Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Lone Wolf Legionnaire” (Adventure Comics #327, December, 1964)

Our story begins with a shadowy figure being incarcerated on a remote prison world. He confesses that he joined the Legion of Super-Heroes under false pretenses, which is against the law. Who is this guy? This question is never answered! We never see him again. He exists solely to impress upon us that there’s a law forbidding joining the Legion under false pretenses—which seems a bit excessive, if you ask me. Being drummed out and publicly ridiculed would seem to be enough. And the law plays a pretty peripheral part in this story, merely giving its hero one more thing to cry about—and he already has enough.

We see the Emergency Board, a fantastic piece of technology through which worlds throughout space can call for the Legion’s help. Working in close proximity to a 911 Center, I can tell you we pretty much have this technology now, on Earth. But it must have seemed awfully cool and futuristic in 1964.

In other exciting news, Light Lass has changed her emblem again—to a feather this time. It looks a lot less silly than the cloud did.

Brainiac 5 and Light Lass meet a character named Karth Arn, the Lone Wolf, while confiscating a dangerous animal from a circus. They want him to join the Legion, but he emphatically refuses. It’s a bit odd that the owner doesn’t appear to at least protest the confiscation of his animals; but, given that he’s brought a circus full of enraged beasts to a populated area, he’s probably already bagged up the proceeds and headed for the hills. Or the asteroid belt, as the case may be.

Light Lass takes an immediate liking to Karth Arn, but he seems shifty to the other Legionnaires. They immediately peg him as a suspect in the thefts of two valuable, dangerous objects on the planet Zoon. We’re headed into familiar territory here—Boy Legionnaire is suspected of a crime, girl Legionnaire defends him based on a feeling. We’ve seen it with Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl, Duplicate Boy and Shrinking Violet, but not, ironically, with Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. When Garth appeared to be a criminal, Imra wanted him locked up for life. We’ve seen the reverse once so far, with Dream Girl and Star Boy.

Zoon is an interesting world. It has three suns, all of different colors, red, green and yellow. Each lights the planet for exactly eight hours of the day. Creative, but I have to take SF writer Edmond Hamilton to task for some sloppiness here. Saying that this planet in another star system has exactly a 24 hour day is a bit lazy, even if you argue that the hours are longer or shorter than Earth hours. It would have been nice to introduce to young readers the idea that different planets have different length days.

Perhaps less gross of an error is that the suns are depicted as being the same size in the sky. In triple star systems, two suns generally form a core pair around which a third sun orbits. Artistic depictions of the views from the surfaces of the planet around HB 188753, or of the “Super Earth,” Gliese 667 Cc, show two suns being much smaller than the third. But those planets were discovered in 2005 and 2011, respectively, so I’ll cut Hamilton and artist John Forte a break on the sizes.

But there are no green suns. I suppose perhaps something in Zoon’s atmosphere might make a blue sun look green. It’s also a shame that Superboy is sent off on a mission on page one, so we don’t get to see how this arrangement affects a Kryptonian.

Light Lass’s feelings for Karth Arn the Lone Wolf turn out to be mutual, as he crashes his ship to save her from being lost in an other-dimensional void. Still, when she awakens him with a kiss, he warns her to stay away from him, because he’s not human. That’s why he declined the invitation to join the Legion, because he doesn’t want to end up on the prison planet, being awakened to the kiss of Mr. Shadowy Whatsisname. Not being human, accepting would be joining under false pretenses and thus breaking the law.

Not being human disqualifies one from the Legion? Who knew? Certainly not Chameleon Boy. Maybe it only disqualifies you if you pretended to be human and you aren’t. Looking at you, resurrected Lightning Lad who’s really Proty I! You’re goin’ to jail, Red!

Of course, the Lone Wolf, Karth Arn, is actually not an android, as he believed himself to be. He’s Brin Londo, the son of scientist Mar Londo, who mined the rare element Zuunium to give his son super powers. (Interesting that the planet’s name was spelled with two ‘o’s, the metal with two ‘u’s. This was later corrected to match.

Once it’s revealed that he’s human, Karth/Brin declares, “I never want to be Lone Wolf again!” But his new name, and his Legion membership, would wait quite a few issues—27 of them, in fact, and even then, in a flash-forward Adult Legion story. he would not be a member. His membership would wait until Adventure #372.

Roll Call: Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy, Superboy (really?), Ultra Boy

Firsts: Lone Wolf

Bastard People Count: However many people thought there needed to be a criminal law against joining a private club!

 

 

 

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