Thursday, July 2, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #226

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #216 (April, 1976)
title: "The Dazzling Debut of Dawnstar!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Jim Sherman
inker: Jack Abel
colorist: Liz Berube
editor: Denny O'Neil
cover: Mike Grell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Sun Boy, Star Boy, Superboy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Wildfire, Dawnstar; cameos of Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Shrinking Violet

The Resource Raiders

At Legion HQ on Earth, Sun Boy and Star Boy chase after escaped Resource Raiders and re-capture them. All the Legion got out of them was a set of coordinates. Lightning Lad has plotted them, but it is just an area in open space. Wildfire introduces his team-mates to Dawnstar, and asks for her help in tracking the Raiders.

A group of Legionnaires go to the coordinates, where they interrupt another raid. Dawnstar joins in the fight when she sees the Raiders kill innocent crew members. After they escape into a space warp the Legionnaires think they have escaped, but Dawnstar surprised all of them by tracking them again. They return to Earth, to the Syberian Hydroponic Gardens, where she, Sun Boy, and Superboy attack the Brain of the Raiders. The Legionnaires apologize to Dawnstar for being so rude to her, and Wildfire offers her membership.

This is Paul Levitz' second issue as Legion writer and it shows. The Legionnaires come off as a bunch of spoiled brats, talking bad about Wildfire behind his back and being down-right rude to Dawnstar. Besides the characterization, however, the story is confusing. Why are there a dozen Legionnaires at the beginning of the story, but only five go out on the mission? What exactly happens on the last page in the battle with the Brain? Luckily for all of us, Paul will get better.

As for the art, after several years of dynamic Dave Cockrum or Mike Grell art, this issue hits a five-year low. James Sherman's pencils, when paired with Bob Wiacek last issue, were beautiful. This time, with Jack Abel inking, the art looks like Jack Abel inking. It's uniform and standardized, which means it's dull and unexciting.  Look at the page layouts....they are trying to be dynamic.The page above is a maze, did you notice? But with Abel inking in heavy, thick lines, you almost can't tell. Sherman's line-beauty is stifled almost out of existence.

title: "Five Against One"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Mike Nasser
inker: Jack Abel
colorist: Liz Berube
letterer: Bill Morse
editor: Denny O'Neil

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5; cameos by Superboy, Shadow Lass, Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Element Lad

ignorance and greed, Pulsar Stargrave, Mordru  

Superboy and the other Legionnaires are reviewing the holotape of Brainiac 5's recent solo mission to Xerox. Brainiac 5 goes to the Sorcerers' World in order to steal from Mordru's treasures. Pulsar Stargrave had told Brainiac 5 that he was the Legionnaire's father, then had asked him to steal the Star Stone from Mordru to help in his battle against the wizard.

Brainiac 5 defeats one guard, then fights off animated furniture, a mystical black panther, and an evil mirror image of himself. Then the Star Stone tells Brainiac 5 that it had five defenses, and its last defense is the truth: so it tells Brainiac 5 that Pulsar Stargrave is actually the original Brainiac, catapulted into the 30th Century. Brainiac 5 believes the Star Stone. He decides to hunt down Brainiac to kill him.

At the end of the tape, Element Lad tells everyone that they must catch Pulsar Stargrave before Brainiac 5 makes good his threat, or Brainiac 5 will be expelled from the Legion for murder.

It has been many many years since I re-read this story. However, just picking it up the other day it is painfully obvious that this was thrown together in a hurry after Jim Shooter left DC for Marvel and editor Denny O'Neil needed to somehow resolve the Pulsar Stargrave storyline. It doesn't help that Superboy on page one is mis-colored as Brainiac 5, or two unrecognizable Legionnaires appear on the last page! Is that Star Boy and Princess Projectra? Absolutely can't tell. And of course, because Brainiac is an android, would it really be "murder" if Brainiac 5 "killed" him?

Inker Jack Abel is batting 1,000 this issue: in the back-up he takes usually dynamic and exciting Mike Nasser art and dulls it down tremendously. It was probably a matter of deadline crunch, but gosh their combined art is ugly.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Dawnstar is credited as being designed by Mike Grell. 
  • Where is the White Witch and the other magicians on Xerox? For that matter, where is Mordru? 
  • There is another comment in the letter column about the upcoming issues: "Next issue, Pulsar Stargrave, and after that, the death of a Legionnaire!" 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 13 

Dawnstar makes her debut in the lead story and then joins the Legion.


  1. because Brainiac is an android, would it really be "murder" if Brainiac 5 "killed" him?

    Well, not according to "The Legionnaire Who Killed" (Adventure 342), when it was clearly established that "Brainiac 5 gunning down an android" was specifically not "murder" under the Legion code.

    1. Right!
      This story is just confused, no question about it.