March 18, 2007

Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #257 [1979]

 One of the odder semi-regular gigs that Ditko had was his run as a frequent guest artist on DC's group of 30th century super-youths, the Legion of Super-Heroes, with seven stories over the course of two years, mostly under the editorial reign of frequent Ditko collaborator Jack C. Harris, most of them written by Gerry Conway.

This issue starts it off, with the 7-page back-up story "Once A Legionnaire", inked by Dan Adkins. Adkins is a good solid inker in the Wallace Wood vein, and works well with Ditko here, as he did a decade later with some Speedball and other stories at Marvel. This story features two of the powerhouse members of the team, Bouncing Boy, who can blow up like a rubber ball and bounce, and Duo Damsel, who can split into two identical non-powered women (and she used to be the even more formidable Triplicate Girl, before one of her bodies was killed). The two (or three) of them had recently married and left the Legion, and were now anonymous colonists on a frontier world. However, at the first sign of trouble they're forced to reveal their powers, impressing their clearly easily impressed fellow colonists, who are now going to be more reckless knowing they have super-powered backup. To teach them a lesson in self-reliance the heroes let themselves be defeated by a harmless ice-dragon, which one of the colonists then defeats. The heroes were also apparently the only ones who read the exploratory reports on the planet they were colonizing.

Not a very good story, really. I like the concept of the Legion, even many of the goofy aspects like the ridiculous powers of many members, and it had a lot of really good eras of writing before and after his, but unfortunately for the most part Ditko's brief tenure as fill-in artist didn't intersect with the well-written eras. This is one of those Ditko stories to pick up when you've exhausted all others.

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