Thursday, June 11, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #223

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #223 (Jan, 1977)
title: "We Can't Escape The Trap In Time!"
writer: James Shooter
penciller: Mike Grell
inker: Bob Wiacek
editor: Murray Boltinoff 
cover: Mike Grell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Karate Kid, Sun Boy, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy; appearances by Lightning Lad, Princess Projectra, Star Boy, and Shadow Lass

Opponents: 
The Time Trapper; appearances by Pulsar Stargrave, Holdur, and Quicksand

Synopsis: 
On Earth, the Legion rushes off to investigate a rip in the fabric of space. Suddenly, five members are trapped in an invisible force-field. They can't call for help, either, so Superboy decides to go back in time to escape. However, they slam into a wall of time and then into temporal limbo until they arrive at the Time Trapper's lair 3.74 days into the future.

The Time Trapper shows them the remaining four Legionnaires trying to fix the fissure, and then the universe explodes. The Time Trapper explains that from every point in time there are many possible futures. From his omni-computer he has learned that in order to rule the universe these five Legionnaires have to die....either them, or him. So then he splits them up and fights them individually.

Meanwhile, Pulsar Stargrave and his lackeys are watching as the battle unfolds.


Saturn Girl is suddenly alone fighting the Time Trapper, and as she does so she is switched out with Karate Kid, then Chameleon Boy, then Sun Boy, and then Superboy. The Time Trapper is about to throw Superboy into the heart of a red sun. Saturn Girl communicates with him, telling him that somehow the Time Trapper has split them off into different time-lines, but he is fighting each of them separately yet simultaneously.


The Legionnaires realize that the Time Trapper's power source is his hour-glass belt buckle. When Superboy destroys it, they all reappear together. Superboy had tried to save the Time Trapper from being sucked into the red sun, but could not.


Suddenly, the five are back where they started, about to rush off to fight the fissure. On the way, Superboy cracks open his Legion Manual and re-reads the chapter about time travel.

Commentary: 
This is one of the most confusing, but fun, Legion of Super-Heroes stories ever. I am definitely one of those fans who think the Time Trapper level of bad guy is difficult to make interesting....but here, there seems to be enough rational for him to attack the Legion, and he is not portrayed as TOO powerful. And part of the fun of this story is trying to figure out what exactly is going on. The visuals, too, are fantastic. You can tell that artist Mike Grell put more time and effort into the temporal limbo scenes and fight choreography than usual. This is the type of story that is fun to read and re-read, noticing different things each time.

I wonder if these were five of writer Jim Shooter's favorite Legionnaires? They don't seem to be naturally important members, yet it isn't impossible to believe that the Legion would not exist without them, either. Like I said, an interesting story to read and re-read.

Unfortunately, it doesn't make any sense that Pulsar Stargrave is actually watching the action, too. Uh....he has a television monitor that can pick up temporal limbo? Trying to link this story to the menace next issue just doesn't work.

This is the last issue of Superboy/Legion edited by Murray Boltinoff. By agreeing to put the Legion of Super-Heroes back-up series in the pages of Superboy, Boltinoff did more than any creator to save the characters from extinction. It didn't hurt that he also hired Cary Bates, Dave Cockrum, Mike Grell, and Jim Shooter to work on the stories.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Saturn Girl appears to be naked on the cover. 
  • Karate Kid's collar is consistently mis-colored as white throughout the story. 
  • There is no explanation as to why Karate Kid is present here, instead of in the 20th Century, as he is in the pages of his own comic-book series.
Status: 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 12 

Milestone: 
This is the last issue of Superboy/Legion edited by Murray Boltinoff, who was responsible for bringing the Legion back to publishing prominence after Mort Weisinger tossed them out of Adventure Comics. 

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