Thursday, September 4, 2008

It Came From the Back Issue Box: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #204


With comics delayed for a day due to Labor Day, I figured I would do another back issue review. And I have to admit that my recent review of Legion of Super-Heroes #16 made me a bit nostalgic for Kara's Legion days and her relationship with Brainiac 5. As a result indulge me in my review of this issue, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #204 (actually this is considered an issue of Superboy's solo title and only 'stars' the Legion).


The cover highlights the first story in the issue, but the Supergirl story is the second feature aptly titled 'Brainiac 5's Secret Weakness'. The opening panel lets us in on this not-so-secret weakness right off the bat: his love for Supergirl.

The story opens with Star Boy and Brainiac 5 leaving Legion headquarters for some much needed R&R. In particular, Brainiac states he feels absolutely physically exhausted with no clear reason why. So the two head off on vacation and what better place to find that much needed rest and relaxtion than Recreation Asteroid 7, a domed paradise floating in space.


During the long flight, Brainiac's mind wanders to Supergirl. Despite it having been years since Kara had joined them on a mission, he can't get his mind off of her. She was the only girl who he ever loved and despite the passionate kiss pictured here, he never knew if she loved him back.



Well, shockingly ... who is waiting for Brainiac 5 on the Recreation Asteroid but Supergirl! And she is all too willing to declare her love for him even stating that life is meaningless without him. Supergirl quickly convinces him to quit the Legion and take off into space with her, presumably for a life 'happily ever after'. And Brainiac 5 doesn't need much convincing, he immediately tosses his flight ring to Star Boy and tells him to say goodbye to everyone.

But happiness is cut short as the Legion Cruiser Brainac 5 and Supergirl are flying away on is bombarded with lethal zotron rays, powerful enough to vaporize poor Brainiac. To save him, Supergirl wraps him tightly in her invulnerable cape and plans to ride out the storm.



Once danger passes, Brainiac is unwrapped and to his surprise sees not only Supergirl but a female robot malfunctioning on the floor. Supergirl tells him that she just arrived to save him by wrapping him in *her* cape, not the synthetic cape this robot had cocooned him in. The real Supergirl had just happened to travel to the future and was in Legion HQ when Star Boy called in what had happened to Brainiac 5.

But if this Kara is the *real* Kara ... then that means .... that's right! The Supergirl declaring her love was a robot! And not just any robot, a robot that Brainiac 5 built!



No wonder he was exhausted! He had been sleep-walking for weeks building the Supergirl robot in his lab because he yearned for Kara so much. He never was the most stable guy, was he? As mentioned before, he has had psychological breakdowns throughout his Legion career. The robot then tells Brainiac 5 that he programmed her to be a Supergirl to fill the void in his life and to love Brainiac completely. A bit creepy I think ... a bit cringe-worthy.




The robot's circuits were damaged beyond repair by the zotron rays and so shuts down, but not before Brainiac 5 cradles her in his arm in a panel that mirrors The Pieta.



I wonder if Michaelangelo knows how often The Pieta is copied in comics?

But why was the real Kara there to begin with? She hadn't worked with the Legion in years, right? Well it turns out she just wanted to officially leave the Legion; she could not cope with being even a part-time Legionnaire.



But she also wanted to at least temporarily end her relationship with Brainiac 5. She leaves the chance for restarting their relationship a bit open, saying she hopes to return and pick up where they left off.

I am an absolute sucker for these Mike Grell drawn issues of Legion. These were some of the first issues I ever read as a comic reader when I was just a little kid. As a result, there is always a glow of nostalgia and magic in them. In fact, the Legion is probably the first comic I ever collected. By that I mean that if I got a quarter and walked to the local convenience store to buy a comic, I always looked for the Legion first. If I couldn't find them, I would peruse the spin rack and pick the coolest cover to buy. Talk about simpler times!

So this issue works on both levels for me, both Grell Legion and Supergirl. And boy, I think he draws a very lovely Supergirl here. Just beautiful. It is almost enough to let me overlook the creepy storyline of an obsessed Brainiac making a Supergirl 'love-doll'. Kara seems to be able to gloss over this, despite my thinking that most women would find it a bit too perverted, a bit too distasteful to ignore.

