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The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #281 September 27, 2022

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, review.
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Continuing on with the re-reads of the classic Legion of Super-Heroes stories. This time out: The Legionnaires attempt to figure out the whole Superboy/Ultra Boy thing with one of their greatest foes having trapped them in the past! Enjoy! 🙂

The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #281
November, 1981
“Madness Is The Molecule Master”
Plotter: Roy Thomas
Scripter: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Bruce Patterson
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Gene D’Angelo
Cover: George Perez (pencils) and Bruce Patterson (inks)
Editor: Mike W. Barr

Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy/Ultra Boy, Blok, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Karate Kid, Dawnstar, Phantom Girl; Timber Wolf, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Star Boy, Colossal Boy (flashbacks)

Guest Star:
Lana Lang

Supporting Cast:
Bouncing Boy (flashback)

Opposition:
The Time Trapper; The Molecule Master

Synopsis:
The story continues from the previous issue. Outside 20th Century Smallville, Ultra Boy (trapped in the body of Superboy) flies around the hills and mountains thinking over recent events: how he somehow re-appeared in the 30th Century as Reflecto, then remembered who he was but found himself occupying Superboy’s body, how Lightning Lad took Superboy and a team back to 20th Century Smallville, and then the heroes discovered themselves trapped there by their foe, the Time Trapper. He tests his super-powers, using super-strength, flight, super-breath and heat-vision simultaneously, and concludes that he really is Superboy. He attempts to break the time barrier, but finds the path sealed by the Time Trapper. Elsewhen, the Time Trapper laughs at him, telling him that not even his vaunted Kryptonian powers can break a barrier that he has set up.

At the Kent home, the stranded Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Blok and Dawnstar prepare to go into Smallville to buy groceries. The male Legionnaires borrow some of Clark’s clothes. Because they can’t be disguised to fit in, Blok and Dawnstar will remain behind. Saturn Girl worries that it’s been too easy, and the other Legionnaires are also thinking that. The Time Trapper has caught them in an unfamiliar century, and she wonders why he hasn’t attacked them. At that moment, a neighbour arrives unannounced, trying to sell them Girl Scout cookies. Karate Kid, who has the most experience living in the 20th Century, tries to convince her they are friends of Clark’s, rehearsing a school play, but she doesn’t buy that. “Clark” Ultra Boy himself returns to the house and vouches for his friends, so she leaves, but is still clearly suspicious.

With the exception of Blok and Dawnstar, the Legionnaires and Superboy head towards downtown and the Kent General Store. Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl did not borrow any of Ma Kent’s clothes, so they are subjected to leers and jeers. As the Legionnaires walk through the town, they notice that the U.S. military has arrived, obviously searching for Superboy and the others. The group encounters Lana Lang, who recognizes the Legionnaires. When she guesses that Clark Kent hanging out with the Legionnaires means he is really Superboy, she is shocked to hear him (Ultra Boy) act surprised at her accusations. Lana asks them to tell her what’s going on, as first Superboy’s accused of turning traitor by the army and then the Legionnaires show up from 1,000 years in the future. Lightning Lad says they can’t tell her what’s going on, even if she is an Honourary Legionnaire, but he does say that they’re trapped in the current time. Highly annoyed, Lana walks off in a huff.

Back at the Kent home, the snooping neighbour is back, as she found the costumes the Legionnaires were wearing to be strange. Dawnstar is taking a relaxing hot shower when there is the sound of a massive explosion. Emerging from the shower, Dawnstar and Blok talk and the two decide they have to fly into town and investigate. As they do so, Dawnstar marvels at the fact that it takes three flight rings to transport Blok, and he admits to her that he is forever a creature of the ground and does not enjoy flight.

The two arrive in town to find that the Molecule Master has destroyed a building to get the Legion’s attention. The Legionnaires establish that he is still an android, but Superboy/Ultra Boy’s x-ray vision can’t penetrate too deeply as it has now got partial lead shielding. Saturn Girl realizes that since the Molecule Master originally attacked them trying to get the Miracle Machine as the Time Trapper did once, the Molecule Master was created and is the servant of the Time Trapper. The android freely admits this. The Molecule Master doesn’t appear to have the same abilities this time out that he had previously, instead seemingly being able to make inanimate objects come to life.

The Legionnaires discover this the hard way, as the android uses the U.S Army’s own vehicles and weapons to attack them and the civilians in the area. Phantom Girl uses her powers to avoid being hit by the bullets while Blok merely stands in their way in front of various Smallville folks and protects them. Dawnstar grapples with a machine gun that seems to have a mind of its own. Lightning Lad’s attacks on the Molecule Master are ineffective, as he seems to be protected by some sort of force field. Blok becomes encased in stone, and Phantom Girl phases through a wall, thinking it’s very convenient to slip back to her home dimension of Bgztl when she does so. Tinya thinks that if Ultra Boy is really dead, perhaps she’ll go back and permanently remain on Bgztl. Superboy/Ultra Boy enters the fight, but the Molecule Master keeps throwing so much inanimate stuff at him that he can’t make any headway against the android. He says it’s partially due to the fact that his memory controlled reflexes are used to working with multiple powers at one time. The Legionnaires realize they can’t use their powers one at a time, and have to rush the android. Karate Kid jumps the gun a bit, and is rendered unconscious by the Molecule Master. With anger in his voice, Lightning Lad tells the others to charge as one. They rush him en masse, and there’s a massive implosion that destroys the android and renders the Legionnaires unconscious. Major Crawford orders his men to round up the Legionnaires present, and then fan out to search for Superboy.

In one of the nearby alleys, Phantom Girl revives from the explosion first, near the unconscious forms of Superboy/Ultra Boy and Dawnstar. She reasons she recovered before Superboy/Ultra Boy because she was behind him and he therefore shielded her from the full force of the blast. She tries to phase through the wall, but is shocked to discover that she’s lost the use of her powers, her abilities paralyzed by the shock of the implosion blast. Her flight ring is also rendered useless. With the U.S. Army soldiers starting to cart off the unconscious Legionnaires, and also starting to approach the alley down which she and the other two Legionnaires are, Phantom Girl focuses on her belt, an heirloom from her mother, concentrating and eventually shifting herself back to her home dimension, Bgztl, with Superboy/Ultra Boy and Dawnstar.

As the Army carts off the unconscious Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Karate Kid and Blok as prisoners, somewhere and somewhen else, the Time Trapper gloatingly laughs, saying that after an eternity, he has finally won. The story continues in the next issue.

Commentary:
The story of how Superboy came to have the mind of Ultra Boy and took on the Reflecto identity continues this issue, though to be honest there is no real development of that plot. The reader does learn that Superboy/Ultra Boy (as I call him) really is Superboy’s body, if nothing else, but like Ultra Boy we are still confused as to how this state of affairs arose. This issue marks the return of Paul Levitz to the scripting chores on the Legion after an almost two-year hiatus. This is noticeable because Levitz will write the Legion stories for the next eight years or so, a remarkable feat of endurance on a title such as this. Compared to his predecessor, Roy Thomas (who plotted this story), Levitz’s writing is crisp and fun to read, and he shows an excellent understanding of the Legionnaires in this tale.

Superboy/Ultra Boy’s doubts about who he is, Saturn Girl’s concerns for her teammates in light of them being trapped in a time they’re not familiar with, the banter about flight between Dawnstar and Blok, Phantom Girl’s reminiscences about home and thoughts that if Ultra Boy really is dead perhaps she’ll return to stay in Bgztl… these are all scenes that inject some personality into the story, some of them light, some not so much so, but show Paul Levitz’s familiarity with the team. The story itself flows very well, the scenes merging relatively seamlessly, but I don’t know how much of that is due to Roy Thomas’s plot and how much to Paul Levitz’s writing.

If there was one flaw with the story, it’s when the Legionnaires go into town, Lightning Lad and Karate Kid disguised in some of Clark’s clothes. But Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl are wearing their costumes, making them truly conspicuous. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have put on a couple of Martha Kent’s summer dresses. I also got the impression that someone behind the scenes of this story doesn’t like Lana Lang. Despite Lana’s being an Honourary Legionnaire and recognizing the team members present, Lightning Lad makes the decision to exclude her from being involved in what’s going on. I’m not surprised she left them in a huff and stayed out of their way, but have to say the story would have been more interesting if Lana’s Insect Queen could have been involved.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the return of the Molecule Master. I say “return” here, but this Molecule Master is obviously not the same as the original. In his original appearance, back in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #201, he was an android sent to the Legion to steal the Miracle Machine, with the secondary purpose of killing the Legionnaires present in their HQ at the same time. The reader gets some closure on that case here, as it’s revealed that he/it is an instrument of the Time Trapper. I say not the same as the original above because in its original apppearance it had similar energy abilities as those of Wildfire, being able to master energy at the sub-atomic level. Here, its abilities are more along the lines of being able to bring inanimate objects to life.

Speaking of the Time Trapper, I can certainly see why he would have the Molecule Master type of android around, as his plans have always tended to be somewhat subtle. Which Molecule Master is anything but in this story. (But that appears to have been to allow the Legionnaires to become resistant, and bring themselves to the attention of the U.S. Army here.) However, other than preventing Superboy/Ultra Boy from travelling into the future and trapping the Legionnaires in 20th Century Smallville, the Time Trapper hasn’t really done anything per sĂ© in this story so far. And in this issue, poses once more at the end of the story (the way he did at the end of the previous issue, for those who want to know), gloating about his triumph over the Legionnaires. One has to wonder about how, if the Time Trapper is so all-powerful, why he’s just standing around all the time. But perhaps this has to do with what I mentioned earlier about the Time Trapper being subtle in his plans. The Time Trapper, like Darkseid, seems to be one of those villains that is very hard to create stories and plots around.

