Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Weirdo Legionniare!” (Adventure Comics #341, February, 1966)

The second part of the Computo crisis seems to be a tale in search of a marketing ploy. On the cover is depicted “Colossal Boy’s One-Man War!”—a scene of CB apparently killing Sun Boy and Star Boy, and declaring that the entire Legion will die next. On the inside splash, we’re told it’s the tale of “The Weirdo Legionnaire!” although “Colossal Boy’s One Man War!” is again referenced.

I can hear the conversation now:

“Ed! Or Jerry! Whoever’s closest! Look at Curt’s amazing cover of Colossal Boy murdering his friends! How ya gonna get the kids outta this mess?”

“Uh, we’ll try, Mort, but, you know, last month we started a two-parter about this Computo monster—”

“Don’t bore me with continuity! Ya think anybody reads these things every month?”

“But, Mort, we have to finish the story. We just killed Triplicate Girl, and—”

“Finish, Shminish! I don’t care what you do, as long as Colossal Boy has a One-Man War!”

(The characters depicted in this blog-o-play are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to any DC Comics creators, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)

Indeed, this story is credited to Edmond Hamilton or Jerry Siegel. Perhaps, by the end of this review, I’ll have assembled my thoughts well enough to give you a stab at which one it was. Although there are a couple of clues right up front: First, in the recap of last issue, and on through the resolution of the story, there’s no mention of the scientists who were kidnapped by the drones last issue. Only the Legionnaires who are held hostage are mentioned, and the script doesn’t make clear who they are, or name them all. Indeed, Element Lad, who was shown being captured, does not appear in this issue at all. Those two things suggest that perhaps a different writer took over.

Another suggestion that this might be a Hamilton story is the introduction, for Triplicate Girl’s funeral, of Shanghalla, the cemetery world for heroes. Beast Boy, who died two issues ago, appears. Swan did not draw that story, and it strikes me as likely that he would only be included if one of the creative team from that issue had worked on this one. Also, Shanghalla seems more like a Hamilton concept. He was given to creating unique space landmarks. And this one has a lot of detail—like the graves of one-off characters Hate Face, Leeta 87, Mog Yagor, and Nimbok of Vaalor. Plus, in Siegel’s Dynamo Boy story, we see the alleged “graves” of Legionnaires, and they’re in a plain cemetery on Earth, suggesting Siegel had not conceived of such exotic burial. Now, granted, Dynamo Boy also would not have known about Shanghalla, but I’m willing to bet that this is a sign that Siegel didn’t have a hand in thinking it up.

Speaking of Triplicate Girl, in an unfortunate continuity error, Triplicate Girl appears on page 3 with the assembled “surviving Legionnaires.” This is before the other know that two of her bodies have survived as Duo Damsel. One assumes that artist Curt Swan penciled Phantom Girl in the panel, and the colorist made an error.

Triplicate Girl’s funeral is properly emotional, with Matter-Eater Lad (who just showed up this issue) accusing Brainy of causing the whole mess. Superboy defends the boy genius, saying that he was working on Computo for the United Planets. Matter-Eater Lad immediately apologizes, in broken English, no less. Wow, this variation on “We’re from the government, we’re here to help,” really carries weight with some people! I guess it’s only natural that the future president of his planet would be swayed by the argument that Brainy is guiltless because government. Light Lass and Shrinking Violet weep, Brainy collects Triplicate Girl’s atoms into an urn, and then Triplicate Girl shows up. Well, she’s Duo Damsel now.

Everyone is happy again, and now it’s time to fight the big bad. Mentioning not at all that their Big Three were ordered to leave Earth, they decide to hide out in the Batcave, of all places. This is a pretty cool piece of continuity, and allows the Legionnaires to use some of the futuristic weapons in Batman’s arsenal, which are… more futuristic… than anything… in the 30th Century?

Just go with it. The Legion makes many attempts to stop Computo. They send in Proty II as the Weirdo Legionnaire. They try creating a Bizarro Computo, and Brainy is genuinely astounded when that accomplishes nothing. Yeah, the boy needs some kind of medical intervention, clearly. This seems like a Siegel touch to me, using the Bizarro concept. Colossal Boy pretends to go insane, and smashes the bubbles containing Star Boy and Sun Boy, freeing them, because Computo didn’t realize he wasn’t actually going to murder them. Finally, Brainy releases an anti-matter monster, which just destroys Computo and his army. It almost destroys Earth, too, until Brainy, spouting more technobabble, stops it.

And here we cinch the author. Even if Hamilton had a hand in this story, he just didn’t spout the techno-babble the way Siegel did. That meaningless garbage uttering forth from Brainy’s mouth as he saves the day could not have come from any pen but Siegel’s.

You’d expect the whole Legion to be in this one, but Element Lad, who was shown being kidnapped by Computo at the end of the first part, seems to have been forgotten! Invisible Kid is, well, invisible, and Supergirl is, of course, off at school.

Overall, a scattered follow-up to a tense and fast-paced first part.

Roll Call: Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Star Boy, Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl (now Duo Damsel), Lightning Lad, Ultra Boy, Superboy, Mon-El, Light Lass, Shrinking Violet, Matter-Eater Lad, Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Bouncing Boy

Firsts: Shanghalla

 

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