Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #234

L234

I’m going with DC’s current conventional wisdom on where to start reading Paul Levitz Legion of Super-Heroes (based on their latest collection of those issues), and I’m not surprised to see the first issue in that run written by Gerry Conway. Back to the seventies, where creator runs were short and had to be nimble.

This issue only has one call back to previous events. Otherwise, it seems to be starting its plots.

The A-plot has Superboy and some other Legionnaires flying out in space to capture a space dragon. Conway and artists Ric Estrada and Jack Abel juxtapose the space dragon hunt with a bounty hunter—called Bounty, natch—hunting down some harmless old fugitive. The exposition promises the two subplots will make sense, but first, we need to check in on planet Earth, where Legion leader Wildfire is just too hot under the collar for decorum with the politicians.

The A-plot brings Bounty in pretty quickly—or at least there’s nothing else Bounty does after his introduction before he’s incorporated—but the strong B-plot of the issue is the Legion lacking confidence in Wildfire. And Wildfire lacking confidence in himself. It’s never overly dramatic, the arguments are constrained, and it’s just steady character development. It’s a neat device. Conway’s exposition is occasionally tiresome, often ableist, but the plotting and some of the dialogue are solid efforts.

When Bounty is fighting the monster—a Composite Legionnaire (they get zapped together and, since they’re giant now, have to wreak havoc on future Metropolis)—he’s got endless thought balloons; they’re universally bad. The character feels unnecessary for the story.

Besides the internal organization turmoil stuff, it’s basically just a giant monster movie. They need to stop the monster before it destroys too much stuff. There are also some space dragon origin flashbacks to pad out the story’s first half. Conway’s pacing, despite the verbiage in his exposition, is strong.

Estrada and Abel’s art is decent. Some of the giant monster pages are quite good, giving off fifties sci-fi movie poster vibes.

It’s perfectly fine superhero sci-fi team stuff.

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