“The Forbidden Fruit!”
Action Comics #378
Script: Jim Shooter
Art: Win Mortimer and Murphy Anderson
DC Comic, Inc., 1969
by Chris Sims
When I was a kid, I had the strange fortune to grow up right at the dawn of the “Nick at Nite” TV network. For me, this was a magical time, when things that had once been mere reruns were magically transformed into “Classic Television.” And as a teenage insomniac, I was pretty quick to develop an obsession with it. And it’s a good thing, too: If I’d taken the time to, y’know, get any sleep during my developmental years, I would’ve missed out on all those great episodes of Get Smart or The Dick Van Dyke Show, or what may actually stand as my all-time personal favorite, Dragnet.
Ah, Dragnet. Even in the days before YouTube made it a national pastime, Jack Webb’s true-crime opus was leading the way in the field of stuff you could enjoy ironically. Even today, when I haven’t seen an episode in years, I can still quote Joe Friday standing in front of a class and proclaiming that while they all wanted to do their own thing, his thing was “keeping the faith, baby... with the people of this city.” It’s genius.
But nowhere in the entire series was it quite as good as the episode with Blue Boy. For those of you who have never experienced the sheer manic joy of the episode, it concerns a hippie called Blue Boy—who at one point is chastised by his WASPy father for wearing “feminine beads”—and the hijinks he gets up to after he drops acid, paints his face blue and gold, and then goes freakin’ nuts, burying his head in the sand and flipping over desks until he overdoses at the end of the episode.
It is fantastic. And it’s only slightly more realistic than 1969’s “The Forbidden Fruit,” starring the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Yes, for those of you who have trained yourselves to ignore longwinded introductions, this is why we’re here. Specifically, the story revolves around second-string Legionnaires Timber Wolf and his erstwhile girlfriend Light Lass—who, if you’ll remember from previous discussions of the Legion, is only a lass in the technical sense, considering that she conned her way into the Legion masquerading as her brother and is at least 38% more mannish than, say, Bouncing Boy.
The whole thing gets going when T-Dub leaps into action to stop a gang of hijackers from making off with a truck—sorry, I meant to stop a gang of space hijackers from making off with a future truck. Despite the fact that he’s outnumbered, he ends up pretty much kicking the living bejeezus out of them, although to be fair, the fight scenes look a lot more like a mildly pissed-off interpretive dance than any kind of throwdown.
Regardless, he ends up taking a hit from one of the space-jackers’ laser guns, and when he collapses after the fight, a mysterious portly gentleman offers him a drink and then vanishes into the crowd. Which really means the whole sequence of events that follows could’ve been avoided if 31st-Century Super-Hero Training included anything about not eating things given to you by strangers.
The reason behind that timely bit of advice, of course, is that the “Doctor” actually gave Timber Wolf a drink made of the highly addictive Lotus Fruit—sorry, Space Lotus Fruit, and after one sip, he’s become hopelessly hooked on the stuff. And to make matters worse, the guy seems to be the only connection in town.
From here on out, the allegory’s pretty clear, and this becomes a story about Timber Wolf conquering his addiction to the demon plant. But really, considering that the effects of the Lotus Fruit appear to be causing Timber Wolf to hallucinate a big splash of color and then stand on his balcony in a flamboyant, Captain Morgan-esque pose before hitting the streets in search of “action,” I think it’s safe to say there’s a little more going on here than Shooter may have intended.
Anyway, before long, it becomes pretty apparent to Light Lass that Timberton Von Wolfgang is up to no good on the Down Low, especially when the still-unnamed Doctor Impersonator from the first act forces him to try to hook her on the stuff, too.
Being a virtuous and chaste pillar of alleged late-60s femininity, Light Lass immediately refuses, instead hiding out and following him to his clandestine meeting with the Doc in a darkened side-street. The Doc offers Timber Wolf a basket full of Lotus Fruits, Light Lass intervenes and wires them so that she’ll be killed by a grenade if Timber Wolf indulges the hunger that dare not speak its name, and before you know it, Love Has Conquered All and a good stiff chin-check has been administered to the 30th Century Pusherman.
Normally, this is the sort of thing that’d be followed by a lengthy stint in Future Rehab, but once things are back to normal, Ayla immediately forgives TW for almost causing her to get blown to pieces so he can satisfy his need for a fix, which is really pretty understanding of her.
But maybe that’s just to be expected. After all, almost getting blown up because of your drug-addled lover’s clandestine meetings with strange men in alleys is part of any healthy relationship.
Or that could be just me.
Chris Sims is a freelance comedy writer who reads far too many comic books and wields the English language like a cudgel. Evidence of both of these traits can be found daily at his website, Chris's Invincible Super-Blog.
Article copyright Chris Sims. Images and characters copyright of DC Comics, Inc.
Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).