John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #202

Another day and another Legion of Super-Heroes re-read...

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #202
May-June (June), 1974
“The Wrath of the Devil-Fish!”
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Dave Cockrum
Letterer: Joe Letterese
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: Nick Cardy
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy, Mon-El, Light Lass, Element Lad ; Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Matter-Eater Lad, Shadow Lass, Brainiac 5, Wildfire (formerly ERG-1; joins this issue) (all cameos)

On Earth, new Legionnaire ERG-1 respectfully asks that his name be changed to Wildfire. Brainiac 5 says that it can be handled once an addendum is added to the Legion charter. Saturn Girl explains that all other Legionnaires weren’t available for the induction ceremony, as they’re all off on missions. She explains that Superboy, Light Lass, Mon-El and Element Lad answered an alarm on one of the Legion’s automated sea station in the Pacific Ocean. The four Legionnaires in question are floating underwater, surrounded by bubbles. In flashback, we see what has transpired with these Legionnaires… The four Legionnaires arrive on the station that converts the pollutants in the ocean into power. When the station’s power shuts down, the Legionnaires descend to the power-plant deck to find that a saboteur has knocked out the engines by gumming them up with mysterious...bubbles. When Element Lad attempts to analyze them, the bubbles explode. The groggy Legionnaire tells the others that he learned the bubbles are composed of strange, unknown elements. The Legionnaires spot huge, gigantic inhuman footprints, and as they’re about to follow them the power on the sea station goes out, dooming all sea life in the area as the pollutant converter is out of action. They follow the footprints using Superboy’s infra-vision, which lead them to the ocean. The four Legionnaires dive into the sea, and are able to use the telepathic plugs in their ears to communicate with Element Lad and Light Lass also use oxy-breathers. They see some sort of half-man, half-fish (a “devil-fish”) that attacks them with its bubbles, rendering them unconscious and sapping them of their strength - and that’s how the Legionnaires ended up that way. In the present, the Devil-Fish returns to the sea station to destroy it once and for all, but finds alien invaders inside who are planning to destroy the station, exploding the pollutant converter, and blaming it on the Legionnaires, poisoning earth’s atmosphere. The Legionnaires recover, and Mon-El explains to Light Lass about the Devil-Fish. Element Lad, who’s been concentrating on the elemental structure of the bubbles, frees himself and then does the same for the others. The group of heroes splits up and goes in search of the Devil-Fish. It is Mon-El who finds him, and after weakening him by using his heat-vision on the water around him and then binding him with seaweed from the sea bottom, he then gives Devil-Fish one of his telepathic plugs. The other three Legionnaires receive a summons to the sea station. Mon-El and Devil-Fish attack the alien saboteurs, and Superboy arrives in time to prevent another of them from destroying a hydro-cruiser in the distance with a rifle. The Legionnaires capture the alien saboteurs, hurl them back into their spaceship, and Superboy and Mon-El help boost it into deep space. Mon-El explains that it turns out the Devil-Fish eats the toxic waste, so he shut down the station because it was destroying his food supply. Now that the Legion is aware of that, they will have to change the power source of the sea station. The Devil-Fish disappears into the oceans, and is not seen again.

This is actually the second new story in the issue, the first being the Colossal Boy/Shrinking Violet story discussed below, but I deal with it first as it’s the “lead” story from the issue’s cover. The story is a pretty good tale, with a strong ecological message, and Cary Bates tells a story here with only a few nitpicks that I’m not going to mention. Dave Cockrum left the Legion after this issue, and the Devil-Fish was one of his concepts (being an homage to “The Creature From the Black Lagoon”). The script has its problems still (the Legionnaires use a cruiser to fly to the Pacific? Why not their flight rings? Where do the eco-terrorists come from?), but it was an enjoyable read in so many ways. Mon-El’s use of the telepathic ear plug to communicate with Devil-Fish is inspired, and the fight with the eco-terrorists is well executed plot-wise as well.

The first story in this issue, also a new story.

“Lost: A Million Miles From Home!”
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Joe Letterese
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: na
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy.

Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet are on their way back to Earth after a mission on Alpha-4, stopping a raider fleet. Suddenly, their space cruiser goes dead. Shrinking Violet suffers from a panic attack, but Colossal Boy is able to calm her down. Colossal Boy goes outside the ship to see if there’s a physical reason for the cruiser losing power; when he leaves the ship, the power comes back on, but when he comes back into the ship, the power shuts down again. After Violet runs some tests on him, Gim decides that since the physic-scans showed nothing, he has to exile himself. He lands on an asteroid in an asteroid belt, but after Violet has departed, the “asteroid” reveals itself as as mineral creature that “eats” him whole. He dares not enlarge himself, or his spacesuit will tear and he’ll die of the vacuum in space. As Violet heads for Earth, she reviews the visitapes of their mission to Alpha-4 and sees Colossal Boy swatting at his neck; looking at the background scenes, she sees an alien sniper with a smile on his face and a smoking rifle. Returning to where she left Colossal Boy, she finds no trace of him, but hears his voice through the telepathic plug telling her to take the large rock into the ship. Once she does so, Colossal Boy enlarges to giant size, breaking free of the rock parasite. Violet shrinks down, and takes the power-absorbing bullet out of his neck. It was designed to shrink when he did, becoming microscopic in size. After discarding the bullet, power is restored to the ship and the two Legionnaires head for Earth.

I rather enjoyed this story for the most part, being a tale about two Legionnaires that we don’t see a lot of in action at this time, Shrinking Violet and Colossal Boy. The two get a pretty good story here, with a couple of exceptions that I’ll get to in a minute, and it’s very reminiscent of the tales from the Action Comics Vol 1 and Superboy Vol 1 tales that featured only a couple of Legionnaires and focused on them. However, this is a Cary Bates story that, to be honest, gives us a Legionnaire, this time Shrinking Violet, questioning her abilities. Sure, it comes across more as a panic attack, but still...too many stories with this sort of thing in them, Cary! The three issues that come to mind here are: 1) How did they manage to run the physic-scan of Colossal Boy if the cruiser has no power?; 2) Why didn’t Shrinking Violet call for help while she was flying back to Earth?; and 3) Why doesn't Colossal Boy's spacesuit increase in size with him, given that his costume does? You'd think with the technology the Legionnaires use and Brainiac 5's smarts that this would not be a problem. This story also marks the last work by Dave Cockrum and the first story with the work of Mike Grell. As such, the artwork is pure gorgeous, and Shrinking Violet and Colossal Boy have never looked better.

This is the first "100 Pages for 60c" issues of Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes. Aside from the two new stories, the reprints here include

“The Legionnaire Who Killed!” from Adventure Comics Vol 1 #342,
“The Super-Stalag of Space!” from Adventure Comics Vol 1 #344; and
“The Execution of Matter-Eater Lad!” from Adventure Comics Vol 1 #345

In addition, there is a 4-page “The Lore of the Legion!” section that details 16 of the Legionnaires, done up by E. Nelson Bridwell and Dave Cockrum, including the two recently retired Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy. These entries provide the Real Names, Home Planet, Origin, and Other Data on the characters. The end of the feature states that there will be more Legion Lore in the next Super-Spectacular Superboy.

It should be noted that Wildfire becomes the 28th full-time Legionnaire in this story
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, lsh

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