Thursday, June 4, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #222

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #222 (Dec, 1976)
title: "This Legionnaire Is Condemned!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller: Mike Grell
inker: Bob Wiacek
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Mike Grell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Tyroc, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Superboy, Ultra Boy, Princess Projectra, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy

Extortionist Fenton Pike

On Earth, a series of odd occurrences are plaguing the people of Metropolis. Science Police officers arrive to talk to the Legion about Tyroc, who they believe is responsible. Legion Leader Mon-El explains to the SP officers that Tyroc wanted the Legion to move their head-quarters to his island home of Marzal, to help integrate his society into the world at large. When the Legion refused, Tyroc stormed out and vowed to make things difficult for the city. Mon-El promises the SPs that the Legion is trying to locate and capture Tyroc.

The next day, trees in Metropolis Park suddenly turn into attacking vines, so Ultra Boy and Superboy cut them down quickly. Superboy chases after Tyroc, and when Shadow Lass blackens out the area, Tyroc is captured. The Legion turns him over to the Science Police. News of his capture is broadcasted all over the world.

Soon after, however, the Legion arrives back at SP head-quarters with a civilian, telling the SP that this man framed Tyroc by recording his super-voice and using it to cause the problems. Brainiac 5 plays the tape recorded version of Tyroc's voice and sure enough, the room appears to shake, rattle, and roll. Tyroc is freed. As soon as the Legion flies away, the "suspect" flies on board as an insect, then turns into Chameleon Boy. The Legionnaires explain to Shadow Lass (and to us) that they framed Tyroc in order to hide the fact that Tyroc was using his voice powers to locate a hidden bomb. Tyroc finds the bomb and defuses it. Tracking his finger-prints, the Legion confronts Fenton Pike, a disgruntled civil employee. Pike had failed the police academy tests, so was extorting the city for revenge. He had boasted that he was affiliated with the SP, so the Legion could not work with their allies to find the bomb, not knowing who they could trust.

This is the last Legion of Super-Heroes story written by long-time LSH writer Cary Bates. As The Flash started to be published monthly, Bates left this title to concentrate on that one. It seems fitting that Cary's last Legion story features Tyroc, his own creation, in a convoluted story where he pretends to be a bad guy. Couldn't Superboy or Mon-El have used their vision powers to find the bomb? Well I guess if they had, it wouldn't have been a Cary Bates story. Instead, the Legion goes to an extreme and causes plenty of animosity towards Tyroc specifically and the Legion generally in the minds of the people they are sworn to protect. My guess is RJ Brande had to cough up a pretty penny to fix some of the damage his over-eager kids caused to Metropolis this time out.

The idea that the bad guy was somehow involved with the Science Police, though, was a good one. And the idea that Tyroc would ask the Legion to re-locate their headquarters to Marzal was also a good one. (At this point it wasn't an intra-dimensional island, remember.) Unfortunately, instead of a straight line to plot this, Cary Bates used his typical twists and turns instead.

So even though Cary Bates doesn't necessarily leave the stage on good note, on the plus side Tyroc is shown to be a strong-willed character with a heart of gold. As a character, he seems great here. And it's an interesting idea that his super-voice cannot be re-created by any recording device. Of course, Princess Projectra can re-create the effects...sort of. She is cast again as the unsung hero in this issue....and almost no dialogue, again. Cary liked to use her, I guess, but not to actually portray her.

title: "Death Of A Legend"
writer: Jim Shooter
penciller: Mike Nasser
inker: Bob Layton
editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Light Lass, Timber Wolf

The Every Ten Years Monster  

Three Legionnaires are on their way to Zentor, a planet with an orange sun, to help honor the legendary hero Questar. As the ceremony is about to begin, however, The Every Ten Years Monster arrives, right on schedule. The people of Zentor knew that the monster would arrive on this day, so had arranged to have Questar on the scene. However, Questar is a videotape star, and not a real super-hero. He freezes with nervousness. The Legion steps up, but the monster is too strong for them. Superboy then uses a maneuver he had seen in a Questar movie, saving the day. Calm now, Questar reveals his actual super-power: teleportation. He sends the monster to an uninhabited asteroid, saving everyone. The citizens are angry at Questar for being "a fake," but the Legion gently reminds them that they, too, were "fakes." Superboy explains that anyone who does his best is a hero.

This is another typical Cary Bates story, which is weird, as the credits tell us that Jim Shooter wrote this! The two most interesting things about this story is the odd way that the Zentorians speak and the very young Mike Nasser's art. Nasser would, of course, return to these pages several times, as well as do outstanding work in World's Finest featuring Black Canary and Green Arrow.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The title of the lead story ("This Legionnaire Is Condemned!") turned out to be sadly ironic, as this adventure was Tyroc's last appearance (in action) for three years. He would re-appear in LSH (v2) #263, only to be written out of the series completely. 
  • Although the Roll Call lists both Star Boy and Cosmic Boy, neither of them appear in this story. Mon-El appears only in the first scene. 
  • A Black SP officer is shown in this story for the first time in Legion history. Likewise, Black citizens of Metropolis are also shown. Finally, after nearly 20 years of publication, the future is revealed to be multi-cultural after all. 
  • The back-up story is the first time the Legion's translation ear-plugs are specifically mentioned. 
  • Light Lass' mass control power does not work on the Zentorian monster.
  • Questar was re-imagined in later continuity as Gates. Just kidding! He never re-appeared in Legion continuity. 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 12 

This is the last issue of Legion of Super-Heroes written by Cary Bates, and the first issue drawn by Mike Nasser and Bob Layton.

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