Thursday, February 26, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #208

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #208 (April 1975)
title: "Vengeance of the Super-Villains"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Mike Grell; reprinted covers by Curt Swan/Stan Kaye and Curt Swan/George Klein

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Sun Boy, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Lightning Lad, Colossal Boy, Star Boy, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra; cameos by Timber Wolf, Chemical King, and Shadow Lass

The Legion of Super-Villains (Chameleon Chief, Lightning Lord, Nemesis Kid, Radiation Roy, Sun Emperor, Spider Girl)

In Smallville, Mon-El  is enjoying his furlough in Superboy's era, staying over at Clark's house with the Kents. On Rimbor, Ultra Boy is enjoying his leave spending time with his parents. However, when the three young men attempt to leave to go back on duty, their parents attack them with futuristic weapons or with poison, not allowing them to depart.

On Earth, the Universal Trophy is delivered to Legion head-quarters for a special ceremony to be held the next day. Dr. Larx Kenrik will be given the award, presented by the Legion, for negotiating the Federated Planets' Treaty.

Outside Metropolis, Sun Emperor and the other Super-Villains wait to hear from their secret weapon. Chameleon Chief has smuggled himself into the Legion's head-quarters as part of the plot to assassinate Kenrik and discredit the Legion. Chameleon Chief successfully booby-traps the award. He is then secretly picked up by Lightning Lord.
The next morning, the Universal Trophy ceremony goes off without a hitch, and the LSV are not amused. Challenged, Chameleon Chief reveals himself to be Chameleon Boy, who calls in his buddies to mop up the floor with the LSV.

Superboy, Mon-El, and Ultra Boy finally arrive on Earth. The Kents and the Nahs were hypntized into detaining the boys because the LSV knew that their vision powers would have seen the booby-trap on the trophy.

This is another fun story that reads great the first time through. In fact, I still can remember speeding through this as a kid, completely entranced by it. Artist Mike Grell is at the top of his game, drawing each of the characters as individuals and putting plenty of details in the Smallville and Rimbor backgrounds. You want to read the story because of the art and the suspense.

However...once you are finished, your first thought is probably going to be, "That was a lot of trouble to assassinate the Henry Kissinger of the 30th Century." For example, if the Super-Villains had really succeeded in hypnotizing Ultra Boy's and Superboy's parents, why didn't the villains have the parents kill their sons? I don't mean murder, because I'm sure the parents would have attempted to fight off that hypnotic suggestion, but they are shown blasting them and/or poisoning them. Couldn't those actions have had a bit more dire consequences? Most stupid of all is that the parents then let the boys go! Why didn't the LSV attack them while they were defenseless and try to kill them? They would rather spend the time and energy to kill a politician over Superboy, Mon-El, or Ultra Boy?? It just doesn't make sense.

Likewise, the assassination plot takes up 18 pages, and the battle between the Legions takes One measly page (see above). Frankly, I was expecting more. This is a fun story, as I said...but I was expecting so much more.

And for the umpteenth story in a row, Chameleon Boy saves the day with a deus ex machina switch. How convenient for the plot that Chameleon Boy was on guard duty when Chameleon Chief made his move. Why couldn't Chemical King have caught him, and *then* have Chameleon Boy taken his place?

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is the first and only "Giant Sized for 50c" issue of Superboy/Legion. Besides the new story, the reprints were the Legion battling the Luck Lords (Adventure Comics #343) and a solo Superboy story from Superboy #93.  
  • "The Legion Lore" featurette profiled the members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes and the Legion Reserve by E. Nelson Bridwell, with stock Curt Swan art. 
  • Sun Boy is shown to be Deputy Leader under Mon-El. He chafes at the responsibility thrust on him here, so never stands in another election. 
  • Ultra Boy eats a Vege-Steak, suggesting that he is a vegetarian.  
  • Although Chemical King is shown to be on duty at Legion HQ, he does not join the group of Legionnaires in their attack on the LSV. Likewise, Timber Wolf does not participate, although they are the members (with Chameleon Boy) who fought them before (Adventure Comics #372). 
  • This is the first time Princess Projectra faces Nemesis Kid...but it won't be the last. 
This story was reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 11.

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