Sunday 24 April 2011

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #198. Easter Eggs-citement for all the family.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #198, the Fatal Five who twisted time, cover
Hooray! It's Easter - and that can only mean one thing.

Cheese rolling!

And that can only remind us of one thing.

The Big Blue Cheese.

And that can only remind us of one other thing.

The not-so-Big Blue Cheese.

And that can only mean Superboy.

And that can only mean the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Never let it be said that Steve Does Comics is the blog that doesn't know how to do Topical.

Someone probably not wishing Superboy a happy Easter - or a happy anything - are the Fatal Five who, having escaped the forces of good yet again, are out to destroy the Legion of Superheroes by travelling back to 1950s' Smallville, getting rid of Superboy and then setting up a device that'll prevent the sequence of events that first created the Legion.

Legion of Super-Heroes #198, stranded
Jeez, what a bunch of sad sacks!
With Superboy either killed or sent into a coma by the Five (it seems to change from page to page), the plan's going swimmingly and looks destined for nothing but success, except for one thing.

The Fatal Five keep telling the Legion their plans!

All they had to do was go back in time, plant the device, keep quiet about what they'd done and then stand there gloating as their arch-enemies are wiped permanently from the time-line.

But, oh, no, every single time a member of the Fatal Five encounters a Legionnaire in this tale, he/she has to start blabbing off about their scheme, enabling the Legion to stop them. With these kind of smarts, no wonder none of their schemes ever work.

That aside, it's a pleasant outing from Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum. It's not one of the best tales of their run but it passes the time painlessly. Cockrum's art looks fine, as always, and he clearly has fun with the scenes set in a funfair as he manages to sneak pictures of the Man-Thing, Swamp-Thing and Creature from the Black Lagoon into various panels.

Legion of Super-Heroes #198, the Persuader
Iron Man bursts into action!
I'm not an expert on the Fatal Five, so don't know how long they'd been in the Legion-verse before this issue.

I also don't know what the original thinking behind them was.

I do know that when I read this tale as a kid, The Persuader struck me as bearing more than a passing resemblance to Iron Man, and that Tharok looked suspiciously like the Hulk's Captain Cybor.

I suppose the unstoppable but stupid Validus could be seen as a Hulk-like figure.

Then again, when The Persuader and Emerald Empress are alone together, thanks to his battle axe they remind me of the Enchantress and the Executioner.

Legion of Super-Heroes #198, tentacled monster, Dave CockrumJust which Marvel character the disintegrator-handed Mano is based on (if any) is beyond me.

All of which brings me to my closing question.

The spider in the panel to the left is I suspect a nod to Steve Ditko but where did the multi-tentacled creature in the background originally appear? I'm sure I've seen it before in another book but have never been able to work out where.

If you know where it first appeared, I'd be delighted to hear from you and you could end a mystery that's haunted me for well over thirty years.


zot said...

This was actually the comic that got me hooked on the Legion when I was 8! I must've read it 20 times back then. Strangely, I didn't buy another Legion comic until about issue 205...or maybe not so strange as I think my allowance at the time was about 5 cents a week!

Steve said...

Hi, zot. I really did love Dave Cockrum's take on the Legion when I was a kid. They seemed so much cooler than they had in previous incarnations.

Blaze Morgan said...

One of my early comics was "Adventure Comics" #352, which introduced the Fatal Five. 1967 was the year, so your Marvel comparisons may have validity.

The greatest flaw in the Fatal Five's "wipe the Legion from history" is that they would not exist. In a desperate bid to save the Earth, a handful of Legionnaires were forced to recruit the Five Most Wanted Villains to supply the extra power needed to fight the menace. It was established in the story that the Legion had never met any of them prior to now. Until this catastrophe, they were all individual super criminals, but the Legion made them a team.

But that's nothing. In recruiting these individual bad guys, Validus, Mano and the Emerald Empress were all on the verge of being executed! The Empress was literally being burned at the stake on a primitive world. Mano was about to have his evil hand guillotined off in a deep space. Validus was in an inertron jail cell awaiting giga-volts of anti-energy.

SOOoo, remove your "greatest enemies" from history and three of your evil teammates fall over dead. Very clever plan indeed.

Steve said...

All I can say after that revelation is it's a good thing you don't have to pass an exam to become a super-villain, or that lot would never have qualified.

dbutler16 said...

I liked this issue though it did also strike me of stupid of the Fatal Five to tell the LEgion their plan, but then, that's what makes them Supervillains - an insatiable need to brag about one's own evilness.

Also, the Persuader looks far more like that Marvel archvillain, Drednaught, to me, than like Iron Man.