Thursday, December 18, 2014

Superboy starring The Legion #200

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #200 (Feb, 1974)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Legionnaire Bride of Starfinger!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Dave Cockrum
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Bouncing Boy, Duo Damsel, Brainiac 5, Superboy, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Shadow Lass, Mon-El; cameos by Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, and the entire membership of the Legion

The Legion of Substitute Heroes, The Heroes of Lallor, and The Wanderers all appear as wedding guests


Bouncing Boy gets a terrible diagnosis from Brainiac 5. To cheer himself up he watches a holovid of him and Duo Damsel in earlier, happier days. This makes him realize he has to make a choice. He chases after Duo Damsel, back from a mission in space, and tells her his news and asks her a question. She says Yes, but then flies off before he can kiss her! She has flown into the sky to save two escaped Eagleox birds. Unfortunately, she finds that can't divide into two women! Luckily, Superboy flies by and saves the other bird. They announce to him that Bouncing Boy has lost his powers again, but that he has asked Duo Damsel to leave the Legion with him to get married!
Brainiac 5 runs another diagnostic and realizes that Duo Damsel has already split into two people, so can not split again. He runs a memory probe on her (instead of using, say, a local telepath or someone) and "sees" that a huge Roc-like bird kidnapped her other self. Duo Damsel blocked the separation from her conscious memory because she could not deal with the shock.
The wedding ceremony is held on Nix Olympica on Mars, with all members attending except Mon-El and Shadow Lass, who stay behind at Legion HQ. Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel get married (with Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl as bridesmaids and Lighting Lad as best man) but again, they don't get to kiss. Just as the ceremony ends, Duo Damsel collapses! Starfinger shows up holding the other Duo Damsel.  Starfinger boasts that he poisoned both Duo Damsels while they were in space, then his pet kidnapped one, dooming them both if they are not re-united. Instead of attacking him en masse, the Legion agrees to his demand, and Superboy hands over the second Duo Damsel.
Supergirl lets her date get involved, but stays out of the action? Really!?! 
Saturn Girl uses Duo Damsel's brain waves that Brainiac 5 conveniently brought with him to the wedding (his gift to them?), and four Legionnaires head off to find and capture Starfinger. But Phantom Girl and Lightning Lad don't go, because, you know, they are Duo Damsel's closest friends. Starfinger tells the reader that his plan is to investigate Duo Damsel's powers so that he can learn how to split into an army of Starfingers to take over the galaxy. Superboy flies off after hearing this and pretends to be a second Starfinger so he can knock him out. Superboy flies the two Duo Damsels out of Starfinger's ship so that they can reunite, and as they are more concerned with her health, the Legionnaires are caught flat-footed when Starfinger teleports away.
This probably wouldn't have happened if more Legionnaires had chosen to get involved. 
Back on Earth, Mon-El as leader has decided to ask Superboy to re-join the Legion full-time now that Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy have both left. Unbeknownst to him and Shadow Lass, however, an invisible energy floating over them wants to take what is coming to him!
This is another awful Cary Bates script. Most importantly for me, I hate that in a story that is the swan song for two major cast members, neither of them get to be stars. It is a shame that they have re-active instead of pro-active roles in their own story. Was Cary trying to show how superfluous Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel truly are? He doesn't do them any justice by writing them out of the series this way.
The first specifically annoying part of the story is that for the first six pages Cary tries to create some sort of artificial drama: is Bouncing Boy dying? What is he asking Duo Damsel? What is going on with her powers? Unfortunately, most of those questions are spoiled by the story being called "the BRIDE of Starfinger." So we get six pages on a non-mystery set-up to create suspense that doesn't exist. Worse, we get absolutely NO respect for continuity, as 1. Duo Damsel suffered the death of one of her "selves" before when she went from Triplicate Girl to Duo Damsel and she did not go into any type of hysteria about it when *that* happened; and 2. Starfinger as a character was originally a mentally controlled Lightning Lad, but they share NO scenes together this time. If I had been Lightning Lad and I was faced with the panel below, I would not have just stood down. I'm not sure which plot point bothers me more.
"Here I am, holding my hostage and unable to attack. Please just let me go!" 
Or perhaps it's the idea that we have 20 plus super-heroes standing around at the wedding, but as soon as Duo Damsel collapses, only FIVE characters are shown responding. Really!?! Instead of Saturn Girl having to try to pick up Duo Damsel's brain waves telepathically, what if Ultra Boy or Supergirl tried super-hearing or super-vision to find him? Or what if a group had rushed him when he first showed up and saved us all a lot of annoying plot contrivances? I won't even mention that Starfinger could have traveled to the planet Cargg (where Duo Damsel is from) and kidnapped some other native to figure out how they split into three, bypassing all this hullabaloo entirely. By the way, what kind of idiot walks into a wedding where there are 20 plus super-heroes and expects to get away?!) Oh wait...after all this...Starfinger *does* get away. So, yeah, never mind. Bad, bad story, Cary!
Starfinger doesn't know that there is a whole planet of people who can split
into three (not two) and not just this one girl? 
Luckily for all of us, Dave Cockrum is still at the top of his game as an illustrator. The art is gorgeous. The expressions on Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are especially nice as they run the range of happiness, anger, frustration, and happiness again. Really great art work here.

Science Police Notes:  
  • According to this story, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy's wedding will be on October 28, 2973. We will add that to the Legion calendar to celebrate from now on.  
  • There really is a Nix Olympica mountain on the planet Mars. 
  • Bouncing Boy could have rescued the second Eagleox if he had remembered to use his Legion Flight Ring.  
  • Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel never do get to kiss in this story. The lack of a "pay-off" happy ending scene does not help the story. 
  • The wedding scene was reprinted in Collector's Edition Edition C-49 and featured a guest list, reprinted below.
Reprinted in The Legion Of Super-Heroes Archives (Volume 10)

Bouncing Boy loses his super-powers and leaves the Legion in this story. Duo Damsel then leaves as well to marry him, as the Legion Constitution at this time forbid married members.

1 comment:

  1. What was the deal with Cary Bates and birds? The giant one from "The War Between the Nights and Days", the astral vulture in #197, the eagleox birds, Starfinger's Wrexi. He's as fixated on birds as Norman Bates. --- JBS