Thursday, March 26, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #212

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #212 (Oct, 1975)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "Last Fight For A Legionnaire"
writer: Jim Shooter
artist: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Mike Grell (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Matter-Eater Lad, Superboy, Karate Kid

six rejected applicants for Legion membership who want to take the place of fellow native members: Magno Lad, Esper Lass, Phantom Lad, Chameleon Kid, Micro Lad, and Calorie Queen

Magno Lad arrives at Legion head-quarters but is quickly rejected for membership because he is from Braal, the same home planet as Cosmic Boy. He is then met by five other costumed people who want to "put the whammy" on six very specific Legionnaires.

Elsewhere, a Tribune Judge sends Agent Bek to Earth to pick up a Legionnaire "by any means necessary."

Back on Earth, six Legionnaires appear in the head-quarters lobby, thinking that they have been telepathically called by Saturn Girl. However, it wasn't her, it was Esper Lass. The six rejects challenge the Legionnaires for the right to represent their home planets, and even though the Legionnaires don't want to fight, the rejects don't give them any choice.
Magno Lad is a former Braalian Olympian champion, much stronger than Cosmic Boy. Esper Lass from Titan blasts Saturn Girl. Phantom Lad from Bgtzl beats on Phantom Girl. Micro Lad from Imsk fights Shrinking Violet. Chameleon Kid from Durla battles Chameleon Boy. And Calorie Queen from Bismoll is the daughter of a brilliant scientist who helped her divert some of her excessive energy to her muscles, making her three times as strong as a normal person...meaning she's stronger than Matter-Eater Lad.
Superboy arrives and literally throws the rejects out of the building. However, the Legionnaires are angry that he interfered. They apologize to the rejects and schedule a re-match for the next day.
At Metropolis Spaceport, Agent Bek is met by the President of Earth, who does not approve of his mission. However, Bek insists he has no choice in the matter.

The next day the six rejects arrive at Legion head-quarters and the fighting begins. Matter-Eater Lad runs away to eat the Legion flag-pole, dropping it on Calorie Queen, capturing her. Magno Lad attempts to throw a metal monument at Cosmic Boy, but the monument is really Chameleon Boy, who takes him out. Cosmic Boy in turn takes out Esper Lass, twirling her into unconsciousness via the iron in her blood. Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet switch their opponents, knocking them both out. Lastly, Saturn Girl points out the real Chameleon Kid as Matter-Eater Lad is about to take a bite out of him.

The Legion announces that the real reason they are the right people to represent their planets is because they depend on team-work. The rejects walk away, rejected again. Then Agent Brek arrives with a draft notice for Matter-Eater Lad. Although he is happy to be a Legionnaire, he decides to go along with the Tribunal order, so quits to go into politics. As he walks away, he recommends Calorie Queen to take his place.
This is a story that took almost ten years to tell. According to the "Adult Legion" story in Adventure Comics #354, Matter-Eater Lad quit the Legion to enter politics on his home planet. So what took so long? Matter-Eater Lad has not appeared in action in a Legion story since Superboy #184. Given that both Jim Shooter and Cary Bates did not care for the character, I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. And I'm surprised that he fought for his place in the Legion against Calorie Queen, who could have joined just as he left...! Maybe the story of six rejects was combined with the idea to get rid of Matter-Eater Lad at the last minute? I know that this story was heavily edited, so maybe the initial idea was different from what was actually published? As exhibit "A" here is an entire page that was deleted:

It does add more characterization to Matter-Eater Lad and Karate Kid, but on the other doesn't really add anything to the story. It was re-inserted in the version re-printed in The Legion Archive vol 11. 

As for the story itself, it was a good idea to have others come in and question these Legionnaires' "right" to represent their planets. I would have liked to have seen one long fight scene, though, because it really did look like the Legionnaires were losing when Superboy showed up. They probably would have used team-work to help each other out, but wouldn't that have been a more dramatic story?

On a personal note, this was the very first Legion story I ever read, and it was an absolutely perfect "jumping on" point. I learned in this story that each Legionnaire has a different, distinct power; that most of them are from different planets; and that team-work is what makes it all work. And I also learned that these characters are NOT the Justice League! I could never imagine Aquaman calling Superman "super-butt-in-ski," as Chameleon Boy chastises Superboy. Obviously, I was hooked.

title: "A Death Stroke At Dawn"
writer: Jim Shooter
penciller: Mike Grell
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Night Girl; Shadow Lass, Cosmic Boy

Crafty Colson, Gunner, and Hunk  

Shadow Lass flies by a deserted station with its lights on. Stopping to investigate, she is surprised to see Night Girl being held at gun-point by a gang of crooks. Shadow Lass encases the area in darkness, allowing Night Girl's super-strength to kick-in. The two super-heroines put up quite a fight, but Gunner can also see in the dark. So he blasts Night Girl, and the gang escapes. They think that they have killed her, so are concerned that Cosmic Boy will come after them. To be pro-active, they decide to go after him, instead. Of course, Night Girl is still alive. She tells Shadow Lass her story of how on her home planet of Kalthoon her father created a super-strength serum for her. However, her strength turned out to only be effective in darkness. She also tells Shady how she and Cosmic Boy had recently broken up because he didn't want her risking her life. Still, she isn't going to give up. Using a mentro-tracer, she heads off to find and capture Colson.
Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy is on a date with another girl when he realizes that he really does love Night Girl. As soon as he drops the other girl off at her house, he is ambushed by Colson and his gang. They are armed with non-metallic weapons. It doesn't look good for him when Night Girl arrives, diving into them just as the sun rises. Together they catch the crooks, and Cosmic Boy admits his love to her.
This is probably one of the best, most romantic Legion stories ever. Cosmic Boy is not only concerned about the safety of his girl-friend, but let's admit it, he is probably a little bit jealous of her super-power, too. His comment, "Who do you think you are, Supergirl?" really cuts Night Girl to the quick. Still, Night Girl's determination against all the odds is the true meaning of heroism, and her willingness to sacrifice herself for both Shadow Lass and Cosmic Boy is remarkable. It's fantastic that Cosmic Boy realizes that he really does love the adventurer, and, let's admit it again, he could never love a Happy Homemaker type, anyway! However...can I just say that Night Girl's father is a jerk? "I always wanted a son" is something you never, ever tell your daughter. (I guess "I always wanted a daughter" shouldn't be said to your son, either). No wonder we never meet Mr. Jath again. And about that Night Girl and Shadow Lass team-up!? What a great pairing!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Light Lass and Timber Wolf are on the cover and on the splash page, but do not appear in the story. 
  • Magno Lad's real name is Kort Grezz. Esper Lass is Meta Ulnoor. Chameleon Kid is Toog Lintens. Phantom Lad is Solon Darga. Micro Lad is really Lalo Muldron. Calorie Queen is Taryn Loy. 
  • Karate Kid appears at the beginning of the rematch, acting as a type of judge, but then disappears. In fact, after Matter-Eater Lad is met by Agent Bek, the majority of the Legionnaires disappear. 
  • Although Matter-Eater Lad suggests Calorie Queen take his place in the Legion, and she is actually stronger than he is, she does not. In fact, she does not appear again for more than twelve years. 
  • Magno Lad, Esper Less, and Micro Lad end up joining the Legion of Super-Villains. Phantom Lad and Chameleon Kid are never seen again. 
  • Coincidentally, both Calorie Queen and Night Girl got their powers from their scientist fathers. 
  • Night Girl's skimpy Mike Grell-designed uniform makes its debut in this issue.  
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 11 

Matter-Eater Lad leaves the Legion in this issue.

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