Thursday, July 30, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #229

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #229 (July, 1977)
title: "Hunt For A Hero-Killer"
writer: Paul Levitz
artist: Jim Sherman
inker: Jack Abel
colorist: Liz Berube
letterer: Bill Morse
editor: Denny O'Neil
cover: Mike Grell (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Timber Wolf, Saturn Girl, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Mon-El, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Light Lass; cameos by Chemical King, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy

Night Girl

Deregon, The Dark Circle

On Shanghalla, the Legion holds the funeral for Chemical King, who died last issue while preventing a cosmic fusion sphere from exploding. Immediately after the ceremony, Legion leader Wildfire uses the computer to pick a team to go to the Dark Circle world to capture Deregon. Although every Legionnaire has volunteered to go, Wildfire picks only five. Saturn Girl argues, citing Legion traditions, but in the end agrees to Wildfire's decision. He, Dawnstar, Timber Wolf, Superboy, and Mon-El head off to the Dark Circle world.

Back on Earth, the three founders and Night Girl are taking time off to try to relax when Light Lass contacts them. Earth President Kandru has alerted them that Deregon is in Metropolis. They change into their uniforms and Night Girl leaves them, knowing that hunting down Chemical King's killer is Legion business.

The five Legionnaires arrive at Dark Circle space, where they fight through defenses to get to the Central Command. They demand that the Dark Circle turns over Deregon, not knowing that he is actually on Earth. As they head into the main chamber, each Legionnaire suddenly disappears.

Back in Metropolis, the founders search for Deregon at an amusement park's Tunnel of Fear. Saturn Girl tracks him telepathically, registering his terror at being found by them or by the Dark Circle. When she corners him, he lashes out at her. Deregon is then scared by Lightning Lad's lightning bolts and, disoriented, falls into a vat of chemical waste. As the SP take Deregon away, the founders talk about revising the Legion Constitution to allow killing....and married members. 

Back at Legion HQ, Light Lass had used the Legion's Warp Transport machine to retrieve the five Legionnaires from the Dark Circle's world. 

This is a good conclusion to the murder of Chemical King. I like that hot-headed Wildfire leads a group of Legionnaires on a "wild klanth" chase while the founders actually catch Deregon. And that bit shown below, juxta-positioning Deregon's fear against Chemical King's lack of gets me every time I read it.

The sequence between Saturn Girl, Wildfire, and Dawnstar seems a bit odd, though. Why would there only be five members chosen to attack an entire planet!? That doesn't sound very smart. Plus, if the team was going to the Dark Circle world, why bring Dawnstar? They already know where they're going! I would have thought Wildfire would bring a more powerful member, like Ultra Boy or Element Lad. Also, Saturn Girl cites "Legion tradition" in her argument, but....there have only been two other murdered Legionnaires, and neither time did the Legion go after their murderers. So the "tradition" argument doesn't really work here.

Every time Wildfire stands before the computer and runs his program, I like trying to remember which member is which number. Tyroc (#22) almost makes it! And if Chemical King was Legionnaire #18, now that he is gone all the later members move down a number? That sounds a bit morbid.

The art is passable. There are flashes of James Sherman brilliance nearly buried under Jack Abel's heavy inks. Sherman really draws cool mechanical and robotic stuff.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Shanghalla is described as the cemetery of heroes, including Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid. However, because Ferro Lad's body was atomized by the Sun-Eater, he is actually not buried there (or anywhere). He has only a memorial there to represent his sacrifice. 
  • Superboy's "S" is reflected incorrectly in Wildfire's visor on page 4. 
  • The text on page 5 tells us that Mon-El joins up with the team en route to the Dark Circle world, but he is clearly standing with the others on page 3. 
  • At the amusement park Galaxy World there are three "rides" visible: Temple of Bosch, House of Zendlida, and Salem House. 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 13 

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