Posts tagged ‘Brainiac 5’

Action 591 – Superman vs Superboy

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Keith Williams joins John Byrne on Action 591 (Aug. 87), the third part of a four-part story that clarifies the relationship between the Superboy from Legion of Super-Heroes, and Superman.

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The story picks up from the previous issue of Superman, as Superboy freezes Blok, Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid and Sun Boy, taking them to the Time Trapper, but leaving Superman free.

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We have the story of Superboy and the Legion explained a different way, by the Time Trapper.  The Trapper took a small slice of the newly-formed universe, and molded it to his own liking.  When the Legion believed they were travelling back in time to meet Superboy, they were really travelling into the Time Trapper’s pocket universe, and meeting the Superboy he had created.

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Superman winds up in the pocket universe, and is discovered by Pete Ross.  He thinks this is Superboy under the influence of red kryptonite, and brings him back to the Kent home, where Superman meets two people who are the Kents, but not his parents.

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Superboy shows up, and a fight breaks out, with Krypto getting into the fray. Superman notes how much more powerful Superboy is, with the plus of an invulnerable cape.

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Krypto sacrifices his powers and intelligence to retrieve some gold kryptonite, in a failed attempt to save his master from the evil Superman.

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Pa Kent tries every kryptonite there is against Superman, but they are powerless on his physiology, being from a different universe.  Superboy admits that he wanted Superman to beat him, hoping that together they could defeat the Time Trapper.

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But in the end, the Legionnaires convince Superman not to come along with them for their final battle with the Time Trapper.

This sets the new relationship between Superman and the Legion, which will exist, with some minor modifications, until Zero Hour.

 

Action 392 – the powerless Super-Son, and Legion of Super-Heroes ends

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The Super-Sons get equal play on the cover of Action 392 (Sept. 70), but inside it’s really Superman and his son that are the focus of this Kanigher/Andru/Esposito tale.

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Following up on last issue, Clark Jr no longer has powers, after his father exposed him to gold kryptonite. Despite this, he continues to wear his costume, even though it simply highlights his lack of super-ness.

But you have to wonder why he wears while out on a date, when he doesn’t have the powers to back it up.  Public humiliation is rarely a big turn on.

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Superman winds up getting attacked by thieves with kryptonite.  His son comes to his aid, and because his powers have been removed, his weakness has gone as well, and he succeeds at both rescuing his father, and capturing the villains.

As a reward, Superman brings his son to Kandor, and together they undergo his rite of passage to adulthood.  But the boy is unaware that his father has also rigged the ceremonial bracelets, transferring his powers to his son.

Though Superman is left powerless at the end of this story, when the Super-Sons return in a semi-regular series in World’s Finest Comics in a couple of years, Superman has his powers again.

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Bates, Mortimer and Abel bring the Legion’s series in Action Comics to a close with this story.

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Saturn Girl and Princess Projectra return from a mission, only to find that no one knows who they are.  Karate Kid insists that they have never been members of the Legion, and even introduce them to male counterparts of themselves.  Saturn Girl wears her new, 70s bikini outfit in this story, which looks much better on her than on Saturn Lad.

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The two women are imprisoned, but use their flight rings to burst free of their bubble-cell.

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Projectra figures out that the whole thing is a hoax, which Saturn Girl must be in on. And, indeed, it is.  All put together by Brainiac 5, to test Projectra’s mettle, after the computer declares that Projectra is likely to have a breakdown.  It seems rather insulting, but throughout the 70s Projectra would lapse into a few stress-induced comas, so the computer was not wrong.

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The story, and the run, end with Mon-El being sworn in to replace Karate Kid as leader.  The “adult advisor” is there, which must be Marla Latham, although the figure is so tiny it might be Ultra Boy, as their costumes are basically identical.

From here, the Legion of Super-Heroes move down to becoming a sporadic back-up in the pages of Superboy.  The team all but vanishes, and it was only the avid fan base that brought about their return.

Action 390 – Superman running scared, and the Legion Espionage Squad in action

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Bates, Swan and Roussos make Superman turn chicken in Action 390 (July 1970).

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Superman gets chased by a mechanical bomb, which defies all his attempts to evade or destroy it.  He even flies through time, bringing the machine along with him to the explosion of Krakatoa, but it has no effect.

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Superman determines that the bomb is of Kryptonian origin.  Contacting the Kandorians, he discovers that it was built by Jor-El, and is attuned to his brainwaves, and capable of following him anywhere.  Eventually, Superman figures out that it is not so much a bomb, as a device designed to scare him to death.

