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John Kahane
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Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #258

And here's the second of two classic Legion of Super-Heroes re-reads for the day. This time out, the story that would cause Superboy to resign from the Legion once more. Enjoy! :)






Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #258
December, 1979
"The Mind-Attack of The Psycho-Warrior!"
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Milt Snapinn
Colourist: Gene D'Angelo
Cover: Dick Giordano (signed)
Editor: Jack C. Harris


Mission Monitor Board:
Shadow Lass, Wildfire, Chameleon Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Karate Kid

Guest Stars:
R.J. Brande; EarthGov President Kandru

Opposition:
Psycho-Warrior; misguided philanthropy


Synopsis:
The story continues from last issue. At R.J. Brande's Metropolis penthouse, the Legion of Super-Heroes shows Brande proof that the President of Earth is behind his recent bankruptcy, a fact that Brande finds hard to believe. Superboy reminds everyone present that their evidence was obtained illegally, as Brande's penthouse and corporate offices are all under United Planets interdict pending the Science Police investigation, but that they are also there currently illegally. As if fate is listening in, the wall to the penthouse explodes and a group of Science Police break in to arrest the Legionnaires. However, Saturn Girl knows telepathically that they are not real S.P. officers and informs Lightning Lad, who tells the other Legionnaires that it's a "Situation 18" ("Challenge by imposters") and to execute "Option B" ("All-out attack against enemy forces"). The Legionnaires fight the false S.P. officers, and Shrinking Violet comes out the worse for wear.

Meanwhile, at the island hospital and mental asylum on St. Croix, of late the home of the formerly insane Brainiac 5, one of the male inmates escapes from the Maximum Security section and after dealing with two of the hospital staff/guards, heads in search of what he's looking for - the psychological profile computer, and the records of several Legionnaires' tests they were required to take under United Planets law. Along the way, he is distracted by various sources of glass and/or light and destroys them, then continues on his way.

Back at Brande's penthouse, the real Science Police arrive in answer to the emergency summons sent out by Shrinking Violet, and can't believe what they find - a group of Legionnaires having trashed what seems like Science Police. Superboy and Wildfire tell them to stick around, because they're going to love the full story and what comes next. Some time in the late afternoon at the General Assembly Hall of the Earth Planetary Council, Chameleon Boy reports the Legion's findings to the Council and of how they found that President Kandru of Earth has been siphoning Brande's fortune for at least a month. The President admits his guilt, saying that he did it in order to help Earth rebuild after the recent Earthwar. He rants about the fact that why should rich men like Brande be allowed to continue to live as they are with so many injured, living in poverty and with starvation as their daily life; he then states that if he had to do it again, he would do so without hesitation, and finally collapses from stress and with tears falling down his face. The Council says that they had no knowledge of President Kandru's actions, and that they will recompense R.J. Brande for his losses. However, R.J. Brande is touched by the President's determination and in an impassioned speech, tells EarthGov to keep his money, promising that he wil remake his fortune "And by God, someday we'll both be rich again!" Brande then walks out of the Council chambers, the applause behind him telling the story.

On St. Croix, the escapee inmate has found his space survival-suit from when he was rescued from a lifeboat, that has special equipment and programming that he added to it, and downloads the psychological weaknesses of the four Legionnaires he seeks vengeance on - Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Superboy and Sun Boy. As he prepares to leave the island, the guards finally blast their way into the chamber and attempt to take him. However, the survival-suit was built to battle the menaces on his home planet, the most dangerous world in the galaxy, and he easily deals with the guards and then escapes the island to seek his revenge. The guards see the psychological profile computer, and see that he's going after the Legionnaires.

At the ruins of Legion Headquarters, R.J. Brande apologizes to the Legionnaires for not being able to help them rebuild, but Lightning Lad says that it's he and the Legion that should apologize to R.J. Brande, and that they plan to help him. The Legionnaires intend to take staggered leaves of absence in order to help Brande remake his fortune. Before Brande can react to this generous offer, the Legion comes under attack.

Sun Boy is attacked by a field of darkness that attempts to smother him in it. Dirk goes crazy, trying to free himself from the field of darkness, as he has an intensely deep fear of darkness, and while he is eventually freed of the darkness by Superboy and Wildfire, by that time, it is too late - Sun Boy goes into a deep catatonic withdrawal. Violet realizes that Dirk has a deadly fear of darkness, and hence why he always gave off light in dark places. Even as the Legionnaires deal with this, Saturn Girl comes under attack as well, hearing the thoughts of everyone and being unable to shut them out. This drives Imra crazy as well, but Chameleon Boy discovers a micro-chip telepathic transceiver attached to her temple, that picked up and amplified the thought impulses of everyone in the city. Chameleon Boy says that the inability to shut out other people's minds must be the one thing that has always terrified Saturn Girl, and he vows that he will destroy whoever did this to Imra. Lightning Lad suddenly cries out that Imra has suddenly crumbled to dust, even though she is still cradled in his arms, and the mere thought of it renders him in a state of (catatonic) shock.

