Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #306

I have talked a lot about how fantastic this particular time in the history of The Legion of Super-Heroes has been exemplary, a high water mark for the characters. Creators Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen were producing incredible stories and characterization. But one thing I think they had a great handle on was pacing. Since the end of the Great Darkness Saga, the book has had a number of plotlines open and close. And despite LSH #304 being mostly about the Legion Academy, it still introduced a new plotline. Incredible.

Last issue was the culmination of the 'imposter in the Legion' story, revealing that Shrinking Violet was actually a Durlan for over a year of issues. After a bombshell like that, the readers probably needed a chance to breathe before moving into the next arc. So Legion of Super-Heroes #306 was something of a rest issue, recapping the origin of Star Boy while showing us the latest election for Legion Leader. And this little tap of the brakes worked. I needed to cleanse my palate after the Vi reveal and this issue did just that.

Add to that a great mix of art by Giffen, inker Larry Mahlstedt, and legendary Curt Swan and this issue was a winner. On to the issue.

'Under A Lucky Star'  revolves around Wildfire and Star Boy having a relaxing chat in the Legion HQ. Both of these guys have had relationship problems recently. Wildfire has been heartbroken at Dawnstar leaving Earth to find her real soulmate. And Star Boy hasn't been able to really have a relationship with Dream Girl because she has been too busy with Legion Leader duties.

Star Boy is actually pretty sullen this evening because it is the Legion Leader election and he fears that Dream Girl will win again. And why wouldn't she? Think of the turmoil the team has had during her tenure and yet she has led the Legion successfully through it all.

We see the tally board in the background.

 In fact, Dream Girl has earned the respect of Wildfire and that can't be easy.

Star Boy can't believe it.

I feel like I need to go back to the Great Darkness Saga because I am pretty sure Wildfire scoffed at Nura when she announced she was running. That would make Wildfire voting for her even more impressive.

 Thom then decides to tell Wildfire all about his origin.

Born on an orbiting science satellite, exposed to all manners of energies, alters Thom. He can draw on the mass of stars and temporarily add it to other objects, increasing the object's mass. We see him as a toddler crash the satellite forcing the family to abandon ship.

What is interesting is hearing how Thom was then investigated and poked and prodded by the scientists of Xanthu. He almost sounds resentful as being treated like a lab animal.

 But he luckily grows to the point that he can leave the planet.

And talk about having crazy luck, his ship enters a comet tail, triggering further powers. He basically becomes a new Superman. With that power set, he is easily elected into the Legion.

 And he gets sent on an early mission. Prisoners on Takron-Galtos have rebelled and taken control. The science police officers including Lieutenant Zendak (later to be Chief) and a very young Gigi Cusimano realize that once the prisoners know they have a huge weapon cache at their disposal, they will be even more dangerous.

I liked that Levitz made this mythos a little smaller by having these familiar faces there.

 Sent in like the cavalry, Star Boy's luck gives out. The comet-based super-powers wear off in the middle of a skirmish.

Armed only with his mass powers, Thom drops a whole building on himself and the prisoners revolting, ending the threat.

 Star Boy recovers and rejoins the team and meets Dream Girl for the first time. She joins the team because she has a vision of a bunch of Legionnaires dying in a spaceship crash. It turns out that her vision was of androids.

Realizing her powers can't be trusted yet, she quits the team. But first she gives Ayla gravity-nullifying powers. And we see the beginning of a Thom/Nura relationship.

I liked that Levitz included so much of Dreamy's origin in the issue, albeit told from Thom's perspective. These two are inextricably linked.

 And then there is even more bad luck.

Thom is attacked by another of Nura's suitors. The jealous Karak wants to kill Star Boy so that Karak can be with Dreamy. Pinned by his own powers, Star Boy uses a laser pistol to kill his would-be killer. Unfortunately, that breaks the Legion code against killing. Brainiac 5 shows that there was an alternative to killing Karak. Star Boy is kicked off the team. But now he can be with Dream Girl even more. She had joined the Subs and he does as well, starting a very successful stint on that team.

I do have to laugh that Brainiac 5 is the arbiter in these matters. That guy has caused more problems for the team than he has fixed. You think he'd recuse himself ... or have some sympathy.

 When Superboy and Supergirl are forced to leave Earth temporarily because of a Kryptonite cloud, the super-cousins ask the team to replace them with Sir Prize and Miss Terious (god how I love those names).

It turns out that under the lead masks were Star Boy and Dream Girl! Having proven themselves, the two are elected back onto the team. And their romance has been going strong since.

I love how Levitz really leans into the Legion history here. This was before the internet. I love that he included these scenes for Legion fans clamoring for more context! Legion fans in general love their history so why not include some!

And then another turn of luck. Initially it looked like Dream Girl was going to be re-elected. But then Element Lad, a write-in candidate, wins beating her with the count 9-7. What I loved about this was that over the course of the story who voted for who. Dream Girl voted for herself! I suppose she knew she was going to lose. I love how the original three all voted for Jan.

Suddenly Thom is happy and dancing. He thinks things will return to normal. I suppose this is something of an old-school attitude. He doesn't want Dreamy to be in an important position because she isn't paying enough attention to him. Talk about maintaining a paternalistic view!

Regardless of Thom's needs, I liked this issue. We got Curt Swan re-drawing historic moments from the Silver Age. We got a Legion election and a new leader! And we got to see two Legionnaires kicking back. This didn't have the gravitas of more recent issues ... but frankly I needed the pause.

What did you all think?


  1. Thanks for this write-up-- this is one my favorite issues of the LEGION, actually. I like its quiet, contemplative tone, and its look at the characters of Dream Girl and Star Boy. This is the story that started to turn me into a Dream Girl fan. THE GREAT DARKNESS SAGA was the first LEGION collection I read, and I liked it, but it was around this point where I started to *love* the Legion.

  2. Let's also make a mention of THE COVER. One of the most gorgeous of the many I've seen over the years.
    Love when legionnaires dress down in torn out old uniforms, as well.

  3. Re Brainiac 5 being the arbiter of Star Boy's trial: he was Legion leader at the time, so it fell to him to charge and prosecute the case. This was not too long after the original Computo story, and the writers of the time never exactly portrayed Brainy as sympathetic or empathetic. Guess that's what they believed a 12-th level computer mind was like.

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Love the cover. And love downtime Legion.

    And thanks for reminding me that Brainy was the leader!

  5. This Levitz / Giffen arc was fantastic until "The Prophet" storyline !