Thursday, July 9, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #227

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #227 (May, 1977)
title: "War At World's End!"
writer: Gerry Conway
penciller: Joe Staton
inker: Jack Abel
editor: Denny O'Neil 
cover: Mike Grell
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Superboy, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Princess Projectra, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lad, Shadow Lass; cameo flashbacks of Sun Boy and Star Boy

Pulsar Stargrave, Quicksand, Holdur

Above Colu, a Legion cruiser approaches Brainiac 5 and his one-man ship when it is blasted by another ship hiding behind a moon. The Legion realize that this is not the real Brainiac 5, so abandoned the cruiser and were not killed. They find the real Brainiac 5 tied up inside his ship, but no one on the second ship.

The Legionnaires all go planet-side while Brainiac 5 explains what is going on. Superman's arch-enemy Brainiac plans to conquer Colu. Saturn Girl reads the mind of the impostor Brainiac 5 and sees a vision of the gravitron at the North Pole and an air filter plant in the desert. Two teams of Legionnaires rush off to investigate.

Wildfire's team at the North Pole battle robots trying to destroy the gravitron. While he and Colossal Boy take care of the obvious threat, Shrinking Violet and Shadow Lass go inside, where they defeat Holdur and then face Pulsar.

In the desert, Superboy's team faces a giant robot that knocks Superboy for a loop. Princess Projectra's illusion keeps it busy as Phantom Girl goes inside and discovers Pulsar.

In the city, Brainiac 5 realizes that the other Brainiac 5 is a robot. Lightning Lad short-circuits it, then the three head towards the Science Musuem. Brainiac 5 believes that his ancestor will go there to re-activate the computers that created him, then use them to enslave Colu. Saturn Girl knocks out Quicksand, , then before Pulsar can begin his plot Superboy and Wildfire re-appear and knock him into the sun. The two teams had realized that they were fighting an impostor, so had rushed back.

Obvious. Sure. 
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this issue is the overall worst Legion story since Matter-Eater Lad's little brother wanted to replace him in the Legion waaaay back in Superboy #184. I'm not going to take the time or make the effort to tear this story apart piece by piece, but basically there is something wrong on EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE.

You don't believe me? Here are only a few examples.

On pages 1-2, the Legion allows their cruiser to be destroyed, even though they suspect that the guy waiting for them is not really Brainiac 5. No "Shields Up;" no, they let their ship be destroyed. And the clue for them to ditch it.....unseen by the false Brainiac 5, standing right there watching them....was that this impostor is in a space suit. Because, you know, the real Brainiac 5....doesn't need a space suit?

There are more coloring mistakes and dialogue mistakes than I can count. Most obvious ones are on page 3 when Saturn Girl is colored as Princess Projectra and Lightning Lad is colored as Brainiac 5. 

The Legionnaires head down to Colu without their spaceship, but then...lose their space-suits in the space of one panel.

There are almost no local Coluans, but the ones that are there are colored as if they are Caucasians.

Shadow Lass is referred to as Shadow Girl on page Shrinking Violet, who calls her by her first name, but then forgets her code-name!

Speaking of Shadow Girl Lass, she lets politics get in the way of her professionalism, NOT telling Wildfire that she saw Pulsar run into the facility. That's just bad planning.

Holdur, who kept up with Superboy in his last appearance, is defeated by one swift kick this issue. In fact, all three villains are taken care of lickety-split in this story.

The darkness in the facility is colored in as bright yellow.

Princess Projectra fools a giant robot with one of her illusions!?!

Phantom Girl doesn't turn immaterial when she faces Pulsar Stargrave?!?

Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad sit around the city for ONE HOUR waiting for their friends.

Saturn Girl reads the mind of an android....which she herself says is impossible.

Brainiac 5 tells us that Brainiac became bored with fighting against Superman in the 20th century, so decided to come to the 30th Century. This is a direct contradiction with the history of the character given us by another Brainiac 5 back in Brainy's first appearance, in Action Comics #276.

Speaking of Pulsar Stargrave's plans, originally he was going to fight Mordru for the conquest of the galaxy. What happened to *that* plan?

One punch didn't stop Pulsar Stargrave in his first appearance, but this time it knocks him into the Coluan sun, which seems to end the threat.

What really seems to have happened was that nobody involved in this story actually READ the original story....including editor Denny O'Neil, who at the very least should have known better. As a kid I remember reading this and thinking, "what the hell---?!?" As an adult I understand deadline crunches, and creative changes (this plot was begun by Jim Shooter before he left the book). Still, it was obvious then and it's obvious to me now that the men in charge were NOT Legion fans.

As for the was capable. Joe Staton has a very dynamic style, so when his pencils are teamed with the dull Jack Abel's inks....well, let's just say that the cover by Mike Grell is the best part of this issue.

The only regret I have from this story is that we never saw Quicksand or Holdur again. I always thought that they had potential, even though Pulsar Stargrave himself was a hot mess.

Science Police Notes:  
  • There is another plug in the letter column for the next issue, commenting that the story will feature the death of a Legionnaire. Those who read last time that Chemical King would be appearing in #228 could not put one and one together to guess whose number was up. 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives volume 13.   

This is the first appearance by later regular Legion of Super-Heroes writer Gerry Conway and artist Joe Staton.   

1 comment:

  1. Gerry Conway, the worse writer in comics history--although nobody agrees with me. Here is another example where he took over an ongoing multi issue plot and totally ruined it (as you yourself state in your review, though without pointing fingers)