Thursday, August 6, 2015

Superboy starring The Legion #230

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #230 (Aug, 1977)
title: "The Creature That Conned The Legion"
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, Dream Girl, Sun Boy, Element Lad, Brainiac 5

Sden, the alien named in the story's title

On Remor, five Legionnaires are about to be honored for their service when a strong earthquake occurs. As most of the Legionnaires are busy rescuing the Remorians, Sun Boy fuses the split earth shut.

An alien named Sden suddenly appears, speaking in a somewhat menacing tone. The Legion rushes at him, only to find that he can teleport away from them as they approach him. Dream Girl uses her power to "see" where he is going to teleport, allowing the boys to catch him (it?). He then tells them that he is not the menace, and tells them about the Catastrophe Crystal. It has fallen out of the interstellar void into Remor, causing the earthquake. He has arrived to retrieve it, but it is stronger than Sden's magic, so he needs the Legion to retrieve it for him. They go off, but Dream Girl is suspicious.
The Legionnaires burrow down into a volcano, find the crystal, and bring it to Sden. He shows his true nature, admitting that armed with the crystal he will be invincible. However, the Legion has booby-trapped the box with the crystal, causing it to explode when Sden opens it. This stuns him, allowing the Legion to capture him. Superboy then takes the crystal back into the 20th Century.

Sorry, Paul Levitz, this is another awful story. An unclear set-up leads to a coincidental menace (why are the Legionnaires on Remor, just as the Catastrophe Crystal happens to arrive there?). Then we get a terrible ending...after all the trouble the Catastrophe Crystal could have caused, Superboy decides that the best place for it is back in 20th Century Smallville?!? This makes no sense whatsoever! This story has only one thing going for it: the heightened role of Dream Girl. Nura Nal played a leading role in Paul Levitz' first Legion story a few issues ago, and now here she is again, ordering the boys around and basically saving the day. Obviously, Levitz appreciated her worth as a character. Unfortunately, he is still trying to write more like Cary Bates instead of like Jim Shooter. He has yet to hit his stride.

I will not comment on the art, because if I did, I would have to say how Jack Abel's heavy-handed inking all but destroys the beautiful James Sherman pencils. I do like how Sden is truly alien looking, obviously not a humanoid. However, that is absolutely not enough to make this story worth the price of admission.

title: "The Day Bouncing Boy Bounced Back"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Mike Nasser
inker: Jack Abel
colorist: Liz Berube
editor: Denny O'Neil

Mission Monitor Board:  
Bouncing Boy; cameos of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad

Guest Star: 
Science Police officer Dvron  

Bouncing Boy is on monitor duty at Legion head-quarters during Chemical King's funeral when an SP officer bursts in, attacking him. Almost immediately after that, gas knocks both of them out. They awaken a few minutes later, imprisoned in energy spheres.

Dvron explains that he had tampered with the defense systems in order to break in to watch over things because he knew the whole Legion was on Shanghalla. He didn't know that Legion Reservists always serve monitor duty if the full membership cannot. Dvron apologizes for his overzealousness. Bouncing Boy accepts his apology, but reminds him that it doesn't help their predicament.

When Bouncing Boy angrily punches the power sphere in frustration, the energy of the sphere inflates his hand. He guesses that the energy in the sphere recharges the elastic serum in his cells, so he flings his whole body into the sphere. He painfully re-inflates, gaining back his bouncing powers.

Using his newly regained powers, he is able to ricochet the energy sphere into the wall, breaking free. Bouncing Boy also frees Dvron, but he makes him promise not to tell the others that he has gotten his powers back.

As a throw-away plot device to re-inflate Bouncing Boy, this story is fine. The art is better than in the lead, although Jack Abel does his best to wash away Mike Nasser's dynamic illustrations. However, as an actual story, there are quite a lot of plot holes.

First of all, wouldn't the Legion notice the damage the guys made during their predicament? Then even if they didn't, did Bouncing Boy have the technological know-how to fix all the electronic tampering that Dvron must have done? Speaking of which, how could goofy Dvron have the know-how to break into the Legion HQ in the first place? And then once he's in, he attacks Bouncing Boy? This is idiotic. Then once the young men are knocked out, how do they get placed in the energy spheres?

Duo Damsel does not appear in this story, but it is not mentioned that she went to Chemical King's funeral. Arguably, Bouncing Boy knew Chemical King better than his wife did (they shared more adventures) so it seems logical that he would have gone to the funeral and she would have stayed on monitor duty.

Science Police Notes:  
  • There is no reason given for why five Legionnaires are being honored on Remor. Are these specific members being honored for something they did? Or are they representing the Legion in some sort of ceremony? Paul Levitz never tells us.
  • Superboy brings the crystal back into the past, in a story continued in Adventure Comics #453
  • The gas that incapacitates Bouncing Boy and Dvron is called Morpheus Mist.
  • Why doesn't Bouncing Boy have his Legion Flight Ring? Also, he is still not wearing a wedding ring.  
Reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives vol. 13 

This is the last issue of the book with the title Superboy. With the next issue, it will officially become Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. 

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