Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #197 (1973)

The Legion of Super-Heroes was one of the coolest groups of heroes when I was a kid. They were super-powered teen heroes with flashy costumes and amazing artwork who would fight bad guys while falling in and out of love with each other. Kind of like a super-powered Dawson’s Creek in space, except that it was set in the 30th century, and the nickname Lightning Lad had nothing to do with one’s sexual prowess.
When I read the Legion, it was in this very comic, with the very odd title of Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes. Obviously, the old Superboy comic had its series taken over by the Legion, but how odd a title was it for Superboy to star its friends? Didn ‘t make much sense, but then it was the 1970s and Superboy was hopelessly out of step with the times.
Of course, it didn’t help that Superboy was a dork. As shown in both the lead story and the backup story, Clark Kent was an incredibly geeky adolescent, wearing a cardigan sweater and bow tie to a picnic with the beautiful Lana Lang, and then trying so hard not to kiss her that he made an apple fall on Lana’s head, rendering her unconscious. Did Clark have some sort of performance anxiety around Lana? Some fear that if he took her in his planet-crushing arms, he would squeeze the life out of his squeeze?
Once he travels to the future, though, Superboy is one of many dorks, albeit one who who has a super-stretchy invulnerable cape (is that the kind of thing that the Infinite Crisis Superboy wants to have return to comics?). His super-powered pal Mon-El is a jerk who doesn’t trust his friends, and Timber Wolf tries to kill the President of Earth.
Ovedrall, it’s kind of a let-down reading this comic. SATLSH 197 was the first issue of the series that I came to love, and it has some gorgeously slick are by the great Dave Cockrum. But in my mind this comic had always been some sort of landmark issue, a spectacular spectacular of phantasmagorical adventure and spectacular heroism. Instead, it just feels kind of ordinary, a blah Cary Bates-written adventure where heroes are dicks and Superboy still needs to discover the joy of having a girlfriend.

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