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Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #231 October 18, 2019

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread.
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Time for another Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-read. A classic tangle with the Fatal Five. Better late in the day than not at all in the day, right?

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #231
September, 1977
“A Day In the Death of A World!”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: James Sherman and Mike Nasser (Chapter 2 on)
Inker: Jack Abel
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Mission Monitor Board:
Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Superboy, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Sun Boy

Opposition:
The Fatal Five (Tharok, Emerald Empress, Validus, the Persuader and Mano)

Synopsis:
In the self-titled Part 1, on their way to Earth from Orando, the two-man ship carrying Karate Kid and Princess Projectra is grabbed by a tractor beam. Once inside the ship, the two find themselves in a vast cargo hold. Confronted by Tharok and Validus, two members of the Fatal Five, they are told that indeed they face the entire fivesome. Karate Kid lunges for Tharok but is slammed aside by the hand of Validus and rendered unconscious. Tharok fires a ray gun at Princess Projectra, and renders her unconscious as well. He wanted to kidnap the Legionnaires for some additional insurance while they head towards a planet called Mordan.

Meanwhile, on the planet Mordan, the Legion of Super-Heroes has been asked by the United Planets to evacuate the planet’s one million inhabitants. The High Seer of Naltor had a premonition that the planet’s sun was going to explode, so the Legion is on hand. Colossal Boy is helping to load people onto the arks that Superboy, Ultra Boy and Mon-El are building as fast as they can, while Saturn Girl broadcasts a message to as many of the Mordanites as possible to get to the city so as to escape on the arks, with Shadow Lass doing what she can. She goes to help Saturn Girl, who collapses from the strain on her powers. In orbit above the planet, Brainiac 5 and Element Lad are on a space platform investigating the sun and attempting an analysis to find out why it will go nova, while Sun Boy is protecting them from the power of the star. A protection that ends when he is blasted from behind by the Emerald Empress. The Empress orders the Eye to destroy them, but Brainiac 5’s force shield protects him from its attack and Element Lad avoids the beams altogether. Element Lad encases the Empress in solid inertron, but as they go to check on Sun Boy (who is still alive), cracks start to appear in the inertron prison around the Empress. Apparently, she holds a residual amount of power from the eye that was sufficient to break from from the inside.

Back on Mordan, Shadow Lass and Saturn Girl go to investigate a small, deserted village where the latter sensed feelings of helplessness. They discover a large group of abandoned children, who don’t know about the evacuation and are just afraid. As the two start to move the children out, the building is shaken by violent attacks as Validus attempts to flush the two Legionnaires out. The Persuader is also on the scene, and he attacks the two female Legionnaires. Shadow Lass’s powers are ineffective as his atomic axe cuts her darkness, and Shadow Lass cries out for help. Suddenly, Mon-El is there knocking the axe out of the Persuader’s hands as he arrives in answer to his beloved’s plea. And then the fight is on: Colossal Boy takes on Validus, but is no match for the giant’s strength and endurance; Shadow Lass darkens Mano’s world, but he continues to strike at random at targets, causing them to disintegrate; Ultra Boy takes on the Persuader, but can’t stop him with Mon-El’s help. Mon-El changes tactics, digging a trench around him, isolating the Persuader on a hillock. When the Persuader uses his axe to cut off gravity, thus flying over the trench, Mon-El and Ultra Boy punch him back to the hillock, minus the atomic axe.

Back on Tharok’s ship, the leader of the Fatal Five is annoyed and frustrated at his fellow villains’ attempts to defeat the Legionnaires, and takes matters into his own hands. Using twin holographic beams, one into space and the other down to the planet Mordan, he tells the Legionnaire to abandon their efforts or pay the ultimate price; showing them the flight rings of his two captive Legionnaires, he tells them if they do not do so, his prisoners will die. Tharok says that Mordan’s sun must die as the world and its people have a unique elemental composition, that when bathed in the nova heat of Mordan’s dying sun will convert to pure energite, the universe’s most valuable mineral. The Fatal Five can then buy a place in the galaxy. Superboy launches himself into space and tries to attack Tharok’s ship at blinding speed, but a force-field keyed to the Legionnaires and their cruisers stops him cold. The Teen of Steel plunges back to Mordan in a state of unconsciousness. Needless to say, the Legionnaires do not surrender, and start to fight again, knowing that it may mean the death knell of two of their own.

In Part 2, “3 Hours to Holocaust!”, the fight between the Legionnaires and the Fatal Five in space and on Mordan does not go well. The recovered Sun Boy strikes the Emerald Empress a nasty blow of fire, but she targets the three Legionnaires present and the Eye hurts them somewhat. The ground based Legionnaires fare no better than their comrades in space, but manage to inflict some damage to the three villains there. This is all a ploy as Tharok has activated the device in the sun to cause the nova three hours hence. Tharok notes that Karate Kid and Princess Projectra have escaped their cell, but having disabled their ship and taken their flight rings, doesn’t consider them a threat. Karate Kid goes up to the massive guardian robot, telling Projectra that they’ll have to deal with it eventually, and starts to whittle it down to size and then not leaving it with any legs to stand on (he’s picked up expressions from the 20th Century). Once the robot is defeated, the two travels down some hallways, exchanging banter as they go, and then arrive at a set of double doors. Since Tharok favours his robot side, his right side, Karate Kid decides to start there and begins to super-kick the doors.

Back on Mordan, the Legion continues to hold their own against the villains, but the three members of the Fatal Five eventually triumph and escape into space. However, Mon-El races into space, where he manages to drive off the Emerald Empress, the villain teleporting away.
Karate Kid and Princes Projectra enter the rooms where Tharok is, and while Karate Kid attacks him, he and Jeckie are out of luck as the rest of the Fatal Five arrive. The two Legionnaires are captured again, this time imprisoned in inertron bindings.

Back on Mordan, the Legionnaires turn their attention back to the pressing issue of the solar explosion, all except for Ultra Boy and Colossal Boy. The latter is not happy that they can’t help the others out with the evacuation, but Ultra Boy says that Brainiac 5’s solar analysis gave him an idea that may buy them more time. He and Colossal Boy enter the artificial hollowed out asteroid that Ultra Boy has fashioned, and and the two launch into space. Karate Kid comes around on Tharok’s ship but before he can learn anything, they are interrupted by the arrival of the asteroid with Ultra Boy and Colossal Boy contained within. Since there are no asteroids in this part of space, Tharok didn’t program the ship shields to repel them, just the Legionnaires and their ships. Colossal Boy demands that Tharok free their prisoners, but Karate Kid finally manages to break his inertron shackles. Before the fighting can start, however, the sun of Mordan goes nova. In the resulting confusion, the other Legionnaires arrive and Tharok attempts to activate his controls to harness the energite being released.

Superboy, Ultra Boy and Mon-El make a three-way attack that topples the mighty Validus. Karate Kid manages to take down Tharok. Shadow Lass and Brainiac 5 team up and defeat Mano. Colossal Boy takes down the Persuader in a single blow. Sun Boy and Saturn Girl take down the Emerald Empress. With the Fatal Five imprisoned, the Legionnaires turn their attention to other matters. Brainiac 5 uses Tharok’s controls and takes an educated guess. However, during the distraction, Tharok activates his spaceship’s self-destruct mechanism, and the ship starts to tear itself apart. The Legionnaires escape into space, avoiding death, as the ship explodes possibly killing the Five with it. The Legionnaires in space are protected by Brainiac 5’s force field, Element Lad providing them with air inside the bubble.

Some time later, the Legionnaires finish evacuating the last of the Mordanites off-world, and then depart via their Legion cruiser into space. Superboy explains to Karate Kid and Princes Projectra, who weren’t in on the plan, that Shadow Lass eclipsed the planet Mordan while the rest of them created a fake nova with their powers. This confused the villains. Brainiac 5’s solar analysis had found a device planted in the sun that was speeding up the sun’s rate of combustion, but he could not stop it. He needed access to Tharok’s computer to deactivate it, so the Legion had to maneuver themselves onto the Fatal Five’s spaceship. With the bomb deactivated, the sun went nova on its original timeline, so the Legion has time to save all of the Mordanites. Speaking of illusions, Superboy is furious at the Fatal Five for risking so many lives, and he believes that they also have escaped Mordan’s destruction. The Teen of Steel vows to track them down and exact a heavy price.

Commentary:
This story marks the return of the Fatal Five to the pages of the comics in a tale that is epic and heroic in style and feel, though it’s not perfect. However, first off, the great news is that with this issue, the title of the comic becomes “Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes” in the legalese. As the unnamed letter columnist writes, “After some nineteen years of floating around the DC world, (the Legion) finally have a suitable home of their own.” This was terrific news. And the comic was also a super-sized Giant with 48 pages contained between the covers. At least, that was the plan… Paul Levitz was still writing like he was trying to be Cary Bates, the art was still being inked by Jack Abel and the editor didn’t know the difference between Star Boy and Saturn Girl. And behind the scenes, the Legion was battling the Dread Deadline Doom. Unfortunately, things would only get worse before they got better.