It was designed as a weapon against alien invasion, and powered by the fear of those it pursues.  Superman had encountered it as a baby in his father’s lab, and it scared him then.  His adult reaction is a result of those memories.  All Superman has to do to deactivate the device is to stop being scared, which he does.

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The Dark Circle are behind the events in this story by Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel, although they do not appear in person.  They are behind the troubles brewing on Lahum, where rebels seek to overthrow a militaristic dictator.  The mission is handled by the Legion Espionage Squad, which is under the command of Chameleon Boy.  He selects Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Karate Kid and Timber Wolf as his team.  Proty II briefly appears, his final appearance until the 80s.

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The Legionnaires infiltrate both sides of the dispute.  With the rebels, they pretend to have powerful weapons that can stop the government’s android army in their tracks.  In reality, the weapons do nothing, it’s Element Lad’s powers that do all the work.

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Saturn Girl heads to the capital, to get a job at the presidential palace.  But one of the workers there recognizes her…

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

Action 387 – Superman at the end of time, and the Legion vs tax laws

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Bates, Swan and Roussos conclude Superman’s travel through time in Action 387 (April 1970).

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He encounters some astronauts, frozen in suspended animation for centuries, and revives them in the year 801,970.

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Travelling even further into the future, he reaches a time when the entire planet is dead and devoid of life.  If those are different.  Anyway, he cuts the planet open and terraforms it, and brings life forms, including humans, from other worlds to populate it and start the cycle again.

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There is a very unexpected attack from Lex Luthor.  He had never believed Superman dead, and left behind a weapon, powered by his eternal hate, to kill him.  It fails.

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Superman travels even further ahead, but Time Trapper loops him, and sends him back to the start. He blacks out, waking to find himself a baby in his parents arms on Krypton.  A few more blackout time jumps, and Superman is back to where he was at the start of the saga.

Which is a bit of a let-down finish, if you ask me.

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Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel share one of the oddest Legion stories.  Every single member appears.  Even the Super-Pets appear.  And I’m tagging them ALL.

And the board is also worth noting, on the first page. The Legionnaires appear in the order they joined the team.  Supergirl is located between Star Boy and Brainiac 5, while Superboy is later, between Shrinking Violet and Sun Boy.

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An evil tax man shows up, and the Legion discover that they have to get rid of one member, or have to pay taxes.  As they do not actually make money by being the Legion, I’m not sure what they would be taxed on, but it’s enough of a threat that they all start vying to be the one to leave.  Timber Wolf and Chemical King are the first to offer, being the most recent to join.

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The team attempt to hold a random draw, but it gets rigged, and then everyone starts claiming responsibility for rigging it.

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Supergirl insists that she should be the one to leave, as she attends the fewest meeting.  Brainiac 5 is not happy, and the Super-Pets all but revolt, insisting that they will disband if she leaves.

Brainiac 5 is selected by the computer as the hero who performed the fewest feats, but everyone insists his mind is worth more than just feats.

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Finally, it is Superboy who chooses to leave.  His powers are duplicated by Mon-El, and he has no romance or clinging pets, as Supergirl does.  Notice that Krypto would resign if Supergirl left, but not Superboy.

Duo Damsel is the one most upset about his departure. Luornu’s unrequited love for Superboy would be touched on again in the future.

For many of the characters, this was the last appearance they have before the end of the Legion’s run in Action Comics.  Ironically, this is also the last appearance of the full line up of the Super-Pets, as Beppo does not appear again, aside from flashbacks in comprehensive Superman origin tales.

 

Action 386 – Superman put out to pasture, and the impostor returns

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Superman continues travelling forward in time in the second part of the story, by Bates, Swan and Roussos, in Action 386 (March 1970).

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Superman time jumps forward, and winds up in an era where all super-powers have been outlawed, following a huge war of super-powered people.

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Superman winds up exiled to a planet where all the other super-people have been sent.  King of the retirement home.

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He does get everyone to work together, and show the world that old super-heroes have something to offer.  But then he just time jumps again, as the Time Trapper watches, enjoying it all.

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Uli Algor, the woman who impersonated Shadow Lass, returns in this story by Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel.  It begins on Takron-Galtos, the prison planet, which I believe is the first time that entire name and description are used.

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Despite the scary name, they are using feel good gem therapy, it seems, to rehabilitate criminals.  It does work on some, but Uli had conditioned herself to resist it.

