Superhero comics for kids – you remember those, right? In the decades before superhero comics became the sole domain of cranky middle managers on the verge of dotage? – tended to swing one of two ways when depicting their audience-aged characters within their books pages. On the one hand, you had kid superheroes like Robin, Bucky, the Star Spangled Kid, Superboy and the lot who were, basically, indistinguishable from their adult counterparts in personality, banter and drive.
On the other hand, you had teen superheroes who were meant to embody the hep slang and gear youth culture of the time – or at least as far as the middle-aged authors and artists could approximate. It’s from this latter category that you draw Campy Champ, the Terrific Teen!
Debuting and bowing in Spyman No.3 (or, more accurately, I should call it “Top Secret Adventures featuring Spyman No.3” I guess, or not, I don’t care) way back in 1967, Campy Champ is secretly Kevin something-or-another, an un-surnamed sad sack who’s a no-go with the girls- specifically his intended inamorata Chikkie.
|Our, uh ... hero?|
Well, that’s not really how they make cheese, buddy. In fact, Kevin’s turning into the purple-bedecked Campy Champ, a longhair-hero who seems to derive his powers from a conveniently labeled “Disko Trique Super-Science Belt” strapped around his waist.
It’s hard to decide what’s more questionable in the Campy Champ mythology – his raison d’etre or lingua franca. Existing in a universe where “Camp” is a catchall phrase for good things (bad things, it turns out, are merely “damp camp”), Campy Champ’s sole efforts as a superhero-type is to sabotage Chikkie’s date with the hot rod-riding Harry Campbell (I think that’s Pete Campbell’s brother on Mad Men, someone look that up for me). Moreso, Campy accomplishes this by using his tremendous powers to progressively destroy Harry’s car and then abduct Chikkie for an impromptu (unsuccessful) date. So. More of a villain really, I guess.
Campy Champ bows out after a single appearance, which is probably for the best since all he did the first time around was wreck property and disappoint the ladies which, frankly, most of us can do without a magic record.