House ad for Legion of Super-Heroes #263

House ad for Legion of Super-Heroes #263

In late 1979/early 1980 a lot was happening with the LoSH. It was a rotating roster of 25 super-teens. Superboy just left the series and the title was now “The Legion of Super-Heroes” rather than “Superboy starring the Legion of Superheroes”. The number of LoSH fan clubs were at an all-time high. Gerry Conway was the regular writer.

But I’ll tell you more about that some other time.

This issue is notable for featuring the legionnaire Tyroc – an African-american character so typecast that Mike Grell was quoted as saying “They might as well have named him Tyrone.” Grell’s dislike for this character was so strong that he intentionally gave him a ridiculous costume.*

Prior to 1976, there had never been a black character in an issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes. At the time, Murray Boltinoff was the editor for Legion of Super-Heroes and all attempts by Mike Grell for the introduction of a black character were shut down. Finally, Boltinoff yielded to Grell’s requests and Tyroc was born. (FYI: In the world of comic book publishing, the editor has the final say on everything.)

In the 30th century, all African-Americans live on an island on earth that periodically disappears for years at a time. Tyroc was this island’s protector, armed with his reality warping screams. Grell (who only had control of the character design) commented that not only did Tyroc get the short end of the stick as far as origins go, they also gave him “the world’s stupidest super-power”.

disclaimer: Murray Boltinoff has never commented on this, so we really don’t know his side of the story.

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