Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #324

Tales of The Legion of Super-Heroes #324 (June, 1985)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "The Secret of the Dark Circle"
plot: Paul Levitz
dialogue: Mindy Newell
penciller: Dan Jurgens
inker: Karl Kesel
letterer: Bob Lappan
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Dan Jurgens & Jerry Ordway (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Ultra Boy, Mon-El, White Witch; cameo of Dawnstar

SP officer Erin Cusimano, Laurel Kent, Dev-Em

The Dark Circle

On Amadus, base for the UP forces on the ouskirt of Dark Circle space three Legionnaires and SP officer Cusimano find more than 1,000 people slaughtered. Gigi suspects Dev-Em because there was only one attacker, and he never returned from his reconnaissance mission into Dark Circle space. They are all afraid that he has somehow gone bad. As they clean up some of the carnage, Mon-El tells Ultra Boy that he is afraid that Dev-Em has gone bad, or another possibility: someone from Mon's home planet Daxam was involved. Gigi receives a distress signal, and they take off.

Back on Earth, Dawnstar is still pining for Jhodan (from last issue) when former Legion Academy room-mate Laurel Kent arrives to try to cheer her up.
On Takron-Galtos, the prison planet, the Persuader returns to be re-incarcerated. He is met cheerfully by the warden.

Above Amadus' atmosphere, a Dark Circle soldier is destroying an orbital station as the three Legionnaires arrive to stop him. He escapes back into Dark Circle space, and they follow where they are met by five different Dev-Ems. They guess that the Dark Circle has somehow cloned their friend as a Dark Circle cruiser suddenly appears. The Dark Circle shows them the real Dev-Em, dying or dead from Kryptonite poisoning.

When I first read this story I really enjoyed it for the pace, the adventure, and the art. Dan Jurgens and Karl Kesel are a great pair. They really draw Ultra Boy and Mon-El handsome, and White Witch and Gigi beautifully. I remember wondering just what was going on here, and being fascinated by the mystery. I knew the Dark Circle were bad guys from last year's Supergirl-Sun Boy-Brainiac 5 adventure, and I looked forward to the conclusion of this tale.

However, I remember also not having any emotional ties to Dev-Em, because I didn't know who the hell he was! Upon re-reading this recently I was reminded that Paul and Mindy or Karen never took the time to explain who Dev-Em was, and if he was indeed from the planet Krypton? (For your benefit I will tell you what I researched: Dev-Em first appeared in an early Superboy story in Adventure Comics #288 before he returned as an agent of the Counter-Intelligence Corps in Adventure Comics #320. And he *was* from Krypton. He was the only person besides Stone Boy of the Legion of Substitute Heroes to turn down membership in the Legion.)
So now you know.  To Be Continued---!

title: "The Missing Planet Puzzle"
writer: Paul Levitz
dialogue: Mindy Newell
penciller: Ernie Colon
inker: Gary Martin
letterer: Bob Lappan
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger

Mission Monitor Board:  
Invisible Kid, Shrinking Violet

Imskian rebels  

Invisible Kid is called by his friend Emil's carto-holography company in the Ivory Coast to investigate why each time he tries to run a program on the planet Orsde the computer explodes. Invisible Kid asks for a demonstration, and sure enough, the control panel explodes. Invisible Kid asks for time to investigates, returning to the Legion head-quarters. He talks to Shrinking Violet while she is training with a battle-robot. Then Invisible Kid returns to his friend's company and captures the Imskian rebels who have been trying desperately to hide their rebel bases from the cartographers.

Poor Invisible Kid never gets any respect. Here he has a cover blurb "Invisible Kid's first solo mission!" and all we actually get is him standing there with a Hoover vacuum. THIS is an adventure? It is not much of a mystery, either, as we are never aware of the connection between Orsde and Imsk until the denouement. Invisible Kid is totally re-active here, not even being pro-active enough to save the computer technician who appears to be killed by the explosion.
I only see two bodies at the bottom. The tech at the top is vaporized? 
The art by Ernie Colon is nice, however. This is the second issue in the same month where Colon tackles the Legion (he did the art in LSH (v3) #11 as well). Comparing the work, inker Gary Martin seems to bring out a warmer side of Colon's pencils than Larry Mahlstedt did, but that might also be because this is a more intimate story. Regardless, Colon must have done something right, as he returned to the Legion Universe several times after this.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The cover of this issue is the first (and only?) time Jerry Ordway the Extraordinary worked on the Legion of Super-Heroes. He does a great job, and it would have been nice to have seen more. 
  • Dawnstar is back on Earth after her adventure with Brainiac 5 from the past three issues. 
  • White Witch is able to stop three of the Dev-Em clones while Mon-El and Ultra Boy only stop one each. In a nice bit of characterization, Ultra Boy tells Mysa that he doesn't understand her powers, but is sure glad she is on their side.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

1 comment:

  1. You should review the two pre-legion Dev-em stories. I found them very disturbing, especially the second one, even though it was an "imaginary" story. It was really an imaginary story since it took place completely in Superboy's imagination.