The Groovy Agent's Pad

Like classic/retro comics, music, tv, movies, sci-fi, fantasy, etc., etc., and etc.? Then hang out with The Groovy Agent as he makes the universe safe for all the cool stuff that has come before...and even makes a little room for cool stuff yet to come!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What Made Comics Groovy! Part 6: Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes

When it came to superheroes, I doubt any costumes that just cried out, "I'm Groovy!" more than those worn by the Legion of Superheroes. Some of them were holdovers from the Silver Age, and they looked cool enough not to mess with (Especially Ultra Boy and Sun boy). Dave (X-Men) Cockrum got the ball rolling with magnificently designed new uniforms for Lightning Lad, Star Boy, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Dream Girl, Duo Damsel, Shrinking Violet, Chameleon Boy. and especially Princess Projectra and Timber Wolf. Sleek, hip, and very modern, those costumes (and Cockrum's art) got Ol' Groove hooked on Superboy and the Legion.

Soon, Cockrum left, but he was replaced by an artist who, while very different, also had a knack for making Superboy and his pals look incredibly groovy: Mike (Warlord) Grell. Now Grell didn't have quite the knack for costuming Cockrum did. His Cosmic Boy costume was hideous, and he stripped enough of Colossal Boy's costume away to take out any of the cool factor. His Tyroc design wasn't too bad, though. But, when it came to drawing outer space scenes, science fiction sets, etc. Grell rocked! Another good thing about Grell was that he stayed on the book for a good, lengthy run. Fans could count on his slick, energetic, and futuristic art to make a trip to the spinner rack worthwhile.

After Grell's departure, various other artists took over with varying degrees of success. The best of these was James Sherman, who's art was closer to Cockrum's style wise, but was very much a slave to whomever inked his work. When Joe Rubenstein or Bob McCleod inked him, though, the art ranked with the best of Cockrum and Grell.

Haven't said much about the stories, have I? The stories (especially those written by Cary Bates) were pretty nice. This was a time when DC was struggling with their identity: did they write for kids, or were they going after Marvel's older, college-age readers? S/LSH stories usually had that awkward identity tug-of-war going on. Plots came first (for the kids), some characterization (even a bit of edginess--Timber Wolf's hot-headedness, for example) for the college crowd, and some lame attempts at futuristic slang that satisfied neither the kids nor the college folk.

Still, it was a fun book with a huge cast of colorful characters. A truly groovy book from the Groovy Age.


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