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Time for another re-read of a classic Legion of Super-Heroes comic issue...

Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #218
July, 1976
"The Secret Villain the World Never Knew"
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Mike Grell
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: Mike Grell
Editor: Murray Boltinoff

Mission Monitor Board:
Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Element Lad, Light Lass, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Shrinking Violet, Dream Girl, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Tyroc; Shadow Lass, Karate Kid (flashback); cameos of all remaining Legionnaires

Zoraz; Absorbancy Boy

At Legion Headquarters, three rejected applicants walk away dejectedly. Infectious Lass and Quake Kid hit it off, but her power renders him ill and he wants nothing to do with her. The third applicant is annoyed and angry because they rejected his power as being too limited. As he watches, a new candidate arrives by one-man flyer at the LSH HQ. This is Tyroc. Brainiac 5 provides a briefing on Tyroc to Colossal Boy, Element Lad and Light Lass who have been in space for the past month and have never even heard of him. With a shout of "OYUUUUUU" Tyroc joins them, teleporting in. Just as they are all being introduced, the villain Zoraz burns his way into the briefing room. As the four Legionnaires go to the attack, with Tyroc staying back, Zoraz turns their powers against them and knocking them out. Turning his attention to Tyroc, Zoraz says that he doesn’t know him. Tyroc uses a shout that causes an explosion around Zoraz, which the villain absorbs. Before Tyroc can act again, Zoraz burns a short-circuit into the Legion HQ’s alarm system that causes a screeching noise that distracts Tyroc. He deactivates it with another explosive yell, but Zoraz uses the distraction to escape. Superboy and Cosmic Boy arrive to learn what has happened. After bringing the four injured Legionnaires to the sick bay, Cosmic Boy and Superboy explain to Tyroc that many years ago Zoraz broke into Legion HQ and and took genetic material for each member from the Legionnaire Cell Bank. Using his undisputed scientific knowledge, he analyzed the cells and figured out how to counteract and turn each Legionnaire’s powers against them. And Zoraz is still somewhere in the Legion HQ, because when he stole the genetic samples, he also stole blueprints of the HQ. Tyroc, being brand new to the Legion, is their secret weapon, because Zoraz has no advantage over him.

Some time later, Shrinking Violet is on patrol with Tyroc. The latter says that if Saturn Girl were there, she’d be able to find Zoraz easily, but Tyroc doubts that, commenting that he could probably hide his thoughts even from her. A hidden figure in the air ducts watches them, and plans to find the new member’s weakness and wipe him out. Elsewhere, Star Boy and Dream Girl are having a romantic rendezvous when it is interrupted by Zoraz. The villain attacks the two, making Star Boy super-heavy so that he falls through the floor and causing Dream Girl horrible nightmares. Tyroc appears on the scene, and using a sonic cry spins Zoraz around like a top. The villain uses the spin momentum to spin away from Tyroc, ducking into one of the gyms. Tyroc follows, and Zoraz closes the door and seals them in. He then creates a vacuum, preventing Tyroc from using his vocal powers and causing him to suffocate. Using his Legion-issued flight ring and a barbell, Tyroc smashes his way through a wall and to freedom and air. Zoraz escapes again. Cosmic Boy and Sun Boy arrive on the scene and learn what happened. That night, Tyroc is woken in the middle of his sleep and called to duty in the main Briefing Room. Arriving there, he finds that Dream Girl and Star Boy are on their feet and quite well, as are the injured Legionnaires from the first encounter with Zoraz. They reveal to him that Zoraz is a hoax, portrayed by Sun Boy and Superboy as another means of testing the new applicant for the final time. However, Zoraz suddenly reappears. He is revealed to be the third rejected hero, who calls himself Absorbancy Boy, who can absorb residue energy such as that from super-powers. Because of the Zoraz suit, he now has the powers of Supeboy and Sun Boy. He effortlessly takes out Superboy, using red sun energy and super-strength to knock the Boy of Steel out. Absorbency Boy challenges Tyroc to a battle for the right to become the newest Legionnaire. Tyroc then uses an ultra-high frequency that only Superboy could hear, hurting the novice super-powered Absorbancy Boy long enough for Tyroc to knock him out. The next day, Tyroc is finally inaugurated as the 29th Legionnaire.

This story is, at first glance, an entertaining tale that introduces the newest member of the Legion in Tyroc, though his “stress test” in this story seems quite excessive to me (see below). When the stress test takes a turn for the violent as the Zoraz costume is taken by a Legion reject out to make a name for himself, the story becomes more interesting - but to honest, Tyroc takes the villain down in three panels (!!). This is quite an anti-climax given the rest of the story, but proves that Tyroc really does belong in the Legion. So after his introduction in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #216 mere months ago, Tyroc’s “introductory story” is complete. But one question comes to mind here: How hard is it for Tyroc to get into the Legion? I mean, all Karate Kid and Princess Projectra had to do was show up and demonstrate their powers (see Adventure Comics Vol 1 #346). Shadow Lass just helped the Legion out by saving Talok VIII and facing the Fatal Five (Adventure Comics Vol 1 #365-366), and Chemical King and Timber Wolf merely had to help the Legion break up a villainous version of the Legion Academy to earn their flight rings (Adventure Comics Vol 1 #371-372). But here we have four Legionnaires vouch for Tyroc in his initial appearance back in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #216, and yet he still has to pass various tests and now this “stress test”. What irks me most about this is that it’s a shame he had to go through such hoops and work so hard to get membership because he only gets one more real adventure before being shuffled off the stage pretty much permanently.

As for the story itself, the tale is a typical Cary Bates bit of writing that is somewhat inane. A few issues ago the Legion proved it was almost impossible for anybody to break into their headquarters (Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #213); this issue, someone does it easily. Several issues ago, the author introduced the idea of the Legionnaires' DNA being stored on-site (Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #206); here we are led to believe that someone broke in and tampered with it. For that matter, how did they even know about the Cell Bank?? Let’s be honest about this, Tyroc is the best part of this story, but that isn’t saying much given the way the character has been treated in the stories so far. Here’s hoping that his next story is a better one.

Final Notes:
Dream Girl appears on the cover, but is miscoloured as Saturn Girl, who does not appear during the story... Saturn Girl is said to be off-planet during Zoraz's attack, but she very clearly appears in the last panel watching Tyroc's swearing-in ceremony. Another lie by the Legionnaires, perhaps?... Speaking of lies, Colossal Boy, Light Lass and Element Lad say that they have been off-planet for a month and have no idea who Tyroc is. Yet Colossal Boy teamed up last issue with Shadow Lass and Brainiac 5, two of the Legionnaires who met Tyroc in his debut. You would think that they would have told Colossal Boy about him. You would also think that editor Boltinoff could have picked a different Legionnaire to use here... Sun Boy seems interested in watching Dream Girl and Star Boy make out, a nice glimpse of the type of proclivities he is later well-known for... This issue marks the debut of Absorbancy Boy, and is not the last we’ll see of him... Infectious Lass first applied for Legion membership in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #201; she obviously fared as well here this issue as she did in that one... When the Legionnaires are telling Tyroc of Zoraz’s (fake) history, one of the things in the story is true: The Legionnaire Cell Banks do exist, and were used back in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #206 to clone Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid... Also note, this issue is the last regular issue where Mike Grell would ink his own pencils.

Next Issue: Karate Kid Vol 1 #3


John Kahane

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