The artwork this issue is, for me, a mixed bag. The cover by George Perez with inks by Bruce Patterson is a well-designed one, though it has lots of characters on it. It was created so the focus is on the Legionnaires in the centre of the cover, and the Perez pencils and Patterson’s clean lines highlight the Legionnaires. A smart move. In a truly surprising move, this issue marks the last guest artist appearance by Steve Ditko on pencils. I say surprising because, coming as it does in the middle of the Reflecto/Ultra Boy/Superboy/Time Trapper epic as it does, it’s very jarring. Inker Bruce Patterson is able to keep most of the characters on point and in focus, but the snooping neighbour (whom we learn is called Sarah) is especially cartoonish. She’s supposed to be the Gladys Kravitz (a Bewitched tv reference) nosy neighbour stereotype, I guess, but she is literally a cartoon character. That said, Ditko’s pencils on the “weird” scenes, like when the street lamps come alive and wrap themselves around the army, is really good but the scene of the Molecule Master facing down the Legion comes across as dull. For my taste, the artwork in the action sequences just lacks energy and action per sĂ© which is a shame.

Overall, this was a decent story in the Superboy/Ultra Boy/Reflecto storyline that is being complicated and made somewhat more full of stakes, but didn’t really provide any answers to the readers. I am curious as to how the Legionnaires are going to get out of this mess, and the next issue promises some answers, if there are any, so look forward to that.

Final Notes:
The story continues in the next issue…

Superboy/Ultra Boy first appeared as Reflecto in The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #277…

Reflecto first appeared as the statuette of a dead Legionnaire in the Hall of Heroes in the Adult Legion story in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #354…

This issue the celebration of Klordny is mentioned for only the second time in Legion tales. It was first mentioned and celebrated in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #232, in the story with The Immune…

The nosy neighbour of the Kents who appears in this story is not given a full name. Her first name is Sarah as noted on page 11…

Ultra Boy in Superboy’s body mentions that he has memories of Smallville from his time there. This was during his initiation test to join the Legion way back in Superboy Vol 1 #98…

Lana Lang became an Honourary Legionnaire in her Insect Queen guise by helping out a group of Legionnaires back in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #356…

Lana Lang’s most recent appearance as Insect Queen was in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #205…

Lana Lang last appeared in the Legion series in Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes Vol 1 #255 in a story set in Smallville in a supporting role…

The Molecule Master first appeared in Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #201, in the story where Wildfire re-earned his spot on the roster…

This story marks the last appearance of guest artist and comics legend Steve Ditko to these pages…

This issue also features the last George Perez cover on an issue of the Legion comics…

The story features the return debut of Paul Levitz as Legion writer after a close to two-year absence. He will go on to write the tales of the Legion for the next eight years.

Next Issue: The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #282

The Brave and the Bold Vol 1 #179 September 26, 2022

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, review.
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Time for another re-read of a classic Legion of Super-Heroes comic. This time out: the Legion has an adventure with Batman… Enjoy! 🙂

The Brave and the Bold Vol 1 #179
October, 1981
“Time-Bomb With The Thousand-Year Fuse!”
Writer: Martin Pasko
Penciller: Ernie Colon
Inker: Mike DeCarlo
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Carl Gafford
Cover: Ross Andru (pencils) & Dick Giordano (inks) (signed)
Editor: Dick Giordano

Featuring:
Batman

Mission Monitor Board:
Element Lad, Sun Boy, Colossal Boy, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Princess Projectra, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet

Legion Reservist:
Duo Damsel

Guest Stars:
Rond Vidar

Opposition:
Anton Halkor; Universo

Synopsis:
In present day Gotham City, Batman is out on patrol when an armoured car from S.T.A.R. Labs in Metropolis arrives at the Gotham City Museum of Science and Technology is stopped by the discovery of an old man’s body on the road outside near the delivery entrance. Hired thugs wielding a laser device and high-tech magnets step forward to steal a time capsule that is to be stored at S.T.A.R. Labs overnight until it’s buried on the grounds of the Gotham World’s Fair the next day. It’s scheduled to be opened in 1,000 years. Batman intervenes and prevents the theft, the thieves not giving him much resistance, but is puzzled by why the thieves attempted to steal the time capsule in the first place.

One thousand years in the future, in 2981 A.D. to be exact, scientists Dr. Vanaar and Dr. Kyrlu are talking about the Nandorian Relic, an egg-like object consisting of living anti-matter surrounded by a positive matter shell. The egg is scheduled to to hatch in approximately 1,000 years, but in the meantime, is being kept secure on an asteroid in the facility they occupy so that if anything were to happen to the egg and it were to detonate, the explosion would only destroy the asteroid. The laboratory is suddenly attacked by thieves intent on stealing it. Fortunately, a group of six Legionnaires (Element Lad, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Princess Projectra and Chameleon Boy) is passing by the asteroid and receives their alarm so proceed to investigate. Arriving on the station, Princess Projectra checks the guards and finds them stunned, in some sort of a trance. About to be attacked by one of the thieves, Cosmic Boy uses his magnetic powers and the thief is revealed as a robot that is taken apart by the super-magnetism. Proceeding through the facility, Sun Boy and Colossal Boy come upon another of the blue-skinned thieves, and Sun Boy melts the robot down to slag. The two Legionnaires proceed into the chamber housing the Nandorian Relic to find the leader of the gang in the process of stealing the object. Before Sun Boy and Colossal Boy can deal with him, the gang leader uses a strange device that emits emerald circular energies that renders the two Legionnaires unconscious. Princess Projectra arrives on the scene, but is taken out by a blast of pressurized fluid from the outer chamber of the cell that holds the Nandorian egg. Striding away from the fallen Legionnaires, the gang leader laughs to himself as he literally vanishes…

…and reappears, some 1,000 years in the past in Gotham City near the vault that holds the time capsule at S.T.A.R. Labs. Passing by, the Batman hears the sounds of the two guards inside question the villain’s presence, and watches as he uses the same emerald energy to render the guard unconscious. Batman watches as the villain uses a powerful molecular disruptor beam weapon strapped to his back to melt his way though the vault doors. As the villain enters the vault, the Batman crashes through the skylight and lands on the floor, feeling that he has to exercise caution as he realizes that what he took for high-tech weaponry on the part of the thieves and this villain are technology not of this time period. Inside the vault, the villain uses his technology to cut the time capsule free from its stand, cause it to disappear with another piece of his technology, and then replace it with the Nandorian Relic stolen from the future. Batman enters the vault, and manages to avoid the villain’s strange emerald energy weapon, actually destroying it with a batarang. Batman tackles the villain, and as the two struggle, the villain triggers the device that returns him to the 30th Century…taking the unwitting Batman with him.

Back in 2981 A.D., the Legionnaires regroup on the asteroid station. Sun Boy says the villain got the egg, and Princess Projectra tells them that she though she recognized the villain as Anton Halkor, the renegade cyberneticist. The Legionnaires soon depart the asteroid station, and Element Lad tells the others that what worries him isn’t that Halkor broke out of the prison on Takron-Galtos, but that if the hypnotic eye device that he used comes from where he thinks it does, the Legion could be in serious trouble. It would mean that Halkor has joined forces with one of their oldest and deadliest enemies.

In a lair in the sewers beneath 30th Century Metropolis, Anton Halkor reports to his shadowy ally Argus that he left the Nandorian Relic in the museum vault and used the device that he gave Halkor to transport the 20th Century time capsule to the 30th Century as they agreed. He also reluctantly admits that he brought the 20th Century hero Batman to the 30th Century, as the time-cube automatically returned him to the 30th Century while the two were grappling. Since Batman was momentarily disoriented by the travel through time, Halkor was able to knock him out and leave him in the alley that was once part of the museum.

In the alley just mentioned, Batman recovers consciousness, and finds himself in the future.

Inside Legion Headquarters, Rond Vidar shows Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel his latest invention, the newest and most versatile chrononautic vessel ever created.

Anton Halkor and his mysterious ally are able to tune in and watch and listen to what’s going on in Legion HQ, where Rond is showing the three female Legionnaires his new invention. Halkor mocks Rond saying he’s their pawn, but the mysterious ally says that he’s smart enough to have earned Legion Reservist status and that he’s also his son. Thus, the mysterious ally is revealed as Universo. Halkor admits that he needed Universo’s super-hypnosis device and the time-cube swiped from Rond Vidar to get his revenge on the Gotham District, but that Universo needs his mechanical wizardry just as much. Even as they watch, Rond Vidar activates the new time device and transports Duo Damsel, Shadow Lass and Shrinking Violet into the time stream.

Outside, Batman has broken into a clothing synthesizer and taken a robe to disguise himself, and then made his way to Legion Plaza. There, he manages to make his way into Legion Headquarters after breaking in through the front door. Batman makes his way into Legion HQ, only to find that it was too easily done, as Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy and Element Lad are waiting for him. The Legionnaires confront him, positively identifying him eventually, and then end up listening to what he has to tell them. The Legionnaires and Batman deduce that Halkor didn’t steal the time capsule, he switched it with the Nandorian Relic. The time capsule is supposed to be exhumed in 1,000 years, which is later this morning, in Gotham District Square, the site of the Gotham World’s Fair in 1981. Since Halkor switched it for the Relic, when the ceremony happens, a 50-square-mile area of the city will be blown up! They decide to send Batman back to the 20th Century so he can switch the capsule back. However, Chameleon Boy reports that someone has broken into the Legion arsenal and vandalized all of the chrononautic equipment there. Batman is stranded for now in the 30th Century. Princess Projectra verifies that Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel were supposed to be there, but she can find no trace of them.

Meanwhile, Rond Vidar has reported back to Universo and Halkor of his success. The booby-trapped time-cube worked, and the three female Legionnaires were dispersed through the time stream as planned, and Rond sabotaged the Legion’s time travel equipment, also as planned. Rond is not a traitor to the Legion, however, as he is under the mechanical mind control of Halkor. Universo tells Halkor to cut in on the Legion’s communications channels. Halkor contacts the Legion and challenges them to find him before the bomb can go off. Batman thinks that Halkor is in some underground part of the sewer system, as he heard sewer sounds in the background when Halkor contacted them.

Within the hour, Cosmic Boy leads Sun Boy and Colossal Boy into the sewers, and uses his powers to track the electro-magnetic field from all of Universo’s equipment to find him. The hideout becomes visible to the Legionnaires once more, and the Legionnaires find Halkor there waiting for them. When confronted, Halkor tells them that Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel are trapped in time, and that if they want to save the three women, they’ll have to let him go. However, Batman, Element Lad and Chameleon Boy arrive on the scene, and Element Lad changes the ground to quicksand while Chameleon Boy takes the form of a Plutonian ice-snake. The Legionnaires also find the unconscious body of Rond Vidar. Sun Boy explains that Halkor’s motivation is simple: He once ran a fraudulent business in the Gotham District, but was stopped by a citizen’s group led by James Gordon-Wayne. Batman says that he seems to have a personal stake in all this, with descendants living in this future, and that means Universo is going to pay. The heroes rush off to stop the anti-matter egg from destroying a 50-mile area of the city.

