Thursday, February 5, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #205

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #205 (Dec, 1974)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Legion of Super-Executioners!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Shrinking Violet, Wildfire, Karate Kid, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass; Lana Lang as Insect Queen; cameos by Chameleon Boy and Phantom Girl

"possessed" Ultra Boy, "The Master"

Superboy comes to Lana Lang's house after her birthday party to escort her to the future as a special birthday present. However, as soon as they arrive they are faced with the problem of Ultra Boy being hopelessly insane. Superboy is allowed into his cell to try to reason with him, but Ultra Boy ties him up with his own cape, causing him to pass out.
Brainiac 5 has researched the situation and believes that Ultra Boy is "possessed." The cure is on a planet at the edge of the galaxy, so Superboy volunteers to go after it. As soon as he leaves, the Legion grabs Lana.

It turns out that Ultra Boy is not the crazy one; he is the only one who is still sane. All other members have fallen under the control of "The Master." They pumped Ultra Boy up with some drug to make it look like he was insane so that they could send Superboy off on a wild-goose chase for his cure. The Legionnaires have now been ordered to kill him and Lana before Superboy returns. Ultra Boy tries to fight one last time, but is too weak. He and Lana are shot. The Legionnaires leave their bodies unburied, going back to their Master's bidding.
However, Superboy suspected something was wrong when Ultra Boy tied his cape in a "hoax knot." So he left but doubled back immediately. Now the two friends decide to investigate the situation, and Lana switches to her Insect Queen identity.
In the underground chamber of the Legion's HQ they find that the whole Legion is building a space ark. Before they can act against it, however, Lana falls under the Master's control. She stops Ultra Boy by turning into a spider woman and then stinging him as a wasp woman. The Master explains his plan to Superboy: to breed an army of Legion slaves to take over the galaxy. However, Superboy has been acting as a diversion so Ultra Boy could grab the Master's mind-melder helmet and destroy it. Lana was ordered to sting Ultra Boy, but she became a non-poisonous wasp, allowing him to survive her sting.

This is another great story the first time through. The pacing is great, and the art is beautiful. You totally believe that poor Ultra Boy has gone insane, and that his friends are concerned for him. The scene where Ultra Boy and Lana Lang face the firing squad is one of the bravest scenes I've ever seen depicted in a comic. There are quite a few Legionnaires milling about, which is always a plus.
However, once you go back and re-read it, the plot holes start to make themselves more obvious. Why, for example, is Ultra Boy the only Legionnaire immune to the Master's control? If Superboy is immune, too (which is strongly implied by him not losing his mind at the end), why wouldn't Mon-El also be immune? Why wouldn't Wildfire, who doesn't actually *have* a mind, not be immune? And although I'm not surprised that Lana brought her Insect Queen uniform....where did she have it? She didn't bring a purse, did she? Was she wearing it under her sweater and skirt? Also, the plot is...well...creepy. The Master is basically immortal, so he's going to force the good-looking Legionnaires to have sex with each other, then eventually he will have an army to take over the galaxy. Talk about long-term planning. That's a lot of super sex to force on them and their children. You would think that he would want to bring Lana with them, as another woman if for no other reason....!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Lana boasts that there are 25 members in the Legion, at the time of this story there are actually only 23 members. Perhaps she didn't know that Invisible Kid had died, and that Supergirl had quit? 
  • This is the second and last "100 Pages for 60c" issues of Superboy/Legion. Besides the new story, the reprints include the two-part expulsion of Superboy and Supergirl (Adventure Comics #350), the adventure of their replacements, Sir Prize and Miss Terious (Adventure Comics # 351), and a solo Superboy story from Superboy #88.  
  • "The Legion Lore" featurette included profiles of the remaining 9 Legionnaires by E. Nelson Bridwell and Dave Cockrum, plus a featurette on Ferro Lad and the 5 Reservists with stock Curt Swan art.  
  • This is Lana Lang's last Legion story for more than six years. She re-appears during the Reflecto story-line some 80 issues from now.  
This issue's new story was reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives (vol 11).

1 comment:

  1. This was my first exposure to the Adventure comics Legion. Later on, I had a teacher that would bring out his well read comics on rainy days, and I read almost all of the classics. Man, the Legion sure could use a teenaged Jim Shooter these days.