New Reviews of Old Comics
Does $2 for this issue qualify as a “bargain”? Enh, I guess that could be debatable, but I bought it anyway strictly because the Legion of Substitute-Heroes was Superman’s team up for this issue. I read a Substitute-Heroes special when it was first published in the mid-80s, before this issue came out, and thought it was hilarious, and this was before I’d even read a Legion of Super-Heroes comic. I’ve since read numerous real Legion stories including the first few Substitute stories, none of which were as funny as that special. If you’re not familiar with them, the Substitute-Heroes are people who tried to get in to the real Legion, but didn’t make the cut. Some of the rejects banded together so in the unlikely event that the real Legion was all gone, the Subs would step in for them. Well intended as they are, the Subs tend to bungle their way through to a typical happy ending.
Imagine my surprise when I see the title of this issue is “Ambush Bug II” (written by Keith Giffen with help from Paul Levitz and Kurt Schaffenberger) because it is the second appearance of Ambush Bug, another favorite of mine. Ambush Bug is stalking Superman and through his power of teleportation jumps on the Man of Steel’s back just as he is about fly through time into the 30th century. Supes tries to bring Buggy to Legion HQ for safe-keeping, but no one is on duty so Superman takes him to the Subs, though not without some reluctance. As expected the Substitute-Heroes manage to screw it up and Ambush Bug escapes to bring his brand of chaos in the 30th century. This distracts Superman from his intended mission, which doesn’t make him very happy, but he works with Polar Boy, Chlorophyll Kid, Infectious Lass, Stone Boy (sort of) and other Subs to bring the Bug under control by tricking him into the Phantom Zone.
Is this issue anything more than a semi-entertaining one shot? No, not really. For me the real fun was reading an Ambush Bug story I hadn’t read before and noticing how this story directly led into the special I enjoyed so many years ago. I know Keith Giffen has written a ton of other comics, but when Ambush Bug and that Legion of Substitute-Heroes special came out I thought they were among the funniest comics I’d read to that point. I didn’t have high expectations for this when I bought it, and on its own its nothing special, but when it’s taken as part of other Ambush Bug and Sub stories it was a very enjoyable read and I feel like I got my two bucks worth.
Notable Ad: Leaping Lizards of Dallas, TX has an ad selling a 6 month supply of chameleon food (200 live meal worms). Now why in heaven’s name would a comic reader need THAT many live meal worms? Why to feed the FREE chameleon that comes with food order, of course. Yes, for $3 you too could have bought all those worms and had a new pet. For $10, plus shipping and handling you could have a mated pair of chameleons and a special terrarium, along with the food. To me it seems very odd that someone can ship live lizards across the country through the post office. What if I buy my lizard during the winter, can it survive a 3-4 day (minimum) cross-country trip? Those mail trucks aren’t exactly heated. The disappointment would just be unbearable if my lizard was DOA so I was stuck with 200 live meal worms and no one to eat them.