March 21, 2007

The Legion of Super-Heroes #281 [1981]

The last of the seven LSH stories Ditko drew is, fortunately, the best by far of those I've read. That's hardly a compliment, given the others (and I'm in no hurry to track down the two I don't have, one of which has a reputation as one of the worst LSH stories ever).

"Madness Is The Molecule Master" is the name of this 27-page adventure, with some pretty good Bruce Patterson inks. Solid work with some good depth and keeping Ditko's general look. This story sees part of the team going back to Superboy's time to figure out some complicated plot involving Superboy showing up with Ultra-Boy's memories and taking the identity of Reflecto and then everyone being stranded back in Smallville by the Time Trapper. It's all very involved. The important thing is that you get some nice scenes of Ditko drawing Superboy, which is pretty fun. Clark Kent's nosy neighbour is good for a few laughs. The Legion walking around Smallville, with the girls in the very revealing concoctions that passed for their costumes at the time is good.

It's unfortunate that this is Ditko's last LSH story, as this is the issue where his frequent collaborator Paul Levitz returned to the book (scripting this issue over a plot by Roy Thomas, taking over full writing a few issues later), and it improved a lot over what it had been during the previous Ditko fill-ins. He's actually pretty good with a large, colourful cast, and seeing his versions of aliens and space-ships and futuristic cities is always a treat.


3 comments:

  1. This was the best of the batch, and Bruce Patterson's inks were a distince improvement over Chiaramonte. It would have been nice to see what Ditko could have done under Levitz.

    Ditko rarely got to work on any of the main DC characters, so it was nice to see his version of Superboy. He only briefly drew Bat-Man (in a Man-Bat story), Green Lantern and the Spectre (one time each). He did some work on A Wonder Woman spectacular, but I don't think he drew Diana Prince, just the Amazons. Never a crack at the Flash, Hawkman or Aquaman.

    Nick Caputo

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  2. Yeah, seeing Ditko draw Superboy was nice, especially in this Patterson inked issue. I might as well post my favourite "Ditko on an iconic character he didn't create" image now, too, while I'm on the theme.

    I have to pick up that Wonder Woman story sometime too, but man, inked by Colletta is a hard hurdle to get over.

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  3. Bob,

    I don't think Colletta inked the Ditko section, he inked the rest of the book, I think penciled by Jose Delbo. Ditko inked his section, if memory serves.

    Nick Caputo

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