blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Legion of Super-Heroes (1980) #266

Lsh266Half of this issue reads like writer Gerry Conway’s excited to be on the book. The other half reads like he’s miserable, detailing the petty bickering of superhero teen bros as they try to upstage one another. But when Conway’s writing about married colonists Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel? He’s having a ball.

The marrieds are on an ice planet. Bouncing Boy feels like he doesn’t have any challenges to face outside Legion life, while Duo Damsel’s just trying to keep him happy. The two of them have such a nice Silver Age vibe; it feels like a reunion sitcom but good.

Then they uncover an ancient golden… lamp, and a genie appears, speaking Arabic and talking about Saladin. Conway’s got a weird amount of detail in the story, with Colossal Boy somehow making Islamophobia a thing in the thirtieth century. Colossal Boy says Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are making the whole thing up, but the released genie is hurtling through space at enormous size and speed. It destroys space stuff along the way (Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are in conveniently timed hot pursuit).

The stuff with Colossal Boy and Element Lad is lifeless and draining, but the genie—Kantuu, is a potent, if problematic, villain—and the marrieds are just fantastic together. Conway enjoying himself on Legion is rare, but it pays off when it happens.

Artists Jim Janes and Frank Chiaramonte have the occasional wanting panel, but their combined style matches Conway’s Silver Age but talky vibe. The art can’t make the bickering bro Legionnaires any more interesting, though. They’re too blandly written. At least when Conway’s got a big cast, the numerous characters can cover flat characterizations, but when it’s just two of them… the cracks show fast.

But, still, so much better than I was expecting. When Conway has to think about the future besides Legion business, he’s actually got some ideas.

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