The Legionnaires arrive in Gotham District Square to find two unconscious guards, and realize that Universo has already been there. They are taken by surprise as Universo uses his hypnotic pendant and orders them to kill each other. Meanwhile, Batman descends down into the shaft holding the time capsule/Nandorian relic, and starts to disable the device that will elevate the the Nandorian device to the surface in the next three minutes.

Back on the surface, Sun Boy attacks Element Lad with his powers, but Element Lad counters with a wall of magnanium inertron to negate the solar powers. The gigantic Colossal Boy is attacked by Chameleon Boy in the form of the Antarean glow-wasp.

Batman works frantically to disable the device attached to the anti-matter egg, cutting it loose from the platform and replacing it with an anti-gravity device as the heroes planned, and is barely able to make it out of the shaft, as the anti-gravity disc lifts it out of the tube tunnel causing it to fly off into space, where it explodes harmlessly.

Universo is surprised when the egg explodes harmlessly in space, and is even more surprised when he comes under attack by Rond Vidar.

A time-cube activates, releasing Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel back to their own time at the moment that the anti-matter egg would have exploded. While Universo fights his son, Shadow Lass blankets him in darkness, and Shrinking Violet blinds Universo with his own cape. The four fighting Legionnaires have stopped, Rond Vidar having snatched his father’s hypno-pendant thus freeing the Legionnaires of its mind control. Before Shrinking Violet can strike the blinded Universo, Batman steps in (much to Violet’s surprise) and ends the fight.

Later, back at Legion HQ, Rond Vidar helps the Legionnaires clean up the mess he created, and helps repair a time bubble. Cosmic Boy escorts Batman back to the 20th Century in the time bubble.

Commentary:
One of the comics that DC published back in the day was The Brave and the Bold Vol 1, which at the time, featured Batman teaming up with various heroes (and sometimes villains) for stories. This particular issue featured the one and only team-up of Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes (though he would team up with Karate Kid in The Brave and the Bold Vol 1 #198). It’s an unlikely pairing, given the fact that the Batman and the LSH live in two time periods separated by 1,000 years. However, as if that’s not enough, Batman is a super-hero detective in the modern day while the Legion of Super-Heroes is distinctly science fiction in a futuristic setting. Could this story have worked? Yes. Did it work? Well, ummm…no.

When it comes down to it, I have no understanding of why both a writer (Martin Pasko) and an editor (Dick Giordano) with no Legion experience would have attempted to do this story and team-up; this is a mystery to me. After all the Legion covers that Dick Giordano had done in the past, perhaps he felt that he was up to the task. Giordano was editing this series by this time, but the writers were different for every issue of The Brave and the Bold. Insofar as the writing is concerned, imagine if this story had been written by Cary Bates or Paul Levitz, perhaps… The regular artist on The Brave and the Bold at the time was Jim Aparo (of Batman and the Outsiders fame later on), but for some reason he skipped this story. I’ll come back to the artwork later.

The basic premise of this story is pretty decent. Two villains are seeking revenge: renegade cyberneticist Anton Halkor on the Gotham District for being caught by a descendant of Batman’s for committing fraud and Universo out for revenge on the Legion just…because. And that’s where the story falls apart. The two plan on destroying 50 square miles of the city. I suppose that works for Halkor, though I’m not sure why it’s all that satisfying to him, but how does this satisfy Universo? And, if the plot is to destroy the square miles of the city, why is Universo at the site of the explosion, because wouldn’t he be killed there as well?

Ironically, for a story that has time travel in it, the entire tale seems rushed to me. Three pages of Batman stopping the attempted robbery of the time capsule in his own time. Five pages of the Legion coming across a similar robbery in their own time. Four more pages of Batman fighting with Halkor. In a 27-page story, that’s 12 pages where the co-stars of the issue aren’t even together yet! When the Batman and the Legion finally do get together, we get a lot of explanatory dialogue and a bunch of exposition, and there’s only two real pages where Batman actually “teams up” with any Legionnaires (Chameleon Boy and Shrinking Violet, respectively). There’s no real charm, no interaction, no sensa wonda in this tale. The closest the reader gets to that is Batman’s initial reaction to seeing 30th Century Metropolis (Gotham City) – a stunned silence. When he does finally meet up with the Legionnaires, there’s no scene of, “Hey, we know you…we fought against Mordru together!” of “How in the world did you get here, Batman?” Instead, we get a scene of “Are you really Batman?” and then they have to prove it. This is a shame, as if the theft of the Nandorian egg scene had been deleted (since it was a re-hash of sorts of the supposed theft of the time capsule scene), more time could have been devoted to some scenes between Batman and the Legionnaires. And imagine Chameleon Boy and the Batman doing some detective work about stuff, instead of Halkor literally calling up the Legion to talk to them. sigh

One other comment I want to make here is about the treatment of the female Legionnaires in this story. The story features four female Legionnaires – Princess Projectra, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel (who is technically not a full-time member at this point) – and treats them in a very sexist manner. Princess Projectra comes across as extremely helpless this issue, exemplified by her being rendered unconscious and useless in the fight on the asteroid station by the equivalent of a pressure hose! Later in the story, she tells Element Lad, Cosmic Boy and the others about the disappearance of Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel, but beyond that Jeckie does pretty much nothing for most of the story. As for Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet and Duo Damsel, they are treated in the story as “damsels in distress,” being kidnapped in an almost off-stage manner. With 20+ Legionnaires available to choose from for the kidnapping, other than Lightning Lad and his team of heroes, why did writer Martin Pasko have to use three female Legionnaires for this? Granted, Shadow Lass and Shrinking Violet get a bit of action in against Universo at the end of the story, but still…

Finally, there’s the artwork this issue. I have nothing against penciller Ernie Colon and his work, but I do have to question his layouts in this story. The page layouts differ in style somewhat this issue, where some pages have what I consider to be open layouts, where one has six or seven panels, not too crammed, and a good ratio between graphics and words. However, then there are way too many pages that are just badly laid out, pages with too many words for the space provided, illos that are not graphically pleasing (at least to me), or just too crammed with various things to make them pleasant to read. This may have to do with Colon’s layout choices or could even be a matter of editorial decision (since Dick Giordano is also an artist). That said, Mike DeCarlo’s inks this issue are very good, giving solid definition to some of Colon’s pencils in places, though no panels stand out from others in this regard. I do have to say that I think regular Brave and the Bold artist Jim Aparo’s work would have gone a long way to make this story more palatable to me from the art point of view.

In any event, this is one of those comic stories that had the potential to be so good, but left me wanting more. For a variety of reasons.

Final Notes:
This story takes place in-between The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #280-282. Batman’s shadow makes a cameo appearance in The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #280…

On page 4, the Nandorian Relic is mistakenly referenced as the “Mandorian” Relic…

Anton Halkor realizes that he has brought Batman into the 30th Century with him, but doesn’t kill the Dark Knight while he’s disoriented, instead knocking him out…

Batman is shown to be cracking the code on a fingerprint analyzer to break into Legion HQ. Given the 30th Century technology being used, he should be completely unable to do so…

Universo’s most recent appearance in Legion stories is the Supergirl tale in The Superman Family Vol 1 #207…

Universo is drawn in the shadows for the first 13 or so pages (presumably to maintain the mystery of who he is), but then is revealed in full on page 14 though long-term fans will have recognized who is meant to be through the use of his name, Argus [Oranx] and the revelation that Rond Vidar is his son…

Universo’s real name is Argus Oranx III. However, his son’s name is Rond Vidar. The “Argus Oranx” name was seldom mentioned in Legion stories, and he was just called Vidar as a Green Lantern in The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #295. Perhaps this means that it was merely a nom du crime…

Batman has been to the 30th Century and encountered the Legion before this, in the now classic Justice League of America Vol 1 #146-147 tale involving the Justice Society and Mordru…

Cosmic Boy references the fact that Lightning Lad and a group of Legionnaires have gone back to the 20th Century. This is happening, as we speak, in The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #280…

On page 22, the narrator in the text says that Cosmic Boy is off tending to Rond Vidar, but he is clearly shown on the page with Sun Boy, Chameleon Boy and Colossal Boy. However, in the scene on page 23, Cosmic Boy is replaced by Element Lad. On page 25, Cosmic Boy is back in the scene, but on page 26, he is replaced once more by Element Lad…

While Princess Projectra appears in this story, she does virtually, absolutely nothing…

Both Ernie Colon and Mike DeCarlo will return to draw The Legion during the Baxter era…

This was the first (and only) time Batman met the Legion of Super-Heroes in the pages of The Brave and The Bold.

Next Issue: The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #281

Some Rubber Bullets September 25, 2022

Posted by jkahane in music hut, videos.
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Thought I would share a music video here of one of my favourite 10cc songs. Enjoy! 🙂

Here’s a very early version of the song from 1973…

And here’s a version of the song from 2022…

Happy Jewish New Year! September 25, 2022

Posted by jkahane in holiday, personal.
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Today at sundown marks the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

So I would like to wish all my Jewish friends and followers ‘shana tova, and best wishes for the New Year. May it be filled with happiness, health, prosperity, joy, love, and everything else that you would wish from the New Year. And be a far better year than this year has been.

And for all my goyim friends out there, a good (Jewish) new year to you, as well. You’re welcome. 🙂

Friday Night Game Report – Atlantis: The Second Age RPG, Session 36 September 24, 2022

Posted by jkahane in atlantis play, atlantis rpg, friday gaming group, health hut, pandemic, personal, rpg chat, rpg hut.
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Last night, the Friday night gaming group came out to continue their on-going campaign of the Atlantis: The Second Age RPG of sword & sorcery fantasy in the Antediluvian world. You can read about the previous session by following the link. This post is extremely long, so I’ve put it behind a cut so that folks who don’t want to read any detailed rpg posts don’t have to.


