blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #238


This issue reprints a couple Adventure Comics from 1967, written by a sixteen-year-old Jim Shooter, proving he was better at writing comics in his teens than in his thirties. Though I’m sure there’s an abundance of evidence on that one.

Shooter also does the layouts, with Curt Swan penciling and George Klein inking. The art looks pretty much like every other competently produced Silver Age comic. The story’s about the new president of Earth declaring the Legion of Super-Heroes a youth gang and banning them; the Legion only finds out about it when they get back to Earth from missions in space, saving countless lives.

Some Legionnaires get arrested quickly; others go on the run and become fugitives as they try to discover what’s gone wrong with their world in just a few days.

The plot’s amusingly similar to a recent one where time travel changed the future, and no one believed Superboy when he told them they were all acting differently. Maybe they should’ve remembered they’d had this similar adventure.

Though Superboy’s barely in this issue, and Supergirl makes far more of an impact. The sixties Legion didn’t have the scantily clad superhero wear (for boys or girls), but they also didn’t even pretend to count the female Legionnaires as regular members. It’s a boys club and feels very much like a teenage boy wrote it.

Because one did.

It’s a little belabored (this one double-sized issue collects two old issues), and the reveals aren’t surprising–except when Shooter apparently creates the “meddling kids” reveal from “Scooby-Doo” two years before the first cartoon aired—but it’s not terrible. On the contrary, it’s precisely what you’d expect from a Silver Age comic book.

Swan and Klein don’t do a lot with the future setting, but it looks enough like Flash Gordon (the 1930s serials but with the limitless comic budget) to amuse.

It’s also interesting to see how Shooter worked out solutions based on powers but without the thoughtfulness of current series writer Paul Levitz.

Not quite interesting enough to make me glad I read the issue instead of skipping ahead, but I also don’t regret it.

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