However, this was a story that was a step in the right direction. Paul Levitz was slowly but surely moving towards a characterization emphasis in the story, and does a good job of balancing all the story threads until the story ends with a rather rushed, silly conclusion. Paul was beginning to juggle more than one group at a time: he has Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl and Shadow Lass conversing naturally, explaining to the reader the severity of the situation; he has Sun Boy, Element Lad and Brainiac 5 cornered by the Emerald Empress; he has one group of Legionnaires battling the Fatal Five as Karate Kid and Princess Projectra attempt to escape. And all with the deadline of a sun about to explode! The suspense in this tale is the best part of the story, no doubt about it. The plot of the story, a more complex version of the tale told in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #318, with the added bonus of actual villains to face (the original tale cast Sun Boy as the mutinous villain), is well told, well paced, and has a good feel and style to it. But there is a a large chunk of story that seems to go untold: Karate Kid and Princess Projectra are captured and escape in scenes not shown, and then the Legion mops up the Fatal Five in less than one page. Ugh! Worst of all, Princess Projectra does nothing in this entire story except to flirt with her boyfriend! I didn’t think it was a very good showing for one of the Legionnaires who actually helped the Fatal Five form in the first place. One thing that annoyed me was the gaffe on page 12 of the story. The narrator tells us that Validus may kill his first Legionnaire during the battle on Mordan. But as long-time Legion fans know (and it’s not really that long ago), Validus killed Invisible Kid in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #203. I remember thinking at the time that the folks writing and editing the Legion stories at this time didn’t know the Legion as well as I did. Sad, that.

James Sherman is an awesome penciller, as I’ve already noted several times in these reviews. Some of his close-ups in this story are stunning, from Colossal Boy on page 4, the Emerald Empress on page 7, or Superboy on page 15. However, this story obviously required two pencillers, as Sherman’s work was replaced by those of Mike Nasser starting with Chapter 2. (I remember reading that Nasser replaced Sherman in the story, but can’t recall where.) It doesn’t really matter, however, as Jack Abel’s inks are again so heavy-handed that you basically can’t really tell the difference. Only the close-ups and some specific body poses can help you identify who pencilled what. Makes me wonder why this was done.

Final Notes:
Although Lightning Lad is shown on the cover, he does not appear in the story… Mike Nasser is not credited, although it is obvious that he penciled some (most? all?) of Chapter Two…
Colossal Boy is shown in a uniform combining his Dave Cockrum design and his most recent Mike Grell design… This story occurs after the events of Karate Kid Vol 1 #10, since that is referenced on page 2 of the story… The Legion was asked by the United Planet to evacuate the planet Mordan in this story. A similar request was made of the Legion way back in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #318. However, the process has since gotten a bit more…dangerous… When Colossal Boy and Validus are fighting on page 12, it is stated erroneously that Validus may kill his first Legionnaire. This is incorrect, as he already has killed a Legionnaire, Invisible Kid/Lyle Norg, in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #203… The final page of the issue, “The Legion Outpost Extra,” featured a listing of the Legionnaires from Brainiac 5 to Phantom Girl (some 12 in all) with their full names, powers, and a bit of information on each of them. The rest of the LSH membership would be covered in the next issue.

Finally, with this issue, the official, legal title of the book became Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion’s conquest of Superboy’s book is one step closer to completion. Also with this issue, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes becomes a GIANT book of 48 pages for sixty cents.

Next Issue: Karate Kid Vol 1 #10

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Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #230 October 17, 2019

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread.
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Here’s today’s blog entry on another Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-read, this time about a truly alien sorcerer.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #230
August, 1977
“The Creature Who Conned the Legion”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Jim Sherman
Inker: Jack Abel
Letterer: Bill Morse
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy, Dream Girl, Sun Boy, Element Lad, Brainiac 5

Opposition:
Sden, an alien sorcerer

Synopsis:
On the mining planet of Remor, five visiting Legionnaires are about to be honoured for their service when an earthquake strikes the planet. Element Lad comments that Remor is never struck by quakes, since the planet is solid bedrock. While Element Lad converts parts of the lava flow to gas and Superboy shatters rocks and the like, Sun Boy and Brainiac 5 attempt to search for the cause. Dream Girl and the others help rescue the Remorians from the various dangers. Finding the fissure from which the shock waves seem to emanate, Sun Boy attempts to fuse it shut and stop the quakes. In the aftermath of the quakes, the Remorians are concerned about whether the planet has become unstable and whether they can continue mining the world, and Element Lad vows that as Deputy Leader of the Legion they will find the source of the quakes and put a stop to it.

An octopoidal alien named Sden suddenly appears, speaking in a menacing tone and warns them that the quakes will return. When the Legionnaires attempt to capture Sden, he teleports away as they approach. Using her precognitive powers, Dream Girl tells Superboy to attempt to grab Sden and then Element Lad, Sun Boy and Brainiac 5 capture the alien when he appears where Dream Girl predicted. Sden tells them that he is not the cause of the earthquakes, but that he has come to help. He explains that he is what they would call a sorcerer from the Trevenon galaxy who has come in search of the Crystal of Catastrophe, a mystic talisman that was sent into the intergalactic void only to discover that it had used its enchanted energies to drift back towards inhabited planets seeking new worlds to destroy. In answer to Brainiac 5’s question, Sden tells the Legionnaires that his magics are too weak to retrieve the crystal, which is currently in a distant volcano that he points towards. If the Legionnaires retrieve the crystal for him, he will take it back and leave Remor and thus the quakes and other disasters will cease. The Legionnaires go after the crystal, but Dream Girl is suspicious, telling Element Lad that her prophetic powers are trying to warn her.

Leaving Dream Girl outside, the other Legionnaires descend into the volcano, Brainiac 5’s shield protecting them while Sun Boy’s powers stave off the heat of the volcano. The Legionnaires retrieve the crystal easily, Element Lad’s abilities allowing him to find it before Superboy’s powers can, and return to the surface. As they head back to Sden, Dream Girl says she doesn’t believe the alien’s story and tells the others that she thinks they should take out some insurance just in case. The Legionnaires return to Sden with the crystal in its case, and he begs the Legionnaires to return it to him, but they insist on knowing more about the crystal and various matters, since there hasn’t been another earthquake since before Sden showed up. Before Superboy can react, the alien snatches up the box with the crystal, and then the truth comes out. He admits that he caused the quakes on Remor, and now that he has the crystal he will cause more quakes and proceeds to do so. He tells them the crystal focuses and amplifies magical energies, and now that he has the crystal he can conquer the galaxy but first will destroy the Legionnaires. As Sden opens the case with the crystal inside, there is a massive explosion and fiery fury that weakens Sden, since the flames steal his strength and he can’t focus on the crystal. Superboy grabs the crystal, and Sun Boy imprisons Sden in a cage of fire. Element Lad tells Dream Girl that she was right, to which she replies that her power got her into the Legion, and the vision that she had of Sden defeating Mordru and killing the Legion off was real enough to merit attention. She had also noticed how Sden avoided Sun Boy, and reasoned he was afraid of the volcano’s heat, and thus needed the Legion to retrieve the crystal. Taking Sden back to their ship for a quick trip to Takron-Galtos, the Legionnaires head off-planet while Superboy takes the crystal back to the 20th Century for safekeeping.

Commentary:
This story is one of those tales from the first run of Paul Levitz’s work on the Legion that just isn’t very good. The basic premise is weak, as there’s no reason given for the Legionnaires being honoured on Remor (see Final Comments, below), not to mention the entire coincidental nature of the Catastrophe Crystal happening to arrive/be there at the same time. The story also features some poor decisions on Element Lad’s part; as Deputy leader, he should know better. But his bacon is saved by Dream Girl (more on her in a moment). The end of the story is a bit rapid and trite, not to mention Superboy deciding that the best place to take the crystal is back to 20th Century Smallville! Really, Supes? This makes no sense whatsoever, and there are consequences to this as seen in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #453.

The main redeeming feature of the story is Dream Girl and the important role she plays here. Nura Nal played an important role in Paul Levitz’s first story back in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #225. Now, here she is again ordering the male Legionnaires around and saving the day once more. What’s good here is that Levitz appreciate the character and understands what Nura can *do* and what her powers are for. However, he’s still writing the stories with a Cary Bates mentality, and has yet to reach his full stride – but he’s getting there.

The artwork by James Sherman and Jack Abel is adequate, and James Sherman’s Sden was absolutely superb, a truly alien-looking, not humanoid, being with some terrifying facial expressions that had me distrusting him from the get-go. However, Jack Abel’s heavy-handed pencils continue to suppress Sherman’s pencils to the point of distraction at times for me.

The second story in the issue is as follows…

“The Day Bouncing Boy Bounced Back”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Mike Nasser
Inker: Jack Abel
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: na
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Mission Monitor Board:
Bouncing Boy; Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad (cameos); Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, several others (flashback)

Guest Star:
Science Police officer Dvron

Opposition:
None, except each other

Synopsis:
Several weeks ago, Bouncing Boy is on monitor duty at Legion Headquarters during Chemical King’s funeral. When the alarm goes off that someone is trying to break in, Chuck goes to answer the call, even if he no longer has his super-powers. Near the entrance corridor, he s attacked by a Science Police officer who has burst in and took care of most of the defences. As the two fight, they are both rendered unconscious by the security mist that is one of the defences the SP officer missed. The two recover moments later, to find themselves each encased in the Legion energy cages.

