Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #299

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #299 (May 1983)
title: "Not A Ghost Of A Chance"
writer/co-plotter: Paul Levitz
penciller/co-plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Invisible Kid, Wildfire, Blok, White Witch, Dawnstar, Element Lad, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Timber Wolf, Dream Girl, Star Boy, Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Mon-El, Shadow Lass

SP Officer Erin, the Heroes of Lallor, Dev-Em, Invisible Kid I, Queen Projectra, Queeg

Karlak, the Khundian Army

Somewhere, Invisible Kid searches for Wildfire. He saw his friend disappear (last issue) and has somehow followed him to some other-dimensional world. He eventually finds Drake Burroughs, returned to his human form, at a make-shift harem. Drake refuses to return to their dimension, refusing to go back to being an anti-energy being. Invisible Kid tries to talk sense into him, but when that doesn't work, he knocks him out and carts him away.
As Invisible Kid is about to try to return to their dimension, the original, Lyle Norg Invisible Kid appears. Lyle Norg insists that Jacques and Drake stay there with him. When Jacques defers, Lyle starts a fight. Eventually he realizes what he is asking them to condemn themselves to the same hell he has been experiencing. Aghast at what he was asking them to do, he gives up and walks away.
Invisible Kid, confused and anxious to return to their home dimension, tries to disappear. He and Wildfire do re-appear in their space: on the planet Orando. They have appeared at the end of a seance that had been held by the Oracles to look for a sign from the spirit world that Queen Projectra is allowed to marry Karate Kid. Projectra is over-joyed to see them, meaning that her ancestors approve of her choice for husband.
Back on Asteroid 73-Q, the White Witch cannot find either Wildfire or Invisible Kid via her magic. Considering what to do next, the trio of Legionnaires are surprised when Karlak attacks again. Although he makes quick-work of Blok and Dawnstar, the White Witch confronts him with two spells: simple transmutation and the law of dissimilarity. He is literally knocked to pieces.

The White Witch's victory is short-lived, however, as the Khund warship that had served as Karlak's transportation suddenly looms over them. Luckily, five new Legion cruisers arrive. Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy, and Star Boy use their abilities to destroy it.

On Medicus One, Lighting Lad is checked out and given a clean bill of health by Dr. Larsh, substituting for Dr. Gym'll. The sinister doctor looks forward to using Lighting Lad for some nefarious scheme.

At Legion head-quarters, Element Lad and SP Officer Shvaughn Erin discuss Dream Girl's leadership, Shrinking Violet, and each other.

On Weber's World, Duplicate Boy returns from his errand on Earth. His friends the Heroes of Lallor try to introduce him to the new Science Police commander, Ontiir of Tsauron, but Duplicate Boy is in a hurry to return home so rudely walks off. Dev-Em decides to join them on Lallor for some vacation.

On the Science Asteroid, Shadow Lass decides to cover herself with white make-up and call herself Shadow Woman. Mon-El laughs as thousands of long-term Legion fans cringe.

Paul Levitz has written more than 100 Legion stories over the years, which is quite an accomplishment. Congratulations, as we have just gotten to one of his worst (if not THE worst).

Why are the Khunds menacing Asteroid 73-Q? We never find out.

Where is this "other dimension" that Wildfire and Invisible Kid find themselves? How did Wildfire get there? How did Invisible Kid manage to follow him? Does Invisible Kid have some sort of trans-dimensional power? Is that the original Invisible Kid that they find there? We never find out.

Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. Here we are given a situation that is not explained, some mindless fighting occurs, and then the story ends.

I can assume that we will get answers to most of these questions eventually, but not getting even a hint of a solution here is mind-boggling. And because Invisible Kid is such a non-dynamic character, if he's not pushing for solutions, then why should we even care? He even faints in his last panel! THIS is a Legionnaire?

Still, I can forgive not getting the answers to all of these questions except the last one. If that IS the original Invisible Kid, why does Levitz introduce him just to leave him there? This seems heartless and, in the context of this issue, stupid. I know that the second Invisible Kid and Wildfire make it back to this dimension eventually, but at this point...this side-trip seems utterly pointless.

This story features the two newest Legionnaires, White Witch and Invisible Kid. Whereas she comes off as an incredible asset, knocking the legs out from under Karlak after turning his weapons into flowers, he, unfortunately, does not come off smelling like roses. In fact, after this issue I began to really actively dis-like Invisible Kid. 

The art and the coloring is wild, per the dimensional travelling. Giffen and Mahlstedt are supported ably by colorist Carl Gafford. I am not, however, a fan of the cover. And as I mentioned a few posts back, I would have liked to have seen that Drake Burroughs was not just another Caucasian "American." Oh, well.

The last pages, of Mon-El and Shadow Lass returning from vacation but stopping on the Science Asteroid, made me anxious. I had already read a reprint of Adventure Comics #354, so I knew what Levitz was setting up. Check out the cover to this in-famous story, and the Memorial Statue on the right if you don't know what I'm talking about....!

Science Police Notes:  
  • The scene on the cover does not appear in the story. The symbolism is off, as Wildfire is not forcing the two Invisible Kids to fight. 
  • The cover blurb, "Two Invisible Kids Are Deader Than One!" is arguably a better title than the actual one. 
This issue has been reprinted in LSH: The Curse. 


  1. Ah, the beginning of the downhill slide of Giffen's art.

    It's been a while since I reread these, but I figured that Karlak's plot was kinda stupid, but it worked.

    He's looking for revenge against the Legion, so he starts causing a bit of trouble out in the middle of nowhere -- nothing huge, but enough to draw a little Legion attention. He was mad at the Legionnaires who humiliated him, but spread out his anger to the entire organization. He wasn't too particular about who he'd get his revenge on first.

    I, too, also crapped my pants a little at Shadow Woman. Levitz made it even worse in 300.

    However, TO THIS DAY I have no clue what Levitz and Giffen were trying to do with the return/not-return of Lyle Norg. At least it sure was pretty to look at.

  2. Oh, and as far as Jacques' characterization: he was still the new kid, and the readers' proxy for learning what the whole thing was about. I saw his fainting as him holding it all together as long as he could, until he and Wildfire were safe, and THEN letting the whole thing catch up with him and fainting.

    He wasn't heroic enough to just shrug the whole thing enough, but heroic enough to hold it together until they were safe. He was growing as a hero, but he still had a ways to go.

  3. Levitz must have been channeling Chris Claremont--who was famous for introducing and then abandoning multiple subplots during his tenure on X-Men--because Lyle Norg's "return" is barely mentioned after this, and won't be fully explained for another YEAR-AND-A-HALF!!!! Issues #310 and #317 to be precise. I won't spoil it for those who haven't read the books.