Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #28

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #28 (Nov, 1986)
title: "The Lost Hero"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Greg LaRocque
inker: Mike DeCarlo
ink assist: Arne Starr
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Star Boy, Chameleon Boy, Timber Wolf, Dawnstar, Invisible Kid; Brainiac 5, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Magnetic Kid, Tellus, Polar Boy, White Witch; cameos by Colossal Boy and Sun Boy

The Tribune of Xanthu, SP Chief Zendak, SP Officer Shvaughn Erin, Star Boy's parents Fryd and Mira Kallor; cameo of Atmos

Universo (unseen)

On Xanthu, Star Boy has brought a team of Legionnaires to his home-world to track down their missing champion, a hero named Atmos. The Tribune of Xanthu asks them specifically for help.

On Earth, Brainiac 5 clears Dream Girl for active duty after her recent injuries fighting the Fatal Five. Magnetic Kid and Tellus are in the Legion gym, training. Magnetic Kid is peeling and reforming a metallic globe, trying to improve his magnetic powers. Polar Boy offers to help both of them train.

Back on Xanthu, the Legionnaires are checking out Atmos' head-quarters slash living quarters when it explodes. Dawnstar is annoyed, but the Legionnaires can't tell if the explosion was planned by Atmos or by someone else. They then track Atmos to the space-port, but cannot definitely ascertain why he left.

Back on Earth, White Witch discovers Dream Girl in Star Boy's chambers, crying. Quislet had told Star Boy that Dream Girl was out dancing with another man, so they had had another fight. White Witch tries to give her sister advice, which makes Dream Girl laugh.

Back on Xanthu, Chameleon Boy and Invisible Kid go undercover to try to find our more about why Atmos left as Star Boy, the celebrity, causes a diversion. Timber Wolf and Dawnstar are stuck watcing from atop a skyscraper. Dawnstar is annoyed, but Timber Wolf reminds her that she is not "subtle" and he is "sort of clumsy," which makes her laugh. Chameleon Boy then reports that Atmos is definitely gone. Dawnstar takes to space to try to "sense" him, with no luck.

At Science Police headquarters, Chief Zendak tells Officer Erin that more than a dozen heroes and law-enforcement officers have gone missing across the galaxy. They prepare a report for the Legion.

On Xanthu, the Tribune thanks the Legionnaires for their detective work, then demands that Star Boy stay behind to replace the missing Atmos. The remaining four Legionnaires report to Element Lad, who tells them that it is not just Atmos who has gone missing. Dream Girl, meanwhile, knew that Star Boy would not be back.

This issue has always symbolized something of a line in the sand to me. I know that it is completely arbitrary, but to me the Legion started into a spiral at about this time that it never really recovered from. I think I associate this issue with that quality downfall because this particular story was so badly plotted: I never understood why Dream Girl and Star Boy had fought, and I never understood why they didn't get back together. The reason mentioned here, that Dream Girl had gone out on the town without Star Boy, seems innocent enough. Are we supposed to think that Dream Girl actually slept with another guy? It was never made clear, so both Dream Girl and Star Boy come off looking like immature kids. Also, Star Boy is basically "grounded" by the Tribune, and although I can understand his loyalty to his planet, I never understood why Star Boy never came back to the Legion after Atmos showed up.

Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of good Legion stories left to enjoy. But the resignation of Star Boy bothered me at the time and bothers me now. I don't know why it happened, and I am unhappy that it was never resolved.

And it wasn't just the characterization. The art began a slow but steady decline from about this time, as Greg LaRoque either got faster or Mike DeCarlo and Arne Starr got sloppier. The panel here of Dream Girl missing her man is a wonderful piece of art, but look closely: the background figure of Element Lad has an odd, stilted posture, and both figures in the upper panel look off. It seems like LaRoque was getting better and better at making the Legionnaires look like individuals in their close-ups, but taking less and less time to illustrate the faces and figures in the majority of panels. I don't know why I feel this way, but the inking really started to bother me after this issue.

And by the way, this is one of Steve Lightle's best Legion covers.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Star Boy's mother Mira bakes the Legionnaires cookies that Dawnstar refuses but that Chameleon Boy gobbles up. 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

Star Boy leaves the Legion in this story. Although he would guest-star several times in the next few years, he would never formally rejoin the team. 


  1. Interesting comment. I agree on a number of points: I feel Levitz kind of started to lose interest here (we are still a couple of years away from his first attempt at leaving the book), and things are taking a turn for the dark. Also, notice how most stories from here on focus on smaller and smaller groups of Legionnaires.
    As for the art, I always found DeCarlo overwhelms his pencillers, and even one as distinct as LaRocque suffers for it.
    And the cover... best ever. I remember reading this issue first in the "Tales" reprint and when I saw the actual cover I was blown away (as the characters themselves)

  2. I agree with you about Mike DeCarlo. He was never one of my favorite inkers. Did you see his stuff last week on Dan Jurgens' pencils in BOOSTER GOLD? I love Jurgens' stuff but this was a mess. I know he has his fans, but I prefer the fine-lines of someone like Larry Mahlstedt.
    Don't get me wrong, I liked this story overall, especially as it ended up playing into the Universo story. I just wish Star Boy had come back to the Legion.

  3. I got the feeling that Dream Girl was intentionality seen out with another guy because she foresaw that Star Boy would have to stay on his home planet. Since she knew it was inevitable she wanted to make his leaving easier for him. That’s why she was so sad. She made this sacrifice so that he could accept his fate more easily.


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