I can recall buying this issue of SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES at my usual 7-11. No idea why I went for this issue in particular–the Legion was a very hit-or-miss proposition with me, most often coming down on the miss side. But for whatever reason, maybe it was the oversized page count, I brought this issue home with me.
I think I wanted to like the Legion, but just never quite found the stories that would reel me in completely. It was a team comic, and I liked those. But the futuristic 30th Century mileau didn’t appeal to me–there weren’t any stakes to it. This was all reinforced by Superboy’s presence in the Legion. Since I was reading plenty of Superman titles every month, I knew for certain that he would survive whatever adventure the Legion happened to find itself in. So that gave most Legion stories a feeling of inconsequence to me.
This particular issue opens with a team of five Legionnaires–Superboy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet–hunting down a Space Dragon in the area near Violet’s homeworld of Imsk. As they corral it, Violet explains to the Legionnaires that every ten years, Imsk itself shrinks in size–all of the vegetation and animal life on it as well as the mineral. Shrinking in kind became a hereditary power of her race, but only after the radiations from a certain type of boulder had been used to allow the Imskians to shrink themselves–and those boulders have all been consumed by the Space Dragons, which means that Imsk needs to collect a certain amount of their scales every year in order to survive.
While the Legion is completing its hunt, we go elsewhere, where we are introduced to Bounty, an intergalactic Regulator who is a hunter of a different sort: he goes after wanted criminals for the rewards placed on their heads, hence his name. Back in Imsk space, a too-enthusiastic Colossal Boy pulls off too many Dragon-scales at once, causing an energy discharge that somehow causes himself, Violet, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad to be merged into a single composite entity. This Composite Legionnaire blasts Superboy, then makes off with the Legion Cruiser, heading back towards Earth.
At Legion Headquarters, there’s some drama going on where new leader Wildfire is pissed that the United Planets intends to put a watchdog into place to have oversight on the legion;s activities. This leads a few of the members to question Wildfire’s qualifications to be leader, as well as causing the man himself to brood on his disembodied state. But action breaks out when the Legion Cruiser lands, and the Composite Legionnaire emerges, flattening Chameleon Boy and Phantom Girl before attacking the headquarters itself.
Wildfire coordinates the Legion’s counter-attack against the Composite Legionnaire, but in the midst of the battle, it shrinks out of the way of his Anti-Energy blasts, which strike Chameleon Boy instead, critically injuring him. As the Composite creature gets away, Wildfire freaks out with frustration. Later, he’s equally upset when he learns that the Earth President has called in Bounty to hunt down the Composite Legionnaire. The Composite has spent the last day going up and down the eastern seaboard, crushing everything in its path–and while nobody’s been killed yet, it’s only a matter of time, really. Bounty is pragmatic–all he cares about is the reward money, and whatever is the easiest way for him to get paid.
But the Legion finds the Composite first, and attempts to stop its rampage without hurting it, a process that goes about as well as you’d imagine. from a distance, Bounty watches the fight, waiting for his shot. Then, Superboy arrives, having recovered from being zapped in space, and he tells the Legion to withdraw, that they’re going about things the wrong way. As the Boy of Steel leads his team away, Bounty sees his chance. He fires his special Shock-Shell at the Composite creature, but only succeeds in making it mad, and it flattens him.
Superboy reasons that it was the radiations from that specific Space Dragon that combined the Legionnaires, so maybe they can reverse the process as well. But to do that, the Legion is going to need to find that particular pack of dragons so that Wildfire can absorb and contain the necessary radiations. Combining their powers and abilities, they proceed to attempt to capture the creatures. Meanwhile, Bounty is undaunted, and using a variety of weapons and his hunter’s instinct, he’s eventually able to ensnare the Composite Legionnaire in a steel-mesh net that conducts its own electricity back at itself. But it’s still able to melt its way to freedom.
Bounty is becoming more stressed and unhinged as the fight goes on–his reputation is on the line! So much so that he unleashes an outlawed Sub-Nuclear Air-to-Air Sensor Controlled Proximity Missile at the Composite, determined to destroy it at all costs. but just then, Superboy returns from space, and is able to harmlessly take the explosion on his chest. But Bounty has now broken the law himself, and so the Legionnaires take him into custody. Elsewhere, in a much-too-quick resolution, Wildfire is dropped onto the Composite Legionnaire, where he explodes with the radiation needed to separate it back into its component parts. So the day is saved–but not for Wildfire! The strain of having done all of this has left him at death’s door! To Be Continued!