CHARACTERS:

Sahauviia the Green (Kathy) – Atlantean Sorceress
Koomara Hadansi (Angela) – Galacean Scavenger
Melucene Palleremos (Ellison) – Hesperian Priestess-in-Training
Vaino the One-Eyed (Mark) – Cimmerian Adventurer
Uratan of Pemba (Peter) – Asena Pemban Scout

28th Kislimu, Year 506 Meta Kataklysmos (M.K.)

Following Uratan of Pemba, the player Heroes make their way cautiously [all make their DEX + Stealth checks, though Melucene has to spend a Hero Point to negate a Critical Failure] to the entrance of the Cult of Set’s base of operations. From concealment, they see two robed cultists on guard standing before it, wearing light armour and armed with their snake-shaped swords. Uratan makes short work of the two guards with his archery and missile weapons skills [though he spends 2 Hero Points on one of his five attacks to add +4 to the roll], both robed figures slumping to the ground unconscious or dead. Running, but still being quiet, the player Heroes race up to the two bodies. While the player Heroes examine the bodies, Koomara Hadansi finds that one of the two is still alive, and quietly slashes his throat after putting her hand over his mouth [she loses 5 Renown points]. The others are somewhat horrified at her actions, but she tells them that they can’t let the guards live; it could complicate their plans to use a stealthy operation to retrieve Karassi. Melucene Palleremos examines the door to the Cultists’ base, and sees that it is solid metal, with only a keyhole that has an odd shape to it. She tells the others, and Koomara says that both cultists have keys that likely fit the locks. Looking at the bodies of the two cultists, Sahauviia the Green tells the others that the only person who can wear one of the hooded robes would be her or Koomara. Koomara tells her that she will do so, but as she dons the robes she tells the other Heroes that they cannot duplicate the Settite tattoo of the cultist, nor does she wish to handle the snake-shaped blade. She takes the key after donning the robes, and the player Heroes move to the door.

Inserting the key into the lock, Koomara unlocks the door. She cautiously swings the door open, and the player Heroes find themselves in what appears to be an antechamber, with several doors leading off it. The room is empty, other than a couple of tables with three chairs each, and sconces hanging at strategic parts of the room. Koomara notes the room is clean and relatively dust-free, indicating that it is used. The Heroes note that the four doors out of the chamber are all made of wood, though there is a lock on the leftmost door straight ahead of them. Koomara goes to the door on the left wall of the room, Vaino the One-Eyed checks the door on the right wall of the room. Koomara opens the door to find a cloak room, holding racks of Settite robes as well as two barrels. One contains oil, the other holds torches. On opening the door on the right wall, Vaino finds himself looking into another cloak room – but this one is occupied by a cultist in the process of changing clothes! Charging into the room and attacking the cultist before he can even cry out, Vaino uses his battle axe to strike the cultist down in two quick blows [he spends 1 Hero Point on his attack for a bonus of +2 on the second attack, and 1 Fire Hero Point on the damage]. Back in the antechamber, Sahauviia, Melucene and Uratan are alarmed at the noise from the fight, but it seemingly attracts no attention. Koomara and Vaino emerge from the cloak rooms, and each offers the other player Heroes a cloak. Vaino and Uratan decline the robes, saying they won’t be able to access their weapons properly wearing the cloaks, but Melucene and Sahauviia don the cloaks, stating that these may help them take the Cultists by surprise somewhat.

The player Heroes approach the leftmost door straight ahead of the main entrance that has a lock. Koomara attempts to use the key, but it does not open the lock. Looking at the other player Heroes, she attempts to use her abilities to disarm the lock [she fails, the DoD of -9, and spends her last 3 Hero Points, including one Air, adding +8 to the roll] and barely succeeds at doing so. Carefully pulling the door open, the Heroes see that it opens onto what appears to be a long, torch-lit corridor of natural stone. Carrying a torch, Koomara leads the way down the hallway. She comes upon a solid oaken door some 10 metres down on the right side. The player Heroes debate what to do, and while they do that, Sahauviia casts a [Sensory] spell to spy out the way ahead. She tells them that the corridor has two more doors leading off it, and leads to a staircase that descends down. When the others ask, she does not get a sense of where Karassi might be. Vaino decides they are wasting time, and opens the door that they have found. It leads down a short corridor some 5 metres and ends at a blank, natural rock wall. Koomara is able to determine there is a secret door in the wall, but she cannot find the latch to open it [she fails her roll, as it has a DoD of -10, and she’s not willing to tempt Fate to do so]. The player Heroes decide to continue to follow the hallway and see where it leads.

Some 15 metres ahead, the player Heroes find another, double oaken door with a forest scene depicted on it on the tunnel’s left wall. Melucene is about to open the door, when Koomara tells her that she can hear chanting from the other side of the door, and points out the sigil of Set on the door embedded in the forest scene [she succeeds at her PER + Investigate/Search with a Critical Success]. Sahauviia tells the Heroes they need to proceed ahead, and uses another [Sensory] spell to see what she can sense; she is able to catch Karassi’s magical “scent” ahead of them [she rolled a Critical Failure on her spell, spends her last Hero Point to re-roll it, and rolls a Critical Success]. The player Heroes move ahead cautiously, and reach the set of stairs that descends some 15 metres. Sahauviia casts a spell of light [using Sensory], and the Heroes can make out a door at the bottom of the stairs with a lock on it [DoD of -8]. Trying to be quiet, Koomara tries to unlock the door with the key, and is successful at doing so. The player Heroes find themselves in a large, some 30 metres in circumference oddly shaped cave, brightly lit by torches and luminescence from the walls… and face-to-face with ten of the cultists, who realize that Uratan and Vaino are not wearing robes and obviously don’t belong here! Snatching their blades from their sheaths, the cultists engage the player Heroes violently, while shouting for assistance and that the base has been invaded.

Three of the Settites charge at Vaino who rushes to meet them head on, as he brandishes his battle axe. The three cultists test his mettle severely, but Vaino is able to is defeat them after several rounds in a fight of give and take that seems uncertain for the Cimmerian adventurer, taking several injuries in the process. [Vaino suffers wounds of 5 and 6 points of damage, and tempts Fate twice for 3 and 5 Hero Points, using them on both attack, defense, and damage.] Another three of the Settites charge at Uratan, who takes one of them down very quickly using his bow. He is forced to resort to his dagger and claws to fight the other two cultists, and uses his ability to dodge effectively. He critically injures one of the two cultists with his dagger, and then manages to take down the third cultist with his claws [spending his last two Hero Points, including 1 Fire, on damage to do so]. Unfortunately, he is struck for two bad wounds [of 8 and 6 points, one of which he negates by tempting Fate for 2 Hero Points to absorb the damage]. The cultist charging at Sahauviia walks straight into a blast of fire from one of the Atlantean sorceress’s spells [tempting Fate for 1 Hero Point to augment the damage of the spell by 4 Hit Points]. He goes down in a screaming heap, and Sahauviia moves towards him, quarterstaff drawn, if it is needed. The two cultists moving towards Koomara are thrown off balance by her use of acrobatics to avoid their attacks, and she makes good use of her combat skills [she rolls Critical Successes on both targets and spends two Fate points to gain two Hero Points that she uses for damage, on each attack]. She goes over to the two cultists, and checks their condition. She is pleased they’re both dead, and then turns to see how Melucene is doing. Melucene manages to hold her own against her attacker, her dodging skill standing her in good stead. She manages to attack her opponent twice and is able to take the cultist down [tempting Fate for 3 and 4 Hero Points respectively, and using them for both attacking, doing damage and absorbing damage].

With the ten Cultists of Set taken care of, the player Heroes assess their injuries while Koomara keeps an eye on their surroundings. The cave has a somewhat lived in look and feel to it, torches and natural luminescence being obvious in the area. There are several beds here, as well as tables and chairs, and a small stack of arms and light armour are found in one of the niches of the cave. There are several means of egress from the cave, natural tunnels at the northeast and the southwest part of the cave, with wooden doors appear to be recently installed. Vaino and Melucene check the bodies of the cultists, and the latter finds a large keyring with multiple keys on the body of one of the dead cultists. She grabs the keyring and tells the others what she’s found. Meanwhile, Sahauviia attempts another [Sensory] spell to see if she can locate Karassi, and this time succeeds at her task. She tells the Heroes that they need to take the entrance at the northwest part of the cave. Koomara lights another torch, as the one she carried was gutted during the fight with the cultists, and the player Heroes proceed.

Melucene deftly opens the door from the cave, eventually finding the correct key on the large ring she took off the cultist’s body. The player Heroes find that the door leads to another natural tunnel some 10 metres long that ends in another metal door that is partially ajar. A dank, somewhat oppressive odour fills the tunnel, and Koomara sneaks up to the edge of the metal door [she succeeds with a Critical Success on her DEX + Stealth check]. Koomara spots what appear to be five (5) Cultists, but more importantly there are cells here that hold a variety of people, though she cannot tell how many of either there are due to her lack of a good angle. Koomara moves back to where the other Heroes are in the passage and tells them what she saw. Sahauviia smiles, and beckons Uratan to come with her to the entrance to the jail area. Telling Vaino to jerk the door to the jail area fully open, both Uratan and Sahauviia do what they do best. Sahauviia casts a spell of energy [Attack Mode] at one of the cultists who comes to investigate the creaking sound the door made when Vaino opened it. The spell burns the cultist to a crisp [she cast a DR 14 spell at the cultist, and tempted Fate for 2 Hero Points on the attack, and another 2 Hero Points on the damage of the spell], killing the guard instantly. Meanwhile, Uratan uses his bow and picks off two of the cultists with some superb archery skills [he rolled a pair of Critical Successes on the attacks, and tempted Fate for 1 Hero Point of additional damage per attack]. The two cultists go down. While that is going on, Vaino charges into the room wielding his battle axe, and takes on the other two cultists. Surprising the two cultists with his speed and sheer ferocity, Vaino is able to strike down the first of the two cultists [he rolled a Critical Success on the attack] and then takes out the second cultist with a pair of swift strikes [and the tempting Fate for 3 more Hero Points to use in the attack and damage].

