Thursday, September 11, 2014

Superboy #173

Superboy #173 (April 1971)
title: "Trust Me Or Kill Me!"
writer: Cary Bates
penciller/inker: George Tuska
letterer: Ben Oda
colorist: Uncredited
editor: Murray Boltinoff
cover: Neal Adams
reviewer: Bilingual Boy

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Superboy

Opponents: 
Mordru
  
Synopsis: 
Cosmic Boy is the only Legionnaire on duty because the rest of the membership have rushed to Medicus-One in order to get VSR-Virus vaccinations. Cos had the disease as a child, so is now immune. Suddenly, another Cosmic Boy appears, challenging the first to his identity! They fight it out, but find that they are exact physical equals. So they decide to call Superboy from the past to help figure out which is the "true" Legionnaire.

As soon as Superboy arrives, the evil sorcerer Mordru appears, challenging the Boy of Steel to figure out which Cosmic Boy is real! The other is a mystic double that Mordru created to destroy the Legion.

Superboy asks both of them questions that only the real Cosmic Boy should know, such as how Superboy was asked to join the Legion, and about Cosmic Boy's origin and family on Braal. Afraid that if the mystical double isn't found out by the time the Legion returns there will be bloodshed, Superboy rushes off. He returns moments later with two iron boulders and throws them at the two Cosmic Boys. One stops his without any problem, while the other is about to be hit, his magnetic powers suddenly not working. Superboy saves this one's life, announcing that he is the true Cosmic Boy.  Mordru admits defeat, disappearing with his Cosmic Boy Toy. It turns out that the iron boulders were actually plastic, so of course the fake Cosmic Boy used sorcery to control his, and the real Cosmic Boy wouldn't have any power over them.

Commentary: 
If the first Superboy appearance of the Legion last issue was a home-run, this story is more like a foul ball. Which is unfortunate, as this is writer Cary Bates' first Legion tale in Superboy. Luckily, Cary would get much better in time. In this tale the drama is absolutely artificial: if Mordru had chosen, say, Sun Boy to copy, instead of using a Mirror Cos, he would have caught the real Cosmic Boy by surprise and killed him, starting the massacre. Or if Mordru hadn't shown up and explained his plot to Superboy, the Cosmic Boy double would have created chaos when the Legion returned, probably killing a few of them before someone could stop him. But no, Cary created a "mystery" and a perfectly fine solution instead, sacrificing logic for plot. Two more things I have to comment on: Cosmic Boy offers Superboy a weapon to kill both Cosmic Boys, and Superboy says, "that could be a courageous gesture made by the real Cosmic Boy---!" Uh, OR it could have been the fake, forgetting that the Legion Code strictly forbids murder. D'uh. And lastly, just as the rest of the Legion arrives back on Earth, Superboy flies off. He doesn't even have time to say hello to his pals?! Really, he should have said, "I only have time to say hello before I need to get back...." This just seemed like this wasn't the real Superboy...!


Science Police Notes:  
  • The second Cosmic Boy appears as a reflection in one panel, but then walks through the mirror and his hair suddenly parts itself on the same side as the first Cosmic Boy.  
  • The Legion cruisers shown in this story do not resemble each other, let alone any other Legion cruiser ever shown before or since. They don't even resemble the cruiser from last issue. 
Status: 
Reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Vol. 10 and Showcases Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes vol 4

Legion Bonus!
Because this story is only seven pages, here it is in its entirety! Don't say we didn't warn you.






1 comment:

  1. Oh, I think you're being a wee bit harsh on a little 7-page back-up written in 1971.

    I can't really dispute any of your criticisms, and it's true that it's a variation on the old evil doppelganger device that I'm sure even in 1971 had already been done to death, but I think the story moves and crackles and the way Superboy tricks Mordru at the end is kind of nifty. I even found the part where the evil Cos emerges from the mirror to be kind of eerie. So, overall I rather liked the story.

    And Tuska really excelled at boulders, didn't he?

    Joseph Brian Scott

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