John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #262

Time for another re-read from the classic Legion of Super-Heroes period. This time out, an interesting tale with the return of James Sherman on art. Enjoy! :)

The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #262
April, 1980
"The Planet That Captured The Legion"
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Jim Sherman
Inker: Jim Sherman
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Gene D'Angelo
Cover: Jim Sherman (signed)
Editor: Jack C. Harris

Mission Monitor Board:
Chameleon Boy, Dream Girl, Shrinking Violet, Karate Kid, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy (in space, with R.J. Brande); Light Lass, Sun Boy, Ultra Boy, Lightning Lad, Shadow Lass, Wildfire, Saturn Girl (on Earth); Mon-El, Princess Projectra, Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf, Star Boy (cameos)

Guest Star:
R.J. Brande

Murderous androids

At the ruins of Legion Headquarters on Earth, a contingent of Legionnaires are working to rebuild their base of operations. Ultra Boy is not able to keep a wall upright, and he and Lightning Lad are saved by Light Lass making it super-lightweight before it comes crashing down. Jo and Ayla engage in some relieved flirt-play, and the rest of the Legionnnaires are in good spirits. As they take a break, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl think of the other members of the team not on Earth: the group that went to the Space Circus (Mon-El, Princess Projectra, Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf and Star Boy) and the other group that are accompanying R.J. Brande on his quest to rebuild his fortune (Chameleon Boy, Dream Girl, Shrinking Violet, Karate Kid, Cosmic Boy and Colossal Boy). Lightning Lad asks his wife how she and the others who've led the Legion before managed, and she tells him by caring and being strong, qualities that he has in abundance.

Out in deep space, ten thousand light-years from Earth, R.J. Brande and Legionnaires Chameleon Boy, Dream Girl, Shrinking Violet, Karate Kid, Cosmic Boy and Colossal Boy have arrived at a dust cloud that will evolve into a star in about 3 billion years if left to its own devices. However, their plan is to nudge it along its determined path, speeding up its evolution. They are successful, using the technology that made Brande a billionaire to begin with, and create a new sun. The Legionnaires celebrate the success, but Brande reminds them they a star to deliver in a system with a white dwarf. With the help of Cosmic Boy and Colossal Boy manipulating some of the technology, they grab the sun with a tractor beam, and begin the four parsec journey to the destination star system.

When Brande and the Legionnaires arrive at the destination star system with the new sun, they discover the system has been destroyed, the planet, moon and the artificial satellites. They do, however, find a survivor floating in a space-suit, barely alive. An hour after taking the alien survivor into the starcraft and its medi-center, they are able to revive the survivor long enough for Chameleon Boy to talk to him/it by taking its form. As Chameleon Boy changes shape, Shrinking Violet thinks that every time she sees him do that, it gives her the willies. Cham learns that a group of space pirates from due Galactic North are responsible and that they are heading towards Galactic South. Without hesitation, R.J. Brande tells the Legionnaires to set course for Galactic South. They cut the new star adrift, as Brande tells them that the aliens in the system were once customers of his, and "killing off a man's customers is just bad for business."

As Brande's vessel leaves the Milky Way galaxy, heading for interstellar space, they find a miniature, Earth-like planet in the void and Chameleon Boy says there are pirate ships - literally 18th Century traditional sailing pirate ships! - coming towards them. And they're firing cannonballs at them. As the pirates prepare to board Brande's ship, the Legionnaires head into space and fight a battle unlike any they've fought before against an impossible foe. On the deck of the pirate vessel, Karate Kid, Shrinking Violet and Chameleon Boy fight the pirates, who shouldn't even be able to function in space without breathing units, each in their own way. In space, Dream Girl suddenly has a vision that she tells Cosmic Boy involves a massive explosion, a horrible fire, a collision...but before she can tell him more, she passes out. Cosmic Boy watches horrified as one of the pirate vessels rams Brande's ship, and there is a massive explosion.

The Legionnaires awake, stark naked, to find themselves strapped down on a wheel-like device in what seems to be a laboratory. A computer voice says that the awakened subjects are in perfect physical health, and will make excellent companions for "the Engineer". After they are decontaminated, they are released from the wheel device and are given their clothes back by what seem to be robotic servants of various shapes and sizes. They are then escorted into a large chamber by the robots and brought before "the Engineer," only to find that he is quite dead, for almost 300 years in fact. Using a sophisticated computer, Chameleon Boy learns that they are on an artificial world, designed by an eccentric genius, a misanthrope with a penchant for Terran history and fantasy, who chose to live among the stars and entertain life on other planets; he built this world to create a lifetime of entertainment for himself and his customers, such as the android pirates. When he died, there was no one to turn the computer off, so the planet has lived on and kept trying to maintain its master and entertain those it came across. The world occasionally came across other star systems and tried to create bigger and better entertainments for its master, sometimes with disastrous results like those found in the system they were to deliver the new star to. Colossal Boy has had enough, and grows to giant size but is struck down by energy weapons in the area. Shrinking Violet goes to check on him; Colossal Boy is merely unconscious.

