blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #242


The feature opens with Legion leader Wildfire yelling at the “camera” about war. He’s actually yelling at the probably corrupt officials sabotaging a diplomatic conference, and Wildfire’s team is picking up the pieces after terror attacks. The last issue ended with Brainiac 5, off on another mission, saying war on Earth was imminent. They’re not talking about the same war. It’s a quick, sensational red herring before the Legionnaires storm off to drop some exposition about what’s going on, specifically the probably corrupt officials.

It quickly turns into Ultra Boy making a suggestion and Wildfire dismissing him for talking out of turn. No one can question Legion leader Wildfire, which sycophant mercenary Dawnstar backs up. It’s a hell of a flex from Wildfire and Dawnstar, considering Wildfire’s never right, and most stories involve the rest of the cast having to prove him wrong before he’ll actually help. Ultra Boy blows up at Dawnstar about that very situation, which is welcome self-awareness from writer Paul Levitz.

I’m ready for anything with Legion of Super-Heroes, but “teens can’t work together, actually” was not on my bingo card.

Especially since Ultra Boy immediately proves his point in the argument, stopping another terror attack, which just casts more suspicion on the adults.

The action then cuts to Earth, where the other Legion team has arrived to fight the space war. Lots and lots of great superhero action art from James Sherman and Bob McLeod. The feature story’s art is spectacular, page and panel after page and panel.

Levitz does a good job rushing through the space battle so he can get to a more containable storyline. Superboy’s going to lead a team to the invaders’ home planet to try to stop the attack. The Khurds are attacking; they’ll turn out to be humans who look like punks. Wildfire’s diplomatic mission involves the Dominators, who still don’t make an appearance; it’s more about the adult Earthlings conspiring to attack them while they’re unprepared. Probably. Levitz has to amp up the suspicious behavior while delaying the resolution.

Coincidentally, it turns out Superboy and company’s mission relates to Wildfire and company’s mission. Who’d have thunk?

There’s also some more “teens can’t work together” when Brainiac 5 decides he should be in charge because he’s the smartest. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have Dawnstar along to parrot him, so everyone quickly dismisses his idea. I thought he might go on to a subplot about that science cop who showed up with a message last issue, which Brainy ignored because girls can’t have important messages, but no… if it’s going to come back, it’s not going to be in this issue.

The art’s really, really good, and the story’s fairly engaging. So any contrived plot machinations are worth it for the art.

Then the backup’s a lot better than I was expecting. It’s too long at fourteen pages, especially since they’re panel-packed pages, but it’s better than scripter Paul Kupperberg’s previous entry. Levitz gets the story credit; Arvell Jones and Danny Bulandi are on the art. They can’t compare to the feature, but they clearly put in the work on this one.

It’s a Silver Age story done Bronze Age. Female Legionnaires Dream Girl, Light Lass, Princess Projectra, and Shadow Lass are having a girls’ night out (the story’s title, too), and their dinner gets interrupted by some bad guys. The bad guys hold everyone hostage while other bad guys pull off a series of heists around the city. Will the Legionnaires be able to outsmart them?

The plot’s predictable and loses momentum after the Legionnaires split up for their individual adventures, but it’s not bad. But there’s something off about Superboy and the Legion’s feature and backup balance; maybe if the backup needs more room, it should get it instead of Jones cramming every page.

One response to “Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #242”

  1. Vernon W

    The only fond memories I have of these comics are Jim Sherman’s art. He should of been a contender! They should do a collection with all of Cockrum’s stories and Sherman’s. Now that would be insane!

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