The Science Police officer explains that his name is Dvron, and he really is an SP officer. He had worked with the Legion before when going after Universo some time ago, so the Science Police Chief sent him to watch over things at Legion HQ while the whole Legion was on Shanghalla. He didn’t know that the Legion Reservists always serve monitor duty at the HQ if the full membership cannot. Dvron apologizes for his overzealousness. Bouncing Boy accepts his apology, but reminds him that it doesn’t help their predicament.

When Bouncing Boy angrily punches the energy sphere in frustration, the energy of the sphere inflates his hand. He guesses that the energy in the sphere is recharging the elastic serum in his cells, and takes a gamble. He throws his whole body into the energy sphere walls, despite the pain that it causes. Chuck painfully re-inflates, gaining back his bouncing powers. Using his newly regained powers, Bouncing Boy is able to ricochet back and forth in the energy cage, stretching it to its limits, and manages to break through. Bouncing Boy also frees Dvron, striking a deal with the SP officer such he promises not to tell anyone that he has his powers back. Chuck says he’s happily married and wants to stay that way. If his wife found out that he’s got his powers back, she’d constantly worry that he’s sneaking off for some action.

Some time later, when the Legionnaires have returned, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad thank him for watching the HQ. Chuck says that it was fun, but that his super-powered days are over.

Commentary:
This is a pretty decent story for what it is, a way for Bouncing Boy to regain his powers, and offers no real villain for the Legion Reservist to fight, but it does have a couple of plot holes. First of all, wouldn’t the Legion notice the damage that Bouncing Boy and Dvron made during their tussle and then their energy cage predicament? And even if they didn’t, I somehow doubt that Bouncing Boy has the technological know-how to fix all the electronic tampering that Dvron must have done. Speaking of which, how could Dvron have got the know-how to break into the Legion HQ in the first place? Furthermore, once Dvron was inside, I didn’t understand the the reasoning for why he attacked Bouncing Boy to begin with. Though he did strike me as a bit impulsive during his previous encounter with the Legion (see the Final Notes below).

What bothered me somewhat more, however, was Chuck’s attitude in parts of this story. When he decides to take the risk that the energy from the prison cage will re-active his bouncing powers, he tells Dvron that if the energy should kill him in the process, at least he will go out like a hero. That doesn’t show a lot of respect or love for Duo Damsel, to be honest, and this is reinforced by his deal with Dvron at the end, though at least he’s motivated by not worrying Duo Damsel. Just not sure Levitz understood the relationship between Chuck and Luornu all that well in this story, and it shows a bit. There is also the fact that Duo Damsel does not appear in this story, but it is not mentioned that she went to Chemical King’s funeral. Arguably, Bouncing Boy knew Chemical King better than his wife did (they shared more adventures) so it seemed more reasonable to me that he would have gone to the funeral and she would have stayed on monitor duty.

That said, the artwork in this story is far better than that of the lead tale, Mike Nasser doing an excellent job on the pencils for the tale. Unfortunately, once more Jack Abel’s inks tend to muddy the pencils, which are pretty dynamic, for the most part.

Final Notes:
In the lead story, there is no reason given for why five Legionnaires are being honoured on Remor, other than for their services. Are these specific members being honoured for something they did, or are they representing the Legion in some sort of ceremony? we’re never told… Superboy brings the crystal back into the past, in a story that continues in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #453… In the second story, the Legion attended the funeral of Chemical King in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #229… Bouncing Boy lost his powers back in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #200, the issue where he married Duo Damsel… SP Dvron actually worked with the Legion against Universo back in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #207… The gas that incapacitates Bouncing Boy and Dvron is called Morpheus Mist… Why doesn’t Bouncing Boy have his Legion Flight Ring? Furthermore, he is still not wearing a wedding ring… This is the last issue of the book to bear the title of “Superboy.” Starting with the next issue, the comic officially becomes “Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes”… The letter column also hypes the fact that the next issue will feature a bang-up encounter with the Fatal Five in a new 34-page epic that also expands the comic size to 48 pages for 60 cents.

Next Issue: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #231

Karate Kid Vol 1 #9 October 16, 2019

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread.
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Time for today’s classic Legion of Super-Heroes re-read, this time another issue of the ongoing Karate Kid series.

Karate Kid Vol 1 #9
(July-August) August, 1977
”The Black Belt Contract”
Writer: David Michelinie (writing as Barry Jameson)
Penciller: Ric Estrada
Inker: Joe Staton
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Carl Gafford
Cover: Al Milgrom
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Featuring:
Karate Kid

Guest Star:
Princess Projectra

Opposition:
Pulsar; Kade and his thugs

Synopsis:
The story begins approximately one hour before the previous issue did, and starts on the docks. It is after dark, and two figures face each other. Pulsar, the would-be assassin from the last issue, has been contracted to kill Karate Kid, and tells his boss, Kade, again, that he refuses to do any more killing for him, least of all take out the hero who saved his life. In fact, Kade motivates him by pressing the remote control device that is somehow linked to Pulsar’s heart, nearly giving him a heart attack, so as to demonstrate his full control over him. Chagrined, Pulsar agrees to kill again and takes the contract to kill Karate Kid.

About an hour forward in time, at Karate Kid’s apartment, the story continues directly from last issue: Princess Projectra has travelled to 1977 from the 30th Century in order to check up on her boyfriend. In doing so, she found him being kissed by his local friend, Iris Jacobs. The two women get into a very catty argument over Karate Kid, but the Kid’s worries about the two women in his life takes a back seat when Pulsar arrives, and blasts him through the window. The two fight, and Karate Kid strikes Pulsar, propelling him through the window and down to the street. The Kid orders Princess Projectra to stay and use her illusion powers to keep Iris safe if things don’t work out. The two fight down on the street, Pulsar using his wits and causing a boiler to explode and distract Karate Kid, and Pulsar takes him down and out. However, instead of killing Karate Kid, Pulsar ponders his next move. Neither the unconscious hero or the villain notice an incessant tone and a flashing light from the Kid’s wrist band…

Back in Val’s apartment, Princess Projectra and Iris are having a discussion when Val’s monitor globe beeps and Projectra recognizes it for what it is. She activates the monitor globe, and is surprised to see her father’s face on the screen!

Some time later in the evening, Pulsar brings the unconscious Karate Kid, immobilized by his force staff, to Kade’s office in a posh, East Side restaurant. Pulsar wants to negotiate for his freedom: he will hand over Karate Kid in exchange for the heart attack-inducing remote control device. Kade refuses the offer, revealing that he has kidnapped Pulsar’s wife, Liz. Surprised by this announcement, Pulsar is easily knocked unconscious by one of Kade’s thugs. Pulsar wakes about an hour later, and finds that he and Karate Kid are trussed up in the restaurant’s latest innovation, a massive microwave oven. He intends to microwave the two of them to death. As Kade leaves and starts the microwaving process, the hero and villain start to sweat profusely. While Karate Kid tries to think of a way out of the situation, Pulsar tells us his origins: Benjamin Day was just a thug with a congenital heart defect working for Kade when he had a massive heart attack during a job that was busted up by the cops. Kade had mob scientists put an experimental atomic heart in his chest, as well as increasing his muscle power with new surgical techniques. This also gave Pulsar the ability to expel pulse blasts from a conduit staff, powered by his heart. Karate Kid finally figures out what to do: he strains against the conduit staff Pulsar used to bind him, and he finally succeeds in bending it, propelling him against the door with enough force to break it down, freeing Pulsar in the process. After Pulsar frees Karate Kid from the conduit staff, they rush out of the chamber to confront Kade and free Pulsar’s wife. The two of them tangle with Kade’s thugs, but Kade himself still has the remote control device and he pushes the self-destruct button, meaning that Pulsar’s atomic heart will now overload, causing a huge explosion. Karate Kid, being the hero that he is, uses his acrobatics and the power staff to take Kade down, grab the device, and stop the process. Pulsar gladly surrenders to the police to pay for his crimes.

Karate Kid returns to his apartment, where he encounters the frantic Princess Projectra and the confused Iris Jacobs. Projectra tells Val that she saw her father on the monitor globe before the transmission faded. Karate Kid says that King Voxv’s transmission wasn’t due for another two days, and that something’s wrong. He manages to access the monitor globe and they all hear the garbled message from King Voxv, asking for Karate Kid’s help in saving his kingdom, as “he has to be stopped or our planet is doomed!” Karate Kid vows to return to the future, even if it means giving up everything that he came to the past to achieve. This story continues in the next issue.

Commentary:
This story is one that is pretty good in a lot of ways, has an interesting story to tell, but falls apart on some basic levels and the understand of various characters. The opening scene with Pulsar/Benjamin Day and Kade is meant to show that Pulsar is a reluctant villain. While that does give him a bit of pathos, it also goes a long way to showing the mindset of the conflicted Benjamin Day. The scene with Princess Projectra confronting Val and Iris is a very dramatic situation, one that toes the line between serious and comic very well. The reader understands how Karate Kid is keeping secrets from both women, and I appreciate ratcheting up the tension here. From a storytelling perspective, it was very good that the scene was interrupted by Pulsar. Given that the Kid hasn’t made a secret of his identity and the knowledge of where he lived during the supposed murder investigation with Mrs. Geichman, it wouldn’t have been difficult for Pulsar to have found out where Val lived.

I wasn’t overly thrilled with the scene when Karate Kid leaps out of the window in pursuit of Pulsar, and orders Projectra to stay behind and protect Iris. It’s been established quite a few times how powerful Princess Projectra can be. She could theoretically have made Pulsar think he had already defeated Karate Kid, allowing him to lower his defenses and be taken down for real. That would have given us double the fight sequence here. Of course, it wouldn’t have allowed Karate Kid to be captured, which was the point of this part of the story.

