Thursday, September 4, 2014

Superboy #172

Superboy (vol 1) #172 (March 1971)
title: "Brotherly Hate!"
writer: E. Nelson Bridwell
penciller/inker: George Tuska
letterer: Joe Letterese
colorist: Uncredited
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Neal Adams
reviewer: Bilingual Boy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Lightning Lad, Light Lass, Timber Wolf, Superboy (narrator)

Lightning Lord

Superboy is the narrator of this tale, welcoming The Legion to the back of his book "after their recent appearances in Action Comics."

Lightning Lad, his sister Light Lass, and her boyfriend Timber Wolf answer a summons from the Interplanetary Bank, which was robbed by someone with lightning powers. The Bank Manager pulls up a "solid light" picture of the thief (it's called a hologram, Mr. Bank Manager, geez, get with it) the twins realize that the perpetrator is in fact their long-lost brother, Mekt. As Timber Wolf is quick to point out, he calls himself Lightning Lord now. Superboy then reminds us that the reason Lightning Lad was on that fateful ship and helped form the Legion in the first place was because he had left his home planet to try to find his brother. Then we are back in the present (present future?) as the three of them uses a tracer beam on their Legion Cruiser to track Lightning Lord to a small planetoid.
What exactly are Timber Wolf and Light Lass trying to do here? 
While the twins are thinking anxiously, "we can't fight our brother!" Timber Wolf sees their hesitation and thinks, "Is it too late to call-in somebody like Chemical King?" After Lightning Lord shockingly shocks their  sister unconscious, Lightning Lad finally mans up. He and his older brother parry each others' lightning attacks until Lightning Lad maneuvers Lightning Lord close enough to a rock formation with silver ore. Lightning Lad's last bolt travels through the ore, short-circuiting Lightning Lord. 

This story does a great job introducing the characters and the conflict and then hurtling towards its dramatic conclusion. E. Nelson Bridwell evidently thought that some of the regular Superboy readers would not know who these characters are, so cleverly gives us not only the origin of the leads, but also of the whole Legion. And I can't help but think that he planned this follow-up story when he wrote the original origin story where pre-Lightning Lad Garth Ranzz first tells us the reason he is going to Earth is to look for his missing brother.

For the wonderful spotlight this story gives Lightning Lad, though, it really doesn't do much for Timber Wolf and does less than nothing for Light Lass. She sobs, cries, thinks "I can't fight my brother!" and then gets blasted by Lightning Lord without ever using her powers. Timber Wolf at least is ready to attack until Garth tells him to back off.

Science Police Notes:  
  • In a nice nod to LSH continuity, the beast guards of the Interplanetary Bank are the same as those shown in its previous appearance, in Adventure Comics #350 (another story written by Bridwell).  
  • In another nice nod to continuity, Timber Wolf references meeting up with Lighting Lord before. This was in Adventure Comics #372, when Timber Wolf went undercover to infiltrate the Legion of Super-Villains.  
  • Lightning Lord's hair is turned white in this issue when Lightning Lad short-circuits him. 
  • The Legion Cruiser shown here does not resemble any other Cruiser shown before or since. 
Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Vol. 10 and Showcases Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes vol 4

MILESTONE: This is the first time the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared as a back-up in Superboy. Although this story does not necessarily portend great things, as most readers here already know, within two years the Legion would acquire co-star billing with Superboy! This co-star status would eventually lead to co-billing, and then they would actually take over the series entirely and kick Superboy out. So watch your back, Clark...! 

Legion Bonus! 
Because the story is only seven pages, here it is in its entirety!


  1. The last line of dialogue by Timber Wolf is almost ironic given what we know unfolds. Mekt didn't reform for some time and became one of the most brutal and powerful villains in the LSV. I especially love his appearances in the Levitz/Giffen stuff where Giffen instituted what I call the 'lightning effect', making him appear an entirely composed of lightning when in combat.

    In 5YL, he eventually reforms.

    1. Of course, in Adult LSH he eventually goes bad again. ;-)

  2. This story got one more reprint at least, in digest form! It ran in DC Special Series #19, a Secret Origins digest issue.

    Great job on the blog guys. Even as a passing Legion fan, I'm fascinated by it's history, and you guys are doing a fantastic job serving up samplers from all eras!


    1. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for the reprint info. Obviously, with so much out there, we're gonna miss things. That's why we really believe it takes a Legion of bloggers to get it all right..!

  3. If you love the Legion and are intrigued about their history in the DC Digests, stay tuned!

    -Kyle Benning