Thursday, December 10, 2015

Superboy & The Legion #244

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #244 (Oct, 1978)
title: "The Dark Circle That Crushed Earth"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Joe Staton
inker: Joe Giellla
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Cory Adams
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Jim Sherman & Joe Rubinstein (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

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

retired Legionnaires Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy; SP Officer Shvaughn Erin

The Dark Circle, The Khunds, and the big reveal----

In space, the eight Legionnaires who had been on Weber's World are rushing back to Earth to help fight against the Khund invasion. They come upon a heavily armed space station that attacks.
When they board it they find an inertron block that is holding the missing Dominators. Element Lad changes the inertron to helium, freeing the diplomats. They tell the Legion that Ambassador Relnic is an agent of the Dark Circle, and it was through his treachery that they were captured. More importantly, they promise military support to fight off the Dark Circle and Khund troops.
On Earth, the four retired Legionnaires Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Duo Damsel, and Bouncing Boy protect the Legion head-quarters from the Khunds. Saturn Girl reads the Khunds' minds to find out that they are expecting reinforcements from the Dark Circle. The situation seems hopeless.
At the Science Police HQ, SP Officer Shvaughn Erin is fighting with the Khunds when Karate Kid appears from the past. He came to SP HQ after he hadn't gotten any response at Legion HQ, so now asks Officer Erin what is going on.
Outside Earth's atmosphere, the remaining eight Legionnaires arrive, disabling the Khund invasion ships. They then head Earth-side to the UP Presidential Palace to link up with Earth's defense forces.

At Legion HQ, the four retired Legionnaires are monitoring the others' communications, so decide to head towards the Presidential Palace as well. They get in an armored tank to try to bust through the surrounding Khund forces. In the effort Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy are knocked unconscious. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad leave them, heading towards the Presidential Palace.
At the Presidential Palace, the eight free Legionnaires arrive and mop up the Khund forces. They then face the five leaders of the Dark Circle, who flaunt their Legion hostages. They threaten Earth with destruction via a Negasphere if the remaining Legionnaires do not capitulate. However, the Legion chooses to fight instead. While Superboy, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, and Wildfire absorb/deflect the negative energy of the explosive device, the others fight the Dark Circle.
The Negasphere explodes, but even with the force contained everyone except Superboy is knocked unconscious. Saturn Girl and Lighting Lad arrive, overjoyed to see that the Dark Circle has been defeated. However, Karate Kid and SP Officer Erin arrive, too, and they have bad news. They know that Ambassador Relnic has actually been replaced by ----Mordru!

Every time I read this story I can't help but think how beautiful it would have been if it had been illustrated by Jim Sherman. As it is, Joe Staton does an adequate job as penciller, but as "fill-in" his stuff is nowhere near as "cosmic" as it should be. Also, inker Joe Giella has absolutely no Legion experience, and it shows. Just as an example, on page 23 Lighting Lad is shown to be with the eight Legionnaires and Ultra Boy is drawn twice; they should have been Sun Boy and Element Lad. (see illustration above) This was clearly a "rush job."

Other than that complaint, this is a great penultimate chapter in The Earthwar Saga. Things are moving along quickly, as more and more characters are taking a part in the action. The two questions I have are minor: Saturn Girl and Lighting Lad leave Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy in the tank when they fly off to the Presidential Palace?! Shouldn't they have taken them with them? I would think that they wouldn't want their friends to be captured or killed by the Khunds. And secondly, when the other Legionnaires confront the Dark Circle, why let them negotiate at all? Why not take them down as soon as they fly in, and *then* talk with them? It seems a bit too much of a "Super Villain Explains His Plot" contrivance.
Other than those two items, however, the story was well plotted and the big reveal surprised me the first time I read it. Well done, Mr. Levitz! It made sense that Karate Kid would return, and clearly Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (but not Duo Damsel & Bouncing Boy) were being positioned to return to active duty.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The title blurb on the cover is "The Dark Circle That Crushed THE Earth," while the actual title on the title page omits the second "the." 
  • Karate Kid arrives in the 30th Century at the end of his solo series. He has brought his friend Iris Jacobs with him, still in her Diamondeth state. 
  • In a bit of hyperbole, the omniscient narrator groups Dawnstar in with "the fighting cream of the Legion, each ....capable of destroying a starship singlehandedly." 
  • Saturn Girl and Lighting Lad are upset that the Khund invasion interrupted their honeymoon, even though chronologically they were married more than six months (issues) before. 
  • Shadow Lass appears as a hostage on the cover and in the story, although she was never shown actually fighting against the Khunds. 
  • In the scene where the hostage Legionnaires and Substitute Legionnaires are shown there is an additional mystery hostage present. In the upper right-hand corner on page 21 we can clearly see a man in a smock who looks to be a scientist or doctor. He is definitely not a Legionnaire. 
  • This issue boasts three Joes on the creative staff: penciller Joe Staton, inker Joe Giella, and cover inker Joe Rubinstein. That must be a record of some kind. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.


  1. I had been reading S&LOSH since I was little (around issue #210) but spotty distribution kept me from reading it beginning with the oversized issues (#231). This issue was the first I had read in a long time, and even though it was the penultimate chapter of the Earthwar saga, I was hooked all over again and Legion returned to my must read list--lucikly I was able to subscribe so I didn't miss any more issues.

  2. What's the matter? Didn't your honeymoon last over six months?