Wednesday, March 8, 2017


The League of Super-Groovy Crimefighters (Ancient Studios)
5 issues, 2000-2002

I had forgotten that period which ran from the 90s into the tip-top of the 21st century wherein nobody was a publisher any more, but rather a studio. Gone were the days of So-and-so Comics, Whatevs Magazines, Dingus Publishing and so on. Rather, everybody was a studio, producing the comics themselves in addition to the content.

It only comes to mind because The League of Super-Groovy Crimefighters is an intentional throwback to and satire of the comics of the 1970s (its back cover, proudly declaring "Putting the stereo back in stereotype!" had me rolling my eyes at the extreme extremeness of its wit).


TLoSGCF is a multifaceted thing. To begin with, the concept is incredibly fun -- Seven regular human beings are granted superhuman abilities by the products purchased from the backpage ads in old comic books. And, for the record, the lineup goes: Cupid ("real bow and arrow set"), Black Belt (any number of self-defense ads), The Ring (mood ring), X (X-Ray Specs), Atlas (obvs), Thor ("fun croquet mallet" ... I don't remember that one, but I have faith that it's legit), and Mr.Phenomenal (who has apparently earned an electronics degree by mail).

So it's got that going for it, it's a really fun concept. Now here's the problem: It's incomprehensible.

The characters seem to speak in catchphrases which, yes, I get is a very 1970s kind of thing to do. The problem is that none of it serves character, most of it's for cheap laughs (although almost none of them land), and it has that overall sense of being written in such a way that you'd need to know what was on the author's mind when he wrote it in order to understand it. And, yes, I know, I'm also often guilty of that, but that doesn't absolve the excess and all that.

Monster Frat House (Malibu/Eternity)
1 issue, 1989

The League of Super-Groovy Crimefighters had a pretty bro-ey feel to it across the board, what with its back-pattery in terms of winky political incorrectness. Monster Frat House, by all rights, should be an equally bro-ey book -- and it's not without its moments -- but it has an all-around more robust atmosphere.

The gimmick is obvious: Teenage monsters sharing a frat house. It's not even a particularly ingenious assemblage of cast. There's a vampire (Brad), a werewolf (Larry), and a Frankenstein monster (Bill) with pretensions of duplicating his grandfather's work.

See, that's a good gag.
Women are few and far between in the cast, except for the occasional jiggle giggle, and the major plot involving the three main characters is a fight between houses that wouldn't seem out of place in a relatively low-budget teen sex comedy. Nonetheless, the characters are likable and the moments where they build character are engaging, despite being fairly irrelevant to the specific plots of the stories.

That's kind of the layout of Monster Frat House, potential interrupted with unironic chest-bumping and binge drinking. We discover, for instance, that there are whole werewolf communities up among the hillbillies residing nearby, and that's a fun idea. That the writer refers to them as "bohunks" kind of implies that he was going for some sort of derogatory diminutive but, you know, doesn't know what a bohunk is. 

Still, lighter on the brohamitude and stronger on the character components than League of Super-Groovy Crimefighters. 


neofishboy said...

I realize that pointing out the improbable assets of costumed superheroines is nearly as old as the medium itself ... but great googly-moogly, that League cover should come with a NSFW warning.

Calamity Jon said...

Yeah, and it doesn't really pay off in even the most obvious way. You'd think there'd be a gag about wardrobe malfunctions or gobsmacked enemies or something, but they're just there and nothing happens around it.

I'm real disappointed with that book. Terrific premise but *fzzzzzz*

neofishboy said...

... or she opens a cupboard in her apartment or something and it's packed full of boxes of double-sided tape.

Calamity Jon said...


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