August's MiniBests are going to focus on a fondly remembered part of my past: Comics. I've decided to focus on comics not just because mentioning superheroes on the Internet draws tons and tons of readers but also because even though I haven't read a comic in probably 20 years, I can still remember, almost verbatim, hundreds of comics I've read, and I find them popping up in my mind all the time. I'll be driving along, or typing away on a brief, or trying to remember if I brought the Babies! outside in the yard with me and, if so, where are they? and I'll get distracted by suddenly thinking: What was the deal with Element Lad, anyway?
So I'm not gonna fight it. I'm just gonna go ahead and talk about what's on my mind, and I'm gonna use "gonna" to make it seem more folksy (is it working?) as I delve into... what was the deal with Element Lad, anyway? for the first of my look at The Best Comic Book Characters I'm Pretty Sure Only I Remember.
Character: Element Lad.
What Was The Deal With Element Lad, Anyway? Element Lad was a member of the Legion of Superheroes, and I think he ran it for a while, too, or maybe he always ran it. Him or Lightning Lad seemed to always be in charge. But I never cared for Lightning Lad.
I did like Element Lad, and not just because he had that cool costume with the arrow pointing up at his head for some reason. He didn't always have that costume, I know -- he started out with a pink-and-white deal that had an "E" on the chest:
"E" being, I guess, a generic symbol for elements. Then he went to this jazzy number:
Which was still pink and which, apparently, would cause people later on to either decide he was, or speculate, that he was, gay,. Maybe that was what prompted the change to the green suit, which made him look a little tougher, but also kind of like a darker, grown-up version of Elroy Jetson.
His Power Was: To change any element into any other element, as I recall - doing so by pointing his hands at the thing whose elements he wants to change. I was never quite clear on how it worked, but it worked: he'd change, say, iron in a spaceship into ... some other element, I guess. I don't recall specifics.
Why I Remember Him: He had the kind of cool power that I liked as a kid, when we'd play superheroes with our cousins on the jungle gym outside of Grandma's apartment. Other kids wanted to be Superman or Spider-Man or Batman. I always wanted better powers than just speed or strength or Batarangs. So I was always choosing to be Green Lantern, or Soljer, or, once, Element Lad, prompting my cousin Joey to say, and I quote: "Who?" and I had to explain who he was, and how I knew about him, and what he could do, and even after that, I had to keep on justifying my power everytime we got into a battle, until eventually I gave up and just was Karate Kid or something... but secretly, deep down inside, I was transmuting elements.
What His Power Could Be Used For: Transforming the atmosphere of an entire planet to bring down a race of superhumans...
The Reason Why Most People Probably Forgot About Him: Because his power was rarely used to do stuff like that, and instead was used to do stuff like this: