Monday, November 25, 2019

DC Super-Stars #17

DC Super-Stars #17 (December 1977)
title: "The Secret of the Quintile Crystal!"
writer: Jack C. Harris
penciller: Juan Ortiz
inker: Bob Smith
colorist: Liz Berube
editor: Baul Levitz
table of contents art: Jim Aparo
cover: Joe Staton

reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board: Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl; Superboy

RJ Brande, unnamed Science Police officer

Lord Lorval, Ambassador of Oianus; bureaucracy

The three founders and Superboy go to the Metropolis Powersphere to pick up the Quintile Crisytal, which has been the power source for Metropolis for the past ten years. As a Science Police officer swaps a new crystal for the old, the three founders tell Superboy how the crystal was involved with their first official case. 
Superboy knows how the three founders came together to save the life of RJ Brande. After they came together, Brande tells them about the Quintile Crystal, which is a new power source that was meant for Earth. However, Brande has heard that it was stolen and that it will be smuggled off Earth today. 
The Legionnaires use their brand-new Legion Cruiser to fly to the space port station, where Saturn Girl telepathically recognizes the smuggler, and the boys capture him. 
However, the smuggler is actually a diplomat from the planet Oianus, so has diplomatic immunity even though Saturn Girl knows that he is guilty. A Science Police attempts to arrest the Legionnaires for interfering in a police case, but Lord Larval does not press charges. 
The Legionnaires (thanks to Saturn Girl) know Lord Larval's back-up plan, so they race back to Earth. Lord Lorval holds his bidding meeting to sell the stolen crystal as planned, unaware that the Legionnaires have arrested the underworld agents and taken their places. They steal the crystal back, and because Lord Lorval stole it in the first place, he cannot turn to the Science Police to help get it back! 
The Legionnaires get RJ Brande to return the Quintile Crystal to its rightful owner. A few days later, they get credit for a job well done. The Legion is given honorary membership on all United Planets worlds and is deputized by the Science Police. 
In present day, the out-of-charge Quintile Crystal is cooled off, so the SP officer hands it to the Legionnaires...revealing that he is the same officer who had tried to arrest them ten years ago! 

I distinctly remember picking up this issue as a rabid Justice Society fan and devouring the "lead" story on the origin of the Huntress. It is a classic by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton that has been reprinted several times over the past 40 years. However, I also distinctly remember the extra "gravy" of having a Legion story in this issue that I would have absolutely bought anyway. As such, this story has always been one of my favorites, if for nothing other than sentimental reasons.

As a story, it's well plotted and well illustrated. It doesn't aspire to be "cosmic" in any way, shape, or form, but it *does* manage to be entertaining as it tells the background of how the Legion went from being an amateur group of "gifted" teen-agers to becoming a well-respected and officially deputized arm of the Science Police and the United Planets. And I love the way the founders' powers work together to solve the case. Stealing the stolen object back from Lord Lorval was awesome!

Jack C. Harris was the editor of Legion of Super-Heroes at about this time, so he clearly knows what he's doing. I would even venture a guess that this story is somehow nostalgic to him, as well; a type of "love-letter" to the Silver Age Legion, maybe. If not, it certainly reads that way to me.

The art by Juan Ortiz and Bob Smith is good, with flashes of greatness. I love the layout on page 5 (reprinted above). At this time Juan Ortiz seemed to be hovering around DC looking for work, as he did stories for Batman Family, Karate Kid, Teen Titans, a fill-in for Dick Dillin over in Justice League, and this. And then he seemed to fade away. He's recently back in the Pop Culture Eye with his fantastic coffee-book series Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz and Lost in Space: The Art of Juan Ortiz, among others. Google him or check him out on if you want to see some cool art design work.

And is it just me, or are there glimpses of Mike Vosberg in some of these panels? I'm especially fascinated by the extreme close-up of Lord Lorval, reprinted above. If I came across that panel on its own I would swear it was done by Mike Vosberg (who is probably best-known for his work on Marvel's first She-Hulk series, but who I remember on DC's short-lived Isis series).

Speaking of art, there must have been a miscommunication between the editor and the writers, because this issue came in needing two or three additional pages. Two were taken over for an explanation of the cover design, and one page was given to Jim Aparo to draw a type of "table of content" page. This is extremely rare Aparo Legion art, so we included the full page at the top of this review and a larger, cropped version here:

Overall, this was a fun, entertaining Legion story.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The Science Police officer who plays a pivotal role in this story is not named. 
  • The Quintile Crystals were discovered by the famous star explorer, Floyd Marr. 
This story has been reprinted in Superboy/The Legion of Super-Heroes (Vol. 1), the successor to the Legion Archives from 2017.

This is the explanation of how the newly formed Legion acquired official recognition from the Science Police and the United Planets.

Because this story is relatively difficult to find, and is expensive in Back Issue bins due to the Huntress story, AND is only ten pages long.....we here at LSB HQ decided to share the entire story with you today. Enjoy!


  1. (Typo-Fix) 10 years since their first case? - Wouldn't that make the "present day" (well,3077) Legion OLDER than Superboy - he'd still be a teen-ager and they would be in their early 20's. :)

    That's time-travel for ya! :)

    1. That’s a good call on the Legion ages. I always thought it strange that They were referred to as youths but they were drawn like they were 30 through the Bronze Age. Even into the 1980s, I believe, it was mentioned that members can’t join if they’re over 18. Makes me wonder how old Bouncing Boy/Duo Damsel and Saturn Girl/Lightning Lad were when they married. Certainly very young. I suppose that since the team had been around decades at this point, fans and writers often thought of them as older, yet the premise remained that they were teenagers from the future.