BHOC: SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #205

Not 100% sure where this book came from. I’m going to guess the 7-11, and the fact that it was another 100-Page Spectacular that resulted in it being picked up. But I honestly have no recollection–i wasn’t a huge Legion fan, for all that I had read the preceding two issues. 

image

The lead story is by Cary Bates and Mike Grell, and owes a little something to films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The action begins when Superboy shows up at Lana Lang’s house on the evening of her birthday. As his gift to her, he’s going to take her into the 30th Century to attend a meeting of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Lana’s been there before–in a previous adventure, she was inducted as an honorary member in her identity as Insect Queen.

image

The Legion isn’t happy to see them, however, and informs Superboy and Lana that Legion member Ultra Boy has gone crazy. His already formidable powers have been maxed out, making him the mightiest Legionnaire, and he’s gone on a destructive rampage through Legion headquarters. The Legion has him subdued and in custody, but are trying to determine what’s caused his madness.

image

Superboy offers to interrogate Ultra Boy, but the much more powerful Ultra Boy bursts his restraints and almost succeeds in killing the Boy of Steel with his own indestructible Kryptonian cape. Superboy recovers consciousness to learn that Brainiac 5 has analyzed the cause of Ultra Boy’s madness–he’s become infected with a madness virus.

There is a cure, but the necessary ingredients are Light-Years away. Superboy undertakes the mission to gather them. But the moment that he’s off, the Legionnaires grab Lana and reveal their true colors. it is they who are under the thrall of something else, Ultra Boy is the only on unaffected, his madness the product of injections they have given him. 

Now that Superboy is gone, the Legionnaires set up a firing squad for Ultra Boy and Lana, to dispose of them before the Boy of Steel returns. The two teens are cut down–but have secretly been saved by Superboy, who has sussed out Ultra Boy’s clue: even while maddened, Ultra Boy was able to tie Superboy’s cape into a Nimborian “Hoax-Knot”, hoping that this would indicate that Superboy was being hoaxed. Despite the unlikelihood of this working, it did–and now, Superboy, Ultra Boy and Lana in her Insect Queen role have to locate the Master who has mesmerized the Legion.

And find him they do! He turns out to be an almost-immortal alien who plans on taking the Legion into space on a huge arc where, over time, they will in-breed and reproduce, eventually generating for him over 500 years a super-powered army. This is a villain who likes to plan ahead. Unfortunately, while Ultra Boy is immune to his powers, Lana is not.

But in typical fashion, Insect Queen outthinks the villain’s command to destroy Ultra Boy, who then crushes the villain’s mind-helmet, ending the adventure. There isn’t even any sort of wrap-up–it feels very much as though the creative team had simply run out of pages.

Then the reprints begin. First up is a Superboy adventure in which Kal-El demonstrates his super-skill at playing every known sport. It’s a slight story. But then comes a fabulous two-parter, one of the most significant stories in Legion history.

It was done at a point in time when then-Legion editor Mort Weisenger was vacillating a bit on many of his decisions concerning the direction of the various series that were under his control. He wanted to change them up and refresh them, but he was also concerned about them losing their appeal if he did so. This led to this two-parter, which opens with the revelation that the Earth of the 30th Century has been covered in Kryptonite dust, which means that Superboy and Supergirl can no longer be members of the Legion.

Nothing the Legionnaires do can affect the Kryptonite cloud, so instead Superboy and Supergirl are stripped of their memories of the Legion and returned to the 20th Century. This was Weisenger’s way of writing them out of the series, fearing that they were overexposed. Before they go, they nominate two replacements clad in all-concealing armor: Sir Prize and Miss Terious, who appear to be the Kryptonian cousins themselves, clad in protective garb.

They come in handy as the Legion is forced to contend with the threat of Prince Evillo and his Devil’s Dozen. This story also includes a strange dig at Marvel Comics, given when it was produced in 1966. After using the form of a spider to subdue a foe, Chameleon Boy breaks the Fourth Wall to tell the reader obliquely that he was doing such things before Spider-Man had been created. It’s a very odd moment.

Even odder is what happens in the second half of this story. because, in the thirty day interval between chapters, Weisenger had changed his mind about writing out Superboy and Supergirl. So now, having found a way to semi-logically eliminate them from the Legion’s roster, writer E. Nelson Bridwell had to find a way to undo everything he had done and bring them all back again. 

To do so, Bridwell brings in not only the Legion of Super-Pets (don’t ask) but also some of my favorite characters, the Legion of Substitute Heroes. These guys were wash-outs as Legion applicants who nonetheless banded together, dedicated to using their slight and somewhat limited super-powers to aid the Legion and humanity whenever they could. 

Color Kid changes the hue of the deadly Green Kryptonite to harmless Blue, so it no longer has any effect on Superboy and Supergirl. And yes, i realize that there’s no rational way that this works, but playing by Weisenger rules, that’s a pretty clever out. Sir Prize and Miss Terious are revealed as Star Boy and Dream Girl, two former Legionnaires who had been expelled and are now reinstated. And while he was cleaning tings up, Bridwell also restored Lightning lad’s missing arm, gave Bouncing Boy back his super-powers and rejuvenated matter-Eater Lad. He literally left no stone unturned, and at the end of the adventure, the Legion is larger and more unwieldy than ever before! And sadly, nobody even bothers to say Thank You to Color Kid for his help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s