While Melucene, Koomara and Sahauviia enter the jail area, Vaino and Uratan look around to see what’s here. The jail area is a circular cavern some 10 metres in diameter, that has torches lit at various points to provide a dim light, and two small braziers of brass on chains of the same. There are a total of ten cells on the ground, another five hanging some 3 metres off the ground, and an area that has clearly been used for torturing prisoners with all manner of cruel devices and the like. There are some ten (10) prisoners in the various cells, most of them Undercity dwellers, but a few are obviously from surface Chersonopolis as well. Melucene looks around, and immediately spots Karassi in one of the cells on the ground. She appears to be sleeping. Moving over to the cell in question, Melucene calls Karassi’s name, and the still visibly pregnant woman rises from her pallet in the cell and says, “What took you so long to find me?” With a laugh, Melucene sets to work to open the cell door with the keyring she had obtained earlier. [Each of the player Heroes gains 2 Hero Points.]

Once Melucene is freed from her cell, the player Heroes proceed to free the other ten prisoners from their cells [earning the player Heroes some 20 Renown points, and 1 Hero Point each]. With Karassi leaning on Melucene, the player Heroes lead the other prisoners out of the cells towards freedom, but are concerned they’ve not seen a sign of any other cultists, or their leader, Jessera. Exiting the dungeon area of the complex, the player Heroes and the former prisoners re-enter the cave only to find a nasty surprise: the High Priestess of the Cultists of Set, the seven (7) remaining cultists – and a shadowy, serpentine form that seems to hover over the ground near the Priestess. The Priestess tells them her name is Jessera, and that they should not have tried to free their friend. Set spoke to her of Karassi, and she cannot, will not, allow them to leave with her. And with that, she orders her loyal servants to attack the player Heroes!

Ordering Melucene to stay with Karassi and protect her at all costs, Vaino tells the other prisoners to stay behind them, and then leads the player Heroes against the cultists and their evil leader. Vaino charges at three of the cultists, swinging his battle axe wildly and shouting a battle cry in an attempt to intimidate the cultists. [He fails at his CHA + Influence (Intimidation) check.] He attacks two of the cultists, inflicting a pair of serious slash wounds to them with the battle axe [inflicting 10 points of damage to each], and then braces as the cultists strike back at him. Vaino dodges out of the way of two of the attacks from the cultists, but takes a vicious slash from the snake-like weapon of the third cultist [he spends 1 Earth Hero Point, and absorbs 8 Hit Points of damage]. Striking two of the cultists again, Vaino kills one of the wounded cultists outright and injures the third cultist with a deep gash to the chest [for 10 more points of damage]. The two surviving cultists fanatically attack Vaino, but he dodges out of the way easily enough. Vaino lands two more blows on the surviving cultists, his attack taking both of them down [though he spends two Hero Points, using one point on each attack]. Uratan takes on two of the cultists himself, taking the first one down with three well-placed arrows [for a total of 6 points of damage on each of the two arrow strikes that hit]. The other cultist attacks him, inflicting a moderate wound with his spear [for a total of 8 points of damage, and he spends 1 Hero Point to absorb half the damage]. Snatching up the spear of the dead cultist, Uratan moves in and attacks the second cultist, impaling the man [and doing a Critical Success on the attack] and leaving him either dead or unconscious. Koomara confronts one of the cultists, and manages to strike him a blow with her short sword, and the cultist than misses her with his attack due to her agility and defense skills. She attacks him again, and strikes the lethal blow [augmenting her damage with 2 Hero Points that she applies to damage]; the cultist goes down. Melucene sees one of the cultists is coming for her, presumably to claim Karassi. She defends herself from his attack with her short sword, and he fails to strike her. Desperation and fear lending to her attack [she failed her WIL + Resolve check], Melucene launches a pair of attacks against the cultist, and strikes him down [doing a pair of Critical Successes with her attacks]. The cultist falls to her. Meanwhile, Sahauviia confronts the Settite Priestess and the shadowy serpent she has conjured. She blasts the creature with a bolt of pure light [hitting it for a Critical Success, for 12 Hit Points], and the creature reels back, somewhat stunned. Jessera, somehow connected to the creature, is also somewhat stunned. Charging Jessera, Sahauviia strikes her with her staff and misses. Jessera recovers, but seemingly unable to do anything, is struck at again by Sahauviia, who inflicts a minor injury to her. Vaino tells Melucene and Koomara to get the prisoners and Karassi out of the complex and back into the Undercity proper, while he and Uratan help Sahauviia deal with the Priestess and her creature, but Melucene says that she is the one to defeat the Priestess of Set. While Sahauviia strikes another blow to the Priestess that doesn’t land, Melucene moves forward towards the Priestess somewhat and prays to her deity, Iemanja, for her aid. With a shout of a spell-like incantation [that Sahauviia recognises as a perverse version of High Atlantean], Melucene unleashes a burst of pure bright moonlight that strikes both the Priestess and the shadowy serpent [she spends 3 Hero Points and tempts Fate for 3 Hero Points, and suffers 3 points of Fate that mysteriously vanish; “That price shall not be exacted of you this day,” she hears a soft feminine voice say]. The serpent hisses in agony, and disperses even as the Heroes watch. Jessera suffers a massive amount of damage that leaves her dead on the ground, a serpentine shadow form leaving her body through her eyes [a possessing creature of Set’s, though only seen by Sahauviia and Melucene]. And with that, the fight is over.

Approximately one day later, the player Heroes and Karassi find themselves back in the Golden Horizon, sitting in the common room, with Melucene’s friend, Amerte, who is on a rest period from the Chersonae. Amerte tells the player Heroes that word of their deed has gotten around and that the Chersonae have reported that the Cult of Set in the city have been destroyed, and that several sympathisers of the cult have been taken in [the Heroes have succeeded at a Great Work, and gain an extra 8 Renown points each]. Amerte asks what Melucene and her friends plan to do and Sahauviia tells her that they’re not certain yet, but they intend to relax for a few days and heal and rest. “Speak for yourself,” Vaino says, “but I intend to make merry. As merry as I can make in this female-dominated society.”

Friday night’s session of the Atlantis: The Second Age RPG campaign was a very exciting, very tense game session that had plenty of combat, some hard decisions on the part of the player Heroes, and saw the player Heroes rescue Karassi though not without some drama. The fights against the cultists tested the mettle of the player Heroes to the extreme, and the players were forced to tempt Fate quite often, and virtually all of the player Heroes ended up with Fate Points when it was said and done. The players did a marvellous job of moving the combat sequences ahead at a good pace, and breathed a sigh of relief when the session was over. All of the players said that they were seriously in fear of their lives during the fight, but expressed surprise at how powerful Ellie’s Hero was and that she was their saviour at the end of it all. The session went a bit longer than usual, as the players wanted to take care of their character improvement while things were still fresh in their mind.

Overall, the session of Atlantis: The Second Age was a neat one, a fitting end to the scenario the players were involved in, and wrapped up a side adventure quite nicely. The players said they’re looking forward to the next session, whenever that will be, and I quite have to agree with them! 🙂

Getting Ready for Friday Night Gaming September 23, 2022

Posted by jkahane in personal, rpg hut, food hut, health hut, ottawa, weather, pandemic, friday gaming group, atlantis rpg, rpg chat.
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It’s been a very typical mid- to late September Day. Sunny day with some cloudy periods, a bit of a breeze, with a temperature of around 13oC. My pinched nerve has been pretty bad most of the day and my feet still haven’t recovered from the footcare session on Wednesday. Otherwise, I’m not doing bad.

I’ll be gaming this evening with the Friday night gaming group for their regularly scheduled gaming session that occurs once every two weeks (barring various circumstances); the players should be arriving over the next hour or so. Given the provincial government’s silly and dangerous decisions recently about COVID, and the numbers of the (Omicron variant) virus on the rise, the Friday night gamers want to play this evening, but we’ll be taking the appropriate health precautions tonight as the group decides on when they get here, as per usual. Everyone wants to game, but knows we have to play it safe in this time of the continuing pandemic.

Tonight, the Friday night gamers will be continuing on with their Atlantis: The Second Age RPG campaign of this terrific sword & sorcery rpg. Might be able to wrap up the scenario they’re playing in tonight, but we’ll see. Quite looking forward to this. 🙂

In the meantime, I need to go upstairs and make a light supper.

Have a good evening, folks. 🙂

The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #280 September 23, 2022

Posted by jkahane in comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion reread, review.
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Continuing on with the re-reads of the classic Legion of Super-Heroes stories. This time out: With Reflecto’s true identity sort of revealed, the Legionnaires try to solve the mystery and face one of their greatest foes again. Enjoy! 🙂

The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #280
October, 1981
title: “O! Call Back Yesterday!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Jimmy Janes
Inker: Bruce Patterson
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Gene D’Angelo
Cover: George Perez (signed)
Editor: Mike W. Barr

Mission Monitor Board:
Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Dawnstar, Blok, Superboy/Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, Mon-El, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, Star Boy, Wildfire, Princess Projectra, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Light Lass; Shadow Lass, Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Brainiac 5

Legion Reservists:
Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy

Supporting Cast:
Earth President Marte Allon

Opposition:
Grimbor the Chainsman (cameo); 21st Century U.S. military forces; The Time Trapper

Synopsis:
The story continues from the previous issue. At the North Pole, in Grimbor the Chainsman’s castle, the Legionnaires who captured Grimbor are shocked to see Reflecto’s uniform partially in tatters, revealing that he is really Superboy. Believing he is dead, the Legionnaires are pleased to hear Superboy moan, and Mon-El tells the others to give him space to breathe. Mon-El thinks Grimbor might have something to do with this identity swap, but the Chainsman swears he knows nothing about it, though he’s even more pleased to think that Ultra Boy is actually dead and now Superboy might be dead as well. Element Lad stifles Grimbor with a snowball-turned-to-gold muzzle. Phantom Girl consoles herself in Karate Kid’s arms as she loses all hope that Ultra Boy really is still alive. Element Lad hypothesizes that Grimbor’s weapons harmed Superboy because they were laced with Green Kryptonite radiation. The Legionnaires mull over the events of the last day or so, reviewing what happened with Grimbor’s threats and how Reflecto, aka Superboy, helped defeat the Chainsman. However, as Superboy comes to, he unexpectedly claims to be Ultra Boy! Phantom Girl doesn’t believe him, and almost hurts her hands badly as she batters at Superboy’s body to get him to renounce his words.

