Thursday, October 16, 2014

Superboy #188

Superboy #188 (July, 1972)
a review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "Curse of the Blood Crystals!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Dave Cockrum
inker: Murphy Anderson
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Chameleon Boy, Ultra Boy, Lightning Lad, Brainiac Five, Phantom Girl

Mordru and his cursed Blood Crystals

The story begins not in the 30th Century, but in Smallville in the Fifties, as Superboy succeeds in burying Mordru. Buried alive, Mordru loses his magical abilities. While Superboy waits for Mordru to die of asphyxiation lose consciousness, he examines "the blood crystals." Mordru had enchanted several beautiful gems so that when you looked at them, you would be possessed by an insane hatred of Superboy. The Teen of Steel smashes them all together and then hurls them into an endless orbit around the rim of the galaxy.
Yeah, that trick NEVER works.
Flash (?) forward 1000 years to the Legion Exploratory Station, where Ultra Boy and Chameleon Boy happen to find a beautiful red crystal rock out in space. Guess what it is! They bring it aboard, and one of them falls under its spell....! Later, Ultra Boy appears back on Earth, telling Lightning Lad and Brainiac Five that he is going to go back in time and visit Superboy. However, soon after Ultra Boy disappears in time, Ultra Boy (?) appears on the com-link, telling them that it was actually Chameleon Boy posing as him! Lightning Lad and Brainiac Five chase after him.
Dig that wild Dave Cockrum futuristic machinery...!
Back in Smallville, Superboy meets his pals and explains that Chameleon Boy had fallen under the spell of Mordru, but that he had the situation under control. Without so much as a "Could I have a glass of water?" they return to the future...not realizing that they'd been snookered again. This Superboy was really the possessed Chameleon Boy, who is in the process of killing Superboy with green kryptonite. Superboy, nearly insane with pain, decides to eat the kryptonite, thinking he is Matter Eater Lad. He super-spits the stones out and away. Before Chameleon Boy can stop him he digs another hole and throws his murderous buddy in. After 60 seconds he digs out a very confused, un-enchanted Chameleon Boy.
...and he got in on his smarts!?!
Where to begin with this clunker? First of all, why in the world do we waste a wonderful villain like Mordru as a throw-away plot device? The cursed crystals should have been from some alien or '50s era sorcerer, not one of the Legion's greatest foes. Would Mordru really go back 10,000 years to...make people hate Superboy!? Although Lightning Lad says, "This sounds like something that evil sorcerer would pull!" I, uh, ,kinda think Mordru was more into wholesale world domination, ya know? Next, why in the world does Superboy toss these crystals into space?! If this is a youthful mistake, it should have been sold as that. Superboy, do yourself a favor: the next time you come across some magic rock you want to get rid of, toss it into the Sun. Moving on....why in the world does the Legion maintain a research post in deep space!? This is the Legion, not the Young Archeologists Society! Conveniently, this Exploratory Station is never mentioned in any comics again. And lastly, WHY, after Lightning Lad and Brainiac Five were fooled once already, do they take everything that "Superboy" says at face value? They don't even get close enough to realize that the "Chameleon Boy" that "Superboy" is healing is a paper-mache cut-out! I would have liked to have seen the two guys fight Chameleon Boy, that would have made more sense than this drivel.

The art, with heavy Murphy Anderson inks over Dave Cockrum pencils, is beautiful. You can tell Dave was doing it because of the way the machinery looks, but otherwise you might be tempted to think it's straight Murphy Anderson. One more issue with Anderson, and then Cockrum started inking his own pencils. So look forward to that.  

Science Police Notes:  
  • Phantom Girl appears in one panel in this story, wearing the monstrously ugly costume from Adventure Comics #403. 
  • Speaking of Phantom Girl, she urgently calls the boys to the communication room but is not there when they rush in.
Reprinted in the TPB Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Vol. 10

BONUS: Here is the entire story for your enjoyment (?) and/or mockery:

1 comment:

  1. This was also reprinted in black and white in the 1977 Tempo Books paperback, which is the first place I saw it.