The sequence with the microwave oven chamber in Kade’s restaurant… When this story was written more than 23 years ago, microwaves were a brand new thing and not really understood by the average user. Kade explains that microwaves are sound-waves that will heat them up, but “sound-waves” is a poor choice of words. Microwaves are actually similar to radio or broadcast waves that heat things up by vibrating the molecules of the food from the inside. The idea that the oven chamber where Pulsar and Karate Kid are chained up is actually heating up is, of course, false. The hero and villain are shown to be sweating as if in a sauna, but the truth is that they would be in intense pain from the heat *inside* them, not from heat in the chamber. And let’s just assume that all of the hooks and chains shown to be in the chamber are made of microwaveable plastics… Still, the idea that they would be killed if left in the chamber is still true.

The story’s conclusion is somewhat trite, but the lack of motivation on Pulsar’s part was realistically portrayed, so the denouement where he vows to give up his evil ways seems possible. For the love of Liz and his family and all that. These last few pages are probably the best part of the book, as we see that Pulsar is trying to escape from his fate in the only way he can think of. The final sequence, when Val returns to his apartment to find Iris and Jeckie doing virtually…nothing just didn’t ring true to me. This comic series is one more example of how women supporting characters are often not given anything to do in tales from this time period. If you were Princess Projectra and your father had called your boyfriend and left a garbled message, would *you* have sat on the couch and done nothing? I don’t think so. That’s just a bad characterization for a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The artwork in this story is all right, but nothing special. Ric Estrada continues his use of bird’s-eye view panels. That said, the somewhat cartoonish artwork that he’s used in the series to this point was minimal here, so I can’t really complain about the artwork.

Final Notes:
Although Carl Gafford is credited as the colourist, no letterer is credited for this story… Princess Projectra’s appearance chronologically falls between Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #229 (when presumably both she and Karate Kid attended Chemical King’s funeral) and issue #231 (when she and Karate Kid are enjoying time together in the future)… This is the last issue of the comic with art by Joe Staton. He will later draw Karate Kid again when he becomes the Legion artist with Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #243.

Next Issue: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #230

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #229 October 15, 2019

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As promised, today is “Two for Tuesday”… so here I present another classic Legion of Super-Heroes re-read. In this one, the Legion hunts for Chemical King’s killer…

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #229
July, 1977
“Hunt For a Hero Killer!”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: James Sherman
Inker: Jack Abel
Letterer: Bill Morse
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Mission Monitor Board:
Wildfire, Dawnstar, Superboy, Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Mon-El, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Light Lass; Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Shadow Lass (cameos)

Guest Star:
Night Girl

Opposition:
Deregon; The Dark Circle

Synopsis:
“Hunt For a Hero-Killer”
On the cemetery world of Shanghalla, the Legion of Super-Heroes holds the funeral for Chemical King. Timber Wolf recalls the events leading up to Chemical King’s death while preventing a cosmic energy sphere from exploding and starting World War VII. Immediately after the ceremony, Legion leader Wildfire uses the computer and Brownian motion to pick a team to go to the Dark Circle world to capture Deregon. Although every Legionnaire has volunteered to go on the mission, Wildfire picks only five as more would just get in the way. Saturn Girl argues with him, citing Legion traditions, but in the end agrees to Wildfire’s decision though inwardly she’s still not pleased. Wildfire, Dawnstar, Timber Wolf, Superboy and Mon-El head off to the Dark Circle world, while the rest of the Legionnaires make their way back to Earth.

The five Legionnaires arrive in Dark Circle space, and start to make their way to the homeworld. They are forced to fight their way through Dark Circle forces. Superboy and Mon-El play pile-up with the robot drones, Wildfire holds off the space soldiers with free floating energy fields, Dawnstar guides Timber Wolf and the Legion cruiser through the increasing field of debris and hostile vessels. They reach the Dark Circle citadel that Superboy had spied on in the previous issue. Back on the other Legion cruiser, Cosmic Boy is annoyed at Wildfire’s limiting the Legion team tracking down Deregon, and Saturn Girl agrees with him and the fact that Wildfire does a lot of things that he’s not supposed to do, including influencing the Brownian motion that was used to choose the hunting team. But at least he chose a good team for the attack, and “we can deal with him when they get back!” In Dark Circle space, the Legionnaires are fighting their way towards the citadel. A laser cannon targets the Legion cruiser and destroys it, despite Timber Wolf’s warning to Superboy. Superboy does destroy the laser cannon, though, to prevent it being used to attack the Legionnaires. Wildfire leads the team to the Dark Circle Command building in search of Deregon.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the three Legion founders and Night Girl are taking time off to relax, and have gone to Galaxyland in 30th Century Smallville to unwind. Light Lass contacts them and informs them that President Kandru has alerted them to the fact that Deregon is still on Earth and wonders why the Legion are leaving it in the Science Police’s hands. Light Lass says that Wildfire, Timber Wolf and the others are on a wild klanth chase. When Rokk (Krinn) suggests they go and warn them, Imra (Ardeen) counters that they can’t get there in time to do any good. She says that some subconscious impulse led her to come with the others to Galaxyland, and that Deregon is nearby.

Back at the Dark Circle citadel, Dawnstar leads the Legionnaires through the maze of the building, sensing a living presence. As Wildfire and Timber Wolf charge with her through a massive door, Superboy and Mon-El vanish in the middle of fighting Dark Circle forces off. The leader of the Dark Circle welcomes Timber Wolf, Dawnstar and Wildfire to the Dark Circle council’s innermost chambers, and grabber cables reach out and grasp each Legionnaire. As Wildfire frees himself, Timber Wolf and Dawnstar from the cables, Timber Wolf lunges in fury at the Dark Circle leader, anxious to get the truth of where Deregon is from him. The three Legionnaires vanish!

Back on Earth, a furious Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl confront SP Officer Mvar about knowing that Deregon was on Earth and didn’t think to tell the Legion. Since his beat includes Smallville, where the Legion started, he should know better. Saturn Girl asks if he noticed that Night Girl left them a short time ago and wonders why. It’s because she understands that this is Legion business, and the Legionnaires and no one else will bring Deregon in. Probing the area for a moment, Saturn Girl then takes off with her two fellow Legionnaires and heads into the amusement park’s Tunnel of Fear. Saturn Girl tracks him telepathically, registering his terror at being found by either the Legion or the Dark Circle. When they find him, he unleashes some robotic creatures from the amusement park on them; while Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad deal with them, Saturn Girl goes in pursuit of Deregon. When she corners him, Deregon lashes out at her, surprising her, and knocking her unconscious. Deregon runs further away, but is suddenly scared as Lightning Lad unleashes a series of lightning bolts, and disoriented, falls into a vat of chemical waste.

In “Epilogue 1,” Mon-El, Superboy, Timber Wolf, Wildfire and Dawnstar reappear in Legion HQ thanks to Ayla/Light Lass using the experimental warp transport to bring them home, and tells them that Deregon is already in captivity, taken down by Lightning Lad and the others.

In “Epilogue 2,” as the Science Police take Deregon away, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad talk about various revisions they would make to the Legion Constitution, given some of what’s happened the last few years and with the Deregon case, including revisions about killing…and as Garth hints, married members…

Commentary:
This issue concludes the story that began last time, that dealt with the death of Chemical King. Paul Levitz does a skillful job telling the story of the hunt for Deregon, Chemical King’s killer, and the fact that the Legion ends up partially on a wild klanth chase searching for him in the heart of the Dark Circle’s sphere of influence. The delicious irony and one of my favourite sequences in the story is when Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (the three Legion founders) are the ones to capture Deregon back on Earth. Very fitting. One of the things I really loved in the story was the two panels near the end of the story that juxtapose Deregon’s fear versus Chemical King’s lack thereof. Brilliant stuff.

I have to admit that I was somewhat turned off by the whole sequence with Wildfire, Saturn Girl and Dawnstar near the beginning of the story. It seemed odd to me that only five Legionnaires would be chosen to attack an entire planet. Doesn’t seem that smart to me, and, if you’re going to the Dark Circle’s homeworld, why bring Dawnstar?, since they already know where they’re going. I would have thought an Ultra Boy or Element Lad would have made a better choice. Furthermore, Saturn Girl cites “Legion tradition” in her argument here but there have only been two other murdered Legionnaires, and in neither case did the Legion go after their murderers. Thus, the tradition argument doesn’t really work here.

The artwork in this story is passable. There are some decent flashes of James Sherman’s brilliance in the story, but they are pretty much buried beneath Jack Abel’s heavy inking style. Sherman’s robots and mechanical stuff are very nicely rendered and show the artistic skill that he has with the Legion quite nicely. The combat scenes are well rendered, and show the frenetic nature of the fighting in Dark Circle space. Sherman’s artistic take on the hunt for Deregon in the amusement park was very well done, and rendered the story even more gravitas than it has because of the basic plot of the story.

