Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #278

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #278 (Aug, 1981)
title: "Tragedy At The Top of the World!"
writer: Roy Thomas
plotter:  Gerry Conway
penciller: Jimmy Janes
inker: Bruce Patterson
letterer: Todd Klein
colorist: Gene D'Angelo
editor: Mike W. Barr
cover: George Perez
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Shadow Lass, Mon-El, Lightning Lad, Light Lass, Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Star Boy, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, Element Lad, Wildfire, Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, Cosmic Boy, Phantom Girl, Blok

Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Reflecto, President Marte Allon


Above Earth's atmosphere, six Legionnaires investigate the energy chains that are slowly strangling Earth. Mon-El strikes them as Shady insists on staying by his side. The energy feedback knocks both of them unconscious. Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf save them from falling back onto Earth.
Light Lass yells at Lightning Lad to be a better leader. He responds by telling her to focus on the mission and to forget about Ultra Boy for now. The twins then try to use their combined powers against the chain to no avail. Mon-El revives, then offers to strike the chains again. Before trying that again, Lightning Lad asks Saturn Girl for her report. She senses strong thoughts about them coming from the North Pole. She thinks that is where Grimbor's hide-out may be, so they head there to investigate.
At the Earth Council offices, a hologram of Grimbor appears with another ultimatum. He tells President Allon and the rest of the Council that he has decided to reduce his terms from 24 hours to one! He insists that he is made dictator of Earth and that the Legionnaires are handed over to him, or his energy chains will destroy all life on Earth.
At Grimbor's head-quarters, we find him pining for Charma, his dead girl-friend. When the six Legionnaires approach, however, he stifles his feelings and prepares to murder them.
In the Middle East, Cosmic Boy's group is trying to track down what Grimbor stole from the freight company, hoping this information will help them to stop him. They are conferring with a representative of the shipping company when they are interrupted by Reflecto. When Reflecto ignores Cosmic Boy's request to leave them alone, the Legionnaires start fighting him. He defends himself, but does not fight against Phantom Girl. Frustrated by their attitude, he flies off. However, he secretly keeps an eye on them from afar.
Phantom Girl sneaks into the shipping company's storage area and finds a huge power crystal. There should be two but there is only one, so the Legionnaires guess that Grimbor stole the other. They report to Karate Kid and Princess Projectra, on monitor duty at Legion HQ, who tell them that Lightning Lad's group has rushed off to the North Pole. They decide to follow suit.

Lighting Lad and his group arrive at the North Pole and find Grimbor's castle. As they are about to attack, they are knocked off by Grimbor one by one. Light Lass tries to raise the whole castle, but is taken down before she can succeed. Timber Wolf tries to sneak in, but he, too, is caught.
At the Legion HQ, Karate Kid and Princess Projectra are dismayed to see that the chains are quickly approaching the atmosphere.

This issue boasts another awesome cover by George Perez. Unfortunately, it is the best part of this issue. In fact, if you have been following along over the past few issues you will know that there is a definite trend going on of Great Cover = Crappy Story.

My first complaint is in relation to the characters involved. Lightning Lad has brought five other members to go with him to investigate the energy chains, but in that group are Shadow Lass and Timber Wolf, two members who are almost guaranteed to have no effect against the chains. You would think that he would have brought Element Lad (who might have been able to convert the chains to some other element) or Wildfire (whose anti-energy might destroy the chains) or Phantom Girl (who might be able to phase into the chains and unlock them). Okay, Lighting Lad is in the middle of resigning, sure, but if a leader doesn't know what his team can do....he SHOULD resign!

Speaking of not knowing what your team can do....Lighting Lad consoles Light Lass because Ultra Boy is dead. HUH?? What the hell does that mean? A few pages later it's strongly inferred that Phantom Girl was Ultra Boy's girl-friend (in case you're not a long-time Legion fan and know this already.) So....bad plotting, and bad editing, too?! Later, Cosmic Boy, who has been portrayed as basically one cool character for more than 20 years, flies off the handle and starts a fight with Reflecto. Huh!? I am willing to give new writer Roy Thomas and new editor Mike W. Barr some time to get accustomed to the characters, but come on! This is routine stuff.

The sub-plot where Colossal Boy thinks his mother the President of Earth now has it in for the Legion is already getting old. I hope this gets resolved fast.

Colossal Boy's characterization isn't the only sour note here. In the final act each of the Legionnaires strikes on their own and is easily taken down by Grimbor. Whatever happened to team-work? Who wants to bet that next issue the team suddenly decides to work together and in doing so, defeats Grimbor? Either that, or maybe the Earth is destroyed. We'll see.

The art this time out is the best it has been in awhile. I think inker Bruce Patterson may be "finishing" the pencils of Jimmy Janes. Either that or he is doing more embellishing in the backgrounds, because this is the nicest the Legion and the future has looked in many issues. Also the colors, especially the Aurora Borealis at the North Pole, are wonderful. Nice job, Gene D'Angelo.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dream Girl is listed in the Roll Call but does not appear in this story. 
  • Reflecto appears on the cover, but does not actually investigate the energy chains as shown. 
  • Reflecto does not actually "reflect" anything in this story. 
  • In this story we learn that it takes three Flight Rings to allow Blok to fly. 
  • If Grimbor stole the second power crystal from the storage bin, what did he steal from the space freighter (last issue)? 
This issue has not yet been reprinted.


  1. Have to agree, this was a clunker. This storyline appeared shortly before I became a regular reader. A lot of it didn't make sense.

    And Reflecto dispatched Blok far too easily. It's as if he is more competent as Reflecto than he ever was (or will be in the future) as Ultra Boy. Beautiful cover, though with Perez that's pretty much a given.

    - Boston

  2. The Bruce Patterson inking is such an upgrade. Doesn’t he stay on for the excellent Pat Broderick run? I know this isn’t a great story, but I like the high stakes and the way the adventure breathes over three issues. Maybe after all the circuses, pirates and knights, my expectations have been lowered to a tragic degree.
    Also, doesn’t Reflecto kind of look like Jimmy Olsen?