Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Fantastic Spy!” (Adventure Comics #303 – December, 1962)

His Supreme Reverence and Benevolent Omniscience, Cosmic Boy the First, declares that “One of us Legionnaires is a—traitor!” And Saturn Girl is ordered to read everyone’s mind to find out who!

Wow. Don’t mess with this guy! Don’t let the pink tights fool you.

In a 21st Century hospital, Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 visit Lightning Lad and Sun Boy, who just crashed their rocket. The famous Martian fourth-dimensional surgeon, Dr. Landro will operate on them soon. The what now? He operates on time? He goes back in time and operates before the surgery happened? And why do these two happy, smiling, naked, redheaded boys need operations anyway? Something’s suspect here. (And, BTW, it’s almost impossible to tell Lightning Lad and Sun Boy apart without their costumes. I can only guess Sun Boy’s the one with the slight hair flip going on.)

So we’re two panels into the story, and I can already tell you who the traitor is. It’s both of the naked redheads. They’re going to babble under anesthesia. Have I read this story before? Yes. Do I remember that? No, I don’t think I do. It’s just obvious. I guess, in 1962, readers hadn’t the benefit of having seen the Bionic Woman episode about the hair salon.

Brainy’s lost a great or two off the list for his infamous “ancestor,” but still is unaware the dude was an android. And Matter-Eater Lad shows up. He has a wacky super-power, and this story has a spy in it, so you just know he’s a one-shot and will be a villain.

As to Dr. Landro, when he’s introduced to Cos and Brainy, he says, “I’m proud to meet you, lad.” Yeah, the green kid is probably just the help. But, I mean, Landro’s Martian and all, so some of his best friends are probably green people. “I’ve insisted on operating on your friends personally, and I refuse to accept any payment.” Guy’s got me calling him a racist and setting off my Ayn Rand impulses never to trust an altruist. This is all kindsa screwy.

His instruments go through the skin via the 4th Dimension. So… you make it so you shoved them under my skin yesterday, and now I only remember it hurting like hell? No, I think it’s pretty clear that Jerry didn’t know the 4th Dimension represents time.

The art is much more imaginative this time, with some cool spaceships and nary a brick wall in sight. Someone must have pointed out to John Forte that the Legion is not a series that would have been filmed on the Main Street set for The Andy Griffith Show.

The Legion flies off to protect a shipment of valuable energite, and they’re foiled by vile villains who know just where to strike. And we meet the Science Police! Of course, they don’t come off very well. Their Chief, realizing that the mission the Legion went on was only revealed to the Legionnaires, jumps right to “there must be a traitor! Arrest him!” Like, their couldn’t have been an eavesdropper? A bug? Someone with ghost powers hanging around the clubhouse? No. It has to be a Legionnaire.

A potentially humorous bit is underplayed too much, as, going on a mission to protect a “doomsday bomb” on a subterranean bullet train, Cos and Cham pose as a honeymoon couple. (Yes, a boy-girl honeymoon couple. This was 1962. Boy-boy had not been invented yet in the DCU.) Cham warns Cos that he’d better go light on the “lovey dovey stuff,” or “pow!” We see neither the “lovey dovey” nor the “pow!” What are you, greedy? Wasn’t naked redheads enough?

So, on the bullet train, which goes through the Earth’s molten core, the passengers are… frozen in ice… so they don’t die… and while… they’re… frozen… someone… steals the doomsday bomb and… doesn’t… die.

Yeah, just go with it. Anyway, they realize the bomb is gone, and, since it can wipe out all the Earth’s population, they pour all their resources into finding it and—

What?

They don’t pour all their resources into finding it? They don’t try to find it at all? They just leave the doomsday bomb in the hands of—?

Who put these idiot kids in charge?!!! MARLA!!!!

Forgetting the doomsday bomb, we go to transport the sleeping Meglaro, who, if he wakes, can control the minds of everyone on Earth and force them to surrender to his evil army. Naturally, Meglaro wakes up, and a ship flies by and melts the Legion’s anti-telepathy helmets. “Only criminals would aid such a creature,” the Legionnaires conclude. No, I’m pretty sure anyone would if Meglaro can control their minds.

“There can only be one answer!” cries Brainiac 5.

Yeah, and it’s that Meglaro SENT FOR HELP AS SOON AS HE WOKE UP! Oh… you were thinking something else, weren’t you Brainy? Oh yeah, of course, one of us is a traitor. That’s what I meant to say.

Okay, that’s enough of this pain. Here’s what happened. It wasn’t that the boys were babbling under anesthesia, it’s that a tiny spy was fourth-dimensionally injected into Sun Boy’s injured ankle, and he’s been listening to and watching all that the Legion does. We figure all this out because Sun Boy’s ankle hurts, which of course means he was given a bogus implant.

So… lemme get this straight… Dr. Landro did nothing to fix Sun Boy’s ankle, and Sun Boy was still fit enough to walk out of the hospital and go on missions for days on end. But he needed surgery for this injury? Yep, he does, ’cause he gets naked and goes back under the, uh… capsule.

Oh, and Matter-Eater Lad’s not a spy. Or a villain. He’s just… Matter-Eater Lad? Wow.

Running Count of Cruiser Crashes: 1

Firsts: Matter-Eater Lad, Science Police

Membership: 18

 

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