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Returning to Earth,she sets out to avenge her defeat against the Legion.  She runs into two couples in the park, challenges, and defeats Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Night Girl, with a device that enables her to turn the heroes powers against them.

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That might have been enough for some, but not for Uli.  She presses her luck, and challenges another group of Legionnaires.  Karate Kid, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl accept her challenge, and head out to Talus, an asteroid of junked space ships.  This is the only appearance of Talus until it becomes the headquarters of the Legion, in the early 90s.

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Uli uses her weapon successfully against three of the team, but she waits as Ultra Boy approaches her, to see which of his repertoire of one-at-a-time powers he will use.  And Ultra Boy just runs up and decks her, using nothing but his own strength.

Uli heads back to Takron-Galtos.  We never hear from her again.

Action 381 – Superman on trial at the U.N., and Matter-Eater Lad on a date with Shrinking Violet

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Dorfman, Swan and Roussos conclude their Superman Revenge Squad story in Action 381 (Oct. 69).

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Superman’s belief in his criminal activity appears to have driven him insane. He now begins doing the destructive acts himself, defacing a Persian sculpture, adding his head to Mt. Rushmore, and cutting down all the flags at the U.N., making his own super-flag out of them.

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Superman allows himself to be put on trial, and offers little in the way of defense.  But the flag pole is the giveaway.  Superman has figured out the Revenge Squad’s activities, and is preparing his own attack.

Foiled again!

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A fair amount of members of the Legion of Super-Heroes appear in this story by Shooter, Mortimer and Abel, but it still manages to be small and centred on their everyday lives.  It opens after a meeting.  Brainiac 5 is left on monitor duty, and Chemical King wants to show off his new sky car, giving lifts to Matter-Eater Lad, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl.  Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl have their own romantic plans.  Karate Kid heads off by himself, so likely to work out.

Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl do not get off at the same place, and Jo mentions that he is staying with his parents.  They are usually shown, and referred to, as living on Rimbor, so we can assume they are in for a visit, and that it why Tinya did not go with him.

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Then we get to see Matter-Eater Lad at home, with his rarely-seen parents.  His father is an abusive drunk and gambler, and the mother does not seem much better.  Their primary interest is in his paycheque, and he walks out on them.

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Coming back to headquarters, he finds Shrinking Violet moping about her long-distance relationship with Duplicate Boy.  They had a date scheduled for that night, which he broke.  Tenzil decides to invite Violet out for a night on the town, and Princess Projectra helps her prepare.

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The date goes well, and there is a genuine bond of friendship that grows between the two in their conversation.  The Duplicate Boy barges in and gets all violent and threatening.  Tenzil just talks him down, that he has no interest in “stealing” Violet, and that he should spend more time with her.

The conclusion also sees Tenzil get a letter from his parents, insisting that his father will stop gambling.  I have my doubts.

Action 289 – Supergirl tries to hook up Superman

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A few significant developments, and some quasi-incest, are the hallmarks of this classic tale by Siegel and Mooney, in Action 289 (June 1962).

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After Linda watches a romantic movie with her parents,she decides that Superman needs a wife, and that neither Lois Lane nor Lana Lang is the right one for her cousin.  Her parents warn her not to meddle, but she pays them no mind.

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Her first attempt has her try to match up Superman with Helen of Troy.  After that fails, she leads Superman into the 30th century, to see the Legion of Super-Heroes when they are grown up.  This is the first “Adult Legion” sequence.  Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy and Triplicate Girl are all shown as adults, but the important one, for Supergirl, is Saturn Girl.  Sparks do fly between her and Superman when they kiss under the mistletoe.

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But Lightning Lad steps in and calls a halt to that.  For the first time, we learn that Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad will get married at some point.

Oh, and in a continuity-defying act, Superman and Supergirl invent flight rings for the Legion, to replace the ugly flight belts.  The flight rings immediately start being used in stories about the teenaged versions of these characters.

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Supergirl confesses her plans to find Superman a girlfriend.  Superman explains that he would want someone exactly like her.  But they can’t be a couple, because they are cousins.  Of course, some cultures allow cousins to marry.  But not Kryptonians.  Superman has clearly thought a lot about this.

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So together they search the universe, and manage to find a super-powered double of Supergirl, Luma Lynai, on the planet Staryl.  Superman and this twin of Supergirl hit it off, but she cannot maintain her powers under Earth’s sun, and he will lose his under Staryl’s, so they split.

So Superman and Supergirl decide to move to Kentucky where they marry and settle down.

No, they don’t do that.

But you know they want to.

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