Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #249

Slsh249

The back-up, starring Chameleon Boy, is nine pages, only a page shorter than the feature, which resolves last issue’s shit monster story. Sort of resolves. Also, the shit monster looks leafier this issue, presumably thanks to Jack Abel’s inks (it’s like they’re fighting Oscar the Grouches). Even if the feature weren’t so slight, the back-up would stand out because it contains the most surprising thing I’ve seen in Superboy and the Legion. My world is shook.

Joe Staton inking himself is… not bad.

It’s not great. He does have trouble with faces, but at least when he’s inking himself, he understands how they work. And his figures aren’t as… I’m trying to pick between gelatinous, wobbly, flimsy, and wonky. Comparing the art in the feature with Abel inking Staton to Staton inking himself, it’s hard to believe they’re the same penciller. It raises several questions, but mostly why they would have Staton ink himself on the nine-page back-up to greater success than on the ten-page feature. Is it too much to ask for better art to be on the feature?

Gerry Conway scripts the feature; he also wrote last issue, which I didn’t remember. It feels very fill in.

The shit monster is attacking the Legion headquarters, kicking Sun Boy’s butt. Brainiac 5 is able to stop the monster, all while whining about how no one appreciates him for always being the smartest and bestest Legionnaire. There’s a little bit with Mon-El and his comatose girlfriend, Shadow Lass. He’s refusing to help the Legion, even though Brainiac has figured out Shadow Lass will be fine.

Though I don’t think Brainiac actually tells Mon-El his discoveries.

Another team of Legionaries headed to the sewer; the shit monster kidnapped their financier, R.J. Brande, and they figure the sewer’s the place to be. That subplot actually goes unresolved, presumably for follow-up next issue, but the Legionaries seemingly forget they’re looking for Brande in the sewer. Even after they discover the secret behind the shit monster, it’s all about Brainiac 5 feeling unappreciated, not their bankroller being missing.

And bankrupt, but they don’t know he’s bankrupt yet; maybe next issue.

Even if the art weren’t terrible, it’d be a too slight story.

The back-up is a simple mystery for Chameleon Boy. Some disgruntled employee is terrorizing his place of employment—the Science Police station—and Chameleon Boy’s got to figure it out. Throw in a fetching alien lady and a lot of exposition, and it’s somehow nine pages. Paul Kupperberg scripts; I think it’s his best Legion work I’ve seen so far, but he’s got the added benefit of each competent panel from Staton bewildering more than the mystery ever could. It’s a reasonably pat mystery, actually. It’s unclear why the Science Police couldn’t figure very obvious things out themselves.

The art’s far from a total success, but Staton shows previously unrevealed design chops. It’s a Silver Age story with a decidedly Bronze Age feel, which has its charms.

Who knew Staton inking himself would save the issue?

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