A Tribute to the of

I have sad news to report, readers. The wonderful Liz Berube, another of my interviewees, [Sage #281] passed away January 15th. I’m glad I got to get acquainted with her and to help tell her story, both here and in an article I did for BACK ISSUE. Furthermore, she had a coloring book published with her classic work in it and generously sent me a copy a few years ago. You’ll be missed, Liz.

By way of tribute, I dug through some back issues that Liz worked on as a colorist and have selected a tale of the Legion of Super-Heroes from DC Special #28 themed “Earth Shattering Disasters!”, boasting “3 All-new Epics!” on that dramatic cover by Al Milgrom [Sage #239 & #240] and colored by Tatjana Wood. The issue has a publication date of June/July 1977 and an on-sale date of March 8, 1977. Our managing editor is Joe Orlando and the story editor is Paul Levitz,[Sage #247] who also scripted “The City That Stopped—Dead!Arvell Jones is the penciler with Bob Layton on inks, Bill Morse lettering and of course Liz Berube serving as colorist.

The setting is Metropolis in the year 2977 at midnight. The fusion powershphere that provides unlimited energy for this capital city of the United Planets has just experienced the unthinkable: A power failure, threatening to do untold damage to the citizenry. Within moments, however, the Legion of Super-Heroes are springing into action, led by Brainiac 5. The other team members include Chemical King, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf and Ultra Boy.

Brainiac 5 muses that the broadcast energy is the issue and that every piece of equipment right down to emergency services relies on the broadcast beams. Some rescues begin to take place, but the Legionnaires are worried about a complete catastrophe in this city of 30 million.

Elsewhere, we get to see the source of this mayhem. It seems the power hasn’t been cut off, but redirected inward, right back to the sphere itself with the goal of a massive and catastrophic explosion. Then we see the perpetrator, who looks a lot like Iron Man’s ugly cousin in his radiation proof armor. As the bad guy ponders his next move, Brainy, Phantom Girl and Chemical King discover the villain and go on the offense. He reveals himself [on page 5] as Fenton Pike, who the Legion had previously crossed swords with in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #222 [page 10].

After he dispatches Chemical King, he fires a futuristic pistol at Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl, but between Brainy’s force shield and PG’s ability to dematerialize her body, the weapon is ineffective. In the next moments, Pike does a dematerializing gig of his own, slipping through the ground to escape.

Elsewhere, Ultra Boy is busily using his Ultra strength to manually turn a turbine at Metropolis General Hospital so that the staff can tend to their patients and Timber Wolf is continuing to effect rescues of trapped citizens.

Back at the Powersphere, Brainiac 5 has an idea and instructs Chemical King to use his power to slow down the chemical reaction of the radiation to stave off the impending explosion. CK gets to work while Phantom Girl takes advantage of the lowered radiation level to enter the powersphere and try to fix the sabotaged equipment inside.

Meanwhile, Ultra Boy and Timber Wolf are on their way to find and capture Fenton Pike. The only place the miscreant could be is within the inertron-walled headquarters of the Legion of Super-Heroes, waiting for the cataclysm and confident he’ll survive within its protective structure.

They locate and kayo the criminal while Phantom Girl is finally successful at restoring the powersphere’s infrastructure back in properly working order. The strain, however, has dropped both Chemical King and Phantom Girl to unconsciousness, but the mission is a success and Metropolis and the Earth at large are saved thanks to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I can’t say I was particularly enamored with the artwork on this story. Maybe I’m just too used to the classic Curt Swan and Mike Grell efforts I grew up on and even the story itself wasn’t the most engaging Legion story I’ve ever read, but it was kind of interesting to see Chemical King in action and of course the ultimate goal was to remember the work of the marvelous Liz Berube and to wish her Godspeed.

Well, readers, I’ve had a few major distractions in my life lately, so I’ve not been as attentive here as usual, but let me announce that next time we will mark the 500th edition of the Silver Age Sage, which is pretty amazing to consider. I’m still settling on an appropriate story to review, but fear not, I shall have something here on February 15th that will hopefully satisfy.

Remember that I’m just an e-mail away and you can give free rein to your comments, suggestions and other feedback whenever the spirit moves you. Send all correspondence to: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

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