Final Notes:
Shanghalla is described as the cemetery of heroes, including Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid. However, because Ferro Lad’s body was atomized by the Sun-Eater, he is actually not buried there (or anywhere). He has only a memorial there to represent his sacrifice… Shanghalla first appeared in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #341, when one of Triplicate Girl’s ashes were sent here… Superboy’s “S” is reflected incorrectly in Wildfire’s visor on page four… The text on page five tells us that Mon-El joins up with the team en route to the Dark Circle world, but he is clearly standing with the others on board the Legion cruiser on page 3… At the Galaxyland amusement park in Smallville, there are three “rides” visible: Temple of Bosch, House of Zendlida, and Salem House… The Legion received the experimental warp transport way back in Action Comics Vol 1 #387… The letter column also makes the announcement that on June 21st, the magazine becomes Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes officially and that starting that issue will become a monthly 48-page giant issue with some 30 pages of new Legion content every month.

Next Issue: Karate Kid Vol 1 #9

DC Special Vol 1 #28: Earth Shattering Disasters! October 15, 2019

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Time for another Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-read. Today, we start with something special…

DC Special Vol 1 #28
Earth Shattering Disasters!

July, 1977
“The City That Stopped —- Dead!”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Arvell Jones
Inker: Bob Layton
Letterer: Bill Morse
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: Al Milgrom
Editor: Paul Levitz

Mission Monitor Board:
Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, Chemical King

Opposition:
Fenton Pike

Synopsis:
On Earth, it’s midnight in the city of Metropolis, the city and its vehicles and everything else powered by broadcast power of the unlimited energy generated by the city’s fusion powersphere. Which suddenly goes dead, and chaos and havoc result.

Five Legionnaires enter the fray, and go to investigate. Brainiac 5 takes Phantom Girl and Chemical King with him to the power sphere, while Ultra Boy and Timber Wolf are on damage control and go to help as many people as they can. Ultra Boy and Timber Wolf halt a monorail running wild on momentum and diving down to rescue people trapped below the monorail, all the time wondering who could have done this to the city and why. The destruction of the city proceeds even as they watch, commenting that most of the Legion is on leave and even then they couldn’t handle it because they’re super-heroes, not gods. However, Timber Wolf is betting that if anyone can figure it out, it’s Brainiac 5. Meanwhile, at the fusion powersphere, a red-and-gold armoured figure wonders why the equipment that he stole from the Science Police hasn’t destroyed the powersphere yet, though even if it doesn’t, the radiation being generated will wipe out Metropolis regardless. The figure flees, and runs straight into Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl and Chemical King who have arrived at the powersphere. The three Legionnaires learn that it is Fenton Pike, whom they stopped once before, who is determined to get his revenge on the city of Metropolis. He has rigged the powersphere to stall, building up energy but not releasing it. Pike disappears through the floor, but when Phantom Girl attempts to pursue him, Brainiac 5 dissuades her as the radiation leakage from the damaged powersphere might be able to harm even her in phantom form. They realize that if they cannot turn off the powersphere’s override, the powersphere will explode…destroying all of Metropolis.

Meanwhile, at Metropolis General Hospital, Ultra Boy is down on the bottom level of the facility, using his super-strength to spin the turbines stilled by the blackout. Timber Wolf meanwhile helps people trapped in burning buildings and witnesses from high overhead the the sight of the city dying of a man-made catastrophe. Back at the powersphere, Brainiac 5, knowing that Chemical King can slow down reactions, has him slow down the amount of radiation that the powersphere is giving off, thereby allowing Phantom Girl to enter the sphere itself to manually turn off the override mechanism. She enters the sphere and searches for the damage caused by Pike. Brainiac 5 figures out where the only place Fenton Pike could hide is, and sends Ultra Boy and Timber Wolf back to Legion Headquarters, guessing that the inertron-walled LSH HQ might be the only place to survive the fusion powersphere blast. They go to the sub-basement where Mordru was once imprisoned, which is completely radiation proof, and find Pike hiding there. The two Legionnaires take him down quickly, but Timber Wolf tells Ultra Boy that by knocking Pike out, he can’t tell them how the powersphere was sabotaged. It’s all up to Phantom Girl now.

Back at the powersphere, Chemical King can’t hold the radiation reaction and starts to collapse. Brainiac 5 shouts for Phantom Girl to get out of the reactor area, but she’s successful at fixing the damage caused by Pike, and hopes that it’s not too late. With Chemical King already down and unconscious, Phantom Girl’s form emerges from the reactor chamber, and she collapses into Brainiac 5’s arms. And the city is saved.

Commentary:
This is a really good story and one of my favourite Legion tales because it works on so many different levels. The group of Legionnaires that is used in this story (Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf and Chemical King) is a good mix of Legionnaires for the tale. When the alarm sounded, Jo and Tinya might have been about to go out on a date, and Timber Wolf and Chemical King were hanging out, since they are good buddies from their time in the Legion Academy. And Brainiac 5 would have been doing stuff down in the lab. Chemical King, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, became one of my favourite heroes, so his saving the city of Metropolis along with Phantom Girl doesn’t surprise me, though Tinya’s knowledge of powersphere science and physics did surprise me somewhat. In a future with more radiation and chemicals rather than less, Condo Arlik should have had a whole bunch of neat abilities in his arsenal. The use of his powers in this tale, mirroring what he did in a heroic, tragic cause in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #228, is fitting and if this issue had come out before that one, would have had a touch of irony and is another example of the selflessness of Condo Arlik.

The action in the story is exciting and the scale of the disaster is well depicted. Penciller Arvell Jones does a good job conveying the amount of chaos and destruction in Metropolis that fateful night, and I have to wonder whether he had been to New York City during their blackouts. Bob Layton’s inks add an almost metallic polish to the pencils, making them more futuristic and neat.

Final Notes:
This adventure occurs after the incidents shown in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #227, as Chemical King references that story by saying that both Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl had just gotten back from Colu… This is the second appearance of Fenton Pike, who first appeared in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #222. It was weird seeing him doing an Iron Man interpretation. And Pike was right, shame that Tyroc wasn’t in this story… It’s ironic that Ultra Boy was the Legionnaire who originally captured Pike in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #222… Brainiac 5 is armed with a force-field, but does not enter the fusion powersphere to help Phantom Girl… Pike planned to hide in the bunker where the Legion had imprisoned Mordru… Jim Aparo drew the Table of Contents page featuring co-stars Batman, Aquaman, and the Legion… This is the first time that Arvell Jones drew a Legion of Super-Heroes story. He was never the official “regular” penciller, but he did quite a few “back-up” or “secondary” stories in the Giant Sized Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes books that were to come.

Next Issue: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #229

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #228 October 14, 2019

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Time for another Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-read. This time out, the death of another Legionnaire.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #228
June, 1977
“That A World Might Live…A Legionnaire Must Die!”
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: James Sherman
Inker: Jack Abel
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Mission Monitor Board:
Wildfire, Chameleon Boy, Superboy, Light Lass, Shadow Lass, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, Saturn Girl, Chemical King (dies in this story)

Opposition:
Deregon; The Dark Circle

Synopsis:
In Metropolis, President of Earth Kandru invites Legion leader Wildfire and Legion Espionage Squad leader Chameleon Boy to a meeting. He tells them that Earth has been at peace for over 200 years but that the peace is now threatened by one man – Governor Deregon of the Australian region, the elected leader of one-seventh of the world, who appears hell-bent on starting a war. As the official briefing ends, the President asks Wildfire and Chameleon Boy in their roles as Legion and Espionage Squad leaders what they can do to stop Deregon.

The next day, in Perth, Western Australia, two secretaries from the Governor’s office out for a late night stroll are kidnapped by the Legion. Light Lass and Shadow Lass quickly change into the secretaries’ clothes, and Shadow Lass applies make-up to conceal her blue skin. After Saturn Girl is able to telepathically “share” the secretaries’ knowledge and memories with her two fellow Legionnaires, Light Lass and Shadow Lass take their place. Timber Wolf and Light Lass share a tender moment, and as the rest of the Legionnaires depart, Timber Wolf tells Saturn Girl that sometimes he thinks she doesn’t have a tender bone in her body. The next day, Superboy observes the Australian Army, where Colossal Boy and Timber Wolf have infiltrated the military machine. Deregon comes to observe the troops, and in a routine Army exercise, the two Legionnaires have to fight two of the Army instructors. Colossal Boy and Timber Wolf defeat them without using their powers. While Deregon notices them and pays them tribute, he doesn’t recognize them as Legionnaires. Meanwhile, in Deregon’s office, Light Lass and Shadow Lass report to an unseen person, revealed to be Chameleon Boy. Deregon reports to someone via hyperbeam transceiver, and never misses a call. The two Legionnaires have a detector that records the hyperbeam communication signal that Deregon is using to communicate with. The Legion hopes that this will allow them to prove that he is doing something illegal or unethical. Chameleon Boy changes into an Andaluian hawk and transports the detector out of Deregon’s office and building, and tells Light Lass and Shadow Lass that it’s now up to the next team.

