John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #267

Time for today's second entry on the Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-reads. This time out, the second part of the Kantuu story. Enjoy! :)

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #267
September, 1980

"To Bottle a Genie!"
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Jimmy Janes
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Milton Snapinn
Colourist: Gene D'Angelo
Cover: Dick Giordano (initialled)
Editor: Jack C. Harris

Mission Monitor Board:
Colossal Boy, Element Lad

Guest Stars:
Luornu Durgo Taine/Duo Damsel, Chuck Taine/Bouncing Boy


The story continues from the previous issue. In deep space, Element Lad, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy drift in unconsciousness after their encounter with Kantuu, the supposed genie. Element Lad has a crack in his suit helmet, and is slowly dying. Duo Damsel awakens first, and assessing the situation splits in two. Purple Damsel grabs the unconscious Colossal Boy and Bouncing Boy, and takes them back to the Legion cruiser. Orange Damsel races to the side of Element Lad and, seeing the danger he's in, drags him to a nearby asteroid. She turns on his life support system's heating unit, an while the frozen oxygen is melting off him, uses a hardening paste that the colonists on Wondil IX use to seal windows on his helmet leak. Jan slowly revives, and Luornu insists on flying him back to the cruiser to let the medi-lab aboard determine if he's all right. The bemused Jan doesn't argue with her.

Elsewhere, on a straight-line path between Wondil IX and Earth lies a volcanic planet orbiting a red giant on which mobile mining cities work to plunder the mineralogical riches from the wealthy world of Vulkan. Kantuu arrives to investigate the mining cities out of curiosity. He says that the humans have spread like lice, and decides to attack and destroy the city of Vulkan. Although their self-defense forces attempt to stop him, Kantuu wipes them out. A lucky strike by one pilot named Tage blinds the genie, who stumbles and then destroys the city as the support struts collapse. Tage is forced to witness the horrific destruction, and before he heads for Earth once more after crushing her small attack vehicle, Kantuu tells her telepathically who and what he is.

On board their Legion cruiser and nearing the system where Vulkan used to be, the two Legionnaires and two former Legionnaires discuss what went wrong when they faced Kantuu. Colossal Boy can't figure out why Kantuu didn't get back into his bottle when Bouncing Boy commanded him to, as the obeying the three wishes is part of genie lore. Bouncing Boy goes over what happened back on Wondil IX, and realizes that when he released the genie the bottle exploded. Kantuu took Chuck's command literally, and since the bottle had been destroyed, he couldn't re-enter it. The Legionnaires receive a distress signal, and find Tage's crashed fighter on a small moonlet nearby. They realize Kantuu has passed this way.

The Legionnaires bring Tage aboard their cruiser, and after she's installed in a bed in the medi-lab, tells them that in his vanity, Kantuu told her about himself. Kantuu is a member of a giant species known as the Dj‌inn, a race intent on conquest. 2.500 years before, they developed space travel and went out among the stars to conquer worlds. Kantuu was the Djinn who organized the raid on a planet called Oa. This was a terrible, costly mistake on the Djinn's part, as Oa's inhabitants were the Guardians of the Universe, who had created the power battery and rings of the Green Lantern Corps. The Djinn dream of galactic enslavement was snuffed out in one terrible moment. Because they do not take life, the Guardians imprisoned the djinn in bottles of green energy and then shrunk them down until they were less than a hundredth of their former size. They were to remain imprisoned therein until some innocent soul freed them. To learn humility, the djinn would have to grant their releaser three wishes. Then they would be free to as they wished once more. The djinn bottles were then spread throughout the galaxy, and a score of them landed on Earth. Kantuu landed in Arabia and was freed, and then re-imprisoned by Lord Saladin. As his third wish, Saladin wished that Kantuu vanish from the Earth. Tage tells them that Kantuu is going to Earth in order to reconnect with his homeworld's allies, the Djinn. Duo Damsel tells the others that if they rush to Earth and beat Kantuu there, they may have a chance.

Some time later, the Legionnaires reach Earth first and locate and collect all of the bottles, and then hide them on the Moon. Kantuu arrives on Earth, and in New Damascus finds what he believes to be the only Djinn bottle that he's been able to locate. Opening the bottle, a massive burst of smoky fog erupts from it, and as the smoke clears, the figure of Colossal Boy is seen. Taking Kantuu by surprise, Colossal Boy hits him hard enough sending him flying through the air out over the Mediterranean Sea. Before he hits the water, Element Lad transforms a part of it into bedrock, taking the Djinn down momentarily. Bouncing Boy arrives on the scene, and bouncing and dodging Kantuu's attempts to strike him uses the second wish to command Kantuu to create a bottle identical to that in which he was imprisoned by the Guardians of Oa. Kantuu does so, but strikes Bouncing Boy hard enough that it propels him like a rock skipping on water to safety. Duo Damsel flies onto the scene, and after splitting in two, tells the Djinn that she helped release him as well. He vows to destroy her, but she says that if he kills one of her the other will command him to destroy himself. With no choice other than death or the bottle, he obeys Duo Damsel's wish: seal himself in the bottle and stay there until the end of time. An unearthly calm descends on the small, man-made island.

