12 November 2019

Review: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Volume One by Paul Levitz, Mike Grell, James Sherman, et al.

Every six months, I read a volume of The Legion of Super-Heroes. This time around, it's...

Comic hardcover, 304 pages
Published 2017 (contents: 1977-78)
Acquired June 2017
Read August 2019
Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Volume One

Plotters: Jack C. Harris, Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, Paul Kupperberg, and Jim Starlin
Writers: Jack C. Harris, Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz, and Paul Kupperberg
Pencillers/Layout Artists: Juan Ortiz, Ric Estrada, Mike Grell, George Tuska, James Sherman, Mike Nasser, Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, and Howard Chaykin
Inkers/Finishers: Bob Smith, Jack Abel, Vince Colletta, Bob McLeod, Joe Rubinstein, Rick Bryant, and Bob Wiacek
Colorists: Liz Berube, Jerry Serpe, Anthony Tollin, Mike Nasser, Adrienne Roy, and Cory Adams
Letterers: Ben Oda, Milt Snapinn, Gaspar Saladino, and Shelly Leferman

The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives series stalled out at volume 13 in 2012, collecting up through Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #233. The Great Darkness Saga: The Deluxe Edition picks up with issue #284, leaving a fifty-some-issue gap. Thankfully, in 2017 DC published this volume to begin to plug the gap, collecting #234-40, plus assorted other appearances from the late 1970s.

Very ominous! Yet they all do get on pretty well.
from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #236 (script by Paul Levitz & Paul Kupperberg, art by James Sherman & Bob McLeod)

Thankfully also, it's good. The Legion Archives were wildly inconsistent. Superboy and the Legion is still somewhat inconsistent, especially since the book has no regular team, but Paul Levitz's developing writing style are beginning to make this the Legion I like best, one with character and history. Levitz is good at bringing out the characters' diverse personalities, aided by James Sherman, whose art is more interested in using different "character angles" and uses close-ups on faces to good effect. Nothing here is as serialized or as dramatic as what Levitz would later do in Great Darkness Saga, but I found it a consistently enjoyable volume, with a lot of neat standalone, character-driven adventures.

That's one big ship. It feels a bit Star Wars-y to me, and judging by its cover date, the issue would have been drawn right around the time it came out.
from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #236 (script by Paul Levitz, art by Mike Nasser and Joe Rubinstein & Rick Bryant)

Highlights included Mon-El singlehandledly saving a science platform from a Khund assault; I particularly liked how Mike Nasser drew the space stuff in the more gritty style of DC's Time Warp, instead of the usual Legion style of cheesy early sf. I liked the exploration of Wildfire as team leader. Vhe story where Ultra Boy is a murder suspect was a little contrived, but gave some great moments as Ultra Boy and Chameleon Boy face off against each other. It was nice to discover a little more about Dawnstar.

I like that Cham is somehow both optimistically chipper (as per above) and deeply suspicious. I guess it makes sense as a personality for a friendly shapeshifter.
from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #239 (plot by Jim Starlin & Paul Levitz, dialogue by Paul Levitz, art by Jim Starlin & Josef Rubinstein)

That's not to say it's not without its doofy low points. The Composite Legionnaire story was dumb, and the story about how Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad got married packed too much into its length: the idea of how the Time Trapper changed time seemed like it could have had more exploration.

You can overdramatically explain timeline changes to me any day, Princess Projectra.
from All-New Collectors' Edition #C-55 (script by Paul Levitz, art by Mike Grell & Vince Colletta)

I thought it was interesting that Levitz explained how the series could have been running so long but everyone is still a "Lad" or "Lass": the 30th century has life extension knowledge, so people in their twenties are still kids. But Superboy's mind is always wiped of that information, so that he won't be tempted to take it back to the 20th century and save the Kents! (Back in the 1970s, the Kents died before Clark became Superman.) I'm not sure it really needed attention called to it, but the idea that the future represents a temptation to Superboy is an interesting one.

I didn't know Dawnstar was in Legion Academy. I also didn't know she was such a jerk!
from Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #240 (plot by Paul Levitz, script by Paul Kupperberg, art by James Sherman & Bob McLeod)
Next Week: Back to Star Trek-- on Deep Space 9, it's time to Raise the Dawn!

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