Thursday, November 13, 2014

Superboy #195

Superboy #195 (June 1973)
A review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The One-Shot Hero!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Dave Cockrum
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, Chemical King, Mon-El; cameos by Princess Projectra, Chameleon Boy, Bouncing Boy, Lightning Lad, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy, and Saturn Girl

agri-terrorists and their "Devourer"

At Legion head-quarters Legion applicant ERG-1 stands before the Legion asking for admittance. He tells them how he was once Drake Burroughs, astro-engineer, working on a new propulsion system when a safety valve snapped and he was engulfed by rocket exhaust's anti-matter energy. He wasn't killed; instead, his body was transformed into pulsating anti-energy. He was put into a containment suit, and with it he can mimic other heroes' abilities such as expansion, intangibility, and contraction. He calls himself Energy Release Generator, ERG-1. However, because he can't demonstrate a unique super-power, he is not admitted into the Legion.
Moments after he walks off, dejected, an SOS from the planet Manna-5 arrives. A terrorist group has set a "devourer" eating machine loose on the planet to spoil crops in an effort to have the United Planets pay "protection" money. Mon-El's plan is to send groups of three Legionnaires to the planet until the Devourer is destroyed. First up is Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, and Chemical King...and a stowaway! Chemical King's cobalt blasts have no effect,  Phantom Girl can't get past the electrical field, and Colossal Boy tries a direct attack, only to be knocked out. He is about to be eaten when ERG-1 streaks in and, fretting about "using the power," lets loose a blast of destructive force.

Phantom Girl scoops up Colossal Boy as Chemical King throws acid on the fire. Then they are all surprised to find ERG-1's uniform, empty. It is all that is left of him. He truly had a power he could only use once. 

This is a great story that moves at a brisk pace and doesn't let up until the great, very touching last panels. Cary knew what he was doing here, and Dave even more so. The art is gorgeous. It's fun to read this story now, knowing that it was setting us up for the introduction of Wildfire. I can only imagine what fans at the time thought of this. As the Legion took over Superboy's title in their next appearance, I'm guessing everybody loved it.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Superboy does not act as "the host" for this story. 
  • Chemical King is shown as having Element Lad's element-creating powers in this story, rather than with his ability to control chemical reactions. 
  • Although it makes sense for ERG-1 to be able to expand or contract his energy, there is no reason he should be able to create sodium from anti-energy, as he is shown doing.  
  • Phantom Girl and Colossal Boy get new uniforms in this issue. Although Colossal Boy gets another new one in his very next appearance, Phantom Girl keeps hers for the rest of her Bronze Age career. 
  • There is no reason for Mon-El to break the groups into three members. Writer Cary Bates was trying to showcase members by breaking them up into smaller groups, but in this case the plan is just dumb.  
  • And speaking of dumb, there is no reason Chemical King or Phantom Girl could not fly down and swoop in to rescue Colossal Boy from the Devourer. They should have atleast tried!
Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Vol. 10

MILESTONE: This is the debut of Wildfire, who would eventually become Legion of Super-Heroes member 28. He was a character designed by the late, great Dave Cockrum.
This issue is also the last appearance of the Legion as a back-up story in Superboy. The next time they appear, two issues later, they will be the co-headliners with him.   

Because this story is so great, here are the last three, most important pages.

1 comment:

  1. Since no one else has commented, I will. That scene with the tears streaming down Phantom Girl's face gets me every time.