New Reviews of Old Comics
The fantastic Mike Grell provided the cover for this issue and it’s a pretty rugged cover at that. This Grimbor character’s appearance reminds me a bit of The Comedian from The Watchmen a little bit, even though this precedes that classic by a good 10 years. Grimbor holding five shackled Legionnaires in the air makes me wonder if this dude is a giant or something. Regardless, it’s an intriguing start to the issue.
Paul Levitz and Jack C. Harris teamed to write “The Man Who Manacled the Legion” for Howard Chaykin and Bob Wiacek to team up and illustrate. Grimbor isn’t a giant like I thought based on the cover, but he describes himself as a “chainsman” (which I’ve never heard of before and Word thinks is a typo) and the greatest chainsman in the universe no less. Meanwhile, back on 30th century Earth, Superboy and Legion pals Colossal Boy, Sun Boy, Cosmic Boy and Phantom Girl are working on the Atlantic Highway, a bridge that spans from North America or Europe. Golly, that will be a cool thing 1,000 years from now! No sooner do they complete that job and head back to Legion HQ than do they get a call to the Presidential Palace on an “earthgov alert” meaning something big is going down. The Legion never rests! Except this call was a ruse by a bought off politician to lead the Legion into Grimbor’s ugly trap; he has special chains designed to negate each Legionnaire’s powers. Wow. He really is the greatest chainsman in the whole universe! All of this effort is driven by Grimbor’s need for revenge (what else?) on the Legion for capturing his girlfriend, Charma, and tossing her in a female prison where she was killed. Her power to charm men makes women hate her. Uh, that’s not really a power per se, it’s just human nature, right? But good to know women won’t change much over the next 1,000 years. After hearing Grimbor’s story Phantom Girl busts free of her manacles and sets her teammates free. After a few pages of fighting Grimbor is captured and the double-crossing president is saved. Just another typical day at the office for the Legion. This story was just so-so for me. Grimbor seems like a ridiculous villain on many levels, and Phantom Girl’s method of escaping and rescuing everyone was more contrived than usual. If Chaykin’s name wasn’t in the credits I wouldn’t have had a clue he was even remotely involved in this issue, because the art was closer to bad than okay. Did I hate it? No, but “mediocre” would be a generous adjective.
Thankfully there is a second story in this issue; “Dawnstar Rising.” Paul Levitz & Paul Kupperberg wrote while James Sherman and Bob McLeod drew this 12 page starring (surprise!) Dawnstar. It starts with Wildfire supervising a training exercise with three other newbie Legionnaire’s, including Shadow Lad, younger brother of Shadow Lass, and Laurel Kent (three guesses as to who her ancestor is). The kids manage to complete the assignment, but in a time that isn’t to Wildfire’s liking, plus they didn’t exactly work together. As the team heads for the showers Wildfire asks Danwstar out, but is shot down with prejudice. Back in the dorms Laurel Kent calls roommate Dawnstar out for being kind of a bitch back there, which leads to Dawnstar sharing her origin and how she feels friendless, but this only makes the acrimony between the two super-powered ladies worse. Also, we find out Dawnstar sleeps in the buff. The next day some alien creatures have escaped from their cages and are trashing Pennsylvania (it still exists in the 30th century, and you still can’t buy beer in a grocery store). Dawnstar tries to lead the charge, but gets beaten down by a space monkey and the team saves her before she gets crushed. All of this makes the winged Legionnaire realize her team really are true friends. How touching. This story was a huge improvement over the Grimbor story all around. Better writing and way better art. Hey, is Laurel Kent still around? The has to be the skimpiest super-heroine costume I’ve ever seen.