Out in space, Chemical King is able to use his powers to strengthen and stabilize the hyperbeam signal so that they can trace it back to the source. Chemical King comments that it’s rare enough that he can be of help to the Legion, and while Superboy argues the point, the Teen of Steel then goes and stops an incoming meteor, intercepting it with his body and causing it to explode. Chemical King once more makes the point that he can alter chemical reactions while Superboy can destroy galaxies, so how does that make them equal? Meanwhile, Deregon is communicating with his off-world allies when the meteor near miss disturbs the hyperbeam signal. He spots the two false secretaries watching through the door, and summons them inside. Believing that blows their cover, Chameleon Boy changes into an octocrawler of Vorn, and goes into the office to get the girls out. They say they could have talked their way out of the situation, but it’s too late. Despite their efforts and use of their powers, Deregon’s guards overpower them, and the Legionnaires go down in the fight. Deregon says that the world’s governments are spying on his activities, using the Legionnaires, and that means war. Back out in space, Chemical King and Superboy talk about war as the former completes the the reaction needed to find the source of the hyperbeam. It leads them straight to a world where Superboy can see that it is a bastion of the Dark Circle. Now armed with proof that Deregon is up to no good, the two Legionnaires rush back to Earth.

At a rally during what Deregon considers a crisis, the Australian governor puts the three captive Legionnaires on display, stating that the only punishment in times of war for spying is death. Timber Wolf won’t stand back when his girlfriend, Light Lass, is threatened, so he and Colossal Boy attack the Australian Army! Deregon uses the attack of the Legionnaires to try to flee back into the building and gladly uses the incident to start World War VII. He takes the three hostage Legionnaires and heads back into the building. At the touch of a button on his waist, the citadel building becomes an even tougher fortress, but Colossal Boy punches his way through the wall, and Timber Wolf races after Deregon and his three captives. Defeating the guardian robots inside, Timber Wolf catches up to them, only to see that Deregon is mad enough to have a cosmic energy sphere that he plans to use; it would destroy Australia, the entire planet. Deregon boasts that he works for the Dark Circle, not Australia, and that Chameleon Boy is correct. This would then cause World War VII among the survivors, allowing the Dark Circle to take over what is left. Timber Wolf leaps for Deregon, but the radiation of the sphere is too much for him and he collapses. Superboy and Chemical King arrive back on Earth, only to find Perth surrounded by an energy field that is Superboy impervious. Chemical King uses his power to speed up the field’s natural decay reaction, and the two head down to Perth. Superboy, Colossal Boy and Chemical King smash through the walls, but there is Kryptonite radiation being emitted from the sphere, which weakens the Teen of Steel. Chemical King races forward and pits his power of controlling reactions against the power of the cosmic energy sphere. After Deregon teleports away, Chemical King causes the sphere to implode inward rather than outward. In the process, however, he absorbs a lethal amount of radiation, sacrificing himself so that Earth will live. The Legionnaires are stunned with shock, but then the look on their faces proclaims that he will be avenged! The story continues in the next issue.

Commentary:
This is one of the great, superb classic stories of this period in the Legion timeline that is somewhat flawed. The story clearly puts a focus on Chemical King for the most part this issue, even though the character isn’t seen right away. Chemical King has always been one of my favourite Legionnaires, but the fact of the matter is that most of the writers and editors on the series since he debuted back in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #372 have really not understood his powers and/or not been able to come up with plots that make effective use of his powers. I really didn’t want to see him die this issue, to be honest. His insecurity and death in this story are something I’ll come back to, below.

There is some good stuff in this issue. The basic plot with Deregon planning World War VII against the Earth on behalf of the Dark Circle was pretty good, and he had a clear plan that got blown to bits when the Legionnaires got involved. The fact that the Legion was brought into the situation made sense, and the use of the LSH Espionage Squad was a pretty good idea. On the subject of the LSH Espionage Squad, they seem to have a clear plan and they stick to it in good Mission: Impossible style until the train gets derailed due to a bit of Chameleon Boy’s jumpiness. The idea that Chemical King was working behind the scenes, so to speak, tracking the hyperbeam was quite neat. With a non-visual power like Condo (Arlik) has, it makes sense that he would be at HQ (or in a space lab) analyzing and supporting, instead of actually being out in the field. From the art perspective, James Sherman does a great job moving the action along in this story. The scene shifts are smooth and exciting, and I was pretty fond of how the word balloons linked the scene changes, such as when the first word of Chemical King’s conversation is the last word of Timber Wolf’s speech from the scene before. The splash page for the issue was really good, as it told us all the readers needed to know about what is about to happen. I was also pretty fond of the sequence where Saturn Girl shares the memories of the two secretaries with Light Lass and Shadow Lass. Lovely page spread, and very effective.

If I had a real problem here with the story, it’s this: the choice of members for the Espionage Squad team. I like that Wildfire was asked to assign the Legion Espionage Squad to the job, and then is never seen again. It should be Chameleon Boy’s show, and he does a great job under the circumstances. I also loved how Saturn Girl shows up, does her job, and then moves off the stage. It makes sense. But where are Chameleon Boy’s usual go-to girls, Shrinking Violet and Phantom Girl? I suspect if they had been the secretary spies instead of Light Lass and Shadow Lass, the story might have ended differently. That said, from what I could tell, Light Lass and Shady (with make-up of course) were possibly chosen because they resembled the two secretaries. If that was the case, why isn’t Princess Projectra involved in this mission?, as she could have hung around and never been seen! For that matter, Timber Wolf is not really an undercover agent type, though I know that Paul Levitz likes(liked) him. Someone like Element Lad, Ultra Boy, or Karate Kid would have made more sense as the other army recruits. Even Chemical King, for that matter, as he could have waved his hand and made half a dozen army men faint from lack of oxygen in their blood.

When it comes right down to it, I really like the tension that keeps getting ratcheted up during the story until it’s inevitable climax. However, Chemical King’s characterization before that leaves a bit to be desired, and then his big moment lasts less than one whole page! Really? Any long-time Legion fan who sees the cover of this issue knows how this is going to end. If DC had really wanted to build suspense, the cover should have featured Shadow Lass, Dawnstar, or other newer non-“Adult Legion” fated members. I also didn’t like the fact that we get a self-conscious and insecure Chemical King before he stands up and saves the entire Earth. I would have liked to have seen his insecurity toned down somewhat, perhaps a comment or two with less bitterness, and then at least one whole page of him fighting against Deregon and the radiation. And where’s the death scene? You know, a tearjerker of a “Did I save everyone?” sort of thing before dying, as opposed to just dropping dead with the thump of the radiation sweaty body onto the ground. That said, for a somewhat better re-telling of his death, see Secret Origins Vol 1 #47 from the late ’80s. However, the shocked expression on the Legionnaires’ faces and Superboy’s sad expression as he picks up his friend’s dead body does get the point across. Though Chemical King doesn’t recognize it, he is the most important member in this adventure. If he hadn’t tracked Deregon’s hyperbeam, the Legion would not have known that he was working for the Dark Circle. Likewise, Chemical King burns a hole in Deregon’s force field, allowing Superboy to save their friends’ lives and for him to save Earth. Chemical King didn’t get any respect while he was alive, but now he will get respected for the rest of history.

Rest in Peace, Condo Arlik.

Final Notes:
To anyone with any Legion knowledge at all, the cover tells you specifically who is fated to die… Chemical King’s death was foreshadowed by the Adult Legion story in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #354… This story obviously occurs before the events shown in DC Special Vol 1 #28, which actually went on sale after this issue… Referred to as President Kandru throughout the story, the President of Earth is actually Kandro Boltax, and thus should be addressed as President Boltax… This is the first appearance of the Legion Espionage Squad since Action Comics Vol 1 #390-391. The sad thing is that two of the founding members of the squad, Phantom Girl and Shrinking Violet, play no role in the story… Chemical King becomes the fourth Legionnaire to die in action, following in the footsteps (so to speak) of Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, and one of Triplicate Girl’s bodies. If one doesn’t count Triplicate Girl’s body, than he’s the third.

Next Issue: DC Special Vol 1 #28

Happy Thanksgiving Day, Canada! October 14, 2019

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Happy Thanksgiving Day, Canada!

Woke up to a relatively chilly day here in the Ottawa valley (around 4oC), actually weather that’s about normal for this time of year, at least in the early mornings. The fact that it’s also wet is not helping me, although it is supposed to get drier later.

I want to wish all my Canadian friends a very good day, and one that is filled with all sorts of reasons for being thankful.

To honour this day, I thought I would just share a bit of Canadian music from Nova Scotia musician Melanie Doane…

To all my Canadian friends and peeps, here’s wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #227 October 13, 2019

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Time for another Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-read on this Saturday. This time out, an evil Brainiac 5, sort of…

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #227
May, 1977
“War At World’s End!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Jack Abel
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Uncredited
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lad; Sun Boy, Star Boy (flashback)

Opposition:
Pulsar Stargrave, Holdur, Quicksand

Synopsis:
Brainiac 5 floats in space above Colu along with his one-man ship, as a Legion cruiser approaches. The Legion vessel is blasted and destroyed by another vessel that emerges from behind a moon. Brainiac 5 gloats about his easy victory over the Legionnaires. However, suddenly Superboy grabs him by the shoulder and then punches the spacesuit clad Brainiac 5! The Legion realized that this was not Brainiac 5 as Wildfire saw that he was wearing the spacesuit; the real Brainiac 5 has no need for a suit in space. Thus, they abandoned the cruiser and survived the attack. Grabbing the false Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy hopes to get the information on where the real Brainy is, but Phantom Girl reappears from inside the one-man craft and tells the Legionnaires that she’s found Brainiac 5. While she frees the real Coluan, the other Legionnaires go after the ship that attacked them, but breaking inside find that it is deserted. Dream Girl says that it’s another deception, like the one that lured them to Colu in the first place. False Legionnaire, false attacker, false ambush. With Phantom Girl having freed the real Brainiac 5, they emerge from the one-man ship. Brainiac 5 says it was done to mock them, to show the futility of opposing him, and when asked Brainiac 5 says his father, or rather the man pretending to be his father – the original Brainiac! Brainiac 5 recounts the events of how the Legion first met Pulsar Stargrave, how he joined forces with the man who claimed to be his father, altered by aliens, and then travelled to Zerox on a mission to steal an item. Avoiding various traps, Brainiac 5 learned the truth from the mystic Star Stone: Stargrave is actually the original Brainiac. As the Legionnaires head for the planet, Brainiac 5 tells them that Brainiac intends to conquer Colu as it is the one place in all the universe that he hates. To determine what Brainiac plans, Saturn Girl reads the mind of the impostor Brainiac 5 and sees the images of a gravitron monitoring station at Colu’s north pole and a vast air filter plant in the Coluan desert. Wildfire sends a team of Superboy, Princess Projectra, and Phantom Girl to check the airfilter plant, while he takes Shadow Lass, Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet to investigate the gravitron. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad will remain with Brainiac 5 where they are in case of trouble. The Legionnaire teams depart.

At Colu’s north pole, Wildfire explains that he learned from the Legion dossiers that Colu is a planet suffering from intense tidal flux caused by its proximity to its sun and the six moons orbiting the equator, and that despite the earthquakes and the like that befell the planet and limited technological development, the Coluans eventually created the gravitron to control and offset the lunar tides. No sooner does he finish his explanation than the gravitron comes under attack from battle robots trying to destroy it. While Wildfire and Colossal Boy deal with the robots, Shadow Lass and Shrinking Violet see a figure race into the gravitron structure. Violet questions whether they shouldn’t wait for the male Legionnaires, but Shadow Lass says she voted for Superboy, not “that egotist”, and that they can handle the job themselves. Rushing in, they come across Holdur and Violet avoids his attack by shrinking down while Shadow Lass trips him up and gives him a boot to the head, knocking him unconscious. They go deeper into the complex, turning on the lighting system, and find Stargrave at the heart of the place in the control room. Telling them there’s nothing they can do to stop him, Stargrave waves his hand at them, and the two Legionnaires go down (off-screen).

Meanwhile, in the desert, Superboy, Princess Projectra and Phantom Girl arrive at the airfilter plant to find that nothing unusual is happening. A giant robot emerges out of the ground and attacks the heroes, sending Superboy flying with a massive strike. While Princess Projectra distracts it with the illusion of a wild Venusian wart-bull, the two female Legionnaires go and check on Superboy. He tells them that he’s fine, that he was merely stunned, but is more worried about the plant as he thought he saw someone enter it. Phantom Girl says she’ll go in and check things out, and phases into the plant. She thinks that Superboy sometimes forgets that she was one of the first Legionnaires; she’s even more experienced than he is. She rounds a corner and comes upon Stargrave – who blasts the female Legionnaire with an energy burst sending her tumbling.

Back in the Coluan city, Brainiac 5 comes to a sudden realization. He has Lightning Lad attack the fake Brainiac 5, with just enough energy to short-circuit it if it’s a robot and is proven correct. Saturn Girl says it’s impossible that she read the mind of a robot, but Brainiac 5 says that’s not true with an android genius such as the original Brainiac. At Lightning Lad’s request, Brainy gives them a refresher course on the original Brainiac. Brainiac was originally built when Colu was ruled by computers to be a spy among the human population. However, he eventually broke off from them and began capturing cities and miniaturizing them with technology that his brilliant mind developed. This brought him to the attention of Superman, whom he fought over and over again. Bored, Brainiac decided to seek challenges in a new time, and built a time machine that brought him to the future. He was discovered by aliens, as he told Brainiac 5, but the rest of it was a lie. The three head for the Science Museum. Bainiac 5 believes that his ancestor will go there to re-activate the computers that created him, then use them to enslave Colu. While Brainiac isn’t there yet, Quicksand is. She imprisons the three Legionnaires, burying them in the ground and then solidifying it once more. Saturn Girl knocks out Quicksand before she can take any other action, the effort rendering Saturn Girl unconscious. Stargrave arrives at the museum, blasting a hole through the wall from the outside, and tells the heroes that Brainiac 5 had guessed partially right: He intends to bring to life those ancient computers that had given him life, and help them enslave the Coluans once more. As he starts to energize the computers, Superboy and Wildfire appear on the scene out of nowhere and combine their powers to knock Stargrave into Colu’s sun and “that should keep him out of trouble for a while.” While they free Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Brainiac 5, the two explain that there were too many coincidental elements and why did he need to send robots to attack the gravitron and the airfilter plant when he could have easily destroyed them himself? Comparing notes, they realized that both teams were fighting Stargrave and that the power blasts he’d fired at Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass and Shrinking Violet had been relatively harmless. Realizing they were fighting imposters, the two teams rushed back just in time. Brainiac 5 convinces the heroes to help the Coluans with the rebuilding the next day, after they get some rest. Colossal Boy and Superboy agree wholeheartedly.

Commentary:
Oh, dear…what can I say about this story? I really wanted to like this story, I did, but the problems with this tale are just too…glaring in so many ways. This story is meant to be the tale that concludes the story about Pulsar Stargrave that began in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #224 and continued with the shorter Brainiac 5 story set on Zerox, the Sorcerers’ World, in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #226. The first adventure was written by Jim Shooter, who left the story, the comic and the company to pursue a career over at Marvel, and it is clear that the folks at DC didn’t have a clue what to do about the plot and how to proceed with the story. That said, what really seems to have happened is that none of the folks involved with the writing and plotting of this story had actually *read* the original story, including editor Denny O’Neil, who should have known better. What’s even more clear in the story is that the men in charge of this weren’t Legion fans, either. There is something wrong in this story on almost every single page of the tale.

Here are some of the more notable bits that really got to me. The biggest glitch in the story is the fact that the authors and editors forgot that Pulsar Stargrave’s original purpose was to fight Mordru and defeat him, thus leaving the way clear to conquer the galaxy. What happened to that plan? Part of me thinks that Pulsar Stargrave was never meant to be the original Brainiac at all, that he was supposed to be Querl Dox’s father gone bad, but that obviously changed. On to other stuff… On pages 1 and 2, the Legion allows their cruiser to be destroyed, even though they suspect that the guy waiting for them is not really Brainiac 5. No putting up of defensive shields, here, just let the ship be destroyed. One of the female Legionnaires (it’s impossible to tell if it’s Shadow Lass or Phantom Girl) even points out that their patron, Rene Brande, may be rich, but even he shouldn’t have to go around replacing the cruisers. There are some glaring colouring mistakes and dialogue mistakes, more than I am comfortable counting. The most obvious one is on page 3, when Saturn Girl is coloured as Princess Projectra and Lightning Lad is coloured as Brainiac 5. The Legionnaires head down to Colu without their spaceship, but then they… lose their spacesuits in the space of one panel. Exactly how does that work? There are almost no local Coluans, but the ones that are there are coloured as if they are Caucasians. Shadow Lass is referred to as Shadow Girl on page 8…by Shrinking Violet, no less, who calls her by her first name (Tasmia) but then forgets her code name! Really? Speaking of Shadow Lass, she lets her dislike of Wildfire and his leadership get in the way of her professionalism when she doesn’t tell him that she saw Pulsar Stargrave run into the gravitron facility. Pretty bad planning, and could have ended very badly if it had been the real Stargrave. That said, I did like the fact that Shady had an opinion about Wildfire, which was made clear in the earlier story when he was inducted as leader, so that at least gave some consistency to her character.

All three of the villains in the story were treated pretty shabbily. In his last appearance, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #224, Holdur kept pace with Superboy and even had him in a headlock that the Teen of Steel had trouble breaking. Here, he is defeated by a couple of slick moves by Shadow Lass, who’s certainly not in Superboy’s power league. More importantly, the darkness in the gravitron facility is coloured yellowy orange. While both Holdur and Shadow Lass can see in the dark, the scene was rendered ineffective. But I did like Violet’s shrinking out of Holdur’s way when warned by Shadow Lass. While Quicksand was dealt with very effectively by Saturn Girl, even the real Stargrave, once he shows up, is taken out with relative ease by the combined punch of Superboy and Wildfire. This against a villain who created a tear in the fabric of space and who tossed Superboy out of the planetary atmosphere in his first appearance.

How is Princess Projectra able to fool a giant robot with one of her projections? although her wild Venusian wart-bull was…impressive. Jeckie’s reply to Phantom Girl about “the beauty of a good illusion is in making it real” just doesn’t wash, unless she means that she can actually fool the senses of a robot with the illusion powers. Hmm… When Phantom Girl confronts Pulsar Stargrave, why doesn’t she turn immaterial? Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad sit around the city for one hour waiting for their friends. That just doesn’t seem right, both in the timing and the fact that the Legionnaires wouldn’t be worried about their teammates by that time. Saturn Girl reads the mind of an android, which she herself says is impossible. Obviously a serious glitch in terms of the author and editor remembering what her powers are… Brainiac 5 tells us that Brainiac became bored with fighting against Superman in the 20th century, so decided to come to the 30th Century. This is a direct contradiction with the history of the character given to us by Brainiac 5 back in his first appearance, in Action Comics Vol 1 #276.

