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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Crank File, Part 2

Ever since I put together the FUTUREBOX, this year's 31st century answer to the Box of Punishment, I've been on a pretty serious Legion of Super-Heroes kick, even going so far as to borrow Ben's copy of the Legion Archives, volume 1.

And that's where I saw the craziest thing I've ever seen.

It's one of those things where you read it, read it again, and then have to go tell someone else about it before your head explodes, which is the sort of thing you're going to have to expect when you're reading a series predicated on a bunch of teenagers going back in time for the sole purpose of screwing with Superboy because they like him so much. And I feel it's only fair to warn you: it may very well blow your mind.

Let's get to it!

The story in question is called "The Fantastic Spy," and it comes from Adventure Comics #303, notable for being the first story to feature everyone's favorite Legionnaire, Matter-Eater Lad, who joins up and immediately heads off the collective "What the fuck?" of youngsters everywhere by explaining how he could actually be useful:

"Quick, guys! Make a break for it while I distract the guard by fellating this iron bar!"

I love how that panel's obviously directed straight at the reader, who's three seconds away from dropping this thing and picking up the nearest issue of Fantastic Four immediately upon reading a name as ridiculous as "Matter-Eater Lad." But it's not the craziest thing that happens in this issue by a long shot, and thus we press on.

It's been a rough couple of days for the Legion, what with Lightning Lad and Sun Boy getting injured in a Space Future Rocket Crash. Oh, and it's Thursday, and that means there's a traitor in the Legion! Matter Eater Lad, despite having a steady supply of ray-guns to snack on, is pretty bummed out, because he's the new kid and everyone suspects him, but they're all too polite to come right out and say it. And yet the problem remains: Someone's leaking information that only Legionnaires have access to, and that means it's time to take... drastic measures.

Yes, all of the fantastic technology of The Future at his disposal, and Cosmic Boy's big plan is to turn out the lights and sit in the dark.

To be fair, he also orders Chamelon Boy to turn into a girl for extra secrecy.

"Change into a girl, now!!"

You know, I'm not sure that a purse is really the safest way to transport a Doomsday Bomb, no matter how many ersatz wives you bring along, but hey: We are as cavemen to the children of the future.

Anyway, the plan fizzles despite the double-secret super-precautions of sitting in the dark and cross-dressing, and the helmets they put on to block telepathic eavesdropping pretty much just make them look like Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, so they lose custody of a purse-sized Doomsday Bomb and Meglaro, The Giant Yellow Space-Fetus That Lives In a Bubble.

Nope, still not the crazy part. But it's coming, brother. It's coming.

Thanks to some quick deduction and a Clever Ruseā„¢, Brainiac 5's able to determine that Matter-Eater Lad isn't the traitor--and in fact, there's not really a traitor at all! No, the security leak in the Legion is actually...

Brace yourselves:


Holy crap! That's... That's...

It is beautiful and terrible.

I love it... and despair.


Blogger e said...

I always wondered what people saw in the old Legion comics, now I know - sentient microscopic implants and xenomorph transvestitism. nice.

2/26/2006 6:14 AM

Blogger Michael said...

Well, when you put it like that... Geez. And people actually have to ask why we love the Legion so much?

Where's your purse-sized doomsday bomb and bubble-dwelling fetuses and ankle-livers now, Marvel? I mean, look at the cover, for one thing - trained falcons with Kryptonite tied to their ankles, paralyzing him! And I will remind you that this issue was written by the guy who co-created Superman. You'd have thought his legacy was safe then, but no, he went on to create Matter-Eater Lad too.

Oh, for the record, the kids of 1962 would have had to choose between this and Fantastic Four #9, where the FF gets kicked out of the Baxter Building because they can't pay the rent.

As a kid, would you have wanted to read about homeless super-heroes or super-heroes from the future beset by Meglaro, The Giant Yellow Space-Fetus That Lives in a Bubble and a little evil man with a radio who lives in Sun Boy's ankle? I rest my case.

2/26/2006 1:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect Matter-Eater Lad's nickname around the Legion was "Gas-Emitter Boy".

"Aw man! You've been eating Tungsten again, haven't you?"

2/26/2006 1:16 PM

Blogger Dorian said...

And yet, oddly enough, everytime the Legionaires were captured, they were always imprisoned in something that, for some reason or another, Matter Eater Lad couldn't eat.

"Oh, no, these metal bars are poisonous. I can't eat those."

2/26/2006 2:22 PM

Blogger Scipio said...

If Grant Morrison did drugs for 24 hours straight he still couldn't write anything that even touches the hem of the Silver Age Legion's strangeness....

2/26/2006 3:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that Matter-Eater Lad continues to "eat" the metal bars well past the point of what's necessary for the others to escape?

2/26/2006 10:54 PM

Blogger Spencer Carnage said...

And that's where I saw the craziest thing I've ever seen.

I now officially dub you the Mark Millar of comic book blogging.

2/27/2006 1:54 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

So wait, are we talking Swamp Thing and Superman Adventures Mark Millar here, or Trouble Mark Millar?

Or do you just mean that I tend to exaggerate and lie a lot?

2/28/2006 1:16 AM

Blogger Spencer Carnage said...

Nah, nah. Sonic The Hedgehog Mark Millar.

2/28/2006 1:01 PM

Blogger Sam Hurwitt said...

Matter-Eater Lad was always one of my favorite bad-idea Legion characters (second only to Arm-Fall-off Boy), but I'd always wondered how the hell he qualified for Legion membership.

Now I see from that cage-eating flashback that it's not so much because of his ability to eat anything as his willingness to.

And based on that Chameleon Boy panel, I'm guessing Cosmic Boy was the one who nominated him.

10/07/2006 9:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where might I find a pair of fourth dimensional forceps?

And was someone trying to say something when you have a super hero holding a purse and wearing a pink and white skintight suit ask another male to become a girl?

Is it just me reading too much into things with my corrupt 2008 mind, or were the comic book guys trying to sneak in subversions and then saying we just have dirty minds if we read something into what they are doing?

And there goes another lunch hour!

4/23/2008 1:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How was the tiny radio man able to breath and eat, and other science facts?

Or should I really just relax?

And why didn't they just implant a purely mechanical radio, rather than a tiny man holding a very tiny radio?

I'm missing the whole point, aren't I?

Oh, why did I have to become a rational adult?

4/23/2008 1:13 PM

Blogger Michael said...

"No matter where or how a foe imprisons us, I could always eat my way to freedom!"

"What about an impenetrable energy field?"

"... I'll let myself out."

11/05/2009 10:06 PM


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