Thursday, January 15, 2015

Superboy starring the Legion #202

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #202 (June, 1974)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Wrath of the Devil-Fish!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Dave Cockrum
letterer: Joe Letterese
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Supeboy, Mon-El, Element Lad, Light Lass; cameos of Wildfire, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass, Matter-Eater Lad

"Devil Fish," unnamed alien eco-terrorists

On Earth, Wildfire has been inducted into the Legion, then asks for his name to change from "Erg-1." Saturn Girl explains that Mon-El rushed out to answer an emergency call from the automated sea-station in the Pacific Ocean. The four Legionnaires are floating underwater surrounded by bubbles.

The story flash-backs to Mon-El, Superboy, Element Lad, and Light Lass arriving at the station, which converts the pollutants in the ocean into power. They are present when the mysterious saboteur knocks out the engines by gumming them up with mysterious bubbles. When Element Lad tries to analyze them, however, they explode. They see foot-prints that lead off the station, so as the power completely fades, the four Legionnaires dive into the ocean to follow. They see some sort of "devil fish" who attacks with his bubbles, knocking them out. Devil Fish returns to the station to destroy it, only to find that invaders are planning on exploding the pollutant converter, poisoning Earth's atmosphere.
The Legionnaire wake up, and after Element Lad converts the bubbles into oxygen, frees his friends. They split up to find the Devil Fish. Mon-El finds him, captures him, and then uses his Legion telepathic plug to communicate with him. He calls the others, and together with the Devil Fish they stop the invaders.
It turns out that the Devil Fish eats the toxic waste, so he shut the station down because it was destroying his food supply. Now that the Legionnaires know that, they will work to have the station power source changed. The Devil Fish disappears into the depths, never to be seen again.

This is another beautiful story. It's great that Dave Cockrum, who left after this issue, got to draw so many Legionnaires in his final effort. Also, Wildfire was his creation, and Devil Fish was Dave's concept (based on one of his favorite films, The Creature From the Black Lagoon), so this is almost an all-Cockrum story. Unfortunately, it's still illustrating a lackluster Cary Bates script. He's getting better, but still isn't doing great work on this book. The Legion uses a cruiser to fly to the Pacific Ocean? The Legionnaires split up to find the Devil Fish when Mon-El or Superboy could use their super-vision to spot him, and then they could attack en masse? Where do the eco-terrorists come from? For that matter, where do Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 come from? At the end of last issue Wildfire was talking to Phantom Girl and Star Boy. Besides those little nit-picks, though, this is a quick-paced and exciting story. Mon-El using his telepathic plug to try to communicate with the Devil Fish is a great scene, and then all of the Legionnaires fighting the eco-terrorists is also fun. Cary sure did like to use Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5, didn't he?
showing this just to show how great Dave Cockrum was

title: "Lost: A Million Miles From Home!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Dave Cockrum
inker: Mike Grell
letterer: Joe Letterese
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy

terrorists on Alpha-4  

Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet nare on their way back to Earth after a mission on Alpha-4. Suddenly, their cruiser goes dead. Shrinking Violet has a panic attack but Colossal Boy is able to calm her down. He goes outside the ship to see if there is some physical reason why the cruiser has lost power. When he is gone, the ship charges back up, and when he comes back on-board it loses power again. They run physio-scans with their emergency power, but find nothing. Colossal Boy offers to exile himself in an asteroid belt while Shrinking Violet rushes back to Earth to get help. As she travels back she reviews the mission visi-tape and sees Colossal Boy swatting at his neck. Looking at the background she finds a sniper with a smoking gun. She rushes back to where she left Colossal Boy, but he has been eaten by a mineral creature. He is able to break free after she takes him back into the cruiser. She shrinks down and grabs the power dart out of his neck.

I have said it before and I have to say it again....this is another Cary Bates story, so you should read it once and then just look at the beautiful pictures. It reads fine the first time, but if you think about it too much you start to notice things, like why didn't Shrinking Violet call for help while she was flying back to Earth? Like, how did they manage to run full physio-scans if there wasn't any power? Like, why didn't Colossal Boy have a space-suit that allowed him to grow? For that matter, why didn't the space suit have a radio set back to the cruiser? And don't get me started on yet *another* instance of a Legionnaire questioning her ability. Here's another story where the female Legionnaire has to be convinced that her powers are worthwhile. This is the fourth such story in a row.

Hopefully this adventure made the Legion invest time and money in developing their trans-suits and communicators so this type of problem would never occur again.

Regardless of how silly the story is, it is absolutely beautiful. This is the one and only time Dave Cockrum was inked by Mike Grell, and because both of these artists were at the top of their game, these characters never looked better.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is the first "100 Pages for 60c" issues of Superboy/Legion. Besides the two new stories, the reprints include the expulsion of Star Boy (Adventure Comics #342) and the Legion trapped in the Super-Stalag of Space (Adventure Comics # 344-345). 
  • Wildfire becomes the 28th full-time Legionnaire in this story. 
  • "The Legion Lore" featurette included profiles of 16 Legionnaires by E. Nelson Bridwell and Dave Cockrum.   
  • The Devil Fish did re-appear, 20 years later, in Legionnaires #7. 
This issue was reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives (vol 10).

This is the last issue by Dave Cockrum, and the first issue by Mike Grell. This is the only time Cockrum and Grell worked together.
Wildfire joins the Legion officially in this issue, changing his name from Erg-1.

As an extra-added bonus, here is the Dave Cockrum-Mike Grell masterpiece in its entirety:

1 comment:

  1. A million miles? For Pete's sake, that's less than five times the distance between the Earth and the moon. A warp engine-powered Legion cruiser would be able to make that trip in a few minutes.