The other Legionnaires are suddenly very concerned about who or what is behind these mental attacks, and wonder when this "Psycho-Warrior" will strike again and who his next target will be. The story continues in the next issue.


Commentary:
As noted, the story this issue continues on from the previous issue, at least insofar as the Brande fortune bankruptcy is concerned. However, when it comes down to it, this story is actually more about the so-called "Psycho-Warrior" and who is given that moniker by Chameleon Boy in the final panel of the story on page 17. That said, there are some very good moments in this story.

Ever since R.J. Brande learned he was bankrupt, he's been acting more like a "broken" man rather than the optimist who financed the Legion and hasn't been that much of a positive figure when we've seen him. However, when faced with the passion and conviction of the President of Earth greater than his own, Brande returns to being the strong-willed philanthropist businessman that we have known and cared about all these years. I have to admit that I was clapping myself at the end of Brande's impassioned speech before the Council when I first read the story, and it stirred up that same emotion in me this time on re-reading it. Similarly, the passion that the Legionnaires show in their willingness to commit and help out their financial benefactor and friend is touching, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that works out and what kind of stories are told when various Legionnaires go off and help Brande.

That said, the logic of the behind-the-scenes stuff in the Brande bankruptcy plot still has me somewhat confused. There doesn't seem to be a reason to me still for the involvement of the Science Police in a routine business failure, even if it is the richest man in the galaxy's funds. And even with the investigation into it going on (if such a thing were to happen), why would Brande or the Legion be denied access to his penthouse home? This issue, the reader gets the attack on the Legionnaires (and presumably Brande) by the fake Science Police, but we don't know who they really are, why they're attacking Brande, and who they work for. And even if they were paid by the President of Earth, the question remains why. Hopefully, we'll see more on this. I also appreciated Superboy's comment on breaking in as being ironic, given that he, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl did exactly the same thing at Cosmic World to help cure Brainiac 5's insanity in the previous issue.

Speaking of insanity, the Psycho-Warrior is an interesting storyline as well, though a bit off in a couple of regards. The reader doesn't learn exactly what happened to the escaped patient of St. Croix, though we do learn that he comes from the most dangerous planet in the galaxy. This reminds me somewhat of the Deathworld stories by Harry Harrison, and I could certainly see someone who could display his martial abilities, as well as his propensity for creating sophisticated weaponry and modifying equipment, but there's obviously more to the Psycho-Warrior than what we currently know. Hopefully, we'll find out more in the next part of this story. However, it does raise the question of how a patient at a mental facility seems to suddenly have the power to create illusions and be armed with might be fundamentally blackout bombs. Or perhaps those are a function of his space survival-suit? In any event, this story about psychological warfare had a promising, if slow start, and I look forward to how it is resolved in the next issue. It will obviously have something to do with Superboy resigning from the Legion, of course.


Final Notes:
Lightning Lad shouts out fighting codes during their battle with the fake SP officers, presumably to confuse them (see the Synopsis, above). However, the other Legionnaires then de-code his orders for the readers' benefit...

While Shrinking Violet is knocked out on page 4, she was obviously wide awake and fighting again on page 7...

In the editorial note at the bottom of the left-most panel on page 9, the reference to the "now classic Superboy #240-245" should correctly read "now classic Superboy and the LSH #241-245" for accuracy...

The President of EarthGov was Kandru (as referenced in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #240), and it seems he is still President of Earth here. However, the President shoould be "Kandro Boltax", of course. Unless someone else named Kandru took over as President in the meantime. Once again, the writer and/or editor didn't do their homework...

Sun Boy now parts his hair on the left...

Chameleon Boy threatens to "destroy" whoever hurt Saturn Girl, a rare exhibition of passion by him...

Although the Legionnaires from the last two adventures meet up at Brande's penthouse in Metropolis, picking up Karate Kid and losing Brainiac 5 on the way, when they return to their HQ they don't find any of the members who should have been there, i.e., Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, and Light Lass. Perhaps they're with Brainy somewhere...

This is the last issue of this series with the official title of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Starting next issue, the series that actually started as Superboy in 1949 will kick out their lead and become just The Legion of Super-Heroes.



Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #259
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, long live the legion!, lsh, review
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