Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read: “The Code of the Legion!” (Adventure Comics #321, June, 1964)

So, any time the Legionnaires start quoting rules and regulations, you know you’re getting into Bastard People territory. Whenever these kids think someone has broken the rules, they get more uptight than a Baptist minister in a speakeasy full of BDSM aficionados.

The cover promises us that Lightning Lad is going to be locked in a giant birdcage—until the end of time, no less—with only a vending machine to keep him company. Said vending machine claims to dispense food, water and books.

(Hey, can I get one of those? I mean, without going through the whole, “to the end of time” rigmarole?)

“Books” is an odd choice, because otherwise LL’s fellows seem to be wholly lacking in compassion for him. Maybe they figured that, since he’s a minor, he still owes it to society to further his education, even if he is going to die in a giant birdcage.

As the Legion continues to try and break through the Iron Curtain of Time and confront the Time Trapper, Star Boy proposes that they use… the Concentrator! (Queue dramatic sting.) No, says Saturn Girl, the Concentrator is the Legion’s greatest secret. We must not even discuss it. You’re right, says Star Boy.

We cut to two far-off planets, where Triplicate Girl and Chameleon Boy are imprisoned by agents unknown and grilled about the Concentrator. They escape. And then Commissioner Wilson of the Science Police shows up, because he’s heard radio chatter about something called the Concentrator. Coincidence?

I dunno… Maybe? We’re never actually told why there’s radio chatter about the Concentrator. There just is. Not much of a greatest secret, now is it? So Commissioner Wilson takes over and orders the Legionnaires to a far off world, where he will test the loyalty of every single one of them. If any of them fail, that Legionnaire will be imprisoned… forever! Mwah-hah-hah!

Did I say “Mwah-hah-hah?” Why would I say that? Commissioner Wilson is one of the good guys, despite the fact that that he’s clearly an authoritarian Bastard People. Needless to say, the Legionnaires follow his orders to the letter, and each is tested to see if they can last out three or four panels of “brainwashing” without divulging the secret of the Concentrator.

Strangely, it’s not Commissioner Wilson’s constant threats against their members that makes the Legion suspect he’s not who he claims to be—it’s that he slips and makes reference to the attempt to get the secret out of Chameleon Boy, something the real Commissioner Wilson would not know about, and something the Vile Villains would

So it turns out that Commissioner Wilson has been captured and replaced by none other than the Time Trapper, making his first real appearance in the series. In the course of his attempts to use dark stars to kill the Legion, we learn the secret of the concentrator, and why it must not be used. But we use it, this once.

In an unrelated turn of events, Bouncing Boy loses his powers after being hit by a shrink ray, and must drop back to being a Legion Reservist. I always found it interesting that, whenever Chuck lost his powers, he suddenly had a perfect 22 BMI. Kinda strange, since he was already overweight when he acquired his powers. Anyway, he doesn’t seem too broken up about it. At the end of the story, he comes to visit, smiling and introducing his new girlfriend… whom Superboy immediately fat-shames. Sigh…

Membership: 19 with Bouncing Boy dropping out.

Bastard People County: Commissioner Wilson, the whole Legion for thinking that an authoritarian asshole’s orders should be followed, and Superboy for his reaction to Chuck’s plus-sized girlfriend.

Firsts: Bouncing Boy loses his powers, Actual Time Trapper appearance

Roll Call:  Phantom Girl, Star Boy, Saturn Girl, Mon-El, Superboy, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl, Brainiac 5, Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad, Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Lightning Lad

 

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