Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (1977) #251

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According to tops three minutes of Internet research, the Steve Apollo credit for this issue is actually both Jim Starlin and Joe Staton. Starlin had his name taken off the previous issue and this one because he wanted the story to appear in an over-size special release. Apparently, post-Starlin, they rearranged this half—adding a new page from Staton, making it even less what Starlin intended. Unfortunately, though, no rearranging is going to help this issue. Especially not with the art.

I think Starlin’s trying to do Jack Kirby and just failing miserably. The giant cosmic monster walking through space seems like only something Kirby could get away with in a superhero comic. But Starlin, inked by Dave Hunt, isn’t cutting it. The monster’s headed towards Earth on a singular mission—to discover how it was created, which turns out to be a good question. It’s got a lousy answer, but the question was ripe with potential.

The creator in question is Brainiac 5, who has been under a lot of stress lately due to a lack of positive reinforcement. When he lost the election to be Legion leader, he decided he’d create a monster to kill every single living creature in the universe. But he wanted to toy with the Legion first, so he made the monster; now, the monster is going to use the machine Brainiac 5 used to make the monster to destroy the universe. Brainiac 5 could’ve just destroyed the universe, but no, instead, we had to get this stagnant story.

Paul Levitz scripts from Starlin’s story. There’s a lot of exposition, with Levitz introducing every character in narration like… it’s a DC Special Series issue, and there might be fresh eyes on the Legion. But, as a regular issue, it’s too much, especially when there’s never any pay-off to anything. Except Superboy chastising Wildfire for being a Debbie downer, which is an entirely new characterization for both of them.

This issue’s Paul Levitz’s last Legion for a couple years.

Not a good finish.

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