Friday, January 11, 2013
BAB Classic: Superboy #197: The All-New, All-Savage Timber Wolf
Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #197 (Sept 1973)
"Timber Wolf -Dead Hero, Live Executioner"
script: Cary Bates
art: Dave Cockrum
Note: This post was originally run on February 15, 2010.
Karen: We're back with another Legion review. This time we're stepping further back to the glory of the Legion rebirth at the hands of Dave Cockrum. As most of you probably know, when Cockrum started working on the Legion, he revamped their costumes, and gave the series a much more stylish, futuristic look. His work on the title brought renewed interest in the Legion.
Doug: I've always wondered why Julie Schwartz and Carmine Infantino got so much credit for the "New Look" Batman -- what Cockrum did in the Legion some eight years later was much more revolutionary!
Doug: I loved the scene early in the story where Lana tries to get Clark to kiss her -- funny stuff. And hey -- no one notices that Clark Kent wears a yellow belt, just like Superboy's??
Karen: This particular issue focuses on Timber Wolf, a character who always seemed almost unnecessary given the presence of not only Superboy, but Mon-El and Ultra-Boy as well. Timber Wolf was super-strong, fast, and agile, but not nearly as tough as any of those three. Like most early silver age DC characters, he had a personality that was interchangeable with anyone else in the Legion too.
Doug: Yeah, and I'm not a fan of the edgy, irritable characters -- Timber Wolf was essentially Wolverine before Wolverine was Wolverine (if that makes any sense)! I didn't care for Superboy's comment to Mon-el that Timber Wolf was almost as strong as they were. It always seemed to me, like you said, that Superboy, Mon-el, and Ultra Boy should be the muscle and that everyone else should rely on their specific powers.
Karen: Here, we not only get a hip update on his costume but on his facial features as well, to make him look more animalistic. The pointy-tip hairstyle is something we'd see again on Marvel's Beast and later Wolverine.
Karen: The plot revolves around Timber Wolf's re-appearance - he'd been thought killed in a planetary explosion months before. Just as he's about to receive a medal from the president of Earth, he goes nuts and tries to kill him. He's subdued but he's clearly out of his mind.
Doug: Almost like, I don't know -- a berserker rage?
Karen: The Legionnaires realize he's been brainwashed and Brainiac 5 begins treatments to cure him. But who has brainwashed him?
Karen: They soon find out, as the dreaded Tyr attacks Legion headquarters. This was the first appearance of the villain with a gun for a hand. However, Timber Wolf easily stops Tyr and all is right with the Legion again.
Doug: Tyr's hand deal was somewhat reminiscent of Marvel's Klaw. Wasn't there a Super Powers figure of Tyr? I'm thinking there was.
Karen: This was a fairly simple, and to be honest, uninteresting story. The saving grace is the fantastic Cockrum art. Although no inker is credited I think he might have inked himself; the art is similar to work he did on Giant-Size Avengers. I love the detail Cockrum puts into each scene. For instance, in Timber Wolf's quarters we see blueprints for the USS Enterprise, as well as a model of a Klingon cruiser! Tyr's spaceship looks something like a Klingon ship, come to think of it.
Doug: The space element of the Legion was often a pleaser. It just opened up a lot more story possibilities. And you are so right about Cockrum's art -- whereas John Forte and later Curt Swan certainly gave the Legion it's "look" at different stages of its life, it was Cockrum and shortly thereafter Mike Grell who typified my Legion. I can unashamedly say that as a young adolescent boy, the Legion was a fave title for several reasons.
Karen: These old Legion tales may not have much meat to them, but the framework for what was to come later is definitely being built here.