Thursday, September 10, 2015

Superboy and The Legion #235

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #235 (Jan, 1978)
title: "The Legion's Super Secret"
writer: Paul Levitz
pencillers: Mike Grell
inker: Vince Colletta
letterer: Milt Snapinn
colorist: Jerry Serpe
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Mike Grell (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Superboy, Timber Wolf, Light Lass, Sun Boy, Shadow Lass

Sklarian Raiders, bad plotting, dull art

At the Legion HQ, Superboy is undergoing drastic brain-washing by his Legion pals, even though he was told it is a routine psycho-medical exam. Cosmic Boy questions the necessity of it, but the others argue the need. Suddenly, the Mission Monitor Board alert goes off, overloading the exam and freeing Superboy.

At the Life Institute, Sklarian Raiders have broken in to try to steal advanced technology not yet available on their planet. One Raider gets through the main Legion defenses, but is stopped by Brainiac 5's force-field. She hits Light Lass and manages to escape with the others.

Brainiac 5 sends Superboy back to the Legion HQ while he, Cosmic Boy, and Sun Boy go after the Raiders. On their cruiser they talk of "the life serum," and how they must make sure Superboy is kept in the dark about it. However, Superboy is secretly listening to their conversation via super-hearing, even though he is on Earth.
The Raiders attack Technos, an orbiting "Silicon Valley" type asteroid full of the advanced technology. The Legion is called in to fight off the Raiders, but they attempt to keep Superboy away from any specific secrets.

After the Sklarian Raiders are caught, they try to make their case for receiving technology that the United Planets has not yet given them. Although the Legion is sympathetic to their situation, in the end they hand them off to the Science Police.
Superboy admits that he eavesdropped on his friends and knows about the brain-washing. He guesses that the secret that they are guarding is the secret of artificial life. He agrees that he should not know about 30th Century medical miracles, and agrees to be brain-washed the next time he visits.

After Superboy leaves, the Legion admits that the secret they are protecting is actually an immortality serum.

Wow, it is hard to believe, but this is the third awful issue in a row! Anybody keeping count? Seems like since Superboy turned into Superboy/Legion there have been more bad stories than good. Or is it just me?

I don't even know where to start with this....okay, how about the idea that thanks to Saturn Girl's post-hypnotic suggestion, EVERYTHING Superboy learns in the future that might have an impact on his actual life is ALREADY forgotten? Or, how about the idea that the Legionnaires don't trust Superboy enough with their immortality secret? Or worst yet, how about the fact that for the entire story they are intent on brain-washing Superboy so he wouldn't go back in time with the knowledge of the super secret, and then at the end of the story....they just let him leave!! Sure, THEY know that he doesn't know their secret, but HE doesn't know that! And it's time travel....why does he have to rush off?! My gosh, this is awful.

While it's a pleasure to see Mike Grell back on the art for this "very special issue," it's a shame that he gets saddled with Vince Colletta, one of  the worst inkers of all time. Instead of wishing the inking  was done by Bob Wiacek, I suppose I should just be happy that the work wasn't inked by Jack Abel. Still, it's obvious that there is no particular joy present in this work.

Shall I talk about the stupidity of the immortality serum idea itself? No? I think we're all in agreement this is a dumb idea. If it isn't broke, don't fix it. By the way, what the hell is "artificial life"? The Legionnaires talk about it as if it's a thing, but....what is it? Cloning? Robotics? Androids? Let's just hope the next story in this issue is better than this turkey....

title: "The Trial of the Legion Five"
writer: Gerry Conway
penciller: George Tuska
inker: Vince Colletta
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Jerry Serpe
editor: Al Milgrom

Mission Monitor Board:  
Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass, Brainiac 5, Wildfire; cameos by Superboy, Chameleon Boy, Princess Projectra

UP Councilman Marko Chang, bad plotting, bad art  

On Earth, Councilman Marko Chang accuses five Legionnaires of murdering his son. Both sides appear at the UP Supreme Court as crowds of people who violently oppose the Legion's extra-legal standing in society demonstrate against them.

Chang makes an opening statement, then testifies that his son was suffering from Synapse Syndrome, a rare nervous disorder. He learns that radiation emitted when a Titanian Psycho-Beast dies could cure his son. So he headed to Titan to find one of these animals and harness its energy. He finds the Legion already there, and the he is knocked out by Timber Wolf. When he woke up the Legion was gone and his son was dead. Ipso facto, he accuses them of murder.
Saturn Girl then takes the stand and testifies that the Legion went to Titan to hunt for the Psycho-Beast in order to save their team-mate, Wildfire. Due to absorbing energy from the Imskian Dragons last issue, his energy structure was disintegrating.
Shadow Lass then testifies that she guided the group into the lair of the Psycho-Beast. Lightning Lad then testifies that Timber Wolf put up quite a fight to kill the Psycho-Beast, and that during the battle Chang arrived and was knocked unconscious.

Suddenly, Wildfire and Brainiac 5 burst into the court, and Wildfire saves Marko's son (whose body was there as evidence) by blasting him with energy. Brainiac 5 explains that the Psycho-Beast could save Marko's son, but only if Wildfire was saved first. Wildfire could mimic the Psycho-Beast's energy absorption, but his son could not save Wildfire. As his son is not dead, all charges are dropped, and the case is dismissed.

So my hope that the back-up story would be better than the lead story was utterly destroyed. Yikes! As Glinda once said, "(This one) is worse than the other one!"

How does an energy being absorb too much energy? It was shown waaaay back in Superboy #201 that Wildfire could absorb the power of a nuclear blast. Are the Imskian Dragons really all that powerful?

Speaking of the Imskian Dragons, this is supposed to be a continuation of last issue's adventure, yes? So where were Shrinking Violet and Colossal Boy, not to mention the others? And where did Shadow Lass and Timber Wolf come from, when they were nowhere to be found when their friends were fighting the Composite Legionnaire last time?

The angst shown by Lightning Lad and Superboy regarding whether the Legion really are murderers is  pathetic. OBVIOUSLY, if Marko's son isn't really dead, murder did not occur. And even if the boy was dead, how could what the Legion did EVER be considered "murder"? "Murder" is the premeditated taking of someone's life; the Legion absolutely did not do that. Well, atleast, not of the boy. They DID wantonly kill the Psycho-Beast, which seemed cruel, especially as this was thought to be the last of its kind.

As for the art....well, George Tuska & Vince Colletta make Mike Grell & Vince Colletta look good. I will leave it at that.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Shadow Lass appears at Legion HQ during the first story, she does not participate in either of the missions against the Sklarian Raiders. 
  • Brainiac 5 angrily shouts down Cosmic Boy at the end of their mission on Technos, "This is not a debating society!" 
  • Shadow Lass appears in the back-up story without her cape. 
  • Saturn Girl changes her hairstyle three times in the course of the back-up adventure. 
This issue has not yet been reprinted, and hopefully never will be.


  1. Saturn Girl changes hairstyle often, and yet it's Superboy who's at the hair salon on the cover.

  2. This issue is the one that Levitz calls the worst comic he's ever written.