Saturn Girl says that she’s done a basic scan of Superboy, and while his conscious thoughts are all Ultra Boy’s, underneath his mind like his body is that of Superboy. Sturn Girl admits that she had thought she felt Ultra Boy’s presence when the Legionnaires fought the space pirates on New Tartuga several days ago. Phantom Girl becomes somewhat more distraught and angry at Saturn Girl, who says she didn’t tell Tinya because they all thought he was dead, and she didn’t want to get Phantom Girl’s hopes up. Eventually understanding Imra’s reasoning, Tinya forgives her, but they still need to get to the bottom of what’s happened to Superboy/Ultra Boy. Since Super Ultra Boy refuses to “prove” himself to the Legion, Mon-El belts him extremely hard. Super Ultra Boy angrily reciprocates, and in the heat of battle proves that he could not be Ultra Boy by using both his flight and super-strength powers at the same time. Superboy/Ultra Boy is as confused as everyone else.

The Legionnaires decide to return to Metropolis and convene a full meeting of the team. As they fly away from the North Pole, they are observed by a mysterious figure who is pleased that they and their world did not fall victim to Grimbor’s plan, for then they would have been denied the pleasure of destroying both the world and the Legion.

Once the Legionnaires reach Metropolis, they place Grimbor in the hands of the Science Police and calm an anxious world and receive some accolades. Karate Kid and Princess Projectra have a loving reunion, the two of them praising each other for their roles in saving Earth from the energy chains and defeating Grimbor’s mad plans. Colossal Boy and his mother, the President of Earth, meet up and embrace, all their conflicts forgotten. And Blok comes to realize that Wildfire is just as happy as everyone else that the world was not destroyed.

Once inside Legion Headquarters, at a full meeting of the entire Legion, Lightning Lad begins by once more tabling his request to resign again as the LSH membership discusses the Superboy/Ultra Boy problem. Saturn Girl reports that she cannot find any trace of memory in Superboy/Ultra Boy as to how or why Ultra Boy’s consciousness got into Superboy’s body. Phantom Girl “tests” him by asking intimate details of their last date, which he is able to answer to her satisfaction and embarrassment. As everyone is reminded, Superboy was given a post-hypnotic suggestion to never return to the Legion’s era after surviving the psychological attack of the Psycho-Warrior, so something must have happened to override this command. Lightning Lad decides they need to get answers, and some of those may be back in Superboy’s time, so he takes a group of Legionnaires – himself, Saturn Girl, Karate Kid, Dawnstar and Blok back to Smallville to see what they can find out. Phantom Girl insists on joining them, and Lightning Lad says he never thought she wouldn’t, but it had to be her choice.

As the six Legionnaires and Superboy/Ultra Boy vanish back to the 20th Century, outside in Legion Plaza, the dark shadow of what might be a Batman falls across the Legion’s headquarters.

Arriving back in 1960s Smallville, the Legionnaires and Superboy/Ultra Boy are surprised when their time bubble shakes violently, and the time bubble emerges from what appears to be a bright, incandescent cloud. They are shocked to see that they’ve appeared in the middle of a nuclear explosion. They’re only spared being blinded by the infra-chronium the time bubble is made of. Blok doesn’t understand, as he thought that nuclear detonations during this period were only done underground. However, the Legionnaires note that the U.S. Army men are too close to the blast for their own safety, so Superboy/Ultra Boy dashes out and creates a super-funnel, channeling the energy blast into space, and reinforcing that his body is that of Superboy. The Legionnaires land their time bubble a safe distance away, and as Superboy/Ultra Boy nears the approaching soldiers, they open fire on him. They tell him that Superboy himself set off the nuclear explosion, though Superboy/Ultra Boy has no memory of it, and then the U.S. Army tries to arrest Superboy and the Legionnaires. The Legionnaires use their powers to defend themselves, and then Lightning Lad orders a retreat. With Saturn Girl flying the time bubble, the Legionnaires and Superboy/Ultra Boy head for the Kent home.

At the Kent home, the Legionnaires find a note from Ma and Pa telling Clark that they have gone to visit a sick relative. They decide they need to find native clothing to wear, though Dawnstar and Blok aren’t sure how they’re going to be able to stay incognito. Karate Kid turns on the Kent’s black-and-white television, and the Legionnaires and Superboy/Ultra Boy watch a report about Superboy “sabotaging” the nuclear bomb test. They also learn that he and the rest of them have arrest warrants that have been issued on them. Lighting Lad decides they’ll go back to their own era to get proper identification and clothing so that they can investigate the Superboy/Ultra Boy problem in proper disguises, but regrets that Dawnstar won’t return with them as he had hoped she’d be able to track the real Ultra Boy’s trail. However, when they attempt to activate their time bubble, it begins to crack and vibrate, and then explodes just after Superboy/Ultra Boy tosses it into space, stranding them in the 20th Century.

As the Legionnaires wonder what happened to the time bubble, they are mocked by a laughing voice. The Time Trapper reveals himself to be taking advantage of the Legionnaires’ predicament, holding them in a timeless area of swirling mists and stars, promising them that he will be heading back into the future to rule there while these Legionnaires are trapped in the past. Suddenly appearing again high over Smallville, the Legionnaires find the U.S. Army has shown up, knowing that the best place to find Superboy is Smallville, and the Legionnaires have no choice but to retreat into the mountains. As the Time Trapper’s disembodied voice tells them that they only have to wait a thousand years to return to their own time, the Legionnaires shout their cry: “Long Live The Legion!” The story continues in the next issue.

Commentary:
Ever since The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #275, when Ultra Boy supposedly died for the second time, it was only a matter of time for the start of the resolution of that plot to begin. That tale starts here, but is treated more as a mystery for the most part than anything else here. The revelation that Reflecto was actually Superboy at the end of the previous issue was certainly surprising, but it’s even more surprising to learn here that it may be Superboy’s body, but it’s Ultra Boy’s mind that has somehow been overlayed in the Teen of Steel’s brain. Which leads to the mystery of how did this happen.

However, the reader doesn’t get any real answers to that question. Roy Thomas has been known in his years as a comic book writer and scripter to love convoluted plots, and this one is no exception to that rule. For that reason, the story deals with one matter: is Ultra Boy really in Superboy’s mind? From Saturn Girl probing of Superboy’s mind to discover that Ultra Boy’s consciousness is overlaying Superboy’s mind to Mon-El testing Superboy/Ultra Boy’s powers and determining that the body really is that of Superboy’s to Phantom Girl’s “testing” Superboy/Ultra Boy to determine whether he really is Ultra Boy when he admits to a very intimate weekend at the Satyri-Cave Inn on Sirius III (which embarrasses her more than him), the story makes it clear who’s who’s in Superboy’s body… but that just adds to the mystery. While Lightning Lad still wants to relinquish his Legion leadership, he’s not about to do so mid-crisis and his decision to lead a Legion team back to 20th Century Smallville makes a lot of sense. His choice of Dawnstar and Blok for the mission is interesting, given that he has the seeming full roster of Legionnaires to choose from, but adds to the drama and tension once they arrive in the past and face a surprising set of circumstances. Furthermore, why not have involved Chameleon Boy and/or Brainiac 5, who are arguably the two greatest Legionnaire detectives? “Superboy,” having triggering a nuclear explosion only moments ago is an intriguing development, but it obviously ties in somehow with what has happened to Ultra Boy, though Superboy/Ultra Boy doesn’t remember doing the deed. And then the issue wraps up on the cliffhanger, as the Time Trapper gets involved in the Legion’s current situation and traps the six Legionnaires and Superboy/Ultra Boy in the past.

With all of that going on, Roy Thomas also makes room for some good character moments. There’s the scenes with Saturn Girl revealing that she hid from Phantom Girl her sensing of Ultra Boy during the affair with the space pirates; there’s the reconciliation between Colossal Boy and his mother, the President of Earth; the scene when Blok comes to understand Wildfire a little bit better, and Wildfire comes to recognize some things about himself. While Lightning Lad still wants out of the Legion leadership, he acquits himself pretty well here again and shows that he is a good leader, despite how he feels about the situation.

Also, the most inane scene in the story has to be where Ultra Boy tries to prove his identity. He refuses to undergo any tests (which is dumb), but then later admits to some hot date with Phantom Girl, much to her embarrassment. Then someone says that Superboy could have known about that date if he really wanted to…. because Superboy spies on his friends having sex? What the heck….!?!

The appearance of the Time Trapper fills me with…anxiety. While he claims to not be responsible for the Superboy/Ultra Boy mess, he takes advantage of the situation and their distraction to destroy the Legion’s time bubble and strand them in the 20th Century while he prepares to conquer the future without their interference. He spends most of his time laughing at the Legionnaires in this sequence, but the danger of the Time Trapper doesn’t appear to be the real menace here. His last appearance, in the Limited Collector’s Edition Vol 1 #C-55 at Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad’s wedding, saw him come across as dangerous, but we’ll see whether he lives up to that potential in the remainder of this story.

The artwork this issue deserves some mention as well. George Perez’s cover for this issue, showing the entirety of the Legion (except Ultra Boy), is stunning. It’s one of the best covers to grace the comic in some time, and that includes Perez’s other recent covers for the series. The interior art by Jimmy Janes and Bruce Patterson is very good this issue, Patterson’s inks really enhancing Janes’s pencils this time out. There is a good deal of background work on most of the panels, but I suspect that is more of Patterson’s influence than Janes’s work itself. The men and women in the story are beautiful and handsome, respectively, this issue, so the art this time out is a bit above average. Bruce Patterson is definitely a better inker for Jimmy Janes’s pencils than Frank Chiaramonte is. Oddly enough, some of the facial imagery this issue reminded me of Mike Grell’s work, with the distinctive noses and cheek structure. Finally, this issue features a 2-page mini-poster in the centre of the full membership of the Legion of Super-Heroes with pencils by Joe Staton and inks by Bob Smith. It’s quite lovely in and of itself. I suspect this is due to the fact that starting this month, all DC comics increased by two pages and went from fifty to sixty cents in cost. The story must have already been near completion at the shorter length, so instead of a longer story the reader got the centre spread bonus. Just lovely!