As the two Legionnaires and former Legionnaires wrap up the case, Element Lad says they worked well together and asks them to rejoin the Legion. Chuck says that he's been pretty bored on Wondil IX, and as Duo Damsel snaps up the Djinn's bottle to take it to the Moon to be placed with the others, she tells Element Lad they'll think about it.

This tale, the second part of a two-part story continued from the previous issue, is entertaining in its own way and does a decent job of finishing the story and resolving it in a manner that leaves the reader satisfied for the most part. It also hints at the possibility of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel both returning to the Legion of Super-Heroes, though the answer to that question is not made clear at the end of the story. Gerry Conway improves as a writer and gets a better handle on the Legion characters in this story, but that's not saying much. I was very pleased to see Element Lad's return to action last issue, and this issue shows that Conway and editor Jack C. Harris don't know how to use him! Jan does pretty much nothing in this story for the most part.

I did wonder why on earth Kantuu would tell his life story to a woman he's about to murder. Tage tells the Legionnaires that he did so because of his ego, but to be honest it was a storytelling thing, to tell the reader in (as entertaining a way as possible) a narrative form Kantuu's origins and motivations. I actually appreciated this novel way to reveal a backstory, as it turned the focus temporarily away from the Legionnaires, and so this worked for me quite nicely. I don't think that making the Guardians of the Universe the creators of genies in the DC universe a good idea, even if the Djinn are actually an alien species with grandiose dreams of conquest. I'm not sure how the Guardians "make" the Djinn have to grant three wishes to their "masters", and of course, in their infinite wisdom the Guardians then disperse these angry aliens all over the galaxy. Not a bright plan, to be honest. Likewise, the idea that the Legion has now stored all the Djinn on the Earth's that anyone with a space cruiser and a space suit can find them, and unleash them again. Another not so bright plan. And if the Legionnaires were following Kantuu and behind him on the trip to Earth and they stopped at the Vulkan colony, how were they still able to beat Kantuu to Earth and have enough time to round up all the Djinn bottles? Hmm...

I will say that I don't want to see Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel rejoin the Legion at this point. Part of this stems from the fact that one married couple (Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl) is enough for now, but they had second thoughts about rejoining after the Earth/Khund war, and even this issue Luornu comments that she's not sure she wants to do so. Besides, she and Chuck seem to be finding a lot of excitement in their lives without any Legion involvement per se. :)

This issue, Dave Hunt is back inking Jimmy Janes's pencils, and the results are very adequate. The scene of Element Lad floating unconscious in space, his suit covered in frozen oxygen, was superb. Come to think of it, most of the scenes in space were pretty good, too. The close-ups of the female Legionnaires and other female characters this issue is one of the best things about Janes's style, but I also liked the facial expressions on Kantuu as well. Speaking of facial expressions, while I love Dick Giordano's cover artwork, the teeth gritting expressions on Bouncing Boy's and Colossal Boy's faces was painful to look at.

Final Notes:
Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy are asked to rejoin the Legion in this issue. Although their response to Element Lad's request is not actually shown, they do remain with the Legion for the next two years.

And the second story this issue is:

"The Grounded Legionnaires"
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Cover: na
Editor: Jack C. Harris

Mission Monitor Board:
Shadow Lass; Cosmic Boy, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl (the untold story section)


At Legion Headquarters on Earth, Shadow Lass meets a group of children touring the HQ in the Hall of Heroes. Several ask her how she can fly, as Talokians don't possess the power of flight. Shadow Lass explains that she is able to fly because of her flight ring. She wills the ring into visibility, and explains that all Legionnaires wear one, even those who can fly under their own power. The rings are mentally controlled, attuned to the wearer's mental wavelength, and can also be used to operate all Legion equipment. Shadow Lass says rather than explain the rings' origins, she'll pull up the computer log for the "Legionnaire Lemon" adventure.

In the log record, the reader sees the aftermath of Mon-El's joining the Legion. As part of his initiation, he created an anti-gravity metal element, Element 152.

Several months later, Legionnaires Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Mon-El and Cosmic Boy are returning to Earth in one of the early Legion vessels when they receive a request from Commander Hagbard of the Science Police for assistance. A shipment of ore descending from the Seattle space elevator is stuck some 4 kilometres above. Since it is blocking traffic on the elevator system and since the Legion ship is so close to the elevator, they've requested the Legionnaires' aid. The Legionnaires agree to help out, and the Legionnaires head for the space elevator.

When Mon-El attempts the seemingly simple feat of getting the elevator moving again, he comes face-to-face with Vibrex, master of vibration. The villain explains he would have been worried about Mon-El's interference but that was before he flew an unprotected space vessel into a deep space radiation field and gained control over the vibration rates of matter. His vibration powers affect Mon-El deeply, doing something to his anti-lead serum, but Vibrex praises him for fighting on and then tosses him out of the space elevator car, also damaging his flying belt. Brainiac 5 quickly goes after the falling Mon-El, while Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl go after Vibrex and attempt to stop the villain. Vibrex uses his abilities again, rendering the two Legionnaires' flight belts inactive, and Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy Lad plunge out of the sky out of control. The two are relieved when their flight belts reactivate when they are outside of Vibrex's range, a fact confirmed by Brainiac 5 and the recovered Mon-El. Brainiac 5 has a plan, and while he and the other two return to Legion HQ, he leaves Cosmic Boy there to prevent Vibrex from moving the elevator car if he successfully repairs things.

