Review: Superboy #197

Superboy #197 cover
Cover by Dave Cockrum with Nick Cardy

Superboy #197
Published and © by DC, September 1973

Title: “Timber Wolf: Dead Hero, Live Executioner!”
Synopsis: The villainous Tyr kidnaps and brainwashes Timber Wolf, then sends him on a mission to execute the Legion!

Writer: Cary Bates
Artist: Dave Cockrum

Review: The Legion of Super-Heroes officially enters the Bronze Age, bum rushing Superboy’s title to become cover co-stars. This Cary Bates story is a bit silly, but Dave Cockrum’s art is really the draw here. His design work – on both costumes and tech – helped reverse flagging interest in DC’s 30th-century heroes.


Title: “The Slay-Away Plan”
Synopsis: Superboy must get away from Lana Lang if he’s to foil an elaborate art heist.

Writer: Cary Bates
Penciler: Bob Brown
Inker: Murphy Anderson

Review: This silly heist story hasn’t aged well. It seems aimed at a younger audience than the lead Legion tale.

Grade (for the entire issue): B

Second opinion: “A 13-page LSH yarn with the usual fine Cockrum art – now, if we can just get rid of the silly seven-page Superboy filler.” – Martin Lock, Comic Media & The Comic Reader Newsletter #8, August-September 1973 … “Well worth the money. Cockrum’s art was by now almost glowing and the story fast paced and gripping.” – Howard Stangroom, Comics Unlimited #39, September 1976 … “#197-204 are all worthwhile.” – Hassan Yusuf, FantaCo’s Chronicle’s Series Annual #1, 1983 … “Bates introduced a greater depth, and when combined with Cockrum’s excellent storytelling, wonderful sense of design and bright, clear style, there was a renaissance for the Legion. … Recommended.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Dave Cockrum. His work on Superboy both reinvigorated the Legion franchise and paved the way for his involvement with the über-popular relaunch of Marvel’s X-Men.
Not-so-cool factor: The stories still have a too much Silver Age silliness to them.

Notable: The Legion becomes co-headliners with Superboy. … First appearance of Tyr. … Lightning Lad and Timber Wolf get new costumes.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “I can’t fight an irresistible urge to …  KILL THE PRESIDENT!” – Timber Wolf, sporting Wolverine’s look long before Wolvie

A word from the artist: “By issue #197 the Legion was appearing in every issue and the title of the book was now Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. …  The star has lost his book to his sidekicks.” – 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. 11, 2010.

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