Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #262

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #262 (April, 1980)
title: "The Planet That Captured The Legion!"
writer: Gerry Conway
artist: Jim Sherman
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Gene D'Angelo
editor: Jack C. Harris
cover: Jim Sherman (signed) 
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
in space: Chameleon Boy, Dream Girl, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Karate Kid, Shrinking Violet;
on Earth: Light Lass, Sun Boy, Ultra Boy, Lightning Lad, Shadow Lass, Wildfire, Saturn Girl

RJ Brande

murderous androids

On Earth, several Legionnaires are working to rebuild their headquarters. They are making progress, and their spirits are high. As they take a break, Lighting Lad and Saturn Girl think of the other members currently not on Earth: the group we saw last issue at the Galactic Circus and the other group, which we're about to check in with right now...

Out in space, RJ Brande and his group of Legion support has arrived at a dust cloud that would eventually evolve into a sun if left to its own devices. However, their plan is to nudge it along its determined path, speeding up its evolution. They succeed in creating a new sun, and they grab it with a tractor beam, taking it to its new destination.

When the Legionnaires arrive at their location, they find that the system has been decimated. One of the survivors tells Chameleon Boy that a group of space pirates was responsible and in what direction they were heading, so the Legion heads off in pursuit.
The Legion doesn't get very far when space pirates attack them, on 18th century traditional sailing ships. Suddenly, there is a huge explosion.
The Legionnaires and Brande wake up in a laboratory. They are brought before "the Engineer" who has programmed the world to entertain him. The Legionnaires are shocked to find that he is actually quite dead, but that his programming lives on. When he died, there was no one to turn the computer off. So the programming kept on, causing more and more, bigger and "better" adventures in a vain attempt to entertain a corpse.
Chameleon Boy turns into a copy of the Engineer and shuts the whole facility down. The Legion destroys the entire world, then ruminates on the idea that someday the resultant dust cloud might turn into another sun.

This issue features the return of James Sherman to the Legion! What a welcome sight! I remember at the time James Sherman took the place of Mike Grell that as a Legion reader I did not appreciate his work. Gradually I began to like his stuff, but then only when it wasn't inked by Jack Abel. Just as he was really getting good, he left the series.

Then with this issue, he was suddenly back, inking himself! I was ecstatic. And for any criticism you might fling at this story, you have to admit that it looks absolutely beautiful. Each Legionnaire has a very specific "look" and you can tell the difference between, say, Ultra Boy and Karate Kid, even though they are both brown-haired boys. Just check out a few pages represented above. You can't argue that this has a more "serious" feel to it, with a technical and "cosmic" scope that the Legion has missed in its art for the past few years.

Unfortunately, this was a one-issue repeat for Sherman, who did not return to the series for another four years. So that was unfortunate.

As for the story, this is a good example of how great the Legion could look but how silly it could read. Check out that first page at the top, when Ultra Boy loses his balance and the slab of concrete-whatsis is going to fall on Lightning Lad. Light Lass, who is able to make everything super-light, flies in and saves her friends. But....she still lets the slab fall? She could have just held it in place, couldn't she?

Exhibit two is another beautiful page, as Dream Girl gets a "dream vision" in the midst of battle and THEN falls asleep!?

What I'm getting at is that Gerry Conway, and by extension Jack C. Harris, doesn't seem to understand how the Legionnaires' powers work. If they do and are just manipulating them for "drama," that is annoying. If they don't know, that might be even more annoying. Either way....

The last thing I want to mention is that the first time I read this issue, I was maybe 15 years old. The following page blew my young teen-aged mind.

Clearly the girls were naked, and I think the boys were, too, but maybe somebody drew in a couple extra lines to put them in tighty whities. Check out Shrinking Violet's pose in panel four; go ahead and enlarge it, I won't think worse of you. Her pose is definitely one of trying to cover her nakedness. The boys are all drawn to "hide" their crotches, which is why I think Sherman originally intended them to be naked, too. Please don't think bad of me, but I still think this is pretty hot.

Also, as a side note, I wouldn't say RJ Brande is in "perfect physical condition."

Science Police Notes:  
  • Shadow Lass is drawn without her cape. 
  • This story seems to be a somewhat veiled commentary on Disneyland/Disneyworld, featuring pirates of the caribbean and robotic mice (see page 14 reprinted above). 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

1 comment:

  1. James Sherman's art here is stunning. Looking at Mike's Amazing World his credits outside of the Legion are fairly few. It's a shame!

    It's amazing how many code-approved comics snuck in nudity back in the Bronze Age. I'm guessing Sherman figured word balloons would cover the ladies' chests in panel 2. Not so much.