Thursday, January 29, 2015

Superboy starring the Legion #204

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #204 (Oct, 1974)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Legionnaire Nobody Remembered"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Nick Cardy

Mission Monitor Board:  
current: Mon-El, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Superboy
past: Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Brainiac 5

convoluted time travel theories

In the 75th Century, a young man doing a Superboy biography realizes that his time-scanner was defective, as it has been warping the time stream instead of just observing it. His father is on the Science Court, so tells his son that he will take it up with them on how best to rectify the problem. The son feels responsible, however, so he decides to use a time machine to go back to the 30th Century to solve the problem himself.

Calling himself "Anti-Lad," he shows up at LSH HQ and shows off his "anti-power" against Lighting Lad, Colossal Boy, and Cosmic Boy. He passes the initial tests, and gets his commemorative picture taken with them. However, Brainiac 5 does not trust his story. That night, Brainy wakes him up and finds out that his visor is his power source. They also realize that it had recently manufactured kryptonite.

The Legion thinks Anti-Lad went back to 20th Century Smallville and sabotaged Superboy's initiation, planning on taking the Boy of Steel's place. Anti-Lad disappears, and the Legion decides to give Superboy another chance.

Due to his post-hypnotic suggestion, nobody remembers ever meeting Anti-Lad.

Cary Bates has written quite a few silly and stupid Legion stories, but this is probably his worst issue ever. The lead story has absolutely nothing going for it other than Mike Grell's wonderfully fresh art. A time traveler from the future who has mucked up the time-line should be a great story idea, but Anti-Lad is handled so badly it's not even worth talking about. The set-up and lead-in takes way too long, the pay-off is rushed, and worst of all, the Legionnaires are portrayed as idiots.
Let's hope the next story is better....(sigh)

title: "Brainaic 5's Secret Weakness!"
writer: Cary Bates
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Star Boy, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Supergirl, Cosmic Boy

un-requited love, Zotron radiation, the Seventies' "Me" generation  

Brainiac 5 has been complaining of needing a vacation (all those nights he stayed up perving on Anti-Lad are coming back to haunt him). Now he and Star Boy are scheduled to go off together to Recreation Asteroid 7 via Rainbow Rockets. Saturn Girl, herself up nights perving on Timber Wolf, notes that Brainiac 5 hasn't been getting enough sleep lately. Star Boy promises that they will get plenty of sleep. As soon as this odd couple departs, a stranger arrives at LSH HQ.
On Recreation Asteroid 7, Star Boy goes off to make reservations at the club La Cage Aux Folles when Supergirl shows up and convinces Brainiac 5 to go away with her. Star Boy is broken-hearted, but reluctantly lets them go. In their cruiser, they suddenly run afoul of the deadly Zotron radiation belt. Supergirl wraps her cape around Brainiac 5 (not *too* tight!) to save him.
When the rays pass, Brainiac 5 finds that the woman he thought was Supergirl was actually an android he had made. For two weeks he has been sleep-walking, building this Supergirl android to fill the void left by Kara's absence. Coincidentally, the real Supergirl has arrived and saved him, and they fly off as his cruiser explodes. Supergirl tells him that unfortunately she is there to resign from the Legion.

Star Boy, left to his own devices, joins a Village People Fan Club and sees CATS every single night that he is off.

...So if the first story establishes that Brainiac 5 is an intelligent man whose "hunches" should be trusted, what does the back-up story tell us? I remember the first time I read this, I thought: Brainiac 5 is crazy! It's one thing to have an obsession or a crush or an unrequited love, but how many of us who feel that way then go out and build an android that we then make-out with!? This is definitely the stupidest story I have ever read. How the editor allowed it to get green-lit, I have no idea. I never trusted Brainiac 5 again after reading this story.

And why in the world are Star Boy and Brainiac 5 furloughing together? I would think that these two guys don't even like each other very much. Can you imagine *anything* that these two guys have in common? I think Cary was taking the "military" idea of the Legion a bit too far with this. Of course, Star Boy would want to take his vacation with Dream Girl....and Brainy would want to hang with Rond Vidar!

Besides these bits of silliness, I can't approve of the coincidence of having the real Supergirl show up on the very day Brainiac 5 has completed his Supergirl android. And why have Supergirl leave the Legion at all? It's not like she was burning up the pages of her own magazine or Superman Family. Oh, well. Mike Grell does another great job on the art (I especially like those two "hands-on-hips" poses he uses), but that is it.

Bad, Cary, very bad.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Showing Brainiac 5 as a member before Superboy lends credence to the idea that Supergirl joined before her cousin. Regular readers of our Who's Who profiles will recall that Brainy joined at the same time as Supergirl. 
  • In a poignantly ironic moment, the father from the 75th Century voices what the majority of LSH fans thought Post-Crisis, but what DC management *still* chose to ignore. (Sigh)
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 11

Supergirl resigns from the Legion in this issue.


  1. This was my very first Legion comic, oh so many years ago.

  2. LLM,
    I'm surprised you're still a Legion fan, then, cuz this issue was so wacky! ;-)

  3. Was it to protest against this silliness that Grell designed Anti-Lad's head like he did?
    Imagine a newcomer to the Legion. Reading this and seeing this d...head.
    I, for one, thought that the people involved in producing this were clearly considering this as a joke, when I first read it in the LSH Archives.