Thursday, November 19, 2015

Superboy & The Legion #242

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #242 (Aug, 1978)
title: "Startarget: Earth"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Jim Sherman
inker: Bob McLeod
letterer: Bob Oda
colorist: Cory Adams
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Jim Sherman & Joe Rubinstein (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Wildfire, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Dawnstar, Sun Boy, Superboy, Element Lad, Colossal Boy, Brainiac 5

Opponents: 
Khund Invasion force, the Dark Circle actually behind it, possibly the Dominators





Synopsis: 
On Weber's World, Wildfire and three other Legionnaires are angry that Ontiir and Ambassador Relnic are not cooperating with them. For their part, Ontiir and Relnic think the Legionnaires are a bunch of hot-heads. Ultra Boy argues with Wildfire about the correct course of action, then cuts their discussion short in order to save a group of people from a bomb. This makes all of them suspect Ontiir and Relnic again.
In orbit around Earth, five Legionnaires are trying to stop the Khund invasion. Brainiac 5 says that they must give up, which angers Element Lad. As Deputy Leader he orders Brainiac 5 to Weber's World while he and the others head towards the Khund home-world. Meanwhile, all of the other Legionnaires were sent to the Matriarchy of Taltar to ask for assistance.

On Weber's World, the four Legionnaires are itching to return to Earth to help stop the Khunds, but Relnic refuses to allow them to leave.
Look at that detail!!  
On Khundia, Element Lad leads his group against Warlord Garlak. When they finally manage to confront him, he suddenly turns into a mental vegetable. They realized that a hyper-beam from somewhere off-world has "turned off" his mind. Superboy uses his super-vision to track the hyper-beam....to Weber's World! So the four Legionnaires head there.
Somewhere else, the Dark Circle is watching and plotting.

On Weber's World, as the Dominators are approaching to begin the peace treaty negotiations, Ultra Boy is attacked. Then Dawnstar believes she is being watched....

Commentary: 
This is a fantastic Part Two to the Earthwar Saga. The art is wonderful again, which helps keep the story moving at a break-neck pace. Look how much detail Sherman and McLeod put into their panels....such as in the reflection of Wildfire's visor. This is some amazing stuff.
Unfortunately, this is Jim Sherman's last issue on Legion. We won't learn that until next issue, but much like Mike Grell and Jim Shooter before him, he suddenly just wasn't there. This is very bad news, indeed, as he was just starting to "gel" with his current inker, Bob McLeod.
The coloring is also top-notch. Check out ANY of those panels above for what I'm talking about. I especially like the panels where Element Lad confronts Garlak. I am not a fan of panels without any backgrounds, but with this type of coloring, it absolutely works. Kudos to Cory Adams on a job well done.

Besides the visuals, the characterization of the Legionnaires is also done well. Wildfire IS a hot-head, Ultra Boy is generally calm and collected until he is ruffled, Dawnstar won't stand for anyone besides herself criticizing Wildfire, and Element Lad is a leader in a desperate position. Brainiac 5 comes off as a bit odd, but there turns out to be a good reason for that. Element Lad and the others' reactions to him are priceless.

I do have a few questions, though. First of all, where in the world are the other Legionnaires? They went on a mission to meet with "the Matriarchy"?! What the hell does *that* mean? And they needed to send nine of them? Secondly, the discussion amongst themselves about challenging the leader is a great one. However, Ultra Boy accuses Wildfire of hunting him down a few issues ago...even though he knows that that wasn't quite the case. It's a very big "Huh?" moment.

title: "Girls' Night Out"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Mike Nasser
inker: Jack Abel
letterer: Shelly Leferman
colorist: Cory Adams
editor: Al Milgrom


Mission Monitor Board:  
Light Lass, Shadow Lass, Princess Projectra, Dream Girl

Opponents: 
kidnappers and thieves  


Synopsis: 
Four Legionnaires go out on the town to a famous restaurant, the City Star, a space ship that flies over the city for the benefit of its diners. They meet Science Police Commander Ilni Cerrel, but politely refuse his invitation to join him.

During dinner, a group of thugs attacks the restaurant and the Legionnaires battle them. When the thugs threaten the hostages, however, the Legionnaires surrender...or seem to. In reality the surrendering Legionnaires are an illusion created by Princess Projectra. Using the illusion to hide their actions, they change into their uniforms and then head off to stop four crimes planned by the thugs.
Light Lass stops thieves at the Central Credit office, Shadow Lass stops thieves at the Metropolis Jewelry Exchange, Princess Projectra stops thieves at a furrier, and Dream Girl stops the theft of vital papers from the United Planets head-quarters.

When they return to the flying restaurant they realize that Cerrel has to be the brains behind the crimes and the hostage taking. They mop up the remaining thugs and capture him.
Commentary: 
Considering that the last Paul Kupperberg story had Light Lass fail to do anything except be a damsel in distress, this is a vast improvement. In fact, Light Lass seems to be the leader in this story, even taking down the lead bad guy at the end. The only complaint I have, and it's minor, is that Dream Girl doesn't actually use her powers in this story. It would have been nice if we had gotten a word balloon to the effect, "I saw in a dream that the SP would arrest you!" or something.
While the story is fine, the art this time out seems more rushed and "quick." The panel layouts are odd, especially the last page. The characters all seem interchangeable and their poses stiff. Arvell Jones did a lot of good work, such as in DC Special #28 and in Super-Team Family #s 12-15, but he is not at his best here.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The timing of the back-up story is odd, as we get five Legionnaires attempting to halt an invasion in the lead story, then we get four different Legionnaires out on the town enjoying themselves. That doesn't quite work. 
  • Princess Projectra's power of illusions is used intelligently and effectively here, unlike the majority of the time when she flashes a picture of a monster at you.  
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

Milestone: 
This is the last regular issue drawn by James Sherman. He would come back as a guest-penciller, but never handle the book on a regular basis again.

3 comments:

  1. I'm blown away by how good Jim Sherman's art has been on this book. What a loss, and...well, it pains me to know the kind of artwork that is soon to come.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting that Element Lad, of all people, threatens the Khund with death.

    This really was a great story.

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