This is a seriously good comic book. But as a kid, I don’t think I really appreciated how good. It was strange and weird and also a little bit upsetting, so it put me off a little bit. Only time has allowed for a re-evaluation. I’m not sure where it came from; if pressed, I would have said a 3-bag. But I cant locate a 3-bag that it would have been a part of that I’d have bought. Maybe it was purchased for my brother, or maybe I got it in trade. Regardless, its origins are shrouded in mystery–just like the object that kicks off the first story.

It all starts in the 30th Century, when the Legion of Super-Heroes discovers a photograph–excuse me, I mean a futuristic “photo-grid”, whatever the difference is–of their founding members gathered around the meeting table with a fourth unknown character, Anti-Lad. But who was Anti-Lad?

To learn the truth, we first look ahead to the 75th century, wherein a young researcher, using a Time-Scanner to compile a biography of Superboy, accidentally prevents him from being inducted into the Legion–the Time-Scanner is defective and changed the events that it was witnessing. 

To explain the Back To The Future-like problem they are now faced with, the time-viewer’s father pulls out a package of Dominos, like every kid lays with in the 75 century, and illustrates how this change in the past, if not swiftly corrected, will lead to their own time period vanishing. Unwilling to waste time waiting for official approval, our young biographer grabs some super-future tech and journeys back into the past.

He intercepts the Legion in the aftermath of their disastrous time-trip to induct Superboy, and offers himself up as Anti-Lad for induction into the famous team. As is typical, the Legionnaires provide a series of tests for Anti-Lad, but one by one he aces them, turning the Legionnaires’ own powers back against them.

So they take his photo-grid as a promising applicant and invite him to stay the night. Genius Brainiac 5 is intrigued by his visor, which he claims amplifies the relatively weak light of the Sol system to match his super-illuminated homeworld. But Brainy smells a rat.

That evening, Brainy surprises Anti-Lad by turning on the lights–and when the kid wonder reacts, it’s clear that his story about a super-illuminated world is bogus. His visor is actually a super-computer which allowed him to counter the Legion’s moves, and which also shows that he did the same to Superboy during the Teen of Steel’s tryouts. Having made the Legion realize that they needed to test Superboy again, Anti-Lad returns to his own time, all memory of him wiped from the Legion’s minds–except for that one mysterious Photo-Grid.

The back-up story is seriously messed up. Here, Brainiac 5 pines for the love of Supergirl–who suddenly shows up in the 30th Century, declares her love for Brainy, and convinces him to give up his Legion career and join her in a life of hedonistic pleasure. Super-villain plot, right?

Wrong! “Supergirl” is actually a sophisticated android that Brainiac 5 built for himself while sleepwalking–essentially, it’s his sex doll, complete with solid metal boobs. The real Supergirl shows up in time to sort all of this out, and the double gives its life trying to protect Brainy. Even as a kid, I knew that something was seriously wrong with this story, and in particular the revealed android body really creeped me out, so much so that, when rereading this issue, I would skip over those pages. 


  1. Hey Tom. Just wanted to talk about the Legion a bit. I was not quite 8 years old when Batman came on TV in early 1966. A couple of months later, I got really sick (I can’t remember why) and my parents bought me a few DC comics since they knew how much I dug Batman. I can still picture them – Batman #180 (Death-Man), Superman #186, and Superboy (Giant) #129. Something clicked and I started buying my own comics with my allowance money over the next few weeks. One of those was Adventure #344 (The Super Stalag of Space, based loosely on “Stalag 17” and featuring the Legion). It was love at first sight.

    The one that really sealed it was an older issue that I got from a friend, #342 “The Legionnaire Who Killed”. I loved all the unusual powers they had, the way they all hung out in a clubhouse, went on individual missions and voted on things. The series really took off when Jim Shooter started doing the writing with Adventure #346 and there was a great run, peaking for me with the Sun-Eater story with the Fatal Five and the death of Ferro Lad. Great stuff, especially when you’re eight!!

    The Justice League and Metal Men were other favorites (I liked groups) and when the Fantastic Four cartoon show came on TV in late 1967, I started switching over to Marvel. (FF, Avengers, X-Men)

    By 1969, I was into other things, and I didn’t come back again until 1975, when I collected for a few years and got my younger brother hooked. At that time, I read the 1970s issues you included in your own pieces on the Legion. As an adult, I started picking up the Marvel Essentials and reading all of the stories I’d missed. I’m retired and in my 60s now and still read those Essentials regularly. But the Legion is still special to me, with the FF not far behind.


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