Thursday, August 20, 2015

Superboy and The Legion #232

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #232 (Oct, 1977)
title: "The Disease That Wouldn't Die!"
writer: Gerry Conway
pencillers: Ric Estrada
inker: Jack Abel
colorist: Liz Berube
lettering: Clem Robins
editor: Denny O'Neil
cover: Mike Grell (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superboy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Shadow Lass, Mon-El, Timber Wolf, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Sun Boy

Immune, Dr. Regulus

In space, Superboy is experiencing his first Klodny Week with three of his Legionnaire friends. Oddly, they refuse to explain exactly what Klodny is or what they are celebrating. A blowhard United Planets unionist yells at Shrinking Violet about her planet Imsk's request for a larger space zone around itself. Suddenly, space pirates attack their luxury ship. Superboy captures them, Lightning Lad fixes the hole in the ship, Violet fixes the life support wiring, and Saturn Girl "interrogates" them. They were only a diversion so that another ship could sneak into our solar system.

At a UP Space Patrol station between Saturn and Pluto, Cosmic Boy and Colossal Boy are celebrating Klordny with Colossal Boy's cousin, who is on duty at the station. A huge cloud moves forward, encompassing all of them and making them shrink.

On Earth at Legion HQShadow Lass is surprised to find an intruder. She tries to talk to him, but he attacks. He fights off Timber Wolf and Mon-El as he rants about trying to find their benefactor, RJ Brande. He sneaks into the record hall, knocks out Chameleon Boy, and finds the location of RJ Brande's home. He then teleports out.

Superboy's team responds to Colossal Boy's emergency summons. They are asked by the UP military to go to Imsk to investigate the strange germ-cloud and demand a cure. Shrinking Violet is upset that everyone seems so willing to believe that Imsk is behind the disease.

Brainiac 5's team travels to RJ Brande's asteroid and finds Immune there, ready to kill him. He tells them that he got the ability to heal instantly when a biological weapon sold to his government by Brande's company infected him. The Legionnaires can not overpower Immune, so Brainy calls a special Legionnaire to assist them.

In space on the way to Imsk, Shrinking Violet and her friends are ambushed by Dr. Regulus. He shows them that he has already captured Sun Boy. And he tells them that he is the man responsible for the shrinking disease. Sun Boy wakes up, frees himself, and defeats Regulus. Violet and Saturn Girl had switched identities, so the trap meant for them were ineffective against the other.

On RJ Brande's asteroid, Immune thinks he is no longer immune to the shrinking disease as he is attacked by a larger-than-life Brainiac 5. His mind shuts down as a defense. Actually, it is Colossal Boy pretending to be a large Brainiac 5.

Even after the disease is cured by Brainiac 5, Shrinking Violet is still angry that her friends thought that Imsk was somehow responsible for the trouble.

I'm sorry to say this, but this is another awful story! The characterization, the art, and the plot are all terrible.  A few of the worst examples: right off the bad, the Legionnaires refuse to explain what Klordny is. This is a silly point, but the Legionnaires have always been shown kindly explaining to Superboy (and us, the readers) the more exotic future cultural information. The fact that they refuse to do so here just strikes me as wrong. Later, Shadow Lass approaches an intruder in their headquarters as a rank amateur, allowing him to attack her. Speaking of which, how did Immune manage to get IN to their headquarters in the first place? Also, Superboy and Mon-El are both characterized as hot-heads, as the former wants to give the unionist "a fat lip" and the latter attacks Immune without any plan. Timber Wolf shouts "I fight alone!" for the first time since joining the Legion, and Lightning Lad uncharacteristically asks Superboy "What do we do?!" (Long-time Legion fans know he always asks Saturn Girl for orders!)

As for the art, the backgrounds are dull, the bad guys look bad, and the good guys are interchangeable. One of the problems with the Legion has always been that there are too many characters. But the idea that Colossal Boy could simply dress up as Brainiac 5, or that Violet could put on pink panties and pretend to be Saturn Girl....? This is idiotic.

If Brainiac 5 wanted to convince Immune that something had happened that actually hadn't, why didn't he call in Princess Projectra? Also, Dr. Regulus is not a biologist. I find it hard to believe that he was the one who created the shrinking disease.

And lastly, I agree that the idea of planetary politics should have repercussions to the Legionnaires. However, I have a hard time understanding why Violet is so upset at her friends. None of them ever said anything that could be construed as believing Imsk is guilty of anything, yet she is ready to bite everyone's head off. This is just not good writing.

Obviously this was a fill-in. I only hope the quality gets better quickly.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The cover "mixes" the teams of Legionnaires, although none of these members actually become infected by the shrinking disease during the story. 
  • The luxury liner the Legionnaires are partying on is called "The Glory of Ganymede." 
  • The "traditional" toast for Klordny is "To freedom, friendship, and frunt." 
  • Lighting Lad boasts that they are using a "new" communicator to receive communication from Colossal Boy. What did they use before to communicate with each other? 
  • RJ Brande does not look anything like the way he has usually been portrayed. 
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 13 


  1. This is a contender for my least favorite Legion story of all time. Truly terrible.

  2. Most of your complaints are valid, except that the story establishes the weapon WASN'T created by Regulus and he just STOLE it.

    One other complaint: When Superboy sees the shrunken people, he says "It's like something Brainiac One would do...but he's DEAD!" They had just fought Brainiac One as Stargrave five issues ago....and Gerry Conway, the same writer who wrote this story, WROTE that issue.