Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #277

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #277 (July, 1981)
title: "The Man Who Chained the Earth!"
writer: Roy Thomas
plotter:  Gerry Conway
penciller: Jimmy Janes
inker: Frank Chiaramonte
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Gene D'Angelo
editor: Mike W. Barr
cover: George Perez
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Light Lass, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf, Karate Kid, Brainiac 5, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Blok, Shadow Lass

Guests: 
Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Reflecto

Opponents: 
Grimbor

Synopsis: 
On Earth, a group of Legionnaires are on a rescue mission to save a cargo craft before it sinks into the ocean. Cosmic Boy and Light Lass try to keep it afloat, but something under the water is pulling it down. As Timber Wolf and Karate Kid help rescue the crew, Phantom Girl goes underwater where she finds a seaweed creature. She goes semi-solid to start cutting the tentacles, but one strand grabs her and knocks her out.
Suddenly, another flying figure enters the scene. A red-haired young man in a yellow and orange suit dives out of the sky, flying down through the cargo ship to save Phantom Girl. Phantom Girl, somewhat taken aback, thinks he might have given her mouth to mouth resuscitation. She initially dreams that he is Ultra Boy, who everyone believes to be dead. The young man returns to Legion head-quarters with her as if he was on auto-pilot, where Brainiac 5 tells everyone that she is okay. He tells them his name is Reflecto, then flies off.
Moments later, the others arrive with the rescued crew. Captain Baktra tells how a small, unmarked ship intersected with his and "anchored" itself to it. This scrambled the cargo ship's hovercraft engines, causing it to begin to sink. Then the smaller craft used a tractor beam to steal the cargo at the same time another beam caused sea weed to mutate into a lethal threat. The Legion promises to investigate.
Once inside their head-quarters, Lightning Lad announces to the assembled members that he has decided to quit as Legion Leader. The Legionnaires start to discuss his concerns with him.

At the North Pole, Grimbor is testing a ther-manacle trap, a cage that catches a polar bear after being set-off by the animal's body temperature. Grimbor then activates a series of satellites that are in synchronized orbit above Earth. As soon as he does this, enormous energy "chains" appear in the stratosphere. One ship is approaching Earth when they appear, and it cannot swerve out of the way. It crashes into them, killing several passengers before the Science Police can rescue them.

Other Science Police officers head up to investigate, and although they are aware of what they are facing, their ship also collides with the energy chains, which appear able to move freely when an object approaches them.
Certain that his newest death trap is a success, Grimbor then sends a hologram message to the Earth Council. He demands to be made dictator of Earth and for the Legion to be handed over to him, or he will allow his energy chains to destroy the world. He has vowed vengeance on the Legion because after his lover, Charma, was captured, she died in prison.

The Earth Council contacts the Legion, which is still discussing the possibility of Lightning Lad quitting. They table that discussion, as Lightning Lad breaks the group into several teams to investigate the energy chains, to investigate the stolen cargo, and to negotiate with the Earth Council.
As the Legionnaires fly off, Reflecto is shown loitering about outside. He sees Phantom Girl in one of the groups, so flies off after her. Karate Kid and Princess Projectra stay behind to stay on monitor duty.
Look quick or you'll miss Star Boy and Element Lad this issue
Commentary: 
This issue certainly starts off right: brand new cover artist "Gorgeous" George Perez gives us a messianic pose that grabs your interest immediately. Upon opening the story there is a new "permanent" writer, world-famous Roy Thomas. He was coming off extensive experience at Marvel with large casts on The Avengers and The Invaders, so the expectation is that he is going to be able handle the Legion.

Unfortunately.....well, a few things seem to be working against him. First, the current Legion artist,  Jimmy Janes, is not bringing his top game here. The energy chains is a good idea, but the illustrations, especially on pages 20 and 21, are just not very good. And things are just "off" throughout the issue. For example, in the middle of the Legion's discussion about their Leader, Karate Kid and Princess Projectra are drawn rushing into the room. Huh? If they haven't been sitting here this whole time, why haven't they? Like I said, it's just things like this that are artistically "off."

It's nice to see the return of Grimbor, and "chaining" the world is a good idea. On the other hand, you would think that if you choose to live in the North Pole, wouldn't you choose to, I don't know, wear more clothes? This would have been a great chance for Janes to re-design Grimbor's outfit to be more practical. We get nothing.

The mystery of Reflecto starts out well. Clearly, with the "dream" sequence of Phantom Girl kissing Ultra Boy, we are supposed to think that he has something to do with Jo Nah. I remember being confused by this character, mostly because I did not understand why he called himself "Reflecto." What exactly is he supposed to be "reflecting"?

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Dream Girl, Star Boy, Element Lad, and Shrinking Violet are listed on the Roll Call on page one, the men have no lines and the women do not appear at all. Shadow Lass is not listed on the Roll Call but clearly appears in the story.
  • Brainiac 5 appears and checks on Phantom Girl, then is not seen again. He does not go out on any of the missions, nor does he stay on monitor duty. 
  • Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy are listed on the Roll Call, although we are never told that they officially returned to active duty. So I choose to continue to list them as Guest Stars. 
  • There is no direct evidence that the cargo theft was engineered by Grimbor. However, Lightning Lad immediately links that robbery to him. 
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

Milestone: 
This issue is special for several reasons. First, it is the debut of new Legion writer Roy Thomas, who moved over to DC from Marvel in early 1981. Secondly, this is the debut of new editor Mike W. Barr, who has replaced Jack C. Harris. Harris was the assistant editor under previous editor Murray Boltinoff, so had been involved with the Legion for more than five years. And lastly, and most spectacularly, this is the first Legion of Super-Heroes cover by the ultra-talented George Perez, who had also recently come over to DC from Marvel.

8 comments:

  1. When I read this issue I had no clue who Reflecto was. It wasn't until a year or two later I finally got a copy of Adventure 354 showing him on the cover.

    In hindsight, if I knew about Reflecto beforehand I probably would have been really annoyed with what was done with him in this storyline.

    Alan

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    1. Yes, I was quite annoyed by how this unfolded.

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  2. But dang those Perez covers were (and are) amazing.

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  4. I was disappointed on many levels by this issue at the time. Firstly by RT's bland script; by the interior art; and the nondescript nature of Reflecto, whom I'd been waiting to see for nearly a decade. Gorgeous cover though.

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  5. I bought this book seeing the great cover artwork by George Perez and when I opened it up to read later.....

    "#*$% not Jimmy Janes" !

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  6. Perez's first Legion cover was 268, the infamous Dr. Mayavale story. Rather, let's say this is the first of George's stint as regular cover artist.

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