blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #244


There’s no messing around here: writer Paul Levitz is doing a future sci-fi superhero war comic, which is one heck of a flex. He’s even doing it with Joes Staton and Giella art. The art’s nowhere near as bad as I thought it’d be when I saw Staton’s name; the layouts are fine. At their best, Staton and Giella’s faces look like bland teenagers from an Archie comic. Well, except the girls. Sometimes they put effort into the girls’ faces. There’s some lousy art for sure, but Staton does work on it. There’s a whole lot of action in a variety of settings.

The previous issue ended with a cliffhanger promising this issue would reveal the mysteries of Earthwar, which it indeed does, but without much (if any) fanfare. Levitz is too busy with the story to slow down for the reveals.

The issue opens with the remaining Legionnaires headed to Earth, led by Wildfire (and Superboy). Why Superboy, who’s going to grow up into planet-juggling Silver Age Superman, can’t take out the invading alien army on his own….

Doesn’t matter.

The opening’s a little rocky, with Dawnstar having good ideas and Wildfire being, like, too surprised. And Superboy being dismissive about it. She’s not even being her usual elitist mercenary self. But they quickly listen to her and solve one part of the Earthwar mystery—identifying a mystery bad guy. They don’t clear all the other suspects, though, making things interesting even if the comic loses track of that outstanding thread.

Levitz shoehorns in some solutions throughout. He’s already introduced the retired Legionnaires—the two married couples—coming to Earth to try to save the day, and they get a big, good sequence for themselves. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read a comic with Bouncing Boy before (outside Who’s Who), but he kicks ass this issue, which is a hoot and is kind of Staton’s most distinct action.

But Levitz already hinted at their involvement; Karate Kid shows up from the past to help out and is almost immediately indispensable to the story, while characters who’d had some previous importance are on ice.

They’re not even imaginative enough to call narrative tricks, so maybe just contrivances, but they’re mere potholes in the greater story. It’s a thrilling read.

The ending’s got another big reveal… oh, wait a second, that unnamed, pretty albeit otherwise indistinguishable fighting lady is the science police officer from before? They go a little too fast bringing her in, but she should be there for the big reveal. But before the big reveal, there’s another seemingly big reveal. It’s an okay cliffhanger—maybe it’d mean more if I knew the context—but a breather would be nice after the intense issue.

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