The switch-over from 100-PAGE SPECTACULARS to GIANTS didn’t have any effect on my purchasing habits–I would inevitably go for a large comic book over other offerings first, even if it was a title that I wasn’t all that fond of, such as SUPERBOY. As I was still getting comic books bought for me infrequently, it just made sense to get as much comics as I could in every purchase.
Fortunately, this particular issue featured the Legion of Super-Villains. Going back to professor Zoom, I had a real love for evil doppelganger characters, and so this sinister Legion was right up my alley. And overall, this was a pretty good comic book, though one that was still a bit alien to my Julie Schwartz-formed sensibilities.
The issue opens with Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy all away from the Legion on vacation, with Clark and Mon in 20th Century Smallville and Jo Nah back on his homeworld. Meanwhile the other Legionnaires accept delivery of the Universal Trophy, which they’ll be presenting to an important diplomat who made a treaty between a dozen worlds possible.
Superboy and Mon-El prepare to return to the 30th Century in time for the ceremony, but they’re waylaid by a mesmerized Pa Kent. Pa turns a hypnotic ray on the two boys, which makes them fight one another into unconsciousness. Meanwhile Ultra Boy discovers that his parents have poisoned his food, rendering him helpless as well.
It’s the work of the Legion of Super-Villains, of course, They’ve planted one of their own Chameleon Chief, inside Legion H.Q., posing as the base for the Universal Trophy. Chief rigs the Trophy into a powerful explosive, intending to destroy both the diplomat being honored and the Legion all in one fell swoop. Elsewhere, Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy remain unable to escape detainment.
Eventually, Ma and Pa Kent release Superboy and Mon-El, having no memory of being hypnotized. But as the pair journey to the 30th Century, they’re ensnared within the Time Barrier. Ultra Boy has similarly been released, but it’s now too late for him to get back to Earth in time for the ceremony.
The ceremony starts, the zero hour is reached, and the Legion of Super-Villains is stunned when their explosive doesn’t go off. Confronting Chameleon Chief, their comrade reveals his true identity to them–he’s Chameleon Boy, who has replaced his evil counterpart to infiltrate the evil Legion.
Chameleon Boy is also carrying a locator beacon, so the Legion arrives in force. There’s a colorful though short battle between the two Legions, which the good guys win handily. And in the wrap-up, Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy finally show up, all of them having been diverted because their x-ray vision might have detected Chameleon Chief’s impersonation earlier.
We move into the shortened reprint section from this point on, starting with a fact file page on the Legion of Substitute heroes. I really love the Legion of Subs–I’d seen them in a previous SUPERBOY issue, and I genuinely like the fact that they’ve all got somewhat sub-standard powers such that they couldn’t attain membership in the Legion, but were still so inspired to good that they formed their own back-up Legion to help out as necessary. I dug the fact that they didn’t allow rejection to deter them from their dreams.
Next up is a Superboy yarn in which Lana Lang once again attempts to prove that Clark Kent and Superboy are one and the same. In this instance, she fashions a Superboy Identity Detection Kit filled with items she can use to trick the truth out of Clark and Superboy. It’s no spoiler to say that she fails spectacularly, thanks to some secret help from Chameleon Boy.
The final story of the issue is a classic Legion tale from ADVENTURE COMICS, illustrated by the great Curt Swan. The Legionnaires are plagued by bad luck due to eh efforts of the sinister Luck Lords–and much hay is made of recent Legion stories in which Lightning Lad lost his arm, and Triplicate Girl’s third self was destroyed. This gave this story a feeling of being part of a longer, greater narrative. Of course, the conclusion turns on a rescue from the Legion of Super-Pets, who were immune to the Luck Lords’ powers–not exactly a shining moment in super hero history for the legion. But hey, take the win.