Thursday, May 21, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #220

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #220 (Oct, 1976)
title: "The Super Soldiers of the Slave-Maker!"
writer: Jim Shooter
penciller: Mike Grell
inker: Bob Wiacek
editor: Murray Boltinoff  
cover: Mike Grell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Wildfire, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Superboy, Mon-El, Lightning Lad, Element Lad

The dictator of Tharrg and his war-loving race; cowardice

On Murgador, the people are enslaved. One of them, a young man named Pollor, has called the Legion for help, and they have finally arrived. However, although Pollor would rather die than live enslaved, the majority of the people want the Legion to go. Dinda, the leader, demands that they leave. Legion leader Mon-El counter-demands an explanation before agreeing to do so. Dinda explains that the warrior race from the nearby planet Tharrg planted a bomb in Murgador's core that will be detonated if the people disobeys Tharrg's commands.

Phantom Girl insists that she can dismantle the bomb, but Dinda again demands that the Legion depart. On their cruiser the Legion discusses what to do next. Suddenly, Phantom Girl takes it upon herself to head to the core. The boys then have no choice but to head to Tharrg in order to distract the dictator, in order to give Phantom Girl a chance at success.
After the Legion arrives and attacks, the dictator demands to have them brought before him. He explains to them about the bomb on Murgador, thinking they are unfamiliar with the situation. At the same time, Phantom Girl is at the bomb and ready to dismantle it. When an underling tries to tell the dictator this, Superboy steps forward and shuts him up. When the screen goes blank, everyone thinks that Murgador and Phantom Girl have been destroyed. Ultra Boy in particular goes crazy, thinking he has lost his girl-friend. But Superboy picks up her emergency signal and brings her to Tharrg. The bomb being dismantled also caused the broadcast to go blank. Later, Dinda thanks the Legion for freeing them.

This is an interesting character study of the various Legionnaires. Especially interesting is how strong Phantom Girl is and how "weak" Ultra Boy is. Phantom Girl is absolutely confident in her own abilities, yet Ultra Boy doesn't trust her to get the job done. Oddly, Element Lad and Wildfire agree with each other that the Legion should leave the people of Murgador enslaved. I wouldn't have thought that they would have agreed on that.
The drama of the bomb seems a bit far-fetched. Couldn't Superboy, Ultra Boy, or Mon-El have destroyed the detonator with their various vision powers? Or Element Lad could have changed the elements in the bomb itself to something less explosive? If Chemical King had been there he could have changed something in the components. My point is, it should have been easy for the Legion to have put the Tharrgian dictator out of business.

title: "Dream Girl's Living Nightmare!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Mike Grell
inker: Bob Wiacek
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Chameleon Boy, Dream Girl, Brainiac 5

On their way back to Earth, Dream Girl awakes from a dream where she saw the Primor of Demros II being blasted and killed. Brainiac 5 trusts Dream Girl's ability so doesn't want to do anything to try to prevent this prediction. Chameleon Boy, on the other hand, learns that Primor Nryd Gordor is a great leader, so insists on trying to save him.

Chameleon Boy borrows Brainiac 5's force-field belt and goes to Demros II, intending to impersonate Primor Gordor. However, the leader's security does not allow him close to the broadcasting station. Much to Chameleon Boy's horror, the Primor is assassinated right before his eyes. However, it is not Primor Nryd Gordor, but a usurper who had tried to steal the democratically elected Primor. Chameleon Boy decides that Brainiac 5 was right: trust Dream Girl's predictions.

This is an interesting character study of the three principals. Dream Girl is very much a "passive" character: she has visions, but in this case has no reaction to them. Brainiac 5 is the ultimate scientist: he knows that Dream Girl's predictions are never wrong, therefore it is inefficient to try to prevent them. And Chameleon Boy is very much the optimist, intent on using his abilities to try to save people, even when faced with Destiny.

The moral of this story is: Dream Girl's dreams always come true. That's why she is a Legionnaire.

Science Police Notes:  
  • No scene resembling what occurs on the cover actually occurs in this issue. 
  • This is the last issue to feature the Mike Grell illustrated "head shots" across the top of the cover. 
  • Coincidentally (?), both lead and back-up stories feature disagreements between the Legion members regarding their missions. Both also hinge on broadcasting: the scene of the bomb in the lead, and the leader's speech in the back-up. 
  • Although Chameleon Boy supposedly borrowed Brainiac 5's force-field belt, he is not shown wearing it at the end of the story. 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 12 

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