Final Notes:
The story continues in the next issue…

This issue marks the debut of the new Legion of Super-Heroes logo, which would grace the pages of this series for the next six years…

It is also (sort of) the return of Superboy to the Legion after nearly two years away. He last appeared in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #259…

The cover of this issue, like the centre poster (see below) features the full roster of the Legion of Super-Heroes. There are 24 Legionnaires shown, including Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. The only member of the Legion not shown on the cover is Ultra Boy…

Dream Girl is drawn on the cover of the issue, but she is the only Legionnaire (other than Ultra Boy physically) who doesn’t appear in this story…

Duo Damsel appears on the cover of the issue, but she does not appear in the story itself…

The Legionnaires fought Captain Frake and her space pirates most recently in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #275, at which time it appeared that Ultra Boy had “died” a second time…

On page 5, in the second panel, Saturn Girl mistakenly claims the Legionnaires fought the space pirates on New Tartage, but it was actually New Tartuga…

While Grimbor’s attack on Reflecto in the previous issue merely revealed the House of El emblem of his Superboy costume beneath, one super-punch from Mon-El this issue completely shreds and destroys the Reflecto costume…

Saturn Girl planted the hypnotic command in Superboy’s mind to never return to the 30th Century at the end of the Legion’s encounter with the Psycho-Warrior in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #259…

Ultra Boy was seemingly killed by Pulsar Stargrave in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #273…

On page 12, the three panels that feature the shadow of a Bat(man) fallin across the Legion Headquarters is a hint and prelude to the Legion’s encounter with the Batman, as detailed in The Brave and the Bold Vol 1 #179…

The Legion last faced the Time Trapper during the whole business of the wedding of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl in Limited Collector’s Edition Vol 1 #C-55 Presents…

The centre spread of the issue features a two-page Legion of Super-Heroes poster by Joe Staton (pencils) and Bob Smith (inks). It presents the 25 active Legionnaires, and these include Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel…

“O! Call back yesterday!” is a line from William Shakespeare’s play Richard II.

Next Issue: The Brave and the Bold Vol 1 #179

The Autumnal Equinox September 22, 2022

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Today is the autumnal equinox. This means that Summer is officially over.

What is an Equinox? On the day of an equinox, the Earth is tilting neither toward or away from the sun, and therefore receives almost an equal amount of daylight and darkness, according to the National Weather Service. At places along the equator, the sun is directly overhead at about noon on these days. Day and night appear to be equal due to the bending of the sun’s rays, which makes the sun appear above the horizon when it is actually below it. During an equinox, days are slightly longer in places with higher latitudes. At the equator, daylight may last for about 12 hours and seven minutes. But at a place with 60 degrees of latitude, such as the North Pole, a day is about 12 hours and 16 minutes.

Essentially, during the autumnal equinox, there is approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime everywhere around the globe. The equinox will take place at 9:03pm ET.

It is a time to celebrate the harvest by giving thanks to Mother Earth, drink warm herbal teas to clarify the lungs, finish long-term projects and breathe deeply to help your body and mind transition to the quiet space of winter.

Welcome to Fall. 🙂

The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #279 September 21, 2022

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Continuing on with the re-reads of the classic Legion of Super-Heroes/i> stories. This time out: Grimbor the Chainsman’s revenge plot continues, and the third part of the Reflecto storyline reveals the truth about Reflecto, sort of. Enjoy! 🙂

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #279
September, 1981
“Castle Grimbor Must Fall!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Jimmy Janes
Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Gene D’Angelo
Cover: George Perez (signed)
Editor: Mike W. Barr

Mission Monitor Board:
Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Mon-El, Princess Projectra, Karate Kid, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Colossal Boy, Wildfire, Cosmic Boy, Phantom Girl, Blok, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Light Lass (cameo)

Guest Stars:
Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy; President Marte Allon; Reflecto; Superboy (cameo)

Supporting Cast:
Charma (illusion)

Opposition:
Grimbor the Chainsman

Synopsis:
This story continues from the previous issue. At Grimbor’s castle at the North Pole, Lightning Lad is shouting at a hologram version of Grimbor the Chainsman, even as his energy chains are closing in on Earth’s atmosphere. In his cage, Mon-El curses them all for fools having walked so willingly into Grimbor’s traps. He tries to escape the cage once more, only to render himself unconscious. All the Legionnaires who went to the Pole have been captured, except for Lightning Lad, who is trying to stall the villain in the hopes that Timber Wolf can find Grimbor and deal with him, but Grimbor shows Lightning Lad the chained and imprisoned Brin Londo. Lightning Lad then vows to fight on against Grimbor until one of them is dead. However, Grimbor tells him both of them will be dead fairly soon, unless Earth surrenders both itself and the Legion to him. Saturn Girl, still trapped in her leg chains, says that it’s getting harder and harder to breathe.

At Legion Headquarters, Princess Projectra and Karate Kid are noting the same thing, and discuss the current situation with each other. The two note they don’t have the powers of a Mon-El, Superboy, or Ultra Boy, but Karate Kid notes that Mon-El and the others haven’t managed to breach Grimbor’s fortress, the Legionnaires sent Superboy back to the 20th Century for his own good, and Ultra Boy is dead. Karate Kid says that no one can even escape Earth, as the energy chains destroy any ships that attempt to do so. Princess Projectra tells him that she wouldn’t have left Earth regardless, as her place is there with the Legion. The two head back inside, where they can breathe a bit easier for now, and check in with Earth President Marte Allon and the Legion liasion team there. The Earth Council has officially rejected Grimbor’s demands for the Legion and the Earth to be handed over to him. There has been no progress in neutralizing the energy chains, all attempts to do so having failed with disastrous results for the personnel dispatched to try. They learn that Cosmic Boy’s team learned the chains are powered by huge power crystals, and that that group of Legionnaires elected to go to the North Pole and try and take out Grimbor and his devices. Colossal Boy patronizes his mother, the President, and she yells at him, telling him that she’s responsible for what is happening, not the Legion, and she bears the burden. Shrinking Violet soothes Colossal Boy’s anger and frustration, telling him that his mom is who she is, but that she’s got to be the President right now. Frustrated and feeling useless and helpless, Wildfire storms out of the Council meeting and heads for the North Pole to take on Grimbor and die fighting, if necessary. Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet and Star Boy decide to go with him. As she watches the Legionnaires fly off, President Allon is proud of her son and that the Legion will fight until the very end.

Back at Legion HQ, Karate Kid checks out the situation all over Earth, finding that people are praying, stealing and looting, committing suicide and/or drinking themselves into oblivion. He decides that he, too, would rather die fighting, and is going to head up to the energy chains and see if he can find their weak spot. Princess Projectra tells him she would be useless against the chains themselves, and doesn’t want to accompany him to be his cheerleader, saying that she prefers to die in the luxury of her private apartment. Karate Kid, totally taken aback by her attitude, heads off alone in a mini-cruiser.

At the North Pole, the panicked, despairing, and slightly nuts Lightning Lad takes on everything Grimbor can throw at him – flying battering rams, magnetic clamps activated by his own electrical powers – but eventually succumbs to a set of rocket-powered shackles enhanced by Garth’s own energies, as his own powers are partially exhausted. As he collapses in the the chains to the snow and ice, Cosmic Boy arrives with Phantom Girl, Blok, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy; they have, of course, been followed by Reflecto. Cosmic Boy is inclined to try and free the others from the traps, but Phantom Girl tells him they have no time to do so, and he realizes she is right. Grimbor informs them of the other hero who has followed them, and the Legionnaires realize it must be Reflecto, but Grimbor doesn’t seem all that concerned. Reflecto arrives on the scene and offers his help, but Cosmic Boy tells the red-headed, yellow and orange clad hero to leave them alone, letting his temper and nerves get the best of him. Phantom Girl gets him to calm down, and the heroes head for the castle entrance. Cosmic Boy’s powers prove ineffective at opening the door, and when Blok charges it the door disappears and the Dryad disappears inside. Grimbor taunts Cosmic Boy, pointing out the energy chains continue to smother Earth and will soon extinguish life and then crush the planet. Cosmic Boy enters the castle, telling Phantom Girl, Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy and Reflecto to wait outside, but to come in if the situation appears lost.

Phantom Girl regrets not being able to go inside the castle yet, and tells Reflecto that he’s not under orders to do nothing. Reflecto says that he is there to protect Phantom Girl, not Cosmic Boy, and not Earth. Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel whisper to each other that the devotion Reflecto is showing to Phantom Girl reminds them of Ultra Boy, but Bouncing Boy tells her to not even think that it might be true.

Cosmic Boy confronts Grimbor, Blok standing nearby, and the villain controls Blok’s body and has him smother Cosmic Boy, acting as chains. Grimbor tells the Legionnaire that his smuggled power crystals have increased his abilities to control living things.

Hearing their teammates’ agonized cries, Phantom Girl races inside, Reflecto at her side, with Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel bringing up the rear.

In her private luxurious apartment, Princess Projectra refuses her afternoon soma-pop and goes over to the new device that she’s been putting together on the side for months, without the Legionnaires knowing about it. The Augmatron is designed to augment her illusion-casting powers, but she’s never tested it and doesn’t know if it’s safe. She activates the device, and then screams and appears to drop dead in the chair apparatus, not even breathing.

Out in space, Karate Kid arrives at the energy chains in the Legion mini-cruiser, and targets the cruiser at the nearest chain hoping to make Grimbor think that he didn’t survive the encounter. Trying to determine where the weak spot in the chains is, he determines that he can’t wait any longer.

On Earth, people are starting to drop like flies from the crushing weight of the atmosphere. In the office of the Earth Council, a messenger from the Ministry of Science arrives to inform President Allon that people are starting to fall and die. The President and the messenger both succumb, an collapse unconscious to the floor.

Back at the North Pole, Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel have made their way inside Grimbor’s fortress, and come upon the villain. Bouncing Boy attacks Grimbor but cannot penetrate his force field, and succumbs to a set of massively weighted chains. Duo Damsel splits in two, but is taken down and Grimbor uses the power crystals energy to duplicate his chains for her, trapping her tightly. Phantom Girl attempts to get through Grimbor’s force field, but she is forced away and the agony of the field causes her to scream in pain. Reflecto arrives to save Tinya, but Grimbor tells him that he has guessed who he must be, and activates a trap for the unwary hero. Reflecto is imprisoned in chains that will reflect his powers back at him, one at a time.

