Thursday, May 7, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #218

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #218 (July, 1976)
title: "The Secret Villain the World Never Knew!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff 
cover: Mike Grell (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Tyroc, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Colossal Boy, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Light Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Star Boy; flashbacks of Shadow Lass & Karate Kid, cameos of various other Legionnaires

Zoraz, Absorbancy Boy

At Legion HQ, Tyroc arrives just as three rejected applicants walk away. Inside, Brainiac 5 is explaining about Tyroc to Colossal Boy, Light Lass, and Element Lad, who were off planet when Tyroc met the Legion so do not know him yet. With a shout of "OYUUUUUU!" Tyroc joins them. Just as they are all being introduced, Zoraz attacks, quickly knocking out the five before turning his attention to Tyroc. Tyroc uses an explosive yell that Zoraz absorbs, then Zoraz blasts the alarm and escapes as Tyroc is distracted.

After bringing their friends to the sick bay, Cosmic Boy and Superboy explain to Tyroc that many years ago Zoraz broke into Legion HQ and and took genetic material from each Legionnaire. He then used this to counter-act each of the Legionnaires' powers. Tyroc, being brand-new, is their secret weapon, because Zoraz has no advantage over him.

Later, Zoraz attacks Star Boy and Dream Girl. Tyroc shows up, spinning Zoraz like a top. Zoraz manages to create a vacuum, however, preventing Tyroc from using his vocal power. Instead Tyroc uses his Legion flight ring to escape.
That night, Tyroc is called back on duty and is met with all of the Legionnaires. They reveal to him that Zoraz is a hoax, portrayed by Sun Boy and Superboy as another way to test their new applicant. Suddenly, Zoraz re-appears. This time he's Absorbancy Boy, a reject who can absorb residue energy such as from super-powers. So now he has the powers of Sun Boy and Superboy.
Tyroc challenges him to a battle for the right to become the newest Legionnaire. Tyroc then uses an ultra-high frequency that only Superboy could hear, hurting novice super-powered Absorbancy Boy long enough for Tyroc to knock him out.

The next day, Tyroc is finally inaugurated as Legionnaire #29.

How hard IS it for Token Lad to get into the Legion? All Karate Kid and Princess Projectra had to do was show up and ask. Shadow Lass, Chemical King, and Timber Wolf just had to help the Legion crack one case each and---bam!---they were in. And yet we have four Legionnaires vouch for Token Lad in his initial appearance, but he still has to pass various tests and then this "stress situation test." Wildfire and Dawnstar and uber-mort Blok didn't have to jump through these hoops to join, yet Tyroc did! My gosh, is this the LSH or the KKK? It's a shame that Tyroc had to work so hard to get in, then only got one more real adventure before getting shuffled off the stage permanently.

The story itself is typical Cary Bates inanity. A few issues ago the Legion proved it was almost impossible for anybody to break into their head-quarters; this issue, someone does it easily. A few issues ago Bates introduced the idea of the Legionnaires' DNA being stored on-site; here we are led to believe that someone broke in and tampered with it. Excuse me, I just rolled my eyes as I wrote that. Tyroc is the best part of this clunker, and I mean that as a compliment. Let's hope the next Tyroc story is better than this one.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dream Girl appears on the cover, but is mis-colored as Saturn Girl, who does not appear during the story. 
  • Saturn Girl is said to be off-planet during Zoraz's attack, but she very clearly appears in the last panel watching Tyroc's swearing-in ceremony. Another lie, Legionnaires? 
  • Speaking of lies, Colossal Boy, Light Lass, and Element Lad say that they have been off-planet for a month and have no idea who Tyroc is. Yet Colossal Boy teamed up last issue with Shadow Lass and Brainiac 5, two of the Legionnaires who met Tyroc in his debut. You would think that they would have told Gim about him. You would also think editor Boltinoff could have picked a different Legionnaire to use here.  
  • Sun Boy seems interested in watching Dream Girl and Star Boy make-out, a nice glimpse of the type of proclivities he is later well-known for.  
  • This is the last regular issue where Mike Grell would ink his own pencils. 
  • This is the debut of Absorbancy Boy, who returned 30 plus years later as Earth Man
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 12 

Tyroc officially joins the Legion in this story. Later Justice Leaguer and Legionnaire Earth Man makes his debut.


  1. I hear you on all the plot holes and the downright inequality Tyroc is subjected too. Still, how gorgeous is Grell's farewell art?
    I remember getting this issue as a kid and being blown away for how... modern, for lack of a better word, it was.

  2. Yes, Mike Grell did a bang up job this issue. You could really tell he was trying to make Tyroc into more than Cary and Murray made him out to be.