Thursday, February 19, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #207

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #207 (March, 1975)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Rookie Who Betrayed The Legion"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Mike Grell (signed) 

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Timber Wolf, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Light Lass, Colossal Boy

Science Police officer Dvron


The President of Earth alerts the Legion that Universo has escaped, and is possibly on or near Rigel 7. Meanwhile, Colossal Boy finds a Science Police officer prowling around the Legion head-quarters and brings him into the mission meeting room. He introduces himself and asks for permission to go with them to hunt down Universo. He explains that he and his partner were trailing him through the mutated jungles of Africa when he ordered a man-eating plant to attack his partner. Dvron wants revenge, and the Legion agrees to take him with them.

The Legion arrives on Rigel 7, and their cruiser's sensors validate that there is only one additional life form on the planetoid. Chameleon Boy, Amateur Detective, teams up with Dvron while the others fly off in search mode. They talk about trying to think like the perp, and sure enough, they witness Universo trying to sneak onto the Legion's cruiser. Cham jumps into action, but Dvron shoots him in the back with his stunner. He refuses to explain why he aided Universo, so Light Lass stands guard on him. Universo sneaks back and knocks her out, thanking Dvron. Dvron yells at him, and Universo reveals himself as Chameleon Boy. Put on the spot, Dvron explains that Universo actually *saved* him from the man-eating plant, so Dvron wanted to "pay his debt."
Cham, Light Lass, and Dvron head out again and they find that Superboy, hypnotized by Universo, has taken care of Timber Wolf and Shrinking Violet. Light Lass uses her power to make Superboy super-light. As Chameleon Boy grabs Universo, Dvron shoots Superboy as he is floating there, powerless. Dvron guessed correctly that Universo had hypnotized all of them into seeing Superboy when it was really Universo. The Legion thanks Dvron for his help, and he thanks them for letting him help out.

This is a fun story that shouldn't be over-analyzed. But if we were going to, how were these five Legionnaires expecting to catch a master hypnotist? Timber Wolf and Shrinking Violet are absolutely useless here. Likewise, how convenient is it that Chameleon Boy was the Legionnaire who is paired with Dvron? If your power is not being able to actually change into Universo, how could you possibly be able to get the truth out of Dvron? It's just lazy writing like this that makes Grown-Up Me not like Cary's Legion as much as Adolescent Me did.

Other than the story, the art is fabulous. Mike Grell is obviously finding his groove here, doing the science fiction stuff well but also knocking himself out with the wild planets and the man-eating plants. His flashback segues here are fantastic. And his characters are getting individual "looks," which is also awesome. Sometimes Grell's anatomy could be weird, but his style was always enjoyable.

title: "Lightning Lad's Day of Dread!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell 
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Lightning Lad, Element Lad, Light Lass, Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Karate Kid

space cruiser accidents, Lightning Lord  

Lighting Lad watches visi-slides of him, Mekt, and Ayla and his parents when he becomes enraged and destroys the monitor. He bullies past Element Lad and takes the cruiser signed out for Karate Kid. Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 investigate, but wish they could talk to Light Lass. Unfortunately, she is still unconscious with Rigel Fever. However, she knows where her brother is going because she would be joining him if she could. We learn that it is the anniversary of the death of their parents in a space cruiser accident. Lightning Lad goes to the spot where they died and meets his brother, Lightning Lord. He refuses to fight, claiming that at their parents' memorial they are only brothers, not enemies. When Lightning Lord departs, however, he reminds Lightning Lad that the Legion of Super-Villains is still on the loose.  To Be Continued...!

LOVE this page layout by Mike Grell
This is a good story that could have been great. For long-time Legion fans, it is painfully obvious that neither Cary Bates nor Murray Boltinoff cared enough about the source material. The whole plot is based on Mekt and Garth being the twins, and Ayla being their younger sister. We all know that Mekt is the elder brother non-twin, and Garth & Ayla are the twins....established in her very first appearance!  Also, from this issue for several years Light Lass' red hair is strangely colored blonde. It's almost as if the colorist and the editor didn't care enough to fix the mistake.

Other than the awful plot mistake (which could have been fixed with a quick reference to Mike Grell, who obviously would not have known better) the story is good. The reunion of the brothers at their parents' memorial is actually pretty emotional for the Legion. I only wish that Saturn Girl was included for additional empathetic moments. Or maybe it's better she isn't included. I find it hard to believe that Garth never told his fiancee (or Cosmic Boy) that his parents had been killed.
Science Police Notes:  
  • Light Lass is featured perfectly healthy in the first story, but is suffering from Rigel Fever in the back-up. A quick editorial switch with Star Boy in the lead story would have made the situation a bit more realistic. OR, a comment that she somehow caught Rigel Fever while she was on Rigel 7 helping to catch Universo would have been awesome. 
  • Speaking of Rigel Fever, was there an epidemic of it in 2975? Princess Projectra just got over a bout with it in Superboy/Legion #206
  • Speaking of Light Lass, how incompetent is she at guarding? She holds Dvron's stunner against him, and Universo is known to be on the loose, yet Universo/Chameleon Boy sneaks up on her and knocks her out. Maybe she was suffering from Rigel Fever even then? 
  • Universo's real name is listed in the lead story as Argus Oranx III. 
  • This is the first appearance of Science Police officer Dvron, who returned several times after this adventure. 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11.

This issue features the first Superboy/Legion cover by Mike Grell. He was the cover artist for the rest of his run as penciller, then continued on the covers-only after he left the title,  for a 30+ issue total run as cover artist.

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