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John Kahane
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Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #206

And here for all to enjoy is today's Legion of Super-Heroes re-read...





Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #206
January-February (February), 1975
“The Legionnaires Who Haunted Superboy"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Joe Letterese
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: Nick Cardy
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid; Mon-El, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5 (all cameos).

In Smallville, Superboy goes out on patrol and then arrives on time at an old armoury that is to be demolished so a new children’s playground can be built there. As Superboy prepares to demolish the armoury, another grey-clad, iron-coloured figure does the job for him, just as effectively as he could have done it. When Superboy approaches the figure, it appears to be Ferro Lad! Before he can talk to the thought dead Legionnaire, Ferro Lad flies off. Superboy is too shocked and stunned to pursue. The next day, while walking a classmate (Suzy) to school, a sky-diver is blown off course. Before Clark can reveal himself as Superboy to save the man, an invisible force catches the sky-diver and saves him, depositing him on a nearby roof. The figure is revealed to be Invisible Kid! Since everyone else in the area sees the figure, Clark realizes he’s not hallucinating him. This surprises Superboy, as he was present when Ferro Lad died, as well as when Invisible Kid was killed in action recently. The next night, Superboy is making a report into a tape recorder when Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid show up in his basement. Superboy says they can’t be who they say they are, Ferro Lad having died when he took the absorbatron bomb to destroy the Sun-Eater and Invisible Kid when he sacrificed his life to stop Validus from attacking Legion HQ. Both say they’re not ready to explain how they are back from the dead, as they want Superboy to test them and see if they’re still up to Legion standards after their absence. If the two don’t have “what it takes”, they’ll voluntarily exile themselves to another era and won’t ever bother the Legion again. As they talk, Superboy’s emergency alert goes off, and the three Legionnaires head out to respond to it. On the outskirts of Smallville, the three super-heroes find a strange, pulsating ring of energy, which is obviously what triggered the alert. A huge, yellow robot digs itself out of the ground, and attacks Superboy. He is surrounded by an energy ring which weakens him and paralyzes him. He orders both Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid to escape, but they ignore him. Invisible Kid moves around, getting the robot’s attention, while Ferro Lad transforms to his iron self and launches himself at the robot, right after it has attacked Invisible Kid, surrounding him with the paralyzing ring. Ferro Lad destroys the robot, and Invisible Kid reappears, having turned invisible to escape the ring of energy. Shortly, on an isolated hilltop where their time bubble is, Superboy tells Invisible Kid and Ferro Lad that they couldn’t have performed any better, offering them his seal of approval, and the two enter the time bubble and return to the 30th Century - where it promptly explodes. It turns out that the two dead Legionnaires were clones, but the cloning process that the Legion has been experimenting with doesn’t allow for enough stability for the clones to survive more than 48 hours. Superboy was alerted to the existence of the new Invisible Kid and Ferro Lad, and created the robot in time to combat them. And thanks to Superboy, they know that the clones will be as brave and as reliable as the originals.

Commentary:
Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid are the first two Legionnaires to have died in the line of duty (Lightning Lad’s death doesn’t count as he was brought back from the dead through the use of Daxamite technology). Based on some requests in the letters columns of the LSH comics and some of what editor Mort Weisinger has said elsewhere, there were lots of requests to bring the two dead Legionnaires back. Cary Bates was put to work on a story to do just that, and this is it. This story is a pretty good one, set up as almost a ghost story at the beginning, but then turning into a story about clones and their willingness to die again if necessary. I think it’s interesting that the Legion even posits the idea of cloning dead members to bring them back again, but part of me also thinks that tends to denigrate their ultimate sacrifice a bit. And yet this story made me miss Ferro Lad a lot, made the loss of Invisible Kid only four months previous a terrible blow once again. And while Invisible Kid and Ferro Lad were the greatest and didn’t have the best or the coolest powers, this story proved they were Great. ‘Nuff said. Well, except... An interesting touch is that in Superboy’s basement, you can clearly see models of the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Galileo shuttle from Star Trek.

The second story of the issue was…

"Welcome Home, Daughter… Now Die!"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Joe Letterese
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: na
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Princess Projectra, Karate Kid

Princess Projectra narrates an adventure which begins when she took a leave of absence from the Legion of Super-Heroes to return to her homeworld, Orando. Karate Kid also has some time off, and he wanted to spend that time with her. She tells him that she want to continue her recovery from her recent case of Rigel Fever while at the same time visit with her parents. She has a responsibility as a member of the Orandoan royalty, and it’s been two years since she last saw her parents. Projectra and Karate Kid fight, the latter saying that obviously he just doesn’t compete with royalty, and Projectra leaves for Orando alone. As her ship travels through space, Projectra worries about her planet and her parents. Because Orando is not technologically savvy, she can never communicate with her parents while she is gone. She thinks that she would never forgive herself if something happened to them. Before she knows it, she arrives at Orando, but upon landing her ship is taken into custody and she is arrested as her parents have been dethroned. The new king of Orando has her flight ring removed, and she is taken outside the castle to face the Morgu.

The Morgu turns out to be a hideous monster, but when she tries to use her illusion-projecting power it seems to fail her. Karate Kid arrives on the scene and rescues her from the hideous monster. However, instead of kissing her he slaps her hard in order to try to get her to clear her head. It turns out that this is not Orando, but a planetoid several million miles from it, and everything on the asteroid has been an illusion, a projection of her still feverish imagination. It’s a result of the residue of the Rigel Fever and her guilt over her relationship with her parents. She apologizes to Karate Kid, but then they realize that the Morgu is real and quite deadly! It attacks them, and while Karate Kid can’t harm it and is captured in its claws, Projectra gets it to release him with an illusion of some horrible creature, and using Karate Kid’s flight ring gets the two of them to her Legion cruiser. When she asks why he followed her, Karate Kid admits he followed her to apologize for not respecting her love for her parents and her unique position as royalty. Overjoyed to hear him apologize, Projectra invites him to join her on the real Orando. And thus, the story has a happy ending.

Commentary:
One of the things I always loved about Cary Bates writing the Legion stories is that his tales were pretty exciting adventures. I rather enjoyed this tale of Projectra’s powers going on the fritz due to her bout of Rigel Fever, and didn’t really see it coming until Karate Kid slapped Jeckie instead of kissing her, but... You do have to wonder how illusions take away a flight ring... and how does a feverish Legionnaire know there’s a Morgu there... and whose Legion cruiser got left on the asteroid... But that said, the story is a fine read, it doesn’t really lose anything on second and third readings, and Mike Grell’s artwork on the story is lovely, showing us that he can really flex those pencils when writing stuff with a British Camelot-like location.

One final note on this issue. The cover of the issue is Nick Cardy’s last on the Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes work.
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, lsh
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