion membership, but is promptly rejected.  The Legion even seem to follow him around, laughing at his feeble attempts to stop crime.  But ultimately Bouncing Boy proves himself against a villain with electrical powers, who he can defeat because he is not grounded during his attack.


Other Legionnaries appear in the story, but few really get much opportunity to do their thing.  Cosmic Boy runs the whole application process, as Legion leader. One of the two men shown in the final panel is credited as being Matter-Eater Lad, who becomes a member by the next issue.


The earliest version of the Mission Monitor Board appears in this story.  It neatly demonstrates the far ranging scope of Legion activities, while at the same time allowing some Legion members to be shown in action, without detracting from the story.  In this case, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy.


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