The art gets an 'A'; the story gets a 'D' (although I am putting 21st century views onto an early 70's comic book aimed for kids). It might be worth a couple of dollars at a convention just for the Grell Supergirl.

Overall grade: C

13 comments:

Heath Edwards said...

i wonder if we'll get any supergirl / brainiac relationship with our current kara? that would be interesting, given the last few beaus she's had...

Anonymous said...

I think Supergirl pretty much went above and beyond the call of duty in letting Brainiac Five "down easy" her. Building a synthetic interactive love doll of your one true love speaks volumes about one's emotional maturity...no wonder she never returned for any subsequent adventures with the Legion.
:D

John Feer

TalOs said...

'Brainiac 5's Secret Weakness' man how I loved that story! Say, did y'all know that in Kingdom Come itself we actually get to see Mr. Waid and Ross show just what would become of a Supergirl/Brainy romance in the form of their supposed offspring, "XTC", AKA "Kara Dox"! Remember the GREEN skinned and blond haired girl wearing a white/almost red (but more pink) 70's Supergirl "hot pants" variation suit in KC? Well THAT'S actually both Kara Zor-El and Brainy's own biological hybrid love child! ;)

TalOs said...

Alas, the whole 'Brainiac 5's Secret Weakness' story also reminds me of YET ANOTHER Superfamily linage member we lost during the whole Millennium arc with that being Laurel Kent who was revealed to have been an actual Oan Manhunter fem-bot herself who had to be taken down by her fellow Legionnaires in the end. *Sighs* Here's hoping that during the whole Legion of 3 Worlds mini we just might get back Laurel Kent rightfully restored to being her always intended human/Kryptonian hybrid 31st Century eras own descendant of Superman. :)

Anj said...

i wonder if we'll get any supergirl / brainiac relationship with our current kara?

Thanks for the post.

They barely hinted at one when she was in the Legion during Waid's run.

Now it seems more like he will be romantically involved with Dream Girl.

Anj said...

Building a synthetic interactive love doll of your one true love speaks volumes about one's emotional maturity...no wonder she never returned for any subsequent adventures with the Legion.
:D


Thanks for the post.

It is pretty creepy the more I think about it.

He did go insane a couple of times, so I'll cut him some slack.

Anj said...

Remember the GREEN skinned and blond haired girl wearing a white/almost red (but more pink) 70's Supergirl "hot pants" variation suit in KC? Well THAT'S actually both Kara Zor-El and Brainy's own biological hybrid love child! ;)

Thanks for the post!

I don't know how I could have missed that in the million times I have read Kingdom Come!

Looks like I'll have to dig out that trade.

cmtheis said...

Yeah, creepy sounding story, but isn't Kara all of our Secert Weakness?
Especially in that 70's costume, as drawn by MR. Grell! :)

Anj said...

Yeah, creepy sounding story, but isn't Kara all of our Secert Weakness?

Thanks so much for the post.

And I think you are absolutely right about her being all our secret weakness.

At the very least she is mine. LOL

Mike said...

She ain't my secret weakness. I shout it from the rooftops. ;)

Anj said...

She ain't my secret weakness. I shout it from the rooftops. ;)

Well, as the guy with a cabinet full of Supergirl action figures and a wall covered in commissions, it isn't too secret here either.

Nikki said...

hey talos. If i recall XTC was the name of a band who wrote a song called brainiac's daughter. a cover of the song was on the sound of superman CD that was released for superman returns. I've never read kingdom come but I was under the impression there was no supergirl as superman's cousin but power woman. A supergirl is seen with the legion at the end though. Who knows, powergirl is refugee from earth 2 maybe the legion supergirl was a refugee too in the kingdom come-verse

TalOs said...

nikki wrote: hey talos. If i recall XTC was the name of a band who wrote a song called brainiac's daughter. a cover of the song was on the sound of superman CD that was released for superman returns.

Really? wow! I honestly never knew that having had been the apparent case here. Kewl! :D

I've never read kingdom come but I was under the impression there was no supergirl as superman's cousin but power woman. A supergirl is seen with the legion at the end though. Who knows, powergirl is refugee from earth 2 maybe the legion supergirl was a refugee too in the kingdom come-verse

Yeah, the latter is what I tend to believe could be the case overall really come both there being E-2 Power Girl AND Supergirl existing on E-22/KC Earth/continuity itself.