Tales Of The Legion Of Super-Heroes #317 – Reviews Of Old Comics

blogheaderWe’re back to following the period of Legion history that I got really hooked on the Legion. The book got split between two titles, the original newsstand title, renamed Tales of the Legion and the new Legion of Super-Heroes title that was part of DC’s line printed just for comic shops on premium Baxter paper stock.

The real story at this time, focused on by long-time Legion writer Paul Levitz was in the Baxter series. Tales of the Legion ran smaller stories that tied up some loose ends or offered stories with a smaller cast of Legionnaires.  Among the loose ends was Lyle Norg’s seeming return from the dead in Legion of Super-Heroes #310. Previous to that, he had appeared in a strange dimension discovered by Wildfire and the second Invisible Kid. This issue tied up that subplot using the same Legionnaires that found Lyle Norg.

Tales Of The Legion Of Super-Heroes #317

November 1984
DC Comics

Plotters: Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen
Designer: Keith Giffen
Dialogue: Mindy Newell
Penciller: Terry Shoemaker
Inker: Karl Kesel
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Ben Oda

Synopsis:

Wildfire finds himself transported to the strange dimension in which he and Invisible Kid found Lyle Norg, the first Invisible Kid. Unlike last time, he is not human again. He flies up to get his bearings and hears someone yelling as if they’re in trouble. He goes to their rescue and discovers Invisible Kid wrestling with vines or tentacles, apparently made of energy. Wildfire blasts him free, and Invisible Kid tells him that’s facing a terrible monster, a demon. That demon is Lyle Norg.
 
At Legion Headquarters, Dream Girl communicates with Cosmic Boy, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel about the Legionnaires missing from battle with the Legion of Super-Villains and now Wildfire missing as well. She wants the whereabouts of the missing Legionnaires kept secret for now. Cosmic Boy doesn’t like the Legion so spread out. He ponders if Wildfire is with the two Invisible Kids, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel leave, assuring him that everything is probably all right.
 
As Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy are leaving Legion headquarters, they relish in their status as reservists. Computo offers assistance readying their transport. Duo Damsel yells at him to leave, which he speedily does. Duo Damsel confides that Computo killed one of her original three bodies, and now Brainiac 5 has him acting as majordomo of Legion Headquarters.
 
In the other dimension, Lyle Norg turns Wildfire human again. Invisible Kid throws a rock at Norg’s head, breaking the illusion and exposing him as a monstrous demon. The demon feeds on subconscious desires, which is why Wildfire believed himself to be human there. Wildfire and Invisible Kid flee, but every attempt to escape leads back to the demon’s clutches.
 
In a deep space asteroid field, Shvaughn Erin is missing Element Lad while she waits on her new partner, Dev-Em of the Interstellar Counterintelligence Corps. She gives him an electronic file with his mission instructions, which he reads with his Kryptonian vision before incinerating it with heat vision. He flirts with Erin a little before he leaves on his new, tough mission. The Monitor and Lyla observe his exit. They are visiting the 30th century, gathering information on Dev-Em.
 
The Demon boasts to Wildfire and Invisible Kid that he masqueraded as Lyle Norg in an effort to bring the Legionnaires there to feed on their desires. He intends to keep them captive and draw more humans in to feed his hunger. He tosses them away for a minute. Wildfire mopes about not being able to hold Dawnstar like a real man. Invisible Kid slaps him to snap him out of his malaise, triggering his return to his energy self.
 
Invisible Kid has the idea to use the dimension’s nature of conforming to their thoughts against the demon. He is surprised by the appearance of more Legionnaires. His efforts to stop them are for naught, allowing Invisible Kid and Wildfire to escape. When they do, the other Legionnaires vanish as illusions Invisible Kid created to distract the demon. Invisible Kid and Wildfire arrive back in their dimension at Shanghalla, instellar graveyard for heroes, where Lyle Norg is buried.
 
In a back-up story, Duplicate Boy has retreated from the public eye. Shrinking Violet publicly humiliated him after her recovery. His fellow Heroes of Lallor discuss Duplicate Boy’s predicament after seeing a news report on his disappearance. Gas Girl deduces that Duplicate Boy’s loss of his powers is psychological, since it followed Shrinking Violet slugging him in public. Evolvo Lad concocts a plan to help their friend.
 
Duplicate Boy is off in a park sulking. He knew Violet had been replaced by an imposter. His jealousy and pride convinced him that Violet was on an undercover mission and didn’t let anyone know that Violet was replaced. She suffered for months because he didn’t tell anyone. Being unable to fly, he starts walking down the street. He suddenly sees a woman about to be hit by a runaway car. He somersaults over to grab her, flying her to safety. She thanks him and he realizes that he just got his powers back. As he walks off with the girl, the Heroes of Lallor congratulate themselves on helping their friend by using her powers to animate the “runaway” car.

Review:

I love stories that are done in one issue. While this one seems to have that quality, it relies heavily on the reader having read Legion of Super-Heroes #299, nearly two years prior. The story doesn’t exist on its own. It serves to tie up a dangling subplot while the main story of the Legion of Super-Villains happens with the rest of the Legion. This leads to Invisible Kid being uncharacteristically absent from one of the greatest threats the Legion has encountered since Darkseid. I only have a problem with that in retrospect. In the process of reading the story, both here and in the Baxter series, the story is paced as such that I don’t miss him. The second story is all filler, but it’s a nice change of pace to see characters that aren’t regularly featured in the Legion.

The artwork by Terry Shoemaker is very fresh and with Steve Lightle taking over the Baxter series about this same time, it seemed like a definitive art shift was happening with the Legion. Giffen’s new style was more artistic, but for the sake of comics storytelling this more naturalistic rendition of the characters suited the Legion very well. It also didn’t veer too much yet from Giffen’s nontraditional page layouts. It’s unclear just how much work Keith Giffen actually did on those issues in which he was credited as designer. Personally, I loved Terry Shoemaker’s art, although I never saw much more of it after a stint on X-Factor by Marvel. In researching this article, I did see some of his more recent work and it’s nice to see a good artist evolve so nicely.

George Tuska is one of those classic artists who has a style that I like, but usually find lacking. In being analytical, this story serves the purpose, but has some posing of characters that only works in comics. These poses have become so hackneyed, they stick out badly as being of an earlier age. What I like most, almost as much as I did at the time, was his rendition of Gas Girl, especially that her hair was gaseous. I don’t know when she started appearing this way, but Tuska does it here so masterfully that it resembles hair, but is clearly an effect of her powers. It also helps the Lallor heroes appear a little weirder than the Legion. 

Notes:

This issue has not been collected, to the best of my research. However, it can be read through Comixology, although I think the two dollar price tag is a bit steep. You can probably find this comic in a dollar box, or cheaper at a convention or show. Don’t overpay for this issue, as these issues are cheap once you find them.

Final Rating: 7.8 (out of 10)