John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #207

Another day, another Legion of Super-Heroesz re-read...

Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #207
March-April (March), 1975
“The Rookie Who Betrayed the Legion”
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Joe Letterese
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy, Timber Wolf, Light Lass, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy.

Science Police officer Dvron.

The President of Earth alerts the Legion of Super-Heroes that Universo has escaped from the Omega Prison Complex, that his spellbinding hypnotic powers are stronger than ever and that he may be hiding out on R-7, one of the Rigel planetoids. Superboy and the other Legionnaires vow to put him back behind cosma-bars again. The intruder alert goes off, but the intruder has made a “colossal” mistake as he’s nabbed by Colossal Boy. He sees that it’s a Science Police officer who’s been prowling around the Legion HQ and brings him to the Mission Meeting room. The officer, SPXX342 Dvron, introduces himself and asks for permission to go with them to hunt down Argus Oranx III aka Universo. He explains that the previous year, he and his partner were tracking Universo through the mutated jungles of Africa when he [Universo] ordered a man-eating plant to attack his partner. Dvron says he wants revenge, and the five Legionnaires agrees to take him with them.

The Legionnaires and Dvron arrive at the R-7 asteroid, and their cruiser's sensors detect that there is only one life form on the planetoid below. The group splits up, Superboy teaming up with Light Lass and Shrinking Violet teaming up with Timber Wolf to search for Universo, and that makes Chameleon Boy and Dvron the third team. The Legionnaire and the SP officer talk about trying to think like a criminal, and sure enough they see Universo trying to sneak onto the Legion cruiser. Chameleon Boy flies towards Universo, but Dvron shoots him in the back with his stunner. Dvron refuses to tell them why he acted as he did, so Superboy assigns Light Lass to guard the SP officer with his own gun. Superboy and Chameleon Boy take off after Universo, but Universo sneaks back and knocks out Light Lass. He thanks Dvron for saving him, but Dvron shouts at him that he knows why he saved the villain the year before. Universo reveals himself to be Chameleon Boy. Dvron explains that Universo actually saved Dvron from the man-eating plant, saying that he regretted seeing someone die so young, even if he was his enemy, so Dvron just wanted to “pay his debt,” which is now done. With Dvron firmly on their side, he, Chameleon Boy and Light Lass set out to find Universo, instead finding that Superboy, under Universo’s control, has taken out Timber Wolf and Shrinking Violet. Light Lass uses her power to make Superboy super-light, keeping him out of their way, while Chameleon Boy goes to attack Universo. However, Dvron, thinking like a criminal again, shoots Superboy - revealing him to be Universo, and the Universo that Chameleon Boy was about to attack is Superboy, as the hypnotic illusions wear off. The Legionnaires thank Dvron for working with them, and he tells them they were right, that it took everything he had working alongside the Legion.

Once again, this is a fun story from Cary Bates to read that had a lot of good things going for it, but has an issue or two. The story saw the return of Universo (whose name, Argus Oranx III, is revealed here) whose last (second) appearance was back in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #359 and #60. The story features several Legionnaires whose absence has been missed in recent years, Light Lass and Chameleon Boy among them, and there’s some good work in this story, but I thought it was awfully convenient that Chameleon Boy ended up teamed with Dvron. There’s just a bit too much lazy writing, for lack of a better term, from Cary Bates in this tale, though I guess the younger me appreciated the story more when I first read it in 1975. Mike Grell’s artwork is very strong once more in this issue, and the story has a very science fiction art feel to it, especially the wild plants and man-eating plants in the flashbacks to Africa. Grell continues his outstanding covers on the Legion stories, and he will be the cover artist for the rest of his run as penciller, and then continued doing the covers after he left the title for some 30 issues or so afterwards. The young Science Police officer, Dvron, is an interesting character, though he doesn't get a lot of character background other than the flashbacks to his involvement with Universo. His loyalty to working with the Legion is questioned here, but a clever manueuver by Chameleon Boy brings out the truth in a nice plot twist. This is Dvron's first appearance in the Legion comics, though he will return again several times in the future. I was sad that Colossal Boy's presence in the story was wasted as I would have liked to have seen him go with the other Legionnaires in search of Universo. He never really seems to get to do a lot of things in the Legion comics these days. I have to wonder whether this is a conscious choice on the part of the writers and editor, or whether it's something else. Anyway, the story is pretty good, has some fun and good moments to it, and the reader should just take it for what it is.

The second story in this issue is…

“Lightning Lad's Day of Dread"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Joe Letterese
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: na
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Lightning Lad, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Light Lass, Shrinking Violet (cameo), Karate Kid (cameo), Shadow Lass (cameo).

At Legion HQ, Lightning Lad watches visi-slides of him, Mekt, Ayla and their parents when they were all younger. He becomes enraged at something, and destroys the monitor. As he emerges from the viewing chamber, when Shrinking Violet asks what’s wrong, he shoulders her away from him and stomps to the flight deck. He bullies his way past Element Lad, after trying to fry him with an electric bolt that Element Lad negates the damage from by changing into rubber, and takes the cruiser that is ready and waiting to go for Karate Kid. Back inside, Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 investigate, but wish they could talk to Light Lass, Garth (Ranzz)’s sister. Unfortunately, she is still unconscious with Rigel Fever. However, the reader learns that she knows where her brother is going because she would be joining him if she could. We learn that it is the one-year anniversary of the death of their parents in a space cruiser accident. Lightning Lad takes the cruiser to the spot where they died and encounters his brother, Mekt aka Lightning Lord. Mekt refuses to fight him, claiming that at their parents' memorial site they are only brothers, not enemies. When Lightning Lord departs, however, he reminds Lightning Lad that the Legion of Super-Villains is still at large and that he and his brother may have a reckoning sooner than he expects.

This is a good story that could have been better. Long-time Legion fans are painfully aware that neither Cary Bates nor Murray Boltinoff seem to have cared about the source material. While the whole plot is based on Garth and Mekt being twins and having a younger sister in Ayla, the truth is that Garth and Ayla are the twins and Mekt is the non-twin elder brother. This was established in Ayla/Lightning Lass/Light Lass’s first appearance, Adventure Comics Vol 1 #308, “The Return of Lightning Lad!”, from May, 1963. It’s also interesting (and not in a good way) that Light Lass’s red hair is coloured blonde in this story and for the next several years, almost as if the editor and colourist didn’t care enough to fix the glaring error. Other than the major plot mistake, the story is very, very good. The reunion of Garth and Mekt at their parents’ memorial site is quite emotional for 1975. But part of me has to wonder whether Garth ever told Imra/Saturn Girl (or Cosmic Boy) about his parents’ deaths.

Interestingly, Light Lass is featured as perfectly healthy in the first story this issue, but is suffering from Rigel Fever in the back-up tale. Obviously she must have gotten the disease while on the asteroid tracking down Universo in the first story. And there must have been an epidemic of Rigel Fever in 2975, since Projectra had just gotten over a bout of it in Superboy starring the LSH Vol 1 #206.
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, lsh

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