Universo — “The Legion of Super-Heroes” Part 1

The foes of the legendary Legion of Super-Heroes are themselves indeed legion and legendary: beings like the enigmatic Time Trapper and the monstrous master computer Computo, the dark magician Mordru and even the infamous Darkseid; groups like the Fatal Five, the Dark Circle and the Legion of Super-Villains; whole races like the Dominators, the Khunds and the Controllers. Most have had their fleeting victories, their rare moments of triumph before the Legion defeated them.

Yet there is one opponent who can claim to have achieved his goal of world domination against the opposition of the Legion, not simply once but twice, and both times for extended periods, to the point the Legion was forced to battle him as underdogs, something no other opponent of the Legion throughout its long history and many revisions has achieved.

That opponent is the malevolent hypnotist (or telepath) Universo.

Universo is one of the Legion’s oldest opponents, dating back to the Silver Age era. However, he has a strange history that has changed and changed again. In the first continuity, Universo was a hypnotist and mind-controller, as well as a master plotter and schemer, whereas he became a Titan telepath at one point. In the current continuity, he did appear but did not show any powers.

Adventure Comics #349: ‘The Rogue Legionnaire! ’ (October, 1966)

In his first appearance in Adventure Comics #349, he drew his power from the Kryptonite-enhanced eye amulet he wore, taking control of the six Legionnaires present, including Superboy. However, Brainiac 5 was able to resist his power just enough to force Universo to retreat, whereupon he stole one of the Legion’s time bubbles and escaped to the past. The other time bubble was destroyed, and Superboy unable to repair it with his super-speed, as he was still under the influence of Universo’s amulet.

At the same time, they are warned by the Time Institute that Universo appeared in five different time periods, and the five Legionnaires decide to use the limited time travel technology displayed by Rond Vidar at the Science Fair previously. That technology allowed the five Legionnaires to attempt to intercept Universo in the past but they were all traps set by Universo, even down to the warning they received. With the Legionnaires out of the way, he went to the United Planets Council and tried to use the power of his amulet to take control, but the council members present were the five Legionnaires in disguise, who were mentally ‘treated’ by Saturn Girl to be able to resist his power. As to how they were rescued, Rond Vidar improved the time travel technology to enable him to rescue each Legionnaire from the death trap and return them to the present. And, as for Superboy, once Brainiac 5 had the amulet, he freed Superboy from his trance.

Commentary: This one-issue story goes a long way to show Universo’s skill at plotting: when his first plot (or gambit) failed, he immediately went into a much deeper plot that separated each Legionnaire in  the past with no way to return and with little chance of surviving anyway.

As for that amulet, even though he would thereafter wear it as part of his costume, he didn’t use it as such in later stories. But was his amulet green because of the Kryptonite, or is there a deeper meaning here? As a former Green Lantern, he may still have Lantern-based abilities or even ‘illegal’ access to Lantern energies. Or maybe his ‘eye’ is related somehow to the Emerald Eye of Ekron, wielded by the Emerald Empress of the Fatal Five.

References:

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