Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Burial in space!” (Adventure Comics #379,

At the Legion clubhouse, six figures are still as death, silent, frozen in the shadowed hallways, as a seventh figure moves among them. Who turned out the lights? Automated systems in the walls, no doubt, conserving power as their masters and mistresses became silent. It must be sleep cycle, surely. The Legionnaires can’t all be—

Wait—Six figures? At the end of last issue, five Legionnaires had slipped into comas and were still. The intruder was not the seventh, as mentioned, here, but the sixth. Well, it turns out that this seventh figure is a second intruder, and the first is frozen, the last man standing amongst the fallen Legion, presumably his victims.

Number Seven is one of the Seerons, and he’s come to the Legionnaires from another universe, seeking help. When he finds them about to die, he stops time for them and their would-be killer. Then he sees a ship approaching—Ultra Boy, leading an mission team, is returning to a still clubhouse. He and his team have done this before, recently, in the “Mission Diabolical.”

The Seeron explains what’s going on, and offers to help the fallen heroes—for a price. If Ultra Boy will bring his team to the Seeron homeworld and save their cities from barbarian invaders, the Seeron (who has no name) will save Superboy, Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Princesss Projectra and Karate Kid.

Ultra Boy’s team is transported to the Seeron world, a place of brilliant color, in keeping with DC’s “New Look.” We learn that the Seerons, like Star Trek’s Talosians, or the humans in Wall-E, live in a fully automated society, spending their lives in chairs that care for them while they develop their brains. They’re so unaccustomed to physical activity that the Seeron who fetched them here must now go an rest for “a year or two.” And now, the pale blue Seerons are being invaded by pink barbarians, who are super-strong. The barbarians are working their way across the land, and, when they make their way to Seeris City, they will leave Seeron society devastated.

The Legionnaires are escorted to a library where they can study up on the situation, rest, and prepare to battle the barbarian horde. While the others have fun with the automated chairs, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl share a tender moment while he, James T. Kirk-like, bemoans the pressures of command and makes out with the girl.

A preliminary battle, staged to size up their opponents, results in the Legionnaires learning that the barbarians are not dumb brutes, but do speak Interlac, in confirming that, while they may not be as strong as Ultra Boy, their enemies never tire, and in Phantom Girl being grievously injured. The Seerons save her life, but it’s a close thing. Ultra Boy is badly rattled, wondering how he can keep exposing the girl he loves to danger.

Meanwhile, back home on earth, Invisible Kid and Shrinking Violet arrive back at the clubhouse. They find the five “dead” Legionnaires and, without notifying any other members, place their bodies in glass coffins and shoot them out into space. Okay, I get that seven Legionnaires have vanished to another universe, and five are presumed dead, but wouldn’t the more-than-half the Legion that’s left be called in for a funeral? The President? R.J. Brande? Representatives of all the worlds that adore them? This does not wash.

Ultra Boy decides that direct confrontation is too dangerous, so they’re going to build a wall. And make the barbarians pay for it!!! Sorry, just build a wall. They hope this will slow the attack, but the Pepto Bismoll pugilists quickly breach said wall. Ultra Boy stays on guard with Phantom Girl while the others battle.

Chemical King gets to show off a new aspect of his power—accelerating his own metabolism to give himself a few moments’ super-strength. Unfortunately, this trick is preceded by him reflecting that “There’s only one thing around for me to use my chemical reaction power on…me!” This is clearly false, as everything around him is made up of chemicals. He could have accelerated decay rates in the ground, slowed down the metabolisms of his opponents—even messed with their minds and senses, with a little finesse. It’s a shame that these possibilities were rarely explored. I think that’s part of the reason poor Condo was underused and consigned to an early grave.

Ultra Boy realizes that he’s putting Tinya’s welfare ahead of everyone else’s, plunges into battle and drives off the barbarians. Then he convinces the Seerons to physically engage their foes, overwhelming them with sheer numbers. The trick works. Good thing, too, as we’re on page 22 and we still have five dead Legionnaires! The Seerons use their mental powers to restore life to all within the clubhouse, and the Legionnaires are sent home…

Where they learn that their comatose comrades are not in the clubhouse. D’oh! I guess one thing they left out of the Legion constitution was, “If you don’t know what’s going on with something, don’t f___ with it.” So Invisible Kid and Violet have doomed their comrades with their rush funeral.

Or have they? There’s always the Miracle Machine. Brainy tried to use it last issue, but didn’t get to it in time. This time, it successfully is employed to bring the five back to the clubhouse, where the Seerons’ mental emanations presumably still resonate, and they are restored. Ultra Boy reminds everyone that the machine “couldn’t save them if they were really dead.”

How does he know that? Did it come with a manual?

Oh, and the sixth shadowy figure? The one who actually poisoned five Legionnaires? He was nobody. He was sent to the morgue, woke up when the time stoppage was unstopped, and now he’s in jail.

A rushed ending, and a bit of a sloppy story. If anyone had thought to use the Miracle Machine at the outset, the five Legionnaires’ lives would never have been dependent upon the battle with the Seerons. And, while the Legion might still have gone to help against the Barbarians, the story probably wouldn’t have seen print at all. Without the hook of the comatose friends, there’s really not a lot to it. Nice character time with Jo and Tinya, though.

Roll Call: Princess Projectra, Karate Kid, Ultra Boy, Star Boy, Phantom Girl, Superboy, Timber Wolf, Chameleon Boy, Chemical King, Lightning Lad, Invisible Kid, Shrinking Violet, Duo Damsel, Brainiac 5 (Seen only in silhouette)

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