Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #260

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #260 (February, 1980)
title: "Come To The Circus And Die!"
writer: Gerry Conway
penciller: Joe Staton
inker: John Calnan
letterer: Milt Snapinn
colorist: Gene D'Angelo
editor: Jack C. Harris
cover: Dick Giordano (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Last issue, Superboy and the Legion faced a villain named the Psycho Warrior who made Superboy learn that he was indirectly responsible for the deaths of his adopted parents. Not wanting to subject their friend to that knowledge every time he came to the future, Saturn Girl gave him a post-hypnotic suggestion to not visit the 30th Century again.
RJ Brande's fortune has been stolen by the United Planets in a misguided effort to help rebuild Earth after the Earthwar and the attack by Omega. After Brande found out about this, however, he forgave the larceny, vowing to re-build his fortune on his own. 
The Legion had investigated the bankruptcy because they wanted to use Brande's fortune to rebuild their destroyed head-quarters. Now, they are still homeless. 

Mission Monitor Board:  
Mon-El, Star Boy, Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Timber Wolf; Wildfire, Lightning Lad, Light Lass, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Saturn Girl

unnamed killer terrorizing a space circus

Somewhere in space, the Bacaro Barley Interstellar Travelling Carnival & Sideshow from Cygnus-4 is suffering from a series of "accidental" deaths. Their fire-eater, strongman, and gymnast have all died suddenly. The Ring Master, Aton Gissark, decides that he needs help.

On Earth, RJ Brande has left Earth to recreate his fortune, bringing six Legionnaires with him. The other Legionnaires decide that they, too, have to help themselves, so they decide that they will rebuild their destroyed head-quarters themselves.

Later, at EarthGov head-quarters, EarthGov Department of Culture Secretary Pheng asks the Legion to help the Ring Master. Earth has a cultural exchange with Cygnus-4, and Secretary Pheng is afraid that the circus is being used as a political distraction. He is afraid that political radicals want to sabotage these initial steps at detente. After they are attacked, Lightning Lad agrees to assign six Legionnaires to the circus as bodyguards and as detectives.
Mon-El is the weight lifter, Star Boy is the fat man, Princess Projectra is the fortune teller, Phantom Girl & Brainiac 5 are the magicians, and Timber Wolf is the gymnast.
During the magic act, a Jovian Attack Squid somehow gets loose from its trainer. Phantom Girl stops it by getting it to bump into a wall, but she then finds a drugged dart in the side of the animal. They know someone instigated the animal to attack.

Brainiac 5 tells the others that his initial investigation leads him to believe that there are three main suspects: Tyrus the composite Clown, Imik the juggler, and Clovis the assistant manager.

During Timber Wolf's gymnastic act, his anti-grav bar malfunctions, and he has to pull off a daring gymnastic feat to get back to the ground. The Legionnaires see Imik running from the main tent, and they all believe they have found their murderer. In a long closing shot, we see a shadowy figure with a rifle aiming at our heroes.

As the very first Legion story without any Superboy presence whatsoever in more than ten years (?), I had a lot of high hopes for this issue. Gerry Conway and editor Jack C. Harris elected to move slowly, tying up some lingering plot threads while starting some new ones. I especially like the idea of a group of Legionnaires out in space creating stars...! However, I don't know how much good members like Dream Girl and Colossal Boy are going to be in those efforts....? The notion that the mightiest group in the universe could actually build their own head-quarters is also a good one. I expect to see Element Lad every issue, turning inert gases into concrete. And I wonder if they will follow the blue-prints of their previous head-quarters, or if this new one will be decidedly different looking? Either way, I'm glad the Legionnaires are "up" again. I'm not a fan of a dark future. (Sorry, 5YL fans!)

The circus story is a bit pedestrian; I guess the UP would ask the Legion to do this type of assignment every once in awhile, though. One thing really bothered me, though. Wasn't Timber Wolf wearing his flight ring when he did his gymnastic show? If not, why not? If he was, there really wasn't any drama in his gymnastic routine whatsoever. If he had taken off his ring to make his show more authentic, a quick note to that effect would have been nice. Methinks Conway and Harris need to remember that in this universe, all of their characters can fly!

John Calnan's inks nearly overpower Joe Staton's pencils, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Staton tends to lean a bit too much on the "cartoony" side, so Calnan's slick visuals make the art look a bit more realistic than it would otherwise. That, to me, is a good thing.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is the first issue since the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad that Star Boy wears his "disco V-neck" version of his starfield uniform.
  • Although five of the six Legionnaires attempt to hide their identities, Timber Wolf does his gymnastic act while in his uniform, with no disguise whatsoever. 
  • During the "bonding" scene, Ultra Boy is hugging Light Lass and Timber Wolf is hugging Phantom Girl, instead of their respective girl-friends.
This issue has not yet been reprinted.


  1. Looking forward to this series of commentaries. It'an interesting Legion era to try to analyze in hindsight.

    Re: Dream Girl in the star building crew: it's been established that Nura is one of the Legion's Top 3 alive members, only after Brainy and Dirk.
    Lyle was top 2 before, well, you know...

  2. SCIENTIST alive members, I meant to say.

    1. That's true. I'm that regard you'd think the away team would have been assigned more logically...

  3. Regarding the two couples switching partners: maybe Gerry Conway was considering a "swinging" subplot before dropping it. (I seem to recall a scene a few issues later where Jo and Ayla were getting a little "frisky" while rebuilding Legion HQ)...

  4. That scene does exist, yes. I always just thought that it meant the creative team couldn't keep their characters straight.

  5. I look at this run by Conway & Staton like Rocky V !

    It didn't happen and is best forgotten !

    1. I wish we could say that about all Conway's works.

    2. Eh, I liked the Ultra Boy/Reflecto parts okay.

      (I've got to wonder how Conway would have wrapped that up, and how much Levitz's emergency fill-in ending had to do with my liking the whole thing, though.)

    3. ...but the Ultra Boy Reflecto story was by Roy Thomas, wasn't it? I'm not sure, I don't think I've ever reread it....