blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #250


Oh, I’m sorry, I was expecting them to finish the story this issue. What was I thinking?

I was actually thinking it’s the 250th issue, and they’d do a double-size spectacular, concluding a lengthy story arc involving an evil Legionnaire plotting against the group. The issue’s got a plot and pencils by Jim Starlin (under a pseudonym, Steve Apollo), script by Paul Levitz, finishes by Dave Hunt. The outer space stuff—the literal outer space stuff, planets, star fields—is glorious. Beautiful colors from Gene D’Angelo. The space monster is pretty great. The rest of the art, not so much.

But some of it’s gorgeous.

The story’s good. Even from the start, it’s clear the story will probably be pretty good, and Starlin and Hunt will make some weird art choices. The bizarre art choices are obvious because Chameleon Boy looks very strange. Kind of like a leprechaun but the wrong color. It’s an intentional move, it’s got a lot of personality, good or not, but once the rest of the Legion shows up, the art gets bland.

Chameleon Boy’s going to reveal the traitorous villain to Wildfire, only someone attacks Chameleon Boy. So Wildfire assembles the Legion to update them. Starlin and Hunt do okay on Wildfire because he doesn’t have a face, and his costume has many ridges. When the art’s on a flat, human superhero? Yawn.

Though the action scene with Superboy and Mon-El’s pretty good in long shots. They can’t do the close-ups of the heroes, including a super silly expression one of Mon-El, but the space monster fight’s surprisingly exciting. Especially since the monster’s really goofy. It’s a monster called Omega; it’s a construct, walking through the universe to Earth to destroy the Legion at their headquarters. It really hates the Legion.

Somehow—thanks to the villain reveal—Levitz is able to make all of it palatable. Even compelling. The mystery itself’s compelling, especially since Wildfire’s an excellent straight man, but the space monster with goofy dialogue is the second guest bad guy. An evil hologram in an executioner’s outfit shows up at Legion headquarters to tell the Legionnaires their days are numbered. It’s too absurd and would be more concerning if Levitz didn’t pull things for the mid-issue space action, then the reveals and fallout.

Levitz (and Starlin) do a great job with Wildfire’s arc this issue. It ends up being a strong enough backbone.

I just wish they’d gotten the resolve over with. Levitz’s dragging it out too much.

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