Thursday, February 12, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #206

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #206 (Feb, 1975)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Legionnaires Who Haunted Superboy"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid; cameos by Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, and Mon-El

In Smallville, Superboy is about to demolish an old armory when another figure does the job for him. Superboy sees that it appears to be Ferro Lad! The next day a sky-diver is blown off course without his chute opening. Clark Kent is preparing to go into action when the man is rescued, this time by Invisible Kid! This surprises Superboy, as he was present when both of these Legionnaires were killed in action.

That night Superboy is making a report when Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid show up in his basement. They will not explain how they are back from the dead, but want Superboy to test if they are still up to Legion standards. If they don't "have what it takes" then they will voluntarily exile themselves to another era and not bother the Legion at all. As they are talking, Superboy's emergency alert goes off, and the three Legionnaires rush off to respond.

A robot has dug itself up from underground, and it attacks Superboy. He orders the others to escape, but both Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid ignore him. As Invisible Kid gets its attention, Ferro Lad smashes into it, destroying it. Superboy gladly gives them his seal of approval, and they return to the 30th Century...where they promptly explode.

It turns out that they were both clones, but the cloning process the Legion is experimenting with is not stable enough for the cloned members to survive for more than 48 hours. Superboy was alerted to the existence of the new Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid, and vouched that they were as brave as the originals.

The first time I read this story I was only nominally aware of who Invisible Kid and Ferro Lad were. So I took the story at face value. I thought it was kind of cool that the Legion was trying to bring back its deceased members. Now when I read this story it means a lot more to me. With a much better knowledge of Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid and their ultimate sacrifices, it's hard to not read this story and get a little bit misty-eyed. These two characters may not have been the greatest ever, but they sure were Great.

title: "Welcome Home, Daughter---Now Die!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Princess Projectra, Karate Kid

lingering Rigel Fever, the Morgu  

Princess Projectra narrates an adventure which began when she took a leave of absence to return to her native planet, Orando. She wanted to continue to recover from her recent case of Rigel Fever while at the same time visit with her parents. Karate Kid, however, also has time off and wanted her to take time off with him. They fight, and she leaves alone.
Later, Projectra is worried about her parents and her planet. Because it is not technologically savvy, she can never communicate with them while she is gone. Before she knows it she lands on Orando and is shocked to find that her parents have been dethroned. The new king takes her flight ring and sends her out to face the Morgu.
Karate Kid shows up and rescues her from the hideous monster. Instead of kissing her, however, he slaps her in order to try to clear her head. It turns out that everything on this asteroid is an illusion, a projection of her still feverish imagination. She apologizes, but then they both realize that the Morgu is real, and deadly! It attacks again, and when Karate Kid can't stop it Projectra stops it with one of her illusions. Karate Kid then admits that he followed her to apologizes for not respecting her love for her parents and her unique position as royalty. Overjoyed to hear him apologize, Projectra invites him to join her on the real Orando.
Good ole Cary Bates can always be counted on to write an exciting adventure that gets you to the end thinking, WOW! Only later when you read the same story again do you start to realize that it doesn't really make sense. I don't mind the idea of Projectra's powers going bad (this was the first time it happened, so that's okay) do illusions take away a Legion Flight Ring? How does a feverish Legionnaire know that there is such a thing as a Morgu? And less important to the plot but something that left me scratching my head as soon as I noticed it: whose cruiser did they leave on the asteroid when they left together?
The art is fantastic. I wonder if Mike Grell enjoyed these "change-of-pace" stories, where he could stretch his artistic muscles drawing these ancient British "Camelot"-like locations?

Science Police Notes:  
  • The cover by Nick Cardy is his last on Superboy/Legion. 
  • In Superboy's basement you can clearly see models of the USS Enterprise and the shuttle Galileo from Star Trek
  • Clark's friend as he walks to school is Suzy, not Lana. So Clark *is* a player? 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 11


  1. This issue was my introduction to the Legion, as well as to the idea that super-heroes could die in action. Powerful stuff for a young'un.

    My memory is that there are some Easter eggs in the panel showing the cell bank. My copy of this ish is long gone, though, and I may be confusing it with another panel in another issue (#218?)

  2. Sorry for the double-post, but I forgot to mention that the backup story provides further evidence for the theory that Mike Grell only knows how to draw one style of facial hair. (See also