Chameleon Boy says that he needn't have done that, as there was a better way. Taking the form of the Engineer, Chameleon Boy orders it to shut down the whole facility. The Legionnaires and Brande wake up in a laboratory. They are brought before "the Engineer" who has programmed the world to entertain him. The Legionnaires are shocked to find that he is actually quite dead, but that his programming lives on. When he died, there was no one to turn the computer off. So the programming kept on, causing more and more, bigger and "better" adventures in a vain attempt to entertain a corpse.

Chameleon Boy turns into a copy of the Engineer and shuts the whole facility down. After destroying the artificial planet, rendering it a dust cloud, Brande and the Legionnaires depart for elsewhere. Cosmic Boy is dismayed by the events that occurred, but R.J. Brande tells him that anger won't help now, and that who knows? Some day, in the distant future, the resultant dust cloud might turn into another sun where life will spring anew.

This issue presents a stand-alone story that really highlights the good and bad about the Legion, made more special by the artwork of the returning James Sherman (see below). Gerry Conway has written a story that features 19 (!!) Legionnaires in it, even though six of those Legionnaires are merely in cameo as they're occupied with the "Space Circus of Death" storyline from Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #260-261. The sequence on Earth makes for a nice contrast to the events going on in deep space with Cosmic Boy's team and R.J. Brande, and the story moves along at a good pace. From the scene where Lightning Lad asks Saturn Girl how she and the former Legion leaders managed the pressure and stress to the flirty play bit between Ultra Boy and Light Lass to the happy moment when the Legionnaires celebrate the creation of a new star with R.J. Brande, the story offers a lot of good things.

But there are a few problems in the story as well. When Ultra Boy cannot hold the wall face up and Light Lass is forced to make it super-light with her powers, allowing Ultra Boy and Lightning Lad to avoid being crushed, why did she let it crash to the ground instead of holding it in place temporarily? In the later scene with Dream Girl having her "dream vision" during the space battle, why does she go to sleep or lose consciousness immediately after? In the middle of a space battle!!? Sheesh! This is just more proof to me that writer Gerry Conway, and by extension editor Jack C. Harris, doesn't seem to understand how the Legionnaires' powers work. Now if this is being done for the sake of drama, that's just plain annoying, and if it's not that's even more annoying.

I will say that I was rather surprised by the scene with Brande and his team of Legionnaires stark naked. I mean after all, the comic has the Comic Code Authority approval, so it's amazing that the Legion production team got away with this one. It's clear the the female members were naked, but it looks like somebody drew in some extra lines to have the male members in tidy whiteys. Shrinking Violet's pose in the fourth panel on page 14 makes it clear she's hiding her nakedness. I think that James Sherman intended to have the male Legionnaires naked too, but they are all drawn to "hide" their crotches. And as a little side note, I have to say that R.J. Brande is *not* in "perfect physical condition."

This issue also features the return of James Sherman to the art duties on the Legion, and it is a marvellous thing as he inks his own pencils this issue. What's so good here is that each Legionnaire has a very specific look and feel, and you can easily tell the difference between, say, Ultra Boy and Karate Kid, even though they're both brown-haired (and wear different costumes, obviously). The artwork in this issue has a more serious style and feel to it, with the exception of the flirty play scene with Ultra Boy and Light Lass and the joyous scene on Brande's ship after they've created the new star. I also love the fact that Sherman draws the flight rings on the hands of every Legionnaire. The flight ring is the Legion's only symbol of unity. Also of note in the story is that the space scenes have a more cosmic and technical feel to them than recent Legion issues have shown, and I attribute this to Sherman's lovely work and own style. Unfortunately, this was a one-issue thing for Sherman, who will not return to the series for another four years. Sad, that.

Final Notes:
This issue featured the return of James Sherman to the art duties on Legion, but was a one-shot deal, as he would not return to the series for another four years...

The cover of this issue by Jim Sherman is a lovely piece, but is more stylistic and is not representative of the story...

The splash page of this issue does not have a Roll Call of the Legionnaires in the story in any shape or form...

Shadow Lass's appearance in the issue is lovely to see, but she is drawn without a cape. Bad James Sherman! :)...

The story seems to be a somewhat veiled commentary on Disneyland/Disneyworld, featuring pirates from the Caribbean and robotic mice (on page 14).

Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #263
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, lll, long live the legion!, lsh, review

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