This issue’s the first in the first post-Levitz era. While they left it to Jim Starlin to screw up Levitz’s epilogue, wrapping up that epilogue falls on new writer Gerry Conway. The credits promise “a new beginning” for Superboy and the Legion, with Conway writing, Joe Staton penciling, and Dave Hunt inking.
They’re off to an inauspicious start.
When we left our heroes, Earth had been destroyed (again), betrayed by Brainiac 5, who the Legion told could be emperor of the universe if he stopped the monster he’d imagined into existence from destroying reality. This issue opens with the Legion consulting Brainiac 5 about Matter-Eater Lad, who sacrificed himself to save the world at the cost of his sanity.
It’s not a great opening. They try hypnosis to cure Matter-Eater Lad, which doesn’t work, then they gotcha Brainiac 5 about him still being a prisoner. They tricked him for his intellect, which can’t figure out they’re tricking him.
Matter-Eater Lad and Brainiac 5 are going to be one of the ongoing subplots, along with the Legion’s moneybags running out of money. They’ve been teasing the latter for ages, even making it part of the previous arc. I just realized there’s no follow-up on how it resolved (off-page).
The main plot is the Legion fighting these aliens who are trying to mine the sun. Unfortunately, their technology produces red sunbeams, which render Superboy powerless. In reverse from the usual Legion approach, the bad guys beat the heroes’ individual powers instead of those powers combining to defeat the enemy.
Obviously, they defeat the enemy, but not with their powers.
Conway’s got some okay sci-fi ideas, but not Superboy and the Legion ideas. His characterizations seem either off or limited; new Legion leaders Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are standoffish with their teammates and cloying with each other. Former leader Wildfire is now the comic relief. Conway’s not trying very hard.
The art’s in the red even for Staton and Hunt.
I didn’t want to give up on these post-Levitz issues without giving them a chance, but I think I’m only committing to one more try.