From Adventure Comics No. 371 comes the most tangential Legion story ever! Well, maybe. It definitely shouldn't be billed as a Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes, that's for sure. Maybe a Tale Where the Legion Shows Up for a Couple of Panels and Also Gets Mentioned Two or Three Times.
Possibly my favourite thing about Othar is how over the top he is. All stops were pulled out on this guy to make him the very picture of impressive alienhood. Look how tall he is! check out the cape, the collar, the bulging cranium! Dig that crazy monocle, man! The Spock-esque ear/eyebrow combo is just icing on this particular cake.
And there you have it, folks: the only appearance of the Legion in this Tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes, outside of the cover. Not particularly worthy of note, though I do like "space-happy". I like to think that maybe it's the Thirtieth Century equivalent of "road rage", and that at some point between now and then people suffered from "undersea pneumatic people transporter giddiness".
Liquidman is an interesting cat. There's no denying that he undergoes quite a dramatic transformation thanks to that purplish potion, and if I read his hair colour right then he's a respected elder super-hero on Cruxl... but there's no question that as far as superpowers go the anthropomorphic puddle isn't going to hold much of a candle to, say, the super-speedster. Unless of course it becomes vital to the fate of the universe that a small napkin become damp as quickly as possible.
And how the hell does a puddle take a potion anyway?
So: the Thrannans have kidnapped Superboy, the strongest, fastest, most invulnerable hero in creation, and Liquidman, who can become a puddle. Who's next, eh? Will there be some sort of balance of power on this team or will we be seeing a guy who can shrink his head to the size of a doorknob?
Oh, wow! It is someone with an in-betweeny power level! And a really bad costume! Really, really bad, in fact.
Note that while kidnapping Liquidman and Superboy will likely just lead to a few more jewel thieves and monsters roaming their respective countrysides, stealing Stormboy is actually going to cause droughts and famines and the like, unless Stormboy is some sort of unnecessary roaming nuisance. Othar does not like to share his metahumans, plainly.
Wait, how does making it rain on a city help to fix a drought?
Tree-Man, as you might have guessed from his one-panel kidnapping scene, isn't given quite as much character development as Liquidman or Stormboy. Still, he's pretty great and comes from a planet of people who wear neither shirts nor shoes (and consequently have no restaurants). Plus, he's got an interesting twist on the stretchy-style superhero going on - when's the last time that you saw Ralph Dibney grow a couple of arms out of his chest?
Like Stormboy, Telepathy Man seems to be less of a super-hero than a public service. He builds with his brain while wearing a poorly-tailored outfit. While useful, I don't know if it warrants the "hero" portion of the name. Super-service-provider, perhaps, or super-alternative-to-going-to-the-hardware-store.
Poor Shadowman gets perhaps the least impressive first appearance in this story. Othar tells us about his powers and there are no criminals or weather conditions for him to defeat or even adoring citizens to tell us how great he is... heck, I don't even think that they bothered to turn on the sleep ray in order to capture him. Othar probably just sent his mustachioed comrade out to give the universal signal to get one's ass on in the spaceship (thumb over the shoulder, impatient glare) and Shadowman marched glumly inside.
Let's read about everyone's weaknesses! The weird-looking pictures are vestiges of the post I did not write but since I spent so many seconds slaving over a hot Polygonal Lasso to make them I thought I should use them.
Man. Stormboy is weak against the visible light spectrum. Not only that but he creates the thing that he is weak against the majority of the times that he uses his powers. It's like the if Martian Manhunter burst into flame every time he turned invisible.
Eh. Fire isn't a very good weakness, especially against a guy made out of water. Because fire is everyone's weakness. Not having a weakness to fire is, in fact, a really good power. In any case, it looks like Othar interpreted that picture wrong. I'm not seeing "This fire is weakening me!" but rather "Oh no! My lab assistant threw his cigarette in the trash can again!".
No rainbows? No fireplaces? Thrann is the least romantic planet ever, it's official.
That's all I got.
Again, not a bad weakness. The best part of this panel, though, is the beret-clad bad guys. It's like Shadowman's world is bereft of funding for the arts, so troupes of avant garde artists loot the countryside to finance their massive absinthe and burnt umber habits. Also, that long radium-wrangling pole shows some amazing foresight and patience.
Stormboy is spared! This is the worst possible weakness that a superhero could have!
"I will defeat you, Evil Boy, with my mind! Just as soon as you stop being evil! Until then I shall retire to my secret lair next to the prison, where I will try for the third week in a row to make a signal booster for my wi fi!"
And, uh, Othar? Technically, kidnapping six super-heroes just for the hell of it counts as an evil act. Not Darkseid evil, but still.
So Othar manages to convince the Super-Companions not to steal a spaceship and run for it and instead has them compete to see who will be the leader of their merry band of abductees. Let's watch:
I'm most impressed by Tree-Man's extendible pants. Pretty pedestrian feats, guy. Let's see what the others are up to:
Liquidman, by the way, didn't do anything to make the lives of his kidnappers better. Where's your Stockholm syndrome-fueled loyalty, pal?
In any case, the rest of the story was all about how the Super-Companions were ostensibly very content on Thrann but really very homesick and kind of painted them as being basically identical to one another. For example:
He had to protect his secret identity in case a disgruntled unseasonal dry spell came after his loved ones.
The remainder of the issue is concerned with the Super-Companions staging a big fight in order to convince the Thrannans that they were more trouble than they were worth. Superboy wears that crown the whole time.
Othar - a Class A tool. Only gets points for having that little sidekick guy. NOT APPROVED.
Liquidman - I like his hair but deride his power. Still, his refusal to do tricks for the Thrannans makes him JOHN APPROVED.
Stormboy - The worst dresser of them all. Not a bad power but should be hiring himself out rather than freelancing for free. Lack of common sense equals NOT APPROVED
Tree-man - He's definitely my favourite. Purple pants are always a good thing, and erupting extra limbs from your chest to foil crooks is even better. JOHN APPROVED
Telepathy Man - Not a good super-hero. Not a good dresser. NOT APPROVED
Shadowman - Didn't do much to impress me but the really important thing for me is the quality of his enemies and they are top notch impressionist painters and the like, so JOHN APPROVED