Thursday, May 28, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #221

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #221 (Nov, 1976)
title: "The Trillion-Dollar Trophies!"
writer: Jim Shooter
penciller: Mike Grell
inker: Bob Wiacek
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Mike Grell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass, Colossal Boy, Chameleon Boy, Light Lass, Shrinking Violet, Cosmic Boy

RJ Brande

Grimbor, Charma

On Earth, Superboy and Timber Wolf answer alarms from the Metropolis Fusion Powerspheres. Grimbor catches Timber Wolf by surprise, and Charma stops Superboy from helping his friend.

The next morning, Charma escorts a delivery of two crates to multi-billionaire RJ Brande. She demands $100 million to ensure the safety of the Legion, then walks away. Brande is unable to stop her, but as soon as she is gone he calls the Legion because something in the crates she left is alive. Colossal Boy breaks open the boxes, and out pops Superboy and Timber Wolf, trussed up like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Initially unable to free them from their individual bonds, Chameleon Boy is able to re-form his hands into the unique keys for their locks. The Legion refuses to allow Brande to pay Charma her extortion money.

Later, Grimbor tells Charma that he doesn't want to risk fighting the Legion. He reminds her that he is a lock-smith who once kept Validus prisoner. Charma reminds him that she grew up an orphan at an all-girls' school. She was tortured by the head-mistress and by the other girls. When the head-mistress called Grimbor in order to create special bonds for her, Charma was able to control him so that he freed her. Now, she wants money and he wants a new challenge. So she convinces him to go along with her plan.

The next day, Charma calls Brande to arrange delivery of her money, but he refuses to pay. She cuts the line, but not before Brande realizes that she was calling from inside Legion HQ. He rushes there.

Grimbor and Charma face Colossal Boy and Shadow Lass first. Charma controls him so he is easily beaten by Grimbor. Grimbor then defeats Shadow Lass, who is blinded by her hatred of Charma to fight her rather than help Colossal Boy. Next they find Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Superboy. Working together, they defeat the 'boys easily. Simple rope holds Cos and a Thymo-Plastic bag encases Cham.

Timber Wolf and Light Lass have been monitoring Grimbor and Charma and believe that if they divide them then they can conquer them. They maneuver their foes into two separate rooms, then attack. However, Light Lass doesn't stop Charma from calling out while she is laying the smack-down on her, so her cries make Timber Wolf and Grimbor stop fighting each other and rush to her defense. Timber Wolf takes out Light Lass, then is easy prey for Grimbor.

RJ Brande arrives and sees the seven hostages. He is willing to pay the trillion dollars ransom now, but Grimbor refuses to sell. He is so proud of himself for capturing them that he wants to keep them as trophies. Charma can't talk him out of it, so she decides to kill Light Lass as an example, hoping he will come to his senses. Shrinking Violet has been hiding, watching them, so as soon as Charma separates herself from Grimbor, Violet strikes. Her bitch-slapping of Charma gets the 'boys all hot and bothered, so they break free and fly at Violet at full speed. When she shrinks out of the way, they slam through the wall, accidentally taking out Grimbor in the next room.
Later, the Legionnaires find bonds that fit Charma and neutralize her hypnotic powers. They realize that Grimbor had planned to "keep" Charma as a trophy, as well.

This is probably one of the most infamous Legion of Super-Heroes stories from the Seventies, due not only to its subject matter but to how Mike Grell chose to illustrate it. Anyone who has seen Pulp Fiction or certain episodes of American Horror Story will know what I'm talking about.

Still, the idea of a villain who can hypnotize them not to fight her is a good one. Charma and Grimbor make a good team. And I like that it is the smallest Legionnaire, Shrinking Violet, who is able to save the whole team.

I would have appreciated a pronunciation guide this issue, though. Is it Charma as in "charm," or is it Charma as in "Karma"?

Science Police Notes:  
  • RJ Brande's initials stand for Rene Jacques. 
  • In this issue, RJ Brande is not overweight. 
  • Grimbor is not shown carrying any chains or bags when he is fighting the Legion. No "gym bag" full of his toys is ever shown, either. 
  • For the second time within one year Light Lass is slapped by a male Legionnaire. Did Jim Shooter not like this character, or was it just coincidence? 
  • How would the Thymo-Plastic bag holding Chameleon Boy not suffocate him?
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 12 


  1. Since Shag didn't contribute to this one, I'll go ahead and say that Charma is "HOT!".


  2. Found this on MSN and Iメm happy I did. Well written article.