Thursday, November 5, 2015

Superboy & The Legion #240

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #240 (June, 1978)
title: "The Man Who Manacled The Legion"
plot:Paul Levitz
dialogue: Jack C. Harris
penciller: Howard Chaykin
inker: Bob Wiacek
letterer: Shelly Leferman
colorist: Cory Adams
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Mike Grell & Joe Rubinstein (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Sun Boy, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Cosmic Boy


Somewhere on Earth, Grimbor contemplates chaining up Superboy and the rest of the Legion. He reads that Superboy is currently in the 30th Century, so he decides to strike.

Elsewhere, five Legionnaires are working to repair the Atlantic Highway until the repair crew shows up. Afterwards, Cosmic Boy admits to Superboy that he misses Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad. Meanwhile, Phantom Girl is still mad at Colossal Boy for fighting Ultra Boy when he was a suspected murderer.
Later that night, the Legion is summoned to the EarthGov Presidential Residence, where they find that President Klandu has been captured. Grimbor attacks then and there, having used the President as bait. He captures all five Legionnaires and drags them back to his hide-out.

At his head-quarters, Grimbor explains to the Legionnaires what happened after he and Charma were captured in their first attempt to kill them. Charma was sent to a women's prison, where she was attacked and killed because her power made other women insanely jealous of her. Now, in order to avenge Charma's death, Grimbor plans to kill every member of the Legion.
Phantom Girl escapes her chains by going "solid," then frees the boys. Unfortunately, Colossal Boy uses a tone towards her that sounds like he's ordering her around, which she doesn't like. Distracted from Grimbor, he is able to pull a switch to activate robotic guards. They keep the Legionnaires busy while he tries to escape. However, when Superboy catches him he explodes, revealing himself to be a robot, too.

The Legion rush back to the Presidential Residence, where they suspect another trap is waiting for them. Sure enough, "the President" is also revealed to be a robot bomb. They track the detonation signal to the real President and Grimbor, who they finally capture with little problem.

This is one of those classic Silver Age type stories that is a totally fun roller coaster ride while you're reading it, but as soon as you finish and start to think about what you've read, you end up scratching your head. A few questions for you: 1. How did Grimbor know which members would respond to his initial summons at the Presidential Residence so he would know which manacles to have at the ready? 2. Grimbor didn't know enough about how Phantom Girl's powers worked to create a "phasing" manacle? 3. According to page 11, Grimbor has waited several "hours" with the Legionnaires captured. Why? More importantly, if Phantom Girl could get away in a moment, why did SHE wait? 4. And as for waiting, if the plan was to kill the Legionnaires, what was Robot Grimbor waiting for in the first place? 5. Grimbor has ROBOTS!?!

It was nice to see bits of characterization: Cosmic Boy misses his best friends, and Phantom Girl holds a grudge, then regrets it. Those two bits were very well done.

The art is wonderful. This is the first and only time that Howard Chaykin drew the Legion, and he does a bang-up job. Bob Wiacek is a fantastic inker, and I would have liked to have seen him stay with the title.

However....correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't page 13 look like it was inked by Terry Austin?

title: "Dawnstar Rising"
plot: Paul Levitz
writer: Paul Kupperberg
penciller: James Sherman
inker: Bob McLeod
letterer: Shelly Leferman
colorist: Adrienne Roy
editor: Al Milgrom

Mission Monitor Board:  
Dawnstar, Wildfire

Legion Academy members Jed Rikane (later known as Power Boy), Shadow Kid (here called Shadow Lad), and Laurel Kent; cameo by RJ Brande

arrogance, vanity, Arcturian Ape, Graanian Deathbeast  

Wildfire is watching as Dawnstar and three Legion Academy members attempt to stop a robot during a training exercise. Although they eventually manage to destroy it, Wildfire criticizes them for lack of teamwork. Afterwards, Wildfire asks Dawnstar for a date, but she rudely declines.
Later, Dawnstar tries to explain herself to her dorm-mate, Laurel, by telling her her origin. She grew up a mutant on planet StarHaven, an AmerInd (descendant of Native Americans) with the natural ability to fly and to track anyone and anything. As a young teenager she was already being hired to guide ships, giving her salary back to her planet to help fund their defense forces. One day RJ Brande met her and asked her to join the Legion, with a guaranteed salary. That offer from Brande is why she is training at the Academy.
The next day at Pennsylvania Space-Port, the four heroes are asked to capture escaped animals. Dawnstar wants to team-up with Laurel, but she rushes off with Jed, so Dawnstar flies off alone. She is knocked down and out by the animals and is about to be killed by the Acturian Ape when Jed, Laurel, and Shadow Kid work together to save her. She realizes what a fool she has been, and re-dedicates herself to becoming an excellent Legionnaire.

I remember being confused the first time I read this story because Dawnstar was at the Legion Academy even though she had already joined the Legion. Later I read that chronologically this story was supposed to happen before Dawnstar was introduced in S/LSH #226. However, I have also seen stories where Legionnaires like Invisible Kid and the White Witch spent time at the Legion Academy, learning skills they did not yet have. So now I'm not so sure I don't like the idea of this story occurring just where it lands; namely, after Dawnstar had already joined.

As a story there isn't much here besides the fantastic visuals by James Sherman and Bob McLeod. I remember not thinking much of them at the time (they weren't Mike Grell), but looking at this art now I can't help but be impressed.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Grimbor used specific bonds to hold Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, and Superboy in his original appearance (S/LSH #221), he has chosen new methods for each of them this time.
  • In his initial appearance Grimbor showed no talent at robotics. Yet in this story, he boasts robots that are so life-like that they even fool Superboy. 
  • The back-up story is considered a "flashback" to before Dawnstar joined the Legion (S/LSH #226). However, if Wildfire's actions are considered, too, it is likely that this story would have occurred before he was elected Legion Leader (S/LSH #225). Coincidentally, this is roughly the same time as the debut of Grimbor and Charma.  
  • This story features the debut of Legion Academy student Jed Rikune, who later took the code-name Power Boy. 
  • Shadow Kid is erroneously called Shadow Lad in this story. He is also mistakenly referred to as being Shadow Lass' brother, rather than her cousin. 
  • This is the first time Wildfire asks Dawnstar out on a date. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Howard Chaykin's style looks completely different to what I would expect to see from him. And Cosmic Boy has that very peculiar costume everyone used to talk about... Like you said, it would've been great to see Chaykin and Wiacek working on the title regularly.

    By the way, I just posted about The Legion here: