Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #273

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #273 (March, 1981)
title: "A Murderer---Among Us?"
writer: Gerry Conway
penciller: Jimmy Janes
inker: Frank Chiaramonte
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Bob LeRose
editor: Jack C. Harris
cover: Rich Buckler & Steve Mitchell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Star Boy; Lighting Lad, Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, Light Lass, Karate Kid, Shrinking Violet, Wildfire

Guests: 
Bouncing Boy, UP President Marte Allon

Opponents: 
Pulsar Stargrave

Synopsis: 
On Earth, the Legion is called before the United Earth Council, where the newly elected Earth President Marte Allon tells them that according to their own by-laws, they must disband. Prosecutor General reminds the Legion of the facts regarding the murder of An Ryd of Rimbor. She was murdered in a complicated plot to destroy the Legion's credibility, first by accusing Ultra Boy and then by having it appear that Brainiac 5 was the real murderer. Although Brainiac 5 was found to be temporarily insane at the time and therefore not responsible, the Legion Constitution clearly states that no member can be guilty of taking another's life. Wildfire argues that Brainiac 5 never faced any specific charges, but Brainiac 5 actually agrees with the UEC and quietly resigns.
The majority of Legionnaires decide to return to LSH HQ to discuss their plan of action, but Chameleon Boy asks Ultra Boy and several others to help him track down the real murderer. Timber Wolf complains to Light Lass of headaches. He is afraid his time in civilization is running out.
Colossal Boy hangs back to talk to his mother, the new President, but she strongly rebuffs him fro trying to talk business. Petulantly, he storms off.
On Rimbor, Chameleon Boy and Star Boy go to the hotel where An Ryd was murdered. Chameleon Boy admits that he wants to solve this murder because it was his initial investigation to prove Ultra Boy's innocence that laid the guilt on Brainiac 5. Chameleon Boy turns into a Rigellian Seeker-Hound but can find no trace of Brainiac 5 ever having been at the scene of the crime. Star Boy looks at the laser blast and confirms that it is not from Ultra Boy's flash vision or from a Legion blaster. Suddenly, Pulsar Stargrave attacks, knocking both of them out.
Elsewhere, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy check out the Rimborian Space Port. They find that no ships arrived either just before or just after the murder carrying anyone matching Brainiac 5's description. Suddenly, Pulsar Stargrave attempts to kill the Space Port authority helping them. Phantom Girl attacks him but is knocked out. Ultra Boy attacks, too, but Stargrave blasts him, apparently into nothingness.
Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 has decided that even if he was insane at the time, he never would have ignored his strong moral code to have become the murderer. He talks to the Legion about the case and finds that four Legionnaires are already on Rimbor trying to prove his innocence. He flies to join them, finding three wounded members.
He leaves them under medical care, then goes to Rimbor's moon to confront Pulsar Stargrave. Stargrave, aka the original Brainiac, meets Brainiac 5 and tells him that all of his recent actions were to discredit and destroy him. Brainiac 5 encases both of them in his impenetrable force-field. His plan is to never allow Stargrave to leave the moon. Pulsar Stargrave grows angry, unleashing enough solar energy to destroy Brainiac 5 and his force-shield. However, he only succeeds in destroying himself.

Commentary: 
This story is one of those whose plot summaries sound so much better than the actual story reads. To be sure, the idea that Brainiac 5 had committed murder and had gotten away with it was awful; cheers to Gerry and Jack C. Harris for finally clearing this awful story point up. On the other hand, how likely is it that the murder site had never been checked out before? Why did it take this long for Chameleon Boy to verify that Brainy had never been there? (On a related note, WTH is a "Legion blaster" that was supposedly used in the murder?) Was Pulsar Stargrave really just hanging out on the moon of Rimbor all this time, waiting to kill the Space Port authority guy? Then, why kill that guy? Phantom Girl had already checked out the arrivals and departure information. It doesn't make sense. You know what else doesn't make sense? The idea that Pulsar Stargrave would attack three Legionnaires and let them live. He gloats when he thinks he has killed Ultra Boy, but he doesn't go that extra inch to kill the others? What kind of sociopath robot is he?

In Pulsar Stargrave's final confrontation with Brainiac 5, they mention that they had met "months ago." So perhaps the whole Pulsar Stargrave storyline that had such starts and stops over so many years in real time only lasted six months in Legion time? (The whole thing is collected here if you missed it) That would make this incredibly stupid story a little better, I guess.

Lastly, I can't end this review without mentioning how incredibly stupid the ending is. If I read it correctly, Brainiac 5 hoped to keep Stargrave trapped on the moon forever. Faced with permanent incarceration, Stargrave blows himself up? What if he, I dunno, wrestled with his captor in order to make him turn the force field off? Wasn't Brainy's force field belt based on the original Brainiac's force field in the first place?

The art was adequate again this issue. As I review these issues I find myself preferring the work of Jimmy Janes to that of Steve Ditko, which is something I never thought that I would say. There is atleast a veneer of reality to Janes' work that seems to be sadly missing from Ditko's art from this time. Also, is it just me or does the page featuring Colossal Boy look more like it was inked by Romeo Tanghal? And the page where Pulsar lets Ultra Boy have it (above), that is a very Mike Grell- or Keith Pollard-like Pulsar Stargrave in my opinion. So either Janes is swiping better, or he is actually improving.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Shadow Lass is drawn on the cover without her cape again. She is also mis-colored in her mid-section again. 
  • Shadow Lass appears on the cover, but does not appear in the story. 
  • Earth President Marte Allon's middle name is Ida. 
  • On page five Timber Wolf is clearly standing with Chameleon Boy's group as someone drawn and colored as Timber Wolf flies away with Lighting Lad's group. Perhaps it was supposed to be Wildfire
  • When Phantom Girl faces Pulsar Stargrave she tells him that she thought he died when Superboy and Wildfire knocked him into Earth's sun. It was actually Colu's sun, as they faced him down on Colu. 
  • No mention is made of Stargrave's previous associates, Quicksand and Holdur. 
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

3 comments:

  1. Just an example of total garbage. This book should serve as the yardstick for when a book needs to be canceled

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  2. And yet, just over a year later and the seeds of The Great Darkness Saga would start to be felt. What a difference a year can make.

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