Thursday, March 10, 2016

Superboy & The Legion #255

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #255 (Sept, 1979)
title: "The Super Spectacles Swipe!"
writer: Gerry Conway
penciller: Joe Staton
inker: Vince Colletta
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Gene D'Angelo
editor: Jack C. Harris
cover: Dick Giordano (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Shrinking Violet, Shadow Lass, Wildfire

Guests: 
Pa Kent, Lana Lang; cameos by Jor-El, Lara, and baby Kal-El

Opponents: 
the Gorgli



Synopsis: 
In Smallville, Superboy is completing his morning patrol and then heads to the General Store to help Pa unload some canned goods. He changes back to Clark Kent as he flies, which earns him a talking-to from Pa for risking his secret identity. Clark carries several boxes out of the back-room as Lana Lang sees him. He quickly empties the boxes of their cans at super-speed, showing Lana that he was able to carry so many boxes because they were all empty.
After Lana leaves, Clark takes off his glasses and explains to Pa how he was able to empty the boxes at super-speed. While he is speaking to his adopted father, an alien appears and switches out his glasses, unseen by either of them.

Later at school, Clark uses his heat vision to save a construction worker from a runaway bulldozer, but the effort melts his non-Kryptonian glasses. He rushes off before Lana can see them. On the roof, he encounters four Legionnaires, who have time-travelled to talk to him.

They tell him that in the 30th Century, someone broke into the Superman Museum and stole Luthor's Time-Ray Projector. Later that same day, all the inhabitants of Tokyo disappear. Cosmic Boy thinks someone sent them to the Phantom Zone, so they go to the Superman Museum to borrow a Phantom Zone projector, but it does not quite return the Tokyo-ites to normal. Then an alien named Gorgli contacts Earth, demanding 10,000 human slaves or he (it?) will kill the 10 million Japanese.
Science Police officers attack Gorgli but are killed mercilessly. The Legion attacks, but they can not pierce Gorgli's force-field.
When they hear that the Time-Ray Projector was stolen, they trace the chronal energy back to Smallville on this particular day, and Superboy guesses that Gorgli stole his glasses. He goes with the Legion into the future and they fight Gorgli again. Sure enough, his energy blasts are powered by Clark's Kryptonian lenses. Superboy suggests they go back in time to Krypton to acquire another Kryptonian lens.


The four Legionnaires appear on Krypton before baby Kal-El (Superboy) is sent to Earth. They try to grab a lens from Jor-El's lab without being seen, but Kal-El actually sees Shrinking Violet. 
Back in the 30th Century, the Legion uses the Kryptonian lens to build a counter-ray, and using that they defeat Gorgli.

Commentary: 
Gosh, for a story that includes time travel and alien threats this is one dull story. It reads like one of those less-than-classic Silver Age stories where we get ten pages of Superboy in Smallville carrying canned fruit and saving construction workers, then five pages of Legionnaires running around frantically trying to complete the story in the remaining space. Oh, wait....that IS what this is!

I think the art is the major reason I don't like this story. Joe Staton's art is vibrant and exciting, with sometimes odd but always interesting poses and expressions. That is, unless he is inked by Vince Colletta. Colletta is right up there with Jack Abel and Mike DeCarlo as my three least favorite inkers. Even the scenes that should be exciting (such as Gorgli communicating to all Earth beings telepathically) are dull dull dull.

And are Jor-El, Lara, and baby Kal-El shoe-horned into this story because of the SUPERMAN movie? The idea that the Gorgli has to go back in time to find Kryptonian lens....there wasn't a set of glasses in the Superman Museum? The fact that I'm even asking that question shows just how dull this story is.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dick Giordano does not seem to understand that Shadow Lass has a cape. She is drawn without it for the second issue in a row.   
  • According to the editor's note, Lex Luthor's Time-Ray Projector first appeared in Adventure Comics #300. 
  • The Legionnaires mention that they are the only four members on Earth, and that the others are all on RJ Brande's asteroid home. However, last issue we saw five different Legionnaires on Earth, all working to repair their ruined head-quarters.   
  • Last issue promised that this issue would feature, "This Is Your Life---And Death, Brainiac 5!" which is also promised here for the *next* issue. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

Milestone: 
This is the last issue of Superboy that features Smallville, Ma & Pa Kent, and Lana Lang. In a few issues this series will morph completely into The Legion of Super-Heroes, and Superboy and his Smallville cast will move to their new series called The New Adventures of Superboy. 

2 comments:

  1. So, here we are, at my first Legion comic. And yeah, I'm pretty sure you're exactly right about the movie connection. That was my route to the Legion: saw the movie, started collecting Superman and Action, was especially interested in Krypton stories, sold by the cover and kept in by the story.

    Why would there be kryptonian lenses in the museum, necessarily? Remember, we have atomic wars and great disasters and such in-between. I'd think the better shot would be whatever remains of the Fortress of Solitude (did we ever see that in the legion's time? Don't think so, but...), but if Superman fell in battle the glasses were probably in his pocked and lost at the same time.

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  2. Not a great story as you say.
    But since you ask... It makes sense if you have the time travel, to use it to find a specifically marked out object in a location in space time, rather than try to locate it when it is lost in your own time. (They did it in Star Gate TV show) The real question, or rather it doesn't make sense to me is: How could he swipe the glasses from someone who has super speed perception and super senses.

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