RandoMonday: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #233

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #233. Cover by Mike Grell.

“The Infinite Man Who Conquered Time the Legion” by  Paul Levitz (writer), James Sherman and Bob Wiacek (artists), Ben Oda (letterer), and Liz Berube (colorist).

This is a one of those classic stories that introduce a villain of immense power, but who are ultimately defeated sort of easily. Rond Vidar has invented a hyper-time drive in order to test his theory that time is a circular flow. And how best to test such a theory than to jump to human test subjects? Enter Jaxon Rugarth, a volunteer from the Metropolis University Time Institute (why Vidar isn’t performing his experiment at the Time Institute isn’t made clear) who will enter the machine, travel into the past and circle around to the present, thus proving that time is circular (I’m not making this up, kids). Of course, the journey drives Rugarth mad and transforms him into the Infinite Man.

I don’t know who came up with the design, but it’s trippy. Regardless, the crazy Rugarth wants to kill Vidar for giving him such fantastic power, I guess, but the Legion step in to prevent that. Eventually, Brainiac 5 figures out a way to capture the Infinite Man and send him back into the circular time stream, with a warning that the Infinite Man may break free in the future.

This is not a bad Legion story, and Levitz brings a bit of prosaic weight to the narrative boxes (and a lot of unnecessary dialog, but that was common in the Bronze Age), plus how cool/dopey is a villain who shoots beams from his eyes (time vision!) to bring creatures (such as dinosaurs) and characters from the Earth’s past to fight the Legion (why Rugarth doesn’t bring something from the future instead escapes me). The art is a bit weird in places where perspective is used in small panels, but actually pretty good overall.

“The Final Illusion” by Paul Levitz (script, based on an idea by Mike Nasser), Mike Nasser and Bob Layton (art), Ben Oda (letters), and Liz Berube (colors).

This is a 10-page untold tale of the Legion where Princess Projectra has collapsed and fallen into a coma-like state after her boyfriend, Karate Kid, went to stay in the 20th century for a while (as detailed in his self-titled series). Some other Legionnaires try to figure out what is wrong with her and how to bring her out of this state. Saturn Girl discovers that Projectra is living in a fantasy world of her own creation and subconsciously doesn’t want to wake up. They try scaring her out of her illusory world, but that doesn’t work. So they try to nudge her along so that she gets what she wants (Karate Kid) and then take him away, thus proving that reality is better than fantasy, though, Karate Kid is still not with her. Hmm. Best leave the psychology to the experts, I say.

Wow, the blatant sexism in this story…. Not to mention that these teens are meddling with someone’s “fragile” mind and think they know better than the doctor. I enjoyed the art in this story more than the other, which probably has a lot to do with Bob Layton, perhaps, despite the fact that Chameleon Boy is drawn with really big ears and antennae, which I always disliked.

Snapshot … LSH Costumes

I found a fun blog that has a bunch of fan art (of a sort) featuring some of my favorite characters. As you can see, here are several costume evolutions of some of the Legion of Super-Heroes. If you want to see more LSH costumes over time, or many other DCU characters, head on over to BoyBlue’s DC Universe blog.

Let’s start with the grande dame of the Legion, Saturn Girl.

I think I like the Reboot version (4th from the right) the best, maybe followed by the one to the right of that from the Threeboot (2005, according to BoyBlue’s Saturn Girl page). How awful is the next one to the right (Threeboot 2008)?

Now for one of my favorite Legionnaires, Rokk Krin, aka Cosmic Boy.

Other than the pasty costume from the 70s, I pretty much like all of Cos’s costumes. If I had to choose, I’d probably go with the 80s version first, followed by the Threeboot black and blue suit, though the Reboot version (second from the left) is pretty cool too.

Back to the ladies, featuring again one of my favorites, and one of the longest serving Legionnaires, Phantom Girl.

Except for the original (with the large P on her chest), the 2nd and 3rd costumes from the right, and the sleeveless version, I pretty much like all of Tinya’s suits. My favorites though are the Reboot versions (at both ends).

The powerhouse of the group, Mon-El, hasn’t had too much variety in his suits, if you don’t count the Green Lantern recruit suit (blech).

The classic look is one of my favorites (3rd from the left), but I always wondered how he was able to pull off a skin-tight vest look. I also like the Reboot version (when he was known as M’Onel) with the starfield accents (but lose the gold armbands) and the New 52 version (on the right), though the blue patches on the forearms have to go.

