Thursday, December 17, 2015

Superboy & The Legion #245

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #245 (Nov, 1978)
title: "Mordru Master of Earth!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Joe Staton
inker: Murphy Anderson
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Cory Adams
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Al Milgrom & Joe Rubinstein (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
The entire membership except for Tyroc, with featured players Superboy, Karate Kid, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Wildfire, Element Lad, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy

Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy

Mordru! as the master of both the Khunds and the Dark Circle

On Earth, Mordru reveals himself to be the agent behind the Khund and Dark Circle invasion. Only four Legionnaires are free and conscious, so Mordru begins to crush them under intense gravity so they will have an inkling of what it feels like to be buried alive.
However, Saturn Girl plants a subliminal suggestion in his mind to lessen the gravity slightly, and Superboy and Karate Kid break them free. Lighting Lad blinds him, and the four escape underground. Mordru loses his powers when he is underground, so Saturn Girl believes he will not think to look for them there. Eventually, the Legion arrives at one of their "safe houses" in the Pacific.
As the Khunds search the globe for the missing Legionnaires, Mordru revels in how the Dark Circle freed him, thinking that they could use him. He turned the tables on them, however, and controlled them instead. They in turn controlled the Resource Raiders and the Khunds. His plan was to destroy Earth and the Legion in order to send a clear message to the rest of the galaxy.
Impatient to find the hiding Legionnaires, Mordru "looks" through the eyes of everyone on Earth, then uses his magic to try to find them. Saturn Girl is able to hide three of them from him, but Superboy is more susceptible to magic and begins to respond to him. Karate Kid has to grab Superboy and hold onto him until the magic wave passes by them.
Lightning Lad suggests that they go on the offensive, so they head to the Presidential Palace to rescue their captured friends. Superboy builds a glass "bubble" that he expands to include all of the hostages in the split second his friends keep Mordru occupied. They fly off with Mordru in pursuit. Mordru finally blasts Superboy, but by this point some of the other Legionnaires are free, and everyone attacks Mordru en masse over the skies of Metropolis.
What a beautiful composition with beautiful coloring!
....but is that Colossal Boy in the center and Dream Girl in the upper left blasting Mordru?! 
However, Mordru is more powerful than the entire Legion, and it appears that he will defeat them. Saturn Girl desperately mind-links all of the members for any last minute strategies. Element Lad has an idea, so she links him with Brainiac 5. Element Lad then understands the proper chemical composition to create soil to re-imprison Mordru via hydrogen in the air.
In a closed meeting of the entire Legion (except for Tyroc) they vote to amend their Constitution, allowing married members to serve. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad immediately rejoin, but Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy do not.
I love how Cos hungs his two best friends here
Meanwhile, the real Ambassador Relnic of the United Planets and the Dominators conclude a peace treaty, heralding Peace Is At Hand!
Inks by Joe Giella? Looks a little bit different than Murphy Anderson
This is a fantastic conclusion to the Earthwar saga. Making Mordru the main villain behind the Khund invasion and the Dark Circle espionage ties both groups together neatly. It also keeps the story from being another "small band of heroes battle against overwhelming odds of invasion force." Mordru embodies the evil in the same way that the Khunds and the Dark Circle do, but defeating him is (relatively) clean and wraps up the story-line nice and neatly. I especially like how team-work saves the day at the end.

The art is odd, but overall I think I like it. The late great Murphy Anderson keeps Joe Staton's otherwise "cartoony" style in check, and the five leads (Superboy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Karate Kid, and Mordru) are all drawn well. Special mention should go out to praise Staton & Anderson on how evil and threatening Mordru appears. The numerous close-ups we get are reminiscent of the fantastic close-up we got in the splash page of his debut appearance back in Adventure Comics #369.

A special commendation to colorist Cory Adams as well, for doing a bang-up job on the electricity, magic, night-scapes, and various other effects. The colors really POPPED this issue, so I'm sure it was mostly her doing.

My two comments are the same ones I have had for the past few issues: 1. the total disregard for Tyroc; and 2. the uneven artwork. Honestly, there is NO reason Paul Levitz couldn't have squeezed in a single appearance of Tyroc, the much-maligned Legionnaire. It simply does not make sense that we don't see him on Earth. As for the art, imagine how much more cool this story would have been if Jim Sherman had illustrated the whole epic? My mind reels with the possibility. Other than those two points, though, I think this story was great. It's a shame that this story-line has never been collected. Great job, Mr. Letvitz!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Tyroc makes no appearance in this story. 
  • No mention is made of Mordru's recent appearance in Justice League of America #s 147-148
  • Although SP Officer Erin was standing with the Legion at the end of last issue, she is gone when the scene continues in this issue. 
  • Dream Girl is drawn "blasting" Mordru
  • Paul Levitz admits in the letters' page that the Earthwar Saga was initially intended to start in S/LSH #237, but deadline problems pushed it back to #241
  • Paul Levitz also mentions a "Legion Spectacular" scheduled for the winter of 1978-1979. This story eventually appeared in S/LSH #s 250-251
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

At the end of this adventure the Legion votes to amend their Constitution, re-writing it so that married members can continue to serve. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad promptly rejoin, but Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy do not.


  1. I agree, an excellent story. However the defeat of Mordru always picked at me and disturbed my total enjoyment of the series. He is named Element Lad, not "Matter Creator Lad" and while he could turn the low density atoms into whatever he wanted, there is no way they could go from near vacuum into that dense rock that surrounded Mordred.

  2. Yes, there is that. One of the characters actually says, "What a great last-minute save!" I agree that that scene could have been written better.