Adventure Comics #320
‘The Revenge of the Knave from Krypton’
By Jerry Siegel, John Forte and George Papp (plus a posse of inkers)
This is a strange story. It feels more like a Superboy story that guest-starred the Legion rather than an actual Legion story. Then I see that Jerry Siegel is the writer (alarm bells are already going off) and it had multiple pencillers and inkers working on it, and I wonder if it was a last-minute rush job to fill an issue because the regular team of Hamilton and Forte had missed a deadline? The change of art from Forte’s stiff figures to Papp’s looser, cartoony style, and back, is obvious, but as Papp’s pages form a complete flashback sequence it doesn’t work too badly.
The story opens with a fairly pointless sequence of Clark Kent in Smallville, and things don’t really get into gear until we’re in the 30th century. Then it’s standard Legion business, with a new applicant try-out and then a demonstration of some random bits of future technology. The applicant—with the unlikely name of Radiation Roy—fails to control his power and is rejected, probably never to be seen again.
Then the actual antagonist of the story appears, Dev-Em. Superboy knows him, and we go into a long (George Papp) flashback showing us what a scoundrel he is. Dev-Em was a Kryptonian youth who escaped Krypton (did anybody actually die when Krypton exploded?) and made his way to Earth, where he impersonated Superboy (as most villains do, eventually) in order to sully his good name.
And now Dev-Em is in the future, and seems to be a reformed character, as working as an espionage agent for the good guys. But what would be a neat little ‘spy’ story is muddled by a lot of unnecessary messing about, with Superboy impersonating Dev-Em, and Proty II impersonating gold kryptonite (don’t ask), and none of it really hangs together very well. There is a nice story in there somewhere, but it’s a bit hard to find. I mean, what’s the point of this:
Geez, you can see Commander Kolar never had any management sensitivity training. Great way to undermine your own employee, Commander.
Despite his boss being an idiot, it’s nice to see how Dev-Em reacts to a Legion membership offer:
Look at the expressions on Mon-El and Superboy’s faces! John Forte is a genius.
But I’m looking forward to Edmond Hamilton returning as writer next month.