Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #236

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Who’s James Sherman, and why have I never heard of him before? He pencils two of the three stories in the issue, with Bob McLeod inking him on the first, Joe Rubinstein on the second, and he’s good. He’s a little too designed-focused, but more on the second story, and the design element comes from the narrative. But he’s good. Great expressions. Pretty good flying superhero sci-fi space action.

Though the first story doesn’t just have sci-fi action, it’s also got some sports ball.

The story begins with Superboy convincing Brainiac 5 not to pay attention to his monitor duty and play three-dimensional chess instead. As if it didn’t feel enough like “Star Trek.” Brainy was supposed to be keeping an eye on Cosmic Boy and Night Girl, who are on vacation on Cosmic Boy’s home planet.

Now, during the sports ball sequence, the girls are scantily clad for the game. The boys are in shorts and t-shirts. It seems a little weird, but then Cosmic Boy and Night Girl put on their superhero costumes, and they’re both basically wearing lingerie. It’s comically revealing for both of them, but more Cosmic Boy because he’s the story’s lead. Once the rest of the Legion shows up to help them, Night Girl gets squat. Her powers don’t help.

The one other female superhero is also in an absurdly scanty outfit (the cape doesn’t offset it). Otherwise, for a few pages, anyway, I thought Legion would try to balance its gazes.

The actual story involves some funny-looking alien terraforming the planet. The superheroes utilize their powers in precisely the right way to save the day, which makes me wonder if writers Paul Levitz and Paul Kupperberg came up with the solution or the problem first.

The second story is about an evil alien spaceship interrupting Mon-El’s vacation. Levitz writes this one solo, and, wow, is there a lot of Mon-El interior monologue. Thought balloons crowd the emptiness of space.

Michael Netzer pencils this one, with Rubinstein and Rick Bryant on inks. The art’s low okay; the sci-fi spaceship stuff is all good, but the Mon-El action is eh. Might also just be a boring story with too many thought balloons. The end’s a cop-out too, which doesn’t help.

The last story is where Sherman comes back and goes wild with the design stuff. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl want to get married, but it means leaving the Legion (unlike failing to explain Cosmic Boy’s bustier-based costume or Night Girl’s thong, writer Levitz does cover the marriage rules for new readers). So they go to mind-reading VR place to test whether or not they should get hitched or stay on the super-team.

Sherman goes all out with the transitions as the VR throws the heroes into unexpected sci-fi fisticuffs. He’s got detail and consistency—though McLeod’s a better inker for him than Rubinstein—but the repetitive visuals get tedious fast.

There aren’t any standouts as far as the stories go; the first one “wins,” but only because the third one’s draggier than the second one, which is already tedious. Nice art, though. And the character work is solid. They’re just doing boring things.

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