Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Superboy #195.

Superboy being sucked into a whirlwind/hurricane as a blind boy in dark glasses boasts he can stop it, even though Superboy can not, Nick Cardy cover
Pink Floyd once claimed we don't need no education.

They were wrong.

We all need an education.


Because without one we wouldn't be able to read comics.

And you know what? It's a virtuous circle because, once we start to read comics, they become an education in themselves.

For instance, if there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that I should never change my name to Don Blake. Not only does Marvel's character of that name have a dodgy leg and no personality but when DC get round to giving us a character of that nomenclature, he turns out to be blind and wallowing in self-pity.

Thus it is that Superboy #195, finds DC's Don Blake feeling as unnecessary as Pink Floyd's education. But, thanks to his knowledge of electronics, his initiative - and his sheer stupidity in the face of danger - he helps Superboy foil a local DJ's plot to use his station's transmitters to create a series of devastating Thunderballs with which to vex Smallville.

It's all good stuff and delivers a message to us all about believing in ourselves, no matter how disadvantaged we may feel, but the real story of this issue's to be found in its second half as Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum bring us the classic tale of ERG, a wannabe derring-doer who applies to join the Legion of Super-Heroes but is turned down because all his powers simply replicate those of current members.

Now, if I ran a super-hero group and someone came along to me and said, "I can do all the things the current members of the Legion of Super-Heroes can," I'd bite his hand off. But no, not the Legion. The group that accepted Bouncing Boy and Triplicate Girl quickly decide his eight zillion powers aren't up to their exalted standards and send him packing. Bizarrely, it's Mon-El who tells him that every Legionnaire must have a power that's uniquely his or her own. Erm, that's Mon-El whose powers are exactly the same as Superboy's?

Fortunately for the sake of drama, ERG's not one to be put off, and he sneaks aboard the Legion's spaceship when they head off to tangle with a giant Henry the Hoover that's eating all the crops on some planet or other.

When the proper Legionnaires fail and Colossal Boy's about to be vacuumed to death, up pops ERG to save the day by using his one unique power - a power he can only dare use once.

With its slick, dynamic art and tragic pay-off, the tale far outshines the main Superboy story of the issue and it's easy to see why, within a few months, the young Kryptonian found himself having to share the billing with the Legion. It's also easy to understand how Dave Cockrum successfully rejuvenated another comic about a group of super-powerful teens.

So there, you see, Pink Floyd? Education, it's a wonderful thing.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing this book the ERG story ( I think it stood for "Energy Release Generator" - he eventually joined and became Wildfire) is a story I have been trying to find again for years and now I know what book to look out for . I remember this being a great story with great art and a pretty sad ending (and a bit of hope) Superboy around this time was an brilliant read - McScotty

Kid said...

I must've missed this one first time around. I'll keep a look out for it.

Steve W. said...

I think Superboy (and the Legion of Super-Heroes) has to be my favourite DC comic of that period.

dbutler16 said...

The Legion story here was very good, though Steve rightly points out the silliness of rejecting Wildfire neè ERG in the first place, but the Cockrum art more than makes up for that, and the ending was touching, also.
The Legion of super-Heroes was most definitely my favorite DC comic of the time.