Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #243

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The issue opens with that female Science Police officer from a few issues ago thinking her way through an exposition dump. It’s Earthwar! Though they never call it Earthwar (one of the stories was called, Prelude to Earthwar). She’s been hanging out in Legion headquarters watching all the reports come in: Wildfire, Dawnstar, and supporting players are on Weber’s World where the Federation (what’s it called) is negotiating with the Dominators. There are terrorist attacks, and the Federation diplomat’s super-duper suspicious.

Then Superboy, Mon-El, and their supporting cast have been to the Khurd homeworld to try to stop their invasion of Earth from the source, only to discover it ties into the Weber’s World plot. Meanwhile, the Science Police officer thinks she’s got the answer to both questions, only no one listened to her when she tried to tell them someone’s escaped. Not who’s escaped, because there’s another issue to the arc at least, but one of their old foes.

With that thought, exit stage left, no idea if the Legion boys will ever acknowledge they should’ve listened to her, lady or not.

The rest of the issue is a tautly executed espionage and war thriller. The Dominators arrive on Weber’s World—I was wondering if they were the eighties Invasion! Dominators; they are indeed the same aliens, but Todd MacFarlane drew them in Invasion!, and this issue has art from Joe Staton and Jack Abel. It takes a lot to prefer Todd, but, yep… Staton and Abel are low enough he wins.

Anyway. They’re trying to get the negotiations going, but they want the Legionnaires there to provide security, meaning Earth’s got to fend for itself. Various groups of Legionnaires, including the Legion of Substitute Heroes, try to stave off the invaders, but they keep failing, one after another. It’s incredibly tense, with writer Paul Levitz going ahead with a full-scale invasion of Earth and the Earthlings’ lose story.

It’s pretty dang cool, wanting art or not. Back with the diplomatic thriller, the heroes are trying to prevent assassinations and kidnappings, unable to trust anyone but themselves. It’s good too. The plotting this issue’s outstanding. Ditto the scene writing once Levitz gets going. He stumbles through a lot of the exposition, particularly with the Science Police officer at the beginning, but he gets passed it eventually.

The finale’s appropriately grim but also playful, with the next issue teaser panel promoting readers to solve the mystery with some provided clues. Great tone.

Shame about the art.

Every time it seems like Staton and Abel are going to do an okay couple panels, it goes wrong. It’s a real shame Levitz didn’t get the excellent art team (James Sherman and Bob McLeod) on this script; it deserves them. But the script’s also good enough to overcome some iffy writing and some bad art.

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