Thursday, September 3, 2015

Superboy and The Legion #234

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #234 (Dec, 1977)
title: "Wanted---Dead or Alive: The Composite Legionnaire!"
writer: Gerry Conway
pencillers: Ric Estrada
inker: Jack Abel
colorist: Anthony Tollin
lettering: Ben Oda
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Mike Grell (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Shrinking Violet, Wildfire, Chameleon Boy, Phantom Girl, Duplicate Boy, (!?!) Princess Projectra

Guests: 
Hero of Lallor Duplicate Boy, although he appears as if he is a full-fledged Legionnaire

Opponents: 
Bounty, transmuting and transforming Imskian dragons, the EarthGov, bad writing, awful art

Synopsis: 
Out in Imskian space, Shrinking Violet has asked Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Colossal Boy, and Superboy to join her in a dragon hunt. She explains why her home planet, Imsk, is asking for increased space zones around their planet in order to hunt space dragons. The dragons have an important radiation that the people of Imsk must expose themselves to once every year. Because the dragons are migratory, Imsk needs the space where the dragons fly. The five Legionnaires then catch a dragon and start to harvest its scales for its radiation. Colossal Boy becomes too exuberant, growing large and trying to scale too many too quickly. This causes the dragon to explode, which causes four Legionnaires to merge into one monstrosity. He/she/it then blasts Superboy, and somehow their powers actually knock him unconscious.


Elsewhere, a bounty hunter named Bounty catches an escaped criminal and brings him in dead after he tries to escape. Because that is what Bounty does.

On Earth at Legion HQWildfire is angry when the Earth President announces that he is supporting a bill for "UP overseeing" of the Legion. Chameleon Boy tries to calm Wildfire down, but the leader storms away. Duplicate Boy, one of the Heroes of Lallor, explains to Chameleon Boy that Wildfire is a hot-head because he is composed of anti-energy.
Cham and Phantom Girl then talk politics, and whether it is necessary to follow an elected leader even if you don't agree with his policies. Their discussion is interrupted when the Composite Legionnaire lands his/her cruiser and attacks. Duplicate Boy alerts Wildfire, who is pining for his body. They counter-attack, but the Composite Legionnaire gets away.
 The next day, the Earth President and the United Planets council has put a bounty on the head of the Composite Legionnaire. Bounty has arrived, and is willing to capture the creature "dead or alive." The Legionnaires, now joined by Princess Projectra, attack again, but Superboy arrives and stops them. He explains the Secret Origin of the Composite Legionnaire, so they all rush off to Imskian space to capture another dragon in order to collect scales to un-merge their friends.

Left to his own devices on Earth, Bounty attacks the Composite Legionnaire. However, even though s/he looks hideous, s/he is still four veteran Legionnaires, and Bounty is unable to stop him/her/them. Bounty decides to use a low-level nuclear device to utterly destroy him/her/them, even though those weapons are outlawed on Earth.
Just as he is about to attack, the other Legionnaires return. Wildfire had absorbed dragon energy, and they drop him on the Composite Legionnaire. The four members are returned to normal, but now Wildfire appears to be dying.

Commentary: 
Where to start with this utter monstrosity of a story? I can only imagine the story conference that must have created his piece of crap.
"So we'll have the same five Legionnaires from the last story, to continue the Imskian space zone plot, and we'll find out that Imsk needs dragons." 
"Dragons? Cool visual. I like it."
"And then...uh.....it'll explode!" 
"Exploding dragons, uh-huh, got it..."
"And then...uh....the heroes will combine into a Composite Superman." 
"That's been done. Make it a Composite Legionnaire. And make 'em a transgender. That will be another cool visual."
"Perfect! And we'll have some bounty hunter named...uh....Hunter, fighting the Legion, too." 
"Make him Bounty. That sounds more dramatic."
"Great! But..uh....I don't know which other characters to use. Any suggestions?" 
"Hell, I don't know. I just started this job! There's like two dozen Lads and Girls to choose from! Here, take this issue of Superboy 219 and use whichever Legionnaires are in there. Now how are you going to cure these kids?"
"Oh. Uh.....how about we get that energy kid to blow up real good?" 
"Ooh, another great visual!"
"And then we'll have him use so much energy that he will be on the verge of dying!"
"Can energy die?"
"I'll make it work." 
"Great, Ger, I'll get Ric and Jack to knock it out in a week. Thanks!"
"No prob, Al." 

SO much wrong with this page. 
Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Princess Projectra appears in the second half of the story, she has nearly nothing to do.  
  • Duplicate Boy acts as if he had been admitted into the Legion, perhaps in an untold story. In fact, writer Gerry Conway and editor Al Milgrom probably had no idea who was in the Legion and who wasn't. 
  • There is absolutely no reason that professional dragon scalers should not be doing the delicate work that Shrinking Violet insists four absolute beginners attempt. 
  • Likewise, there is no reason why Lightning Lad's electrical bolts would stop Superboy. 
  • The EarthGov puts a bounty out on the Composite Legionnaire (dead or alive), yet we never see any Science Police or para-military types attempt to capture him/her/it. 
  • According to the story, a whole day has gone by before Superboy returns to Earth. Where are the other fifteen Legionnaires during this time? 
  • Wildfire's face has a strong resemblance to teen hearth-throb David Cassidy. 
  • This story postulates that Imskians do not shrink naturally. However, was that ever brought up again? Perhaps it was ret-conned out. 
  • This is one of the worst Legion stories of all time. 
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted....and probably never should be.


Milestone: 
With this issue, Al Milgrom becomes the newest editor, replacing Denny O'Neil.

1 comment:

  1. Well, this issue has been reprinted now. It really is bad. The plot is full-on Silver Age strangeness, with things happening just because the plot demands it, combined with Marvel Age overwrought dialog and caption boxes.

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