Monday, 20 December 2010

Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #203. The death of Invisible Kid

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #203, the death of Invisible Kid, Mike Grell
Someone once told me Invisible Kid was transparently the greatest super-hero of all time.

Personally, I couldn't see it.

Maybe I was too busy wondering if Bouncing Boy had only married Duo Damsel on the rebound.

It seems I wasn't the only one not paying enough attention because, in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #203, it's Invisible Kid's turn to not be seeing things.

The Legion have decided to security-test their HQ by having some of their members fake a break-in, to see if the other members are alert enough to spot them. As the other members have  been warned in advance that the break-in's going to happen and even appear to know the rough time when it'll happen, you'd hope they'd spot they're being broken into.

Unfortunately, there's someone who doesn't spot it.

Invisible Kid doesn't have time to be foiling pointless fake break-ins. He's too busy canoodling with a girl he's met in a secret dimension that can only be seen while invisible. Cue remonstrations from his colleagues over his lack of professionalism at such a time of high alert.

But what can you do? When a boy's in love, a boy's in love and he can't wait to turn invisible again so he can propose to his beloved Myra. Myra, by the way, is his mystery girlfriend, not his shower. Even in the world of the 30th Century, marrying your shower would still seem a strange thing to do.

But, back in the visible world, there're other troubles awaiting the Legion because that titanic titan of terror Validus is on the rampage, seemingly being summoned towards the Legion HQ by the criminal Tharok's mental commands.

Except, when Superboy goes to see Tharok in prison, it's obvious that, with his robot-half severely damaged from his last run-in with justice, he's in no state to summon anything.

Back on Earth, Validus attacks the Legion HQ and makes short work of the Legionnaires until Invisible Kid puts two-and-two together and destroys a souvenir in the Legion museum. That souvenir's made of parts of Tharok's mechanical brain and was what lay behind Validus' rampage. With that gone, the monster loses interest in its fight with the Legion and heads off back into outer space.

But it's too late for Invisible Kid. He's been crushed by the huge hands of Validus.

This should be a tragedy. But then comes the twist that makes you feel like you've blundered into a Charlton Comic by mistake. It turns out his invisible girlfriend Myra's actually a ghost and, now that he's dead, they can be together through eternity, proving it really is an ill-wind that blows no one any good.

I do hope Invisible Kid was never seen again. Not because I have anything against him. If I'm honest, I'm not sure I'd even heard of him before this tale and so had hardly had the chance to build up resentment. Plus, from what we can see here, he seems a nice enough lad. But it's always depressing when dead comic book characters come back to life.

Speaking of people who weren't coming back, the issue features a surprisingly bitter mini-editorial about Dave Cockrum having left the strip. It seems fairly clear, reading between the lines, that DC noses were put well and truly out of joint by his departure.

Still, as great a loss as Dave Cockrum was, they were hardly left bereft. As this issue shows, they had Iron Mike Grell all ready to replace him, which was not a concept to be sneezed at. So, DC had Mike Grell,, Invisible Kid had Myra, and I had an issue of The Legion of Superheroes. It seems that some days you just can't help coming out on top.


Dougie said...

I remember that issue well; my dad bought it for me one December night in the East End of Glasgow. It's archetypal LSH for me: both futuristic and morbid.

Invisible Kid did reappear in the 80s - a demon was masquerading as the Legionnaire. In the 90s, he was a mainstay of the rebooted "Archie Legion" and a much younger version appeared in Mark Waid's less-than-popular Noughties version.

Steve said...

Hi, Dougie. Thanks for the info. There's so much about DC comics after the 1970s that I don't know.

dbutler16 said...

I actually this this was a great issue. Very touching and a nice little twist at the end with Myra being a ghost (decades before Sixth Sense!). Don't worry, the Invisible Kid never did get resurrected (at least not until after the Legion got rebooted, which isn't really a resurrection of course) but he did appear in one or two "untold tales" from the Legion's past, and his ghost appeared to have appeared once but was luckily a hoax.
Also, I liked Invisible Kid because he was the second smartest Legionnaire after Brainy, and Brainy needs someone to talk to who will understand him.
Finally, you're right about Iron Mike Grell, and I think the Legion was blessed with a lot of great artists in the 70's and 80's, but Cockrum really revolutionized the Legion with his costume designs.

Greg Gildersleeve said...

The girl-ghost's name was actually Myla, not Myra.

This was one of my favorite issues of the Superboy/Legion run because it was so shocking that Invisible Kid died. He had been a mainstay of the Legion since the early '60s and had even served as leader at one point.

I also think his death was handled in a very realistic and heroic way (even though the story had some obvious flaws, as you point out). Faced with an unwinnable situation, he nevertheless did what he had to do, even though it cost him his life. I also found the ending very hopeful.

By the way, my own review of this issue can be found here:

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