As a teen, Superboy didn’t stay in Smallville all the time. He loved his home, but occasionally he traveled through time – like you do – to team up with the Legion of Super-Heroes. In Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #255 by Gerry Conway, Joe Staton, and Vince Colletta, he works with Shadow Lass, Cosmic Boy, Wildfire, and Shrinking Violet. Two women on a superhero team in a book published in 1979? I was sold.
The Legion of Super-Heroes swept into Smallville from the 30th century asking for Superboy’s help. Someone broke into the future Superman Museum and stole a time-ray projector and used it to kidnap all the residents of Tokyo. The foe reveals himself to be the Gorgli, and it wants 10,000 humans to sell as slaves. You can imagine how the Legion and Superboy felt about that demand.
The “sensational super-teens” jump into action to solve the problem. Because the Gorgli went back in time to steal Clark Kent’s super-glasses and used the lenses to create weapons and a light-activated force-field around its spacecraft, the ship is invulnerable to Superboy’s powers. The Legion and Superboy very quickly come to the conclusion that they have to get back in the time bubble and go to Krypton to snag another lens. They use it to power a light weapon strong enough to fight back against the Gorgli.
It all happens fast. While the resolution felt rushed, it also makes sense because it felt like a realistic reaction. They were in an emergency situation, they had an idea, and tried it in a matter of pages. I’d rather see the action than look at several panels of the characters talking about a solution.
As much as I enjoyed watching Superboy working with a group of fellow teen heroes, I don’t feel like I learned much about the Legion though. It’s only a single issue and it’s a special circumstance because Superboy is featured so I didn’t expect pages of back story. However, I barely got an idea of what the team could do.
We saw Shrinking Violet shrink, we saw Wildfire use his heat-vision, and there was a reference to Shadowlass covering Shrinking Violet with darkness. Unless I missed it, there wasn’t any mention of Cosmic Boy’s powers. He seemed to operate the time bubble, but I interpreted that as being a piloting skill and not a superpower. I would have liked to seen more of the Legion showing off their stuff. And speaking of that…
I can’t get over Cosmic Boy’s costume. It reminds me of Dr. Frank N. Furter’s racy ensemble in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Mike Grell was responsible for the redesign, and I applaud him for it. Seeing a male superhero in a revealing and ridiculous costume is reassuring because goodness knows female heroes get stuck in impractical outfits all the time for the sake of showing skin. Shadow Lass has a costume that’s even more revealing than Cosmic Boy’s.
Besides Cosmic Boy’s uniform, my favorite part of the book was a few panels in the beginning focusing on Clark Kent’s disguise. Pa Kent points out that the glasses are a flimsy trick, and that he’s amazed people are fooled by it. Clark explains it’s much more than just the glasses, and he’s been developing skills to accompany them to create an entire personality to deceive people and keep his true identity hidden. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the disguise explained, but I haven’t seen Clark reassure his father about it before.
Finally, anyone else think this box is labeled “Kessel Spices?”