Vibrex finally completes the repairs to the elevator car, annoyed that he's fallen behind on his schedule. When the space elevator car doesn't move, he goes and confronts Cosmic Boy, his vibration powers causing the Legionnaire's flight belt to give out once more and Cosmic Boy plunges towards Earth, out of sight. Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl and Mon-El return to the scene, and when Vibrex's powers fail to stop them this time, Mon-El gets some payback and inflicts a bit of pain on the villain. Brainiac 5 strikes him another hard blow, sending the unbelieving Vibrex reeling. Cosmic Boy uses his powers to tear a hole into the elevator car, and then using Brainiac 5's force-field belt short circuits Vibrex's body and career.

Cosmic Boy congratulates Brainiac 5 on his brilliant plan, sent to him on one of the Legion's communicators. But Brainiac 5 says that what really won the day was the confusion of Vibrex when his powers didn't seem to stop the Legionnaires' flying belts. In actual fact, they were using the new flight ring that Brainiac 5 invented using the Element 152, which he discovered can be controlled mentally. Saturn Girl mentally boosted them to make the rings molecularly stable through sheer willpower. Cosmic Boy tells the others that's enough talk, so they should get the crate down, but taking it nice and slow this time.

This is a nice, simple story, a flashback tale that takes the reader back to the Adventure Comics Vol 1 days and gives us a story about the first days of the flight rings' use by the Legionnaires. Paul Kupperberg writes a serviceable story with a tour of Legion Headquarters in the present leading to Shadow Lass showing the tourists archival footage about the flight rings. I was a little surprised about the new Legion HQ already giving tours, since it only just opened; I guess the Legion needs the cash for stuff these days, what with Brande not financing them any longer. The computer log of the adventure starts with a slight re-telling of the "Legionnaire Lemon" story from Adventure Comics Vol 1 #305, and then proceeds into the adventure involving a villain with a silly name but an interesting power in Vibrex; I think it's telling that Vibrex has never appeared again, and this is a good thing.

The story itself is well-paced and has the feel of the Adventure Comics Vol 1 days, both in terms of the script and in terms of the artwork. Kupperberg's writing fits the early Legion adventures time very well, and the dialogue isn't stilted or overly explanatory. Steve Ditko's pencils really capture the feel of the Adventure Comics' days, and Dave Hunt's inks are consistent with that style and a deliberate attempt not to make the story feel like a present-day Legion story. Even the introductory sequence with Shadow Lass and the tourists looks more 1960s-ish than current, and this is a good thing. It was great seeing Cosmic Boy in his original outfit in the story, and Kupperberg captured the personalities of Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Mon-El very well in the tale.

There is one problem I have with the story. The Science Police tell the Legion that the space elevator is stalled four kilometres above Earth. The space elevator is a transportation method for ore consisting of a line of cables stretching from Earth to the asteroid fields 36,000 kilometres away. Yet we've never of this before, and it clearly doesn't cause any trouble for space travel to and from Earth. Umm, yeah... My point here is that according to the Science Police, the elevator car is stalled four kilometres from Earth. Yet artist Steve Ditko draws the action in what seems like deep space. In actuality, 4 kilometres would place the action squarely in the atmosphere (it's approximately 2 1/2 miles for American readers). And that is why the Legionnaires really *could* "fall" from the car and hurt themselves. Unlike in the vacuum of space, where they would absolutely not "fall." While Steve Ditko didn't take the time to note that the background should have been blue skies and clouds, I would have thought that inker Dave Hunt or definitely editor Jack C. Harris should have. Sloppy on the science front once more.

That doesn't stop it from being an entertaining story, and this is a good thing.

Final Notes:
The story is set some time immediately after Mon-El joined the Legion as "Legionnaire Lemon", mere months after he did so...

Mon-El joined the Legion as "Legionnaire Lemon" in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #305...

There are currently 118 known elements. The reader has 33 more to go before Mon-El discovers his anti-gravity metal...

The Legion flight rings first appeared in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #329...

The Science Police officer working with the Legion in the story is Commander Hagbard. He knows the Legion, as was established in the second story in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #249, and will return in the Legion: Science Police mini-series...

On page 5, in the fifth panel, the word bubble is associated with Saturn Girl, but it's actually Cosmic Boy who's saying the words as Vibrex attests to...

On page 7, in the fourth panel, the fist that strikes Vibrex is meant to be that of Mon-El and should be read. The fact that it's sleeve is purple hints that it's Brainiac 5 who's striking him, but the flesh tone is normal rather than green...

Overall Final Notes:
In the first story this issue, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy are asked to rejoin the Legion. Although their response to Element Lad's request is not actually shown, they do remain with the Legion for the next two years.

Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #268
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, long live the legion!, lsh, review

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