Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #279

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #279 (Sept, 1981)
title: "Castle Grimbor Must Fall!"
writer: Roy Thomas
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:  
Lighting Lad, Saturn Girl, Mon-El, Princess Projectra, Karate Kid, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Blok, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass, Light Lass

Guests: 
Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, President Marte Allon

Opponents: 
Grimbor

Synopsis: 
At Grimbor's castle at the North Pole, Lightning Lad is yelling at a hologram version of Grimbor as Grimbor's energy chains are closing in on Earth's atmosphere. All Legionnaires have been captured except Lightning Lad, who vows to fight on against Grimbor until one of them is dead.
At Legion head-quarters, Princess Projectra and Karate Kid are explaining the current situation to each other, then check in on Earth President Marte Allon. The Earth Council has officially rejected Grimbor's demands for the Legion and the Earth to be handed over to him. Colossal Boy patronizes his mother, the President, and she yells at him. Frustrated and feeling useless, Wildfire decides to lead his group up to the North Pole to face Grimbor and die fighting, if necessary.
Karate Kid checks the situation around Earth, finding people praying, stealing, committing suicide, and/or drinking themselves into oblivion. Karate Kid decides that he, too, would rather die fighting, so heads up to the energy chains to try one last time to destroy them. Princess Projectra knows that she would be useless against the chains, so refuses to go, saying she prefers to die in the luxury of her private apartment. Karate Kid, totally taken aback by her attitude, flies off alone.
At the North Pole, Lighting Lad falls against Grimbor's weaponry, just as Cosmic Boy's team arrives. He and Blok go into the castle first, leaving the others to stand around outside. Reflecto also arrives, making Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel think that the way he follows Phantom Girl around reminds them of Ultra Boy.
Huh? 
Inside, Grimbor orders Blok to smother Cosmic Boy, as his smuggled power crystals have increased his abilities to control living things.
"She does not even breathe!" 
At her private apartment, Princess Projectra decides it is time to use her Augmatron, a device she created to augment her illusion-casting powers. She activates it, then appears to drop dead.

Out in space, Karate Kid is about to go out in a blaze of glory when a hologram of Princess Projectra tells him where to hit the chains to shatter them.
There are only three chains? Huh?! 
At the North Pole, Grimbor continues to make quick work of the Legionnaires. Phantom Girl appears to Grimbor to be his dead girl-friend, Charma, thanks to Princess Projectra's long-range illusion powers. When he realizes he is being fooled he attacks Phantom Girl, making Reflecto angry. Grimbor, who for some reason thinks Reflecto is Ultra Boy, is defeated when Reflecto over-powers him.
Karate Kid arrives, freeing everyone from Grimbor's traps. Phantom Girl checks on the prone Reflecto, and realizes that he is really....Superboy?!

Commentary: 
This story is another hot mess. Per the current trend, the cover by Gorgeous George Perez is awesome; therefore, the story itself is terrible. Lighting Lad stands around posturing, yelling at Grimbor and threatening to kill him instead of, say, freeing Mon-El,  his wife, or his sister. Likewise, when Cosmic Boy's team arrives he breaks them up and insists on three members staying outside? Where is the Legion's legendary team-work? Or, if Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, and Phantom Girl *must* stay out of the initial fight, why aren't they freeing Mon-El or the other members while they are waiting around?!

The characterization and motivations for all of the characters are a bit off. Princess Projectra projects (sorry) an air of superiority, but.....it's only because she wants to use her never-tried Augmatron without Karate Kid stopping her? Uh...okay....but....what exactly is she augmenting, and how does it work? SHE created it, without any prior scientific knowledge ever being shown? Then she suddenly can find the weak-point in the chains? She could suddenly communicate with Phantom Girl in the North Pole and project (sorry) an illusion around her? As a side note, that means that Princess Projectra actually came the closest to defeating Grimbor. So....yeah. Not the weakest Legionnaire by a long shot, people. By the way, the omniscient narrator clearly states that Projectra uses the Augmatron, then stops breathing. That's death, people. You can't just get better.

Speaking of death, it was weird reading how Karate Kid was about to throw himself into the energy chains, committing suicide as he hoped to have some effect on them. Sound at all like the way he really did end up dying, several years later?

Anyway, Cosmic Boy and Lighting Lad are both shown to be not only idiots, but jerks. Mon-El sits in his cage whining instead of trying to free Saturn Girl. Karate Kid wants his woman to hold his hand while he commits suicide. Need I go on? It seems like writer Roy Thomas is trying just a tad too hard to be DRAMATIC when he could really just turn it down a notch to maintain the targeted feel. I mean, the world IS about to end, Roy. No need for even more angst. This is his first time as a solo writer for this book, so maybe by next issue he'll have a better grasp of what makes these characters tick.

Art-wise, this is another consistently average effort by Jimmy Janes. Nothing all too great on display this time, but nothing in your face awful, either. I'm not sure if that is a compliment or not....

As for that Ultra-Surprising guest star.....I admit that I was surprised by this revelation. I had read enough comics to know that Ultra Boy was the obvious guess, so couldn't be correct. And I wasn't quite sure why Grimbor jumped to that conclusion so quickly. Maybe the power crystals that were giving him powers he never had before (and never had again) made him think he was semi-omniscient. Anyway, I had no idea why Superboy would pretend to be Reflecto. So this hooked me. I absolutely was going to pick up the next issue.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although the text on page one boasts "Featuring virtually the entire Legion roster---!" Brainiac 5, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Dawnstar, and Sun Boy do not appear in this story. 
  • Phantom Girl talks about seeing Ultra Boy blasted to atoms by Pulsar Stargrave, but she didn't actually witness this. She was unconscious at the time. 
  • Element Lad was shown last issue to be with Wildfire's group, but he is not shown with them this issue. 
  • Princess Projectra's servo-droid is named Raalf-124C4U. 
  • Projectra tells Karate Kid to destroy the main Earth-Council satellite, but he is shown hitting a chain instead.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

2 comments:

  1. Projectra's droid has the code 124C4U... or "I too foresee for you"... shouldn't that be Dream Girl's?

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  2. "Art-wise, this is another consistently average effort by Jimmy Janes. Nothing all too great on display this time, but nothing in your face awful, either."

    Nothing awful, huh? What about the forced (read: anatomically impossible) perspective on Bouncing Boy in that final splash page? It looks like Grimbor dislocated his shoulder. Both of them.

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