Thursday, April 30, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #217

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #217 (June, 1976)

title: "The Charge of the Doomed Legionnaires"
writer: Jim Shooter
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Mike Grell (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Colossal Boy, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf

The Khunds, Field Marshal Lorca

On the way to Thanagar for a Science Police convention, Superboy is called back to Earth. Immediately after he leaves, a Khund raider attacks. Brainiac 5 diverts power to the shields, so the ship is saved, but there is still some damage to the Legion Cruiser, including a minor fissure in the fusion tank. The Legion is able to out-manuever Lorca's raider, which then retreats. They think that the Khunds were just "rattling their sword," so they continue on to Ruzicka. They drop Brainiac 5 off there for a 3-D chess tournament.

Immediately afterwards, Lorca comes back and shoots the cruiser down. They crash land on a small planetoid, and Colossal Boy calls for help. The cruiser still has a photon ray, which the Legionnaires use to keep the Khunds at bay. It turns out Lorca wants the Legion cruiser, so the Khunds will not use deadly force against them. One Khund is injured, so Timber Wolf and Shadow Lass attempt to grab him and use him as a hostage, but Brainiac 5, who has started monitoring the situation from the planet Ruzicka, calls them back. He starts giving them remote guidance.

When tanks attack, Shadow Lass darkens the area so Colossal Boy can shoot them. When Lorca realizes that Brainiac 5 is communicating to his team-mates they cut him off. Then using voice duplication software, they tell the Legionnaires to stage a frontal attack. Believing this communication to actually be from Brainiac 5, the three Legionnaires storm the Khunds. In the confusion, Lorca gets into the Legion cruiser, intent on stealing it. However, due to the fusion tank, it explodes. So Lorca's attempt to kill the Legionnaires actually saved them.
This is a tightly plotted, fun story. The idea that the Legionnaires trusted Brainiac 5 so much that they would follow his advice even when it appeared to be suicidal was a great idea. The one negative comment I have is regarding one of my personal pet peeves with super-smart characters: with them around, it seems to make the other characters look a little bit stupid. Case in point: Brainiac 5 has to tell Shadow Lass to darken the area so that the tanks can't see them? It's her power, for crying out loud; she shouldn't need to be told how to use it!

The one other comment I had when I re-read this story recently: why in the world is this particular group of Legionnaires going to a Science Police convention? I would think some of the more cerebral members would go, like Dream Girl or Chameleon Boy... certainly not Timber Wolf!

title: "Future Shock For Superboy"
writer: Jim Shooter
penciller: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Wildfire, Laurel Kent

Superboy flies into the 30th Century just in time to see a beautiful girl standing in the magnetic channels, those "tubes" where iron freight barges move by floating on magnetic waves. He saves her, and she introduces herself as Elna. She's happy to meet a living legend. They talk until Wildfire shows up, when she runs away.

After their Legion meeting, Superboy tells Wildfire that he is going to try to find Elna. Wildfire would like to help, but he has to work with the Legion Academy trainees. Superboy flies around but cannot find her. Several hours later, he returns to the Legion HQ to see Wildfire blasting her. She tells him that she is one of his descendants, whose real name is Laurel Kent, and that she has inherited his invulnerability. She admits to him that she looks a lot like the woman Superboy is destined to marry.

I do not understand the point of this story. Laurel Kent ended up being a very interesting character, but her debut appearance leaves a lot to be desired. Why the charade? Why would she not use her real name when she first meets him? Why use an anagram of "Lane"? And at the end, she liked him and he liked her...which is creepy. I can see him liking her, as she looks like the woman he is destined to marry (she's his type, obviously!) but it's like falling in love with your third cousin or something. Come on!

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is the first Superboy/Legion issue with a bar code in the bottom left corner. 
  • Mon-El appears on the cover, but does not appear in the story. He is mentioned as being back on Earth. 
  • This story established that the Science Police head-quarters are on Thanagar. 
  • The planetoid is named VanVlack IV, named after Legion fan Mercy Van Vlack. 
  • The gas station in Smallville has a sign on it which says "Doc Dumpke, proprietor." 
  • Laurel Kent's uniform is strangely similar to Night Girl's uniform. 
  • There are only six Legionnaires at the "regular" meeting. Six members make a quorum? Or was the meeting cancelled because there were not enough members attending? 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 12 

1 comment:

  1. The explosion says "Holy cow! Dig the fireworks!" I thought that was very clever when I was 7, and was quite proud of myself for eventually spotting it a couple months later.

    Superman has one descendent after a thousand years? Assuming he had two children, and each of them had two, and assuming four generations per century ... shouldn't everyone on Earth be Superman's descendent by now? Especially with four world wars to pick off normal, non-Kryptonian hybrid folks?