Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Lad Who Wrecked the Legion” (Adventure Comics #328, January, 1965)

The first thing about this story that should have jumped out at a regular reader of the Legion’s adventures in 1965 was that the art had drastically changed from previous stories. Not like a Jack Kirby-to-Neal Adams change, or an Early Bill Sienkiewicz-to-Late Bill Sienkiewicz change, but a pretty big change nonetheless. John Forte’s Legion boys had long, angular faces and mature features. You assumed there were probably college kids. A couple of them (Mon-El) even looked like they might have the beginnings of receding hairlines. Taking a look at Superboy and Invisible Kid in the first pages of this story, one sees they’re decidedly more boyish and high-school looking here. The girls have longer hair and softer faces.

Supergirl artist Jim Mooney drew this issue, his first crack at the Legion in the many years since Supergirl tried out.

A reference to “The Super Hero Club” quickly identifies this as a Siegel story. The regular creative team of Hamilton and Forte must have been otherwise occupied. And, in the opening scenes, we see that Siegel, while he wasn’t versed in the harder sciences that Hamilton was, knew something about psychology—or at least, possibly, pop-psychology. Cosmic Boy is viewing images of his distant ancestors, pulled by the “Ancestor-Visualizer” from his “supraconscious mind.” The idea of a supraconsicous, or collective unconscious that holds memories of an entire species, is derived from the work of Carl Jung.

“I’d sure hate to meet some of your primeval ancestors in a dark alley,” grins Sun Boy. Not a nice think to say to a pal, Dirk. But then that lady in the nun’s habit might be packing a ruler, so…

Meanwhile, in another room, and another, and down in the lab… It’s official. The clubhouse is a TARDIS. (Actually, it was later shown that the rocket-ship structure was merely the entrance to an underground vault.)

In a cruel twist, which has nothing much to do with the story, Superboy demonstrates a device which restores Bouncing Boy’s powers—for a few seconds. When he realizes that this is not the answer to his prayers, poor Chuck walks away more dejected than he looked when he originally lost his powers. Wow, thanks, Superboy. ‘Fraid I have to give my boy Kal a Bastard People award for taunting his friend that way.

On the monitor in the main club room (what happened to last issue’s Emergency Board?) the Legionnaires see a young man in a green uniform, with a fabulous fur collar, no less, stop a robbery using illusions. One illusion begs the question, do the Science Police re-design their uniforms every month? Flying to the scene, the Legionnaires meet Command Kid, who looks a lot like Davy Jones of the Monkees. But, as the Monkees’ were not formed until 1966, perhaps his look was inspired by the shaggy bangs of the Beatles?

The Legionnaires invite Command Kid to join their ranks, but Command Kid scoffs, “‘Legion of Super-Heroes’… What’s that?” So, by way of showing him, they finish “Galaxyland,” an amusement park whose construction is behind schedule. A guy we presume to be the foreman is thrilled—I guess labor unions don’t exist in the Legion’s century?

Command Kid joins up; but when Commissioner Wilson (whom we haven’t seen since Lightning Lad was locked in a bird cage) show up to offer the Legion gold arm bands as awards, CK scoffs again. He doesn’t like awards. Turns out CK is possessed by an evil spirit (not very futuristic!) which gives him illusion-casting powers, but can be exorcised by exposure to gold. His hope in joining the Legion was to recruit super-powered bodies for his fellow spirits to inhabit.

So… never trust a guy in a fur collar? Well, Polar Boy is eternally trustworthy, but he has a reason for wearing fur. Actually… he doesn’t. His body generates cold in a hot environment. He actually should wear, like, a Speedo. Maybe his fellows subs protested such an idea.

Anyway, the fur collar, not usually a popular men’s accessory, makes Command Kid look more like an arrogant European noble, and thus makes him less likable to an American audience… unless he has his own series on PBS or Netflix.

Notable during Command Kid’s attempt to take over the Legionnaires’ bodies for his friends is a line of dialogue: “The Xral Energoid has turned pink.” Wow. Ron Moore and Brannon Braga did NOT invent Techno-Babble! This was also evident in his recent story about Lex Luthor.

Roll Call: Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Invisible Kid, Triplicate Girl, Superboy, Bouncing Boy, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Element Lad

Membership: 20, for this issue, then back to 19.

 

 

 

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