Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #266
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Jimmy Janes
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer: John Costanza
Colourist: Gene D'Angelo
Cover: Dick Giordano (signed)
Editor: Jack C. Harris
Mission Monitor Board:
Element Lad, Colossal Boy
Luornu Durgo Taine/Duo Damsel, Chuck Taine/Bouncing Boy
On the colony world of Wondil IX, Luornu Durgo Taine (formerly Duo Damsel) and her husband Chuck Taine (formerly Bouncing Boy) are working in an ice cave, digging for crystallak ore. Chuck expresses that life as a colonist has been boring, with no real challenges since they arrived, and Luornu thinks that living as a colonist on a new world was Chuck's dream, but the reality of it has set in. A magnetic anomaly registers on the scanner, and causes the laser digging beam to reflect wildly. The same magnetic force jams the controls, and before the couple can do anything but watch, the laser digger explodes.
It is only Chuck's bouncing powers that save is life, but he is thrown from the cave and lands outside hard. Luornu rushes to his side, worried about him, but he is merely stunned badly. She drags him into the sheltering lee of an ice cliff, concerned that the power cells in the cave might go off. Chuck recovers under Luornu's tender ministrations, and the two see that the colonists have sent sleds and other vehicles as the explosion was felt all the way back at the colony. Re-entering the ice cave, they see what appears to be an odd container trapped in the ice. When Chuck breaks the ice open, exposing the container to air, a massive green humanoid with red hair and fiery red eyes emerges, calling himself Kantuu and declaring that he is finally free. Racing skyward and continuing to grow in size, Kantuu brushes past the approaching ice sleds, knocking one of them astray. As the pilot falls out of the air sled, Bouncing Boy leaps into action and using his powers, bounces the sled down to safety. Luornu splits, and Duo Damsel rescues the pilot using her flight ring. Using Legion technology in the form of a micro-sensor, Bouncing Boy tracks the flight path of the giant, and tells Duo Damsel that he's heading for Earth, naturally, since he was speaking Arabic. The two prepare to chase after him.
At Legion Headquarters on Earth, Colossal Boy and Element Lad are on monitor duty, but currently engaged in a wager. They have a bet that Element Lad can remove a 5 ton solid titanium weight faster than Colossal Boy can lift a 30 ton barbell. As they begin, the monitor alarm goes off, and the betting is placed on hold as they answer the call. The call is a Grade A Priority call from Luornu Durgo Taine. "Once a Legionnaire, always a Legionnaire," as Element Lad reminds Colossal Boy. The two listen to Duo Damsel's recorded message, after which, somewhat incredulous at her story, they grab a Legion cruiser and head off into space to intercept Kantuu.
In interstellar space, some sixteen parsecs from Wondil IX, Duo Damsel come across Kantuu's work, a destroyed automated hyperspace relay station, and Bouncing Boy worries that Kantuu is even more powerful than they imagined. Without the relay station, they can no longer pass another warning to the Legion.
Meanwhile, 30 light-years from Earth, Colossal Boy tells Element Lad he'd forgotten how fast the Legion cruisers can go. He tells Element Lad that he listened to Luornu's recordings and that they're chasing a fantasy. Being from Earth, he's familiar with the legends, and according to the recordings, Kantuu was speaking Arabic and claimed to be a genie and next thing you know, they'll be talking about three wishes and the like. However, looking at the sensors, Element Lad says that if Kantuu is a mere fantasy on the part of Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy to attract attention, how can he be approaching them at very rapid speed? Before Colossal Boy can answer, Kantuu attacks the Legion cruiser, striking it a hard blow. With their ship temporarily disabled, Colossal Boy and Element Lad head into space and take on Kantuu, but not before Element Lad sends a message to the two former Legionnaires about what Colossal Boy said about using the three wishes. The giant genie cannot be stopped by the Legionnaires, and they only succeed in detaining him long enough for Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel to arrive on the scene. Kantuu renders Colossal Boy and Element Lad unconscious.
Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel arrive, and using momentum, Bouncing Boy strikes Kantuu and then tells him that Element Lad told them what Colossal Boy had said. If Kantuu is really a genie, then Bouncing Boy is his "master" and should be able to order him back into his bottle. When Chuck orders him into his bottle, there is a momentary silence, and Kantuu laughs and tells him that he is indeed a genie, the last of the demi-gods, but that he does not need to obey that command. He swats Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel aside, rendering them unconscious as well, and continues on his journey to Earth. The story continues in the next issue.
Okay... Here I am reading an issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes comic, a science fictional series set in the 30th Century, and what does Gerry Conway do? He writes about the Arabian Nights! The story itself is decent for the most part, and seems to be a way to bring back Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel, but getting beaten by an (alien) genie twice in the issue doesn't really show them in the best light.
In many ways, this could have been a better story if a few things had been handled differently. It would have been useful to learn right off the bat who and what Kantuu is. With one Legionnaire saying he's a genie and another saying the whole menace is ridiculous (which it's not, given how the issue ends), there's a lot of doubt here. Personally, I don't subscribe to Kantuu being a fantasy genie, but there's obviously more going on here. Perhaps if we knew why Kantuu was on Wondil IX and why he was rushing back to Earth it would have made him seem more of a threat. More suspense leading in to what will happen if/when he gets back to Earth.
That said, I do think that the characterization in the story was handled quite nicely, and the Luornu/Chuck and Element Lad/Colossal Boy relationships in the issue were a nice touch, especially the bet the latter two had in the Legion gymnasium (where Element Lad cheated, to be honest). I do have to wonder why Element Lad and Colossal Boy are the only two Legionnaires on duty at Legion HQ, and if they were, why weren't they actively in the Monitor room. One would have thought there would be more Legionnaires on duty on Earth to respond to emergency calls. That said, Element Lad hasn't been seen actively in the comic for close to a year now, and there's no explanation given of what he's been doing or where he's been in that time. But it's great seeing Jan Arrah again, as he's one of my favourite Legionnaires. And Colossal Boy is no longer with the team that was out with R.J. Brande creating stars (though that is explained in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #268 in a couple of months).
Jimmy Janes works with a different inker this issue in Frank Chiaramonte. Chiaramonte's inks make Janes's pencil work look a bit more...rough, I think. That said, the scenes on Wondil IX reminded me of Steve Ditko's style a lot. Not sure why this was done or if it was deliberate, but it clearly resembles Ditko's work on the married Legionnaires from back in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #257. The space scenes were handled very well, and Kantuu's sheer size was emphasized very much with the scene in space where he punches (!!) the Legion cruiser. Nothing else to really say about the issue or the artwork.
This story concludes in the next issue...
Lightning Lad and Wildfire are shown on the cover of the issue, but do not appear in the story...
Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy were last seen in a story in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #257, when they had just arrived on Wondil IX...
This is Element Lad's first appearance since he was in a group scene in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #254. There is no reason given for his year-long absence...
Colossal Boy last appeared in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #262, with the team that was out in space with R.J. Brande. There is no mention here of that mission being complete. We learn in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #268 that this story takes place several weeks after the events of that issue, when Colossal Boy has returned to Earth...
Duo Damsel is erroneously referred to as "Lourna" on pages 2, 3, and 5. Her real name is Luornu Durgo (Taine).
Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #267