Legion Goes HARDCORE

TALES OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #330, DC Comics, December 1985
Here's the lowdown on an image I posted during the Constitution stuff. In the mid-80s, DC put out a number of titles in "Deluxe Format". These had brighter art, better paper, edgier violence and were only sold in comic book stores. The Legion of Super-Heroes was one of these, restarting with a new #1 while the old series was retitled Tales of the LSH. After about a year, Tales did nothing but reprint the Deluxe series for us poor yokels who were still buying our comics from convenience stores. So Tales #330 is actually a reprint of the new LSH #5 with a different cover. The art has been shrunk to fit the non-bleed page, and there may be some small editing involved (like an inked-over nipple slip here and there), I'm not sure. Still, it looks like it has a bigger budget, with better effects and special guest-stars:
In any case, this is the climax to the Legion of Super-Villains storyline. In the last four issues, a large group of villains have attacked Orando, Queen Projectra's planet, and have sent it to a limbo between dimensions. Some Legionnaires manage to follow and try to help former members Projectra and her consort, Karate Kid defeat these guys, but it's heavy going.

In the very last issue, Karate Kid fights the leader of the LSV, Nemesis Kid, whose power is to counteract his opponent's power. At worst, he has the same power you do, just a little bit stronger, and at best, he turns into kryptonite to fight Superboy. So against Karate Kid's superhuman karate (no kidding, he once used nothing but martial arts to beat Superboy), he's got super-karate too. When Karate Kid is about to be killed, he sacrifices his life by blowing up the LSV's ship. So that catches you up, as we return to Projectra in a ripped nipple slip shirt cradling her dead, crispy husband in her arms.
This isn't your grandfather's Legion!

Now, the Legion, for its first couple of decades, has traditionally given all the weak, passive powers to the female members. Phantom Girl walks through walls, Dream Girl has prophetic dreams (yes, her power is to sleep), Shadow Lass casts darkness, Shrinking Violet gets small, etc. (I think the only reason invisibility was given to a guy is that DC couldn't very well have an "Invisible Girl"... except he did appear more than a year before she did.) So here we have Projectra, whose power is casting illusions, up against Nemesis Kid. But she's also got anger on her side.

Meanwhile, the other Legionnaires are picking off the LSV one by one, and they're not exactly pulling their punches after losing one of their own. For example, Element Lad defeats Ol-Vir, a Daxamite who basically has Superman's powers, by turning his unitard into lead (the Daxamite's deadly answer to kryptonite, but much more painful). For her part, Phantom Girl defeats the very alien Zymyr by, hum... tickling him:
But back to Projectra. She uses illusions on Nemesis Kid, showing him hell, but he naturally uses his power to make himself immune to them. She looks him dead in the eye, and says: "No power... yours or anyone's... can stop me."
And that's when Nemesis Kid - same guy who killed Karate Kid and has gone toe to toe with Superboy - shits a brick. Exactly one page later...
She's broken his neck! That is some hardcore revenging, people! Read any 60s LSH story and tell me you ever saw that coming. And this is just midway between the happy/soapy LSH and what I call the Dark Legion series of the 90s. Just because these guys all have Lad, Boy or Kid in their names doesn't mean its gotta be Power Pack!


SallyP said...

Oh yeah.

Unknown said...

That's a classic. The events of this story lead to her adoption of the Sensor Girl identity as well, if I remember correctly.

googum said...

I think I've lost this one, and I miss it: the five lost Legionnaires regroup and turn the tide against the whole LSV. Good stuff!

Sea-of-Green said...

Good one! Especially liked the froggy panel. RUN, KERMIT, RUN!!!! ;-)


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