Last, but not least, is one of the unluckiest Legionnaires, Luornu Durgo. She could split into three bodies (Triplicate Girl), then Computo killed off one of her selves. Later, another of her duplicates (when she was Duo Damsel) was killed off before the Legion was rebooted and she came back to the the traditional three (Triad, a much better name). (There was also the Mark Waid Threeboot Legion run where Cargg was actually populated by duplicates of Luornu, which was an interesting idea.)

Hmm, I think I like the first Reboot costume the best (3rd from the left), though the 80s duo-toned body suit (2nd from the left) is kind of neat.

So, it appears that I like the Reboot suits the most, which is interesting because I only spent about a year with the Reboot Legion (I’m sensing a back issue itch all of a sudden). I really wish BoyBlue had done an Ultra Boy collection. Or maybe I should go do that myself!

RandoMonday: Superboy #197

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Continue reading

RandoMonday: Legion of Super-Heroes #6

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Legion of Super-Heroes (1984) #6 by Paul Levitz (writer), Joe Orlando (guest penciller), Larry Mahlstedt (inker), John Constanza (letterer), Carl Gafford (colorist), Karen Berger (editor), and Steve Lightle and Larry Mahlstedt (cover)

Spotlight on Lightning Lass! Though it is curious that her more famous (?) brother is looming very large on the cover despite Ayla being colored in a way that focuses on her. But then, these siblings have long been closely knit together, and this is reinforced in this retelling of the siblings’ origin via the framing story of Ayla and black sheep brother Mekt having been captured by Zymyr, a Gil’Dishpanian (one of my favorite Legion alien race names I like to pronounce) who simply wishes to know how they came to lords of lightning. That, and they can become power batteries for his (its?) machines. As Ayla and Mekt attempt to escape a few times Ayla waxes historical taking through various high points (from a character standpoint) in her life, such as when she took Garth’s place in the Legion after he “died”, when she became Light Lass, and when she fell in love with Timber Wolf. After their last attempt at escaping, Zymyr is done with them and agrees to teleport them back to Orando instead of deep space or something else that would kill them. Mekt being, well, Mekt, he attacks his sister, first blasting her with his lightning (side note: it appears that the lightning siblings powers do affect each other, so how is the lightning that they generate different from one another? I’m putting on my nerd cap now, but in this story, Mekt’s lightning is blueish and Ayla’s is pinkish–that must mean something [other than a convenient way to differentiate each character’s powers].), and then pulling her by her hair along the ground after she insults him! Her friends on Orando help her, but Ayla ultimately defeats her brother. And that’s what struck me about this part of the story 30 years after I first read it: just how how abusive Mekt is to his sister. Mekt has always been shown as a bit unstable, but to attack his little sister this way was disturbing. It makes an interesting comparison to the Mekt that we are shown in the 5YL Legion. The story ends with Ayla deciding to return to the Legion.

Joe Orlando was never a favorite DC artist of mine, but Larry Mahlstedt’s inks help tone down the Orlandoness that I’m just not a big fan of. I think I would have preferred Orlando drawing the flashback scenes and have someone else do the contemporary pages (such as Steve Lightle, who is advertized at the end of the book as becoming the new regular artist starting with the following issue).

Of note in the book’s back matter is a letter in the Legion Outpost (remember letters’ pages kids?). A contributor complains that LoSH #1 was “3000% grimmer than Batman has ever been” and “what’s with [the] violence?”. Well, I bet that reader got real disappointed in the years following, when “grim and gritty” became the watch words for mainstream comics for a while. Finally, Dick Giordano fills us in on the ill-fated (at that time) JLA/Avengers crossover in his much-missed Meanwhile column. This two-part examination of the team up that never happened (at least until 2003, about 20 years later) provided an insider’s view of the internal machinations of comic book publishing that I found utterly fascinating (of course, I also read Marvel’s version of events in Marvel Age #19). You can read an overview of this debacle at the Marvel Comics of the 1980s blog.

Snapshot … Legion of Super-Heroes (1980)

Legion of Super-Heroes (1980) #267, 275-283

Here are the first LSH comics that I started getting regularly. Although I have to qualify that because while #267 was, I believe, my first exposure to the LSH, and while it did make me want to seek out more, it wasn’t until issue 275 that I began to get the comic regularly and continually until the 5YL series ended. The Reflecto story was also what made me really like Ultra Boy. I love this run of comics so much.