Grimbor is suddenly distracted by the arrival of Charma, his dead girlfriend, and finagles him into revealing that with the power crystals beneath the castle, he has taken comnmand of the Earth Council satellites that were launched in 2943 and then forgotten about. However, Grimbor snaps out of it, the realization that Charma is still dead making him furious, and as he bats Charma away, slamming her high into a wall, she is revealed as Phantom Girl. Infuriated by the attack on Phantom Girl, Reflecto bursts his chained bonds as Grimbor tells him that he won’t be invulnerable to the particle shell now while freeing himself of the trap.

Out in space, Karate Kid is about to attack one of the chains and go out in a blaze of glory when a hologram of Princess Projectra tells him that she has learned where the vulnerable spot on the chains is. He must destroy the main Earth Council satellite, and tells him the exact coordinates. Karate Kid races off in that direction.

At the North Pole, Reflecto takes the full blast of the shell from Grimbor’s weapon, which staggers him and inflicts great pain, but with a heroic effort, he flies and catches Phantom Girl. Phantom Girl tells Reflecto that she tricked Grimbor with the help of Princess Projectra, who entered her mind and told her what to do, and it was her power that cast the image of Charma to fool the Chainsman. Reflecto charges at Grimbor, who unleashes a deadly blast at the yellow and orange clad hero, that hurts the hero a lot, but fails to take him out. With on punch, Reflecto takes down Grimbor, who exclaims that Reflecto is not the hero that he thought he was, Ultra Boy. As Reflecto collapses near the body of Phantom Girl, he admits to Grimbor that he doesn’t know who he is, either.

Back in space, Karate Kid arrives at the coordinates given him by Princess Projectra, and while he can’t see the satellite he uses his karate abilities to strike at the weak spot of the energy chains, destroying and dissipating them. He’s relieved to see that the chains’ destruction didn’t take out Earth’s atmosphere as he can see people recovering below. Karate Kid heads for the North Pole.

He arrives at Grimbor’s castle to find Phantom Girl kneeling beside Reflecto’s body, saying that he may be dying. Karate Kid uses Grimbor’s computer system to de-power the various traps and free the Legionnaires. As all the Legionnaires arrive on the scene, Phantom Girl removes a face mask from what she thought was Reflecto’s face, and then turns the prone Reflecto over…to reveal that he is actually Superboy!? The story continues in the next issue.

Commentary:
With this third chapter of the “Reflecto” storyline, his story comes to an end…sort of. This story reveals the identity of Reflecto (I’ll come back to that later), but is primarily about the Legionnaires’ attempts to take down Grimbor the Chainsman and prevent the death of Earth’s population and the planet’s destruction at the influence of Grimbor’s energy chains. Several other plot threads weave through the main storyline in a minor fashion, notably the tension between Colossal Boy and his mother, the President of Earth, the ongoing mentions of the death Ultra Boy, and the Reflecto storyline. The latter seems to be a sub-plot here, given all else that’s going on, but in truth it’s also the main element that seems to “drive” the whole main plot this issue.

The story this issue moves along at a good pace, the scenes divided up among the groups of Legionnaires. From Lightning Lad and his team defeated at the North Pole, to the group of Legionnaires liasing with the Earth President (where exactly did Element Lad vanish to between issues?), to Cosmic Boy’s team arriving at the North Pole and taking on Grimbor, to the more isolated scenes with Karate Kid and Princess Projectra, the story managed to keep the focus on the main plot of taking out Grimbor and the energy chains. That said, it was a bit melodramatic in places. (See below about some of the characterizations.) When it comes down to it, I think that writer Roy Thomas was trying just a bit too much to be (overly) dramatic here, when he should have turned the drama down a bit and maintained a feel more of desperation and despair. After all, the Earth was about to come to an end, so there was no need for even more angst. That said, this was his first time as solo writer on the book, so I’ll give him credit here for the good work he did and hope that in the next issue he has a better grasp of what makes the Legionnaires tick and tock. There’s some snappy dialogue this issue as well, and this makes the story pace seem even more frenetic at times. One truly interesting thing here is that it is Karate Kid who manages to destroy the energy chains and save Earth, rather than one of the Legionnaires with more potent powers, though it was through Princess Projectra’s manipulation that the Legionnaires were able to learn the weak spot of the chains to destroy them.

That said, the characterizations and motivations for the Legionnaires are somewhat off. Lightning Lad spends a good deal of time standing and posturing around, yelling at and threatening Grimbor, instead of trying to free Mon-El and some of the others from Grimbor’s traps. While it seems out of character for Lightning Lad, the last panel on page 9 where Garth has tears pouring down his face could be about exhaustion and despair, but seems to me also to indicate, when taken in context with all that’s come before it, that he starting to suffer a mental breakdown. Likewise, when Cosmic Boy and his team arrives, he breaks the team up and insists that only he and Blok go into Grimbor’s castle, leaving Phantom Girl, Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy outside. Again, why? Whatever happened to the vaunted Legion team-work? And if Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy and Phantom Girl must stay out of the initial fight, why aren’t they freeing Mon-El or the other members while they are waiting around? Then there’s Princess Projectra, who projects an air of superiority, rejecting going with Karate Kid into space because she doesn’t want to be a cheerleader, and tells him she wants to spend her last hours at home in her luxurious apartment…but that’s only because she wants to try her never-used Augmatron without Karate Kid there to stop her. The reader never learns exactly what she’s augmenting, other than through inference, and how does it work? For a Princess and someone from the non-scientific world of Orando, how did she create the device without any prior scientific knowledge ever being shown on her part? While the device obviously boosts her illusion powers, as become clear later in the story, how can she use it to communicate directly with Phantom Girl at the North Pole? Granted it’s a clever ploy, though I’m not sure how she learned where the weak spot of the energy chains was located, but it does make clear once more that Princess Projectra is not the weakest Legionnaire by a long shot. That said, I can let slide the bit where the omniscient narrator tells us in the text that Princess Projectra stops breathing. That would imply that she died, but perhaps it just meant that…oh, never mind, not going to go there. It was also very strange to see that Karate Kid was going to throw himself into the energy chains, committing suicide in an attempt to have some sort of effect on them. The irony of it all is that this is the way he will end up dying several years later in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 3 #4, throwing himself at a power-sphere rather than energy chains.

From an art point of view, this issue is a pretty decent one. The cover by George Perez is once more lovely, but Mon-El’s body seems physically off somehow. Almost blocky, somewhat, with the muscles being articulated in an anatomically wrong manner. While the cover does give away the fact that Reflecto was wearing a face mask, as it can be seen in Mon-El’s hand, smartly the cover doesn’t reveal Reflecto’s face or costume here, and it’s a great move on Perez’s part to keep Reflecto all in grey. The interior art by Jimmy Janes and Frank Chiaramonte is a solid effort this time out, with good background work for the most part on every page and in most of the panels. Not sure whether that’s due to the work of the penciller and inker this issue or if it’s due more to Mike W. Barr’s editorial instructions to the two of them. If there is one glitch art-wise, it’s on the final splash page, where the anatomically impossible perspective on Bouncing Boy can be found. It looks like Grimbor dislocated his shoulder, perhaps, or both of them.

Finally, as mentioned, there is the revelation of Reflecto’s identity, that he is Superboy. On first reading the issue back in 1981, I will admit to be being extremely surprised by the revelation, as given all the clues that I thought I saw to that point in the three issues, I thought that Reflecto was Ultra Boy! Of course in retrospect, that was the obvious answer and if comics had revealed anything to me over the years, that couldn’t be correct. Heck, even Grimbor came to the conclusion that Reflecto was Ultra Boy, though he jumped to that conclusion a bit too quickly for my taste. And to be honest, the clues actually led to Reflecto being Superboy, and not Ultra Boy, but I suspect that readers like me wanted it to be Ultra Boy because of the whole Tinya/Jo Nah relationship that couldn’t end like this. That all being said, the revelation of Reflecto being Superboy led to a whole bunch of other questions that needed resolving…including why did Superboy feel so protective and loving towards Phantom Girl? So, I was hooked on the story…but the answers had to wait another issue or two…

Final Notes:
The story continues (definitely!) in the next issue…

There is no Roll Call on the splash page of this issue. However, the text states, “Featuring virtually the entire Legion roster–!” Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Dream Girl, Chameleon Boy, Dawnstar and Sun Boy do not appear in this story at all…

On page 2, Shadow Lass is seen alive and very weak in the first and second panels, but with no energy draining shackle on her face. However, on page 11, in the first panel, Phantom Girl is seen kneeling over Shadow Lass who is still unconscious with the energy draining shackle on her face….

Princess Projectra mentions that Phantom Girl saw Ultra Boy blasted to atoms by Pulsar Stargrave, but she didn’t witness this as she was unconscious at the time. This occurred in The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #273…

In the scene at the Earth Council offices, while Element Lad was one of the team of Legionnaires who was there last issue, he is completely absent from this issue…

On page 6, in the first panel, just behind Colossal Boy’s torso, Star Boy is shown with a blue face and white hair. But he’s still wearing the v-neck “disco” costume…

Princess Projectra’s servo-droid is named Raalf-124C4U. The last bit comes across as “I too foresee for you”. I think that should be Dream Girl’s droid, but she’s not in this story..

Princess Projectra tells Karate Kid to destroy the main Earth Council satellite on page 21. However, on page 23, he is shown striking one of the energy chains instead, though he does claim something is hidden inside the link itself.

Next Issue: The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 2 #280

It’s H.G. Wells’s Birthday September 21, 2022

Posted by jkahane in birthday, book hut, history, reading hut, science hut.
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For those who are unaware of such things or just plain don’t necessarily care about them, today is H.G. Wells‘s birthday. Well, would have been, if he were still alive.

An outspoken socialist and pacifist, Wells is considered one of the two “Fathers of Science Fiction” (the other being Jules Verne). He led a remarkable life, wrote some fascinating books that were and still are considered science fiction romances, but had other claims to fame as well.

While I first read Asimov’s Foundation as my introduction to science fiction when I was 9 or so, it was Wells’s The Time Machine that may well have cemented my love of the genre, and taught me that “modern” sf in 1965 or thereabouts had predecessors that were just as important to read and know about.

Rest well, George Herbert Wells. You earned it.