While I think that Gerry Conway did a decent job with the story in a lot of respects, primary among these being writing a story around the plot involving Pulsar Stargrave, his lack of knowledge about the Legion comes through somewhat, but he definitely has the writing chops here and interestingly enough become the regular writer on the comics. The artwork by Joe Staton was capable, and showed flashes of excellence and a dynamic style that was once more muted somewhat by Jack Abel’s inks. That said, the best art in this issue I think was the cover by Mike Grell.

Final Notes:
This is the first appearance by later regular Legion of Super-Heroes writer Gerry Conway and artist Joe Staton. When they take over the title full-time themselves, the stories and artwork will be very, very good… This is the final appearance in Legion history of both Holdur and Quicksand. I think that she would have made an interesting recurring villain, but they both made for villains with potential… There is another plug in the letter column for the next issue, commenting that the story will feature the death of a Legionnaire. Those who read in the previous issue’s letter column that Chemical King would be appearing in issue #228 could not put one and one together to guess whose number was up.

Next Issue: Karate Kid Vol 1 #8

Karate Kid Vol 1 #8 October 13, 2019

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread.
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Time for today’s Legion of Super-Heroes classic re-read, this time out another of Karate Kid’s tales from his spinoff comic.

Karate Kid Vol 1 #8
(May-June) June, 1977
“Pandemonium…Panic…and Pulsar!”
Writer: David Michelinie (writing as Barry Jameson)
Penciller: Ric Estrada
Inker: Joe Staton
Letterer: Uncredited
Colourist: Liz Berube
Cover: Mike Grell (signed)
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

Featuring:
Karate Kid

Mission Monitor Board:
Princess Projectra (cameo)

Opposition:
Pulsar

Synopsis:
In Washington Square Park, the villain known as Pulsar uses his energy staff to destroy part of the Washington Square monument, warning people he’s got a job to do and to stay out of his way. This gets the attention of Eddie “The Lip” Vacarro, Pulsar’s intended target, as well as that of Karate Kid, as he’s walking through the park with Iris trying to avoid New York’s finest. Karate Kid interrupts Pulsar before he can kill Eddie, and the two fight with the Kid seeming to get the advantage. Pulsar lives up to his name, blasting Karate Kid with his staff weapon, and goes after the fleeing Eddie. Using his head, Pulsar fires a blast that spooks a carriage horse that then proceeds to run Eddie over, killing him. Iris goes to see if Val is alright, but Karate Kid ignores her and takes off after Pulsar. However, as Pulsar rounds a corner into a deserted side street, he uses his power rod to transform back into businessman Benjamin Day. Karate Kid rushes past him, and says that Pulsar can’t have just disappeared like that. The police arrive on the scene of the crime at that moment, and take Karate Kid in again for the murder of Mrs. Geichman and now another victim as well.

Meanwhile, at the city morgue, Emily Geichman isn’t dead after all, and comes back to life while two morgue technicians discuss the high rates of rent in the city and how sometimes they wish they could kill their landlords. Elsewhere, and some time later, in the office of Police Commissioner Banner, the latter is reading the trussed up Karate Kid the riot act when an underling comes in with a paper report from the morgue that Mrs. Geichman is alive and thus Karate Kid did not murder her. The frustrated Police Chief Banner is forced to release Karate Kid.

Elsewhere, the weary Benjamin Day returns to his suburban home in Long Island, but his wife tells him that a business associate named Kade is waiting for him. Benjamin Day is furious with Kade, but Kade is there to make Pulsar take on another “assignment.” The reader learns about their relationship, that Benjamin Day is secretly Pulsar, he’s the Mob’s hired assassin, and Kade is his superior or contact. Kade inquires if Benjamin no longer cares if Kade hits the switch on what appears to be a trigger device, and reluctantly Benjamin caves in.

Later that night, Commissioner Banner is addressing the Police Officers Convention at Madison Square Garden. The focus of his speech targets assassins like Pulsar and vigilantes like Karate Kid. Pulsar interrupts the festivities, blasting the podium to pieces, and we see that the Commissioner is his next target. At Karate Kid’s apartment, Mrs. Geichman has come home. She tells Val and Iris about how his television almost killed her; he promises to her that he will have it looked at. She swears off TV, so turns on the radio instead. The three of them then hear the news about Pulsar holding Banner hostage at Madison Square Garden. Karate Kid rushes off, Mrs. Geichman saying that she worries about Val so. And the insurance problems if he should hurt himself, leaving the apartment through the window as he’s so prone to doing. At Madison Square Garden, the police are having trouble breaking through the doors to the room where Pulsar is holding Banner. However, Karate Kid shows up and bursts through using his combat-oriented feet. The Kid fights Pulsar in what is a re-match where the villain seems to have the advantage to start with, and where the Kid is clearly trying not to kill Pulsar. This allows Commissioner Banner to grab his gun. When Pulsar turns on him and destroys the gun with his force staff, Karate Kid attacks with his feet again, but has an unexpected side effect: his blow sends Pulsar careening into the lighting panel control board behind him, almost electrocuting him. Rather than let Pulsar die, Karate Kid kicks him clear of it. The recovering Pulsar is surprised that the Kid saved him, and apologizes for what he does next. Pulsar kicks the Kid in the groin and flips him over him, and then takes off and escapes down the hallway. Reaching a nearby exit, Karate Kid is surprised again that Pulsar has escaped once more. However, he notices the same man that he saw at Washington Park (Benjamin Day) in the crowd, and thinks that perhaps there’s a connection to Pulsar there. However, before he can follow up on his suspicions, he is approached by the Police Commissioner. Banner reluctantly thanks Karate Kid for saving his life and the two shake hands in a very (cheesy, to me) moment.

When Karate Kid returns to his apartment, Iris meets him outside the front door and in his apartment ”confronts” him with a kiss. She’s pretty clear that she wants to try to win the Kid away from Princess Projectra…who just so happens to be standing in his apartment, waiting for him! The story continues next issue.

Commentary:
This issue of Karate Kid’s own series is one that’s interesting in a few regards, but is lacking in others. The villain of this story, Pulsar, is one of the better ones seen through the series so far, part of the reason being that Benjamin Day (his alter-ego) is an interesting character with hidden motivations for doing what he does. One thing of note in the story is that for someone who works as a hitman and assassin, it would make more sense and be more efficient for Pulsar to get in and out of the scene of one’s hit without drawing attention to himself. The scene in Washington Park doesn’t make a lot of sense to me from that perspective.

Several things truly bothered me in the issue. The scene at the morgue with Mrs. Geichman and the scene back in Commissioner Banner’s office are quite disappointing and annoyed me no end. The morticians look too cartoony, and their reactions to Mrs. Geichman still being alive are played for laughs. And are we really expected to believe that the Police Commissioner of New York City is having a temper tantrum because he can’t arrest a man for not committing a murder? Both scenes are ridiculous, and a bit over the top. One thing that truly annoys me in this issue from an art point of view is that during most of the fight scenes, while they are well executed and choreographed, there aren’t any backgrounds in any of these scenes. I understand the artistic reason for not including any in maybe the first panel of such a scene, but after that a few shadow lines or sketched in onlookers would go a long way to make the fight scenes more realistic. From an art point of view, penciller Ric Estrada continues to use those annoying bird’s eye views of scenes. None of them are all that worthwhile, and don’t add much to the scenes in question. The establishing shot of Pulsar shooting at the horse and carriage, the confrontation between Benjamin and Kade, and the final confrontation scene that shows the door is next to the lighting panel work fine. The Benjamin/Kade confrontation is particularly good in this regard, as their individual body language is well done: Kade is playing darts while Ben is livid.

To be honest, the best scene of the whole issue is the last page (heck, I’d argue the last panel, with that look on Projectra’s face). The whole idea of Karate Kid voluntarily choosing to live in the 20th Century just seems wrong. He had enough to prove in his present (the 30th Century), so the idea that he would turn his back on the Legion in general and on Projectra in particular doesn’t sit right with me. Of course, when we find out what’s really going on and why he’s chosen voluntary exile, it makes more sense, from a character point of view. But I’m not sure why the DC editorial folks chose to play it out this way. With the re-introduction of Princess Projectra here in the final panel, that particular storyline is coming to an end.

Final Notes:
This issue marks the last Karate Kid cover illustration by Mike Grell… Although the colourist Liz Berube is credited in this story, the letterer is still uncredited… The main letter in this issue’s letter column is by Mike W. Barr, who would soon join the DC staff. He is most famous for creating/writing Camelot 3000 and Batman And The Outsiders. His letter is actually highly positive about the Karate Kid series… Pulsar returns next issue as well as in The Brave & The Bold Vol 1 #198, making him one of Karate Kid’s more lasting adversaries.

Next Issue: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #228

Sunday Afternoon Gaming Cancelled October 13, 2019

Posted by jkahane in john carter of mars rpg, personal, rpg hut.
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Gaming for this afternoon with the Sunday players was scheduled to take place.

However, this is the long Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, so gaming for today is off as one of my players has other things that need doing today.

As a result, today’s game session of the John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game campaign is off. I can’t say that I’m sad not to be gaming today.

This will give me a chance today to go out and cast my vote in the Canadian federal election at the advanced polling station near me, head out and shop for some water glasses, a toilet brush, and some other stuff, and have a good meal out today at Dunn’s.

This evening, going to relax with my feet up.