Review: Superboy #198

Superboy #198 cover
Cover by Nick Cardy

Superboy #198
Published and © by DC, October 1973

Title: “The Fatal Five Who Twisted Time!”
Synopsis: The Fatal Five concocts a time-travel scheme to wipe out the Legion by neutralizing Superboy in the 20th century.

Writer: Cary Bates
Artist: Dave Cockrum

Review: In just their second outing as cover co-stars, the Legionnaires stretch out to take up this entire issue of Superboy. Writer Cary Bates’ story still suffers from a bit of Silver Age silliness and too many plot holes, but the extra space does allow more room for characterization.  It certainly feels like the franchise is headed in the right direction. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fine art of Dave Cockrum, who continues to put his stamp on the 30th century here. He’s not up his X-level yet, but there are fine flourishes throughout.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “Classic.” – Howard Stangroom, Comics Unlimited #39, September 1976 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: All Legion, all the time.
Not-so-cool factor: The Emerald Empress hiding as a fortuneteller at a traveling carnival in the 20th century. Umm, why?

Notable: New costumes for Element Lad and Princess Projectra.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “The Time-Sorter has already sealed your doom!” – The Persuader, because the villain always needs to tell the hero about the secret plot device

A word from the artist: “#198 was our first full-length adventure, and from then on Superboy himself was merely a member of the group.” – Dave Cockrum, from the “Foreword” to “The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives: Volume 10,” 2000

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Jan. 12, 2010.

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