Thursday, September 24, 2015

Superboy and The Legion #236

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #236 (Feb, 1978)
title: "Meanwhile..."
writer: Paul Levitz
pencillers: Jim Sherman
inker: Bob McLeod
colorist: Anthony Tollin
letterer: Ben Oda
editor: Al Milgrom
cover: Mike Grell & Joe Rubinstein (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Superboy, Element Lad, Colossal Boy, Chameleon Boy, Princess Projectra, Brainiac 5

Night Girl (acting as if she is already a Legionnaire), future Legionnaire Pol Krinn


On Braal, Cosmic Boy is enjoying his leave on his home-planet with his girl-friend and Substitute Hero Night Girl and his younger brother, Pol, when the magno-ball court where they are playing suddenly turns to liquid. Cosmic Boy and Night Girl report to the President, who informs them that the entire planet has started to alter itself. Cosmic Boy calls in the Legion, then he and Night Girl head out into the field to investigate.

They find an alien named World-Smith, changing the surface of Braal per his unnamed customer's request. He blasts them just as the Legion arrives. They destroy his Planet-Changer machine, so he captures them in a magical stone. Element Lad changes it to oxygen, and they escape.

Working together with Princess Projectra's illusions, Cosmic Boy is able to convince World-Smith that his power doesn't work on Braal. Faced with too many cost over-runs, World-Smith gives up the job and leaves. After he leaves, Superboy recognizes some of the changes on Braal as things he has seen on Earth.

This is a quick, fun story. First of all, the art is fabulous! THIS is what Jim Sherman art should look like!! His people are sexy as hell, his layouts are fun, and his machinery are detailed. I don't know how much of this is due to inker Bob McLeod, but I think Cosmic Boy and Element Lad look the same in most of his (non Jack Abel-inked) stories, so I'll say this is initially his work. Check out this atmospheric scene on the Legion cruiser (below). Could we keep getting THIS level of art, please?

As for the story, World-Smith is another alien-looking alien, but not much of an antagonist. If he was so super-magical strong, why did he need a Planet Changer machine? And it seems like Princess Projectra could have taken care of most of the work just by waving her hand, but we'll allow team-work to save the day.

My one question is, why does Colossal Boy not think the Legion is a family? Did he get punched out by Shrinking Violet again?

title: "Mon-El's One-Man War!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Mike Nasser
inkers: Joe Rubinstein & Rick Bryant
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Mike Nasser
editor: Al Milgrom

Mission Monitor Board:  

the Khunds  

Wandering through space, Mon-El is enjoying his time off when he happens upon a Khund attack on an isolated star mine. He rushes to the warship, disabling its engines to keep it stuck on the Khundian side of the UP-Khund neutral zone.

I must be dreaming, because here we are with another fantastic little gem with unbelievable art! I always liked Mon-El and enjoyed the idea that he would wander through space when he had nothing better to do. After all, he had no particular family besides the Legion, so why stay on Earth, or Talok VIII, or Daxam? No, like Krypto the Super Dog, Mon-El enjoys flying around and finding adventures out beyond the stars. That would probably make for a pretty cool comic-book series, actually...

And the art! Mike Nasser is at the top of his game here, pencilling as well as coloring a story he obviously enjoyed doing. Josef Rubinstein hits a home-run, accenting Nasser's dynamic designs instead of stifling them. More of this, too, please!!

title: "Words Never Spoken"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Jim Sherman
inker: Joe Rubinstein
letterer: Milton Snapinn
colorist: Tony Tollin
editor: Al Milgrom

Mission Monitor Board:  
Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad

doubt, crossed wires  

On Star Gardens on Titan, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad are talking seriously about leaving the Legion in order to get married.

Saturn Girl admits that she is scared because she doesn't want to leave the Legion, and if they do leave she's scared that she and Lightning Lad will turn out to be different people. Lighting Lad admits that he's scared, too, but he has faith in their love.
Saturn Girl decides to take them to the Institute of Psychic Science to undergo compatibility tests. Her old teacher suggests that they use the Sensacomp Stimulator, which will create artificial situations to test or enhance their mutual understanding. They enter, but the programming fails and they are suddenly fighting real threats without being able to communicate.
However, they know each other well enough to work together anyway, managing to get through the program unhurt. They decide that they are, indeed, meant to be together, and decide to get married.

I remember when I first read this story that I thought it was overly "trippy" and "new agey." Re-reading it recently, I find it adorable. Saturn Girl's reluctance to give herself to Lighting Lad (mentally, and it is strongly suggested, physically as well) plays well, and Lightning Lad comes off not so much as a sex-starved young man ("I *need* you, Imra!") but as another good, clean soul...witness his respect of her decision to go to the Institute, and his absolute trust in her ("I know that, my love"). It's easy to see in hindsight that Lightning Lad really was the lynch pin between the "cold" Saturn Girl and the "dynamic" Cosmic Boy.

And the art! Both Jim Sherman and Joe Rubinstein hit another home-run in their second times at bat. The art is a bit trippy to go along with the story, and those profiles of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad look a bit too much like Karen and Richard Carpenter for my tastes, but overall this is wonderful work.

This is the best issue of Superboy/Legion in nearly two years, of that there can be little doubt!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Shadow Lass is featured on the cover, she does not appear in the issue.  
  • Each of the three stories feature Legionnaires on leave rather than on active duty. 
  • Night Girl appears to be a Legionnaire in this story, much like Duplicate Boy did a few issues ago. 
  • Mike Nasser colored his own pencils in the Mon-El story. 
  • This is Mon-El's first ever solo adventure. 
  • The cover cleverly uses established comic-book series logos ACTION, ADVENTURE, and YOUNG ROMANCE to highlight the three separate stories. 
  • This issue continues in Limited Edition C-55, where the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lighting Lad takes place.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

This is the last appearance of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad as full-time members, as they decide to leave the Legion in order to get married at the end of this issue.

1 comment:

  1. Is it just me or does the trippy portrait of Lightning Lad look a bit like Mark Hamill? Star Wars would have been on everyone's mind at the time.