Reviews of Old Comics: Legion of Super-Heroes #306
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #306
One of the best costumes in comics has to be Star Boy of the Legion. You know that I’m not referring to his purple and white Silver Age costume, either. The costume I’m referring to is the star field costume with white gloves and boots. Alex Ross kept it in the collective consciousness by using it in Kingdom Come, and it came back in recent years with Thom Kallor making it to the 20th century for the relaunch of the classic Legion before making it home just in time for the Legion to go into Limbo again. It remains one of the best costumes, especially when the character is put into starry environments where he nearly vanishes. It also is how I discovered the character and how he became one of my favorites. Finally, as the Legion got ready to go into a new era, the last Spotlight issue was given to Star Boy.
It’s the evening of the Legion leader election, and monitoring the votes as they come in from around the galaxy are Star Boy and Wildfire. Star Boy has a specific interest in monitoring the votes, as his girlfriend Dream Girl is running for re-election against Ultra Boy. That’s why he’s voting for Ultra Boy. He wants things between them to get back to normal. Unfortunately, Wildfire has been impressed with her performance, so he’s voting for her.
In the effort of passing the evening, Star Boy relates his origins and history with the Legion to Wildfire. He was born on a space observatory, which somehow gave him powers since birth to increase the mass of objects, which increases the effect of gravity on them. He first used this power on the observatory causing it to crash into the ocean. He spent his childhood in and out of doctor’s offices and science labs. At sixteen, he ran away from home in a small space cruiser and flew through the tail of comet, crashing back near his home, and discovering he had gained powers similar to those of the legendary Superboy. With his powers he was quick to join the Legion as it’s 13th member.
Votes for Legion leader start to come in from the team that Element Lad took to Imsk to rescue Shrinking Violet including three surprise write-in votes for Element Lad. Star Boy is still convinced that Dream Girl will win and proceeds to relay the story of how he had his first real failure as a Legionnaire. The Science Police had a base on Takron-Galtos but it had been taken over by escaped convicts. As the most powerful member, Star Boy had been sent in alone and unknown to the convicts. Four more votes come in that give Dream Girl the votes to tie with Ultra Boy.
Star Boy continues his story of how he discovered that his comet-spawned powers had worn off leaving him only with the mass-inducing power he was born with, which he directed at the building itself, collapsing it, with himself inside, putting him in a body cast. Saturn Girl was the new leader and invited him to stay, provided he got more control with his power, which took many months.
More votes come in, giving more votes to everyone, including Element Lad, but things still look good for Dream Girl. Star Boy, still convinced she will win, recalls how he met her when she joined the Legion briefly to save several Legionnaires from dying in an accident, but when her vision was revealed to be decoys used by the Legion for a test, she resigns. Star Boy still carried a torch for her and one day found himself ambushed by an ex of Dream Girl’s who attempts to kill Star Boy in revenge. In Self-defense, he grabs a nearby gun and kills the jealous assailant, but finds himself on trial by the Legion, and is voted out. Dream Girl invites him to go with her and join the Legion of Substitute Heroes. In the Subs, they shined and were available when a Kryptonite Cloud around Earth forces Superboy and Supergirl to leave. They name their replacements and Star Boy and Dream Girl rejoin the Legion in disguise. When Superboy and Supergirl rejoin, they are allowed to stay in the Legion.
Star Boy continues to mope that Dream Girl seems to care more about the Legion than him, but is interrupted by Wildfire when the last of the votes come in from a team Dream Girl took with her on a diplomatic mission to Khundia. Amazingly, four more write-in votes for Element Lad, making him the new Legion leader, even though he wasn’t running. Excited, Star Boy fires his power wildly into the air, forcing Wildfire to destroy a falling billboard that he hit. Star Boy doesn’t seem fazed as he declares that his luck is turning around.
This issue essentially re-tells a couple of Silver Age stories featuring Star Boy. It also adds the tale of where Star Boy’s extra powers vanished to after his first appearance. That aspect of the story doesn’t work as well for me, since it lacks the same feel as the Shooter-written stories that are recapped later. The framing story of the Legion election is done about as well as any Legion leader election has ever been done, with suspense right up until the end. It’s also very believable that write in votes would be cast for Element Lad after the great work he did rescuing Shrinking Violet. The story redeems itself at the end with Element Lad “finally’ winning a leadership election, but it would have been nice to further explain somewhere that Element Lad has run in a number of Legion leader elections, but never winning.
The artwork by Giffen is very well done, but the colors are problematic, especially given how much effort is given to making the voting board look holographic. Curt Swan’s artwork adds a nice retro feel to the flashbacks, but doesn’t feel as nice as his older artwork did on the Legion. Looking at his Superman stories from this period, this was not Curt Swan’s period of his best work. Unfortunately, the difference in storytelling styles is too distracting to work effectively. Giffen does a nice little thing with Star Boy in “civillian” clothes with a ragged t-shirt that upon closer inspection is actually part of his old costume.
One other thing of note is that a couple of times, Giffen’s use of silhouettes threw off the placement of word balloons, making for confusing reading. This is a very tragic flaw to have in a story. It completely overpowers everything else, and takes a reader out of the story for a minute.
This issue has been collected in Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse (ISBN #1401230989). However, at this point, Legion was one of DC’s best-selling titles and it should be easy to find at a large convention or a shop with an extensive back-issue collection that isn’t flooded with 90’s comics that fill up back issue boxes everywhere. It should be available for not much cash. It’s valued around the price of a new comic, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find it in dollar bins or cheaper.
FINAL RATING: 7 (out of a possible 10)