Thursday, October 30, 2014

Superboy 191

Superboy #191 (October 1972)
A review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "Attack Of The Sun Scavenger!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Dave Cockrum
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Sun Boy, Shadow Lass, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy; cameos by Timber Wolf, Princess Projectra, Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl, and Karate Kid

Dr. Regulus

It's Dirk Morgna's 11 sola-year birthday (which, according to the 1976 DC Calendar is February 24), and his pals are throwing him a surprise birthday party. Dream Girl has nibbled at her food and passed the reminder to Bouncing Boy, who has literally stuffed himself. Then Cosmic Boy brings in their group gift for Sun Boy, a rare Arguvian slab-sculpture. The sculpture suddenly begins to melt open, revealing Sun Boy's arch enemy Dr. Regulus inside instead of the Rimborian prostitute that his buddies had paid for. Regulus attacks, but Sun Boy and Cosmic Boy are able to reflect his solar power back at him, knocking him out. On closer examination, Regulus admits that he is actually dying! Regulus has time to make one last request before expiring: he asks Sun Boy to cremate him by hurling his body into the Arion Star. For our benefit, Sun Boy remembers how Regulus was a top scientist at Sun Boy's father's atomic plant, until Regulus made a mistake and got himself fired. He blamed Dirk,  and subsequently locked the boy in an atomic reactor for revenge. However, because Dirk was a Ginger, he wasn't burnt to a crisp. His body absorbed the rays and turned him into Sun Boy. The flashback ends, and Sun Boy admits he feels responsible for Regulus. He decides to honor his last request.
Although Cosmic Boy offers to join him, Sun Boy refuses the offer, wanting to take care of Regulus' cremation on his own. When he gets to the Arion Star he tosses the coffin and two coffins of funereal flowers into it. Unfortunately, the energy of the sun re-charges Regulus! It turns out he wasn't actually dead. (Now *there's* a surprise for his birthday!)  He boasts that Arion is the source of his energy, but like a rechargeable battery he had run out of juice. He didn't have enough power to get back to the Arion on his own, so he tricked Sun Boy to bring him back. Sun Boy is overwhelmed by the super-charged Regulus, and is afraid that he will be killed. Luckily for him, Lightning Lad and Shadow Lass were hiding in the flower caskets. Shady blinds Regulus with darkness, then Lightning Lad blasts him and Sun Boy delivers the knock-out blow. On the way back, Lightning Lad admits that when he investigated the Arion Star he found out that it was created by Regulus, so he was suspicious and decided to stowaway as flowers just in case. 

This is a great little story, the first in a series of good ones by Cary Bates. The story starting with a birthday party is a fun bit, and the action comes quickly and is handled well. Cary is getting better at understanding the dynamics of the Legion. Dave Cockrum is also getting better. He handles the inks as well as the pencils from this issue, so the art is gorgeous. Especially nice are the close-ups on pages 2, 5, and 10. The posing and flying figures, too, especially on page 2, 3, and 4, are also great. Plus the architecture and technology, such as the Legion cruiser, are also fabulous. The colors, especially the blacks and yellows, and the oranges, are also beautiful.

Science Police Notes:  
  • If Sun Boy is 11 years old, why are there 12 candles on his birthday cake? 
  • Dream Girl is consistently mis-colored in a purple costume during this story.
  • Check out Timber Wolf's look. Although he is still in his Silver Age costume, there is a definite beginning to his future feral look (which will make its official debut in six more issues). 
  • Dr. Regulus' plan was risky, to say the least. If Invisible Kid or Brainiac Five had been present at Sun Boy's party, they probably would have insisted on an autopsy, effectively killing the "dead" man.
  • The Legionnaires wear transparent space helmets during this mission, a precursor to their later trans-suits.   
Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Vol. 10

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