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.


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