Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Case of Phantom Girl

Tinya Wazzo, aka Phantom Girl, aka Phase, aka Apparation, held the distinction of being one of the longest serving Legionnaires in the original continuity.  She was the 5th to be granted membership, after Triplicate Girl.  She factored into a lot of stories, whether just by the nature of her powers or by her relationship with Ultra Boy.  For the most part, her various incarnations have been variations on a theme, except during the Reboot when she was said to be part Carggite, but I'm going to skip that convoluted mess. She made appearances in all continuities except 5YL where she was said to be killed.  Coincidentally, a female wearing Tinya's uniform from Giffen's later stint on the Baxter series popped up in L.E.G.I.O.N 89 with the ability to phase, so they gave her the name Phase.  She had no memory of where she came from and she spoke a form of Interlac that was strange to members of the L.E.G.I.O.N. title.  No surprise, Keith Giffen was writing that book.  Her move to the 20th Century was caused by the Time Trapper in a strange switch with a Durlan who would become RJ Brande. The origin of Phase has been retconned due to other editorial shifts.  (The current Phantom Girl in Terrifics will not be touched upon).

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Universe Building: The Legion of Substitute Heroes

The Subs are those characters I never quite got.  Their genesis is pure Silver Age and meant to be fun.  Their usage, however, didn't really hold up to scrutiny.  Making them a last line of defense seems odd when they aren't worthy enough to be Legionnaires. They seem to be used less in the Bronze age.  They get a couple pages in Earthwar.  We do see them make an appearance during the GDS and Night Girl is seen in a Cosmic Boy spotlight issue (#297). They gain some additional members and form an auxiliary.  But they do not appear again until the Subs specials where they are clearly meant to be comedy relief.  By this time, Night Girl has left and Polar Boy decides to disband the Subs and join the Legion.  We see Night Girl used a bit more and then that is it until the 5 Year Gap.

During that time, we find out that many of the Subs join the Legion when it's on its last legs until everyone finally gives up.  In the 5YL series Polar Boy and Night Girl make a few appearance both nothing significant. Infectious Lass is show to be married to Invisible Kid II, but she doesn't see much action.  It's not until well into vol 4 that we see that the Subs are no longer jokes, at least  Fire Lad, Stone Boy, Chlorophyll Kid and Color Kid.  Fire Lad really never had silly powers and it appears he controls them well.  Color Kid is able to generate blinding strobe lights, lighting up regions of outer space.  Stone Boy is taught how to retain his powers even in suspended animation state by a form of hypnosis and because the Dominators have plant based tech, Chlor is a natural in its sabotage. It's a nice bit of redemption for these characters.  We do see a bit more of them and they remain capable.

Fortunately, a Reboot of the Subs is only hinted at with Polar Boy and Night Girl and never happens. Infectious Lass however is in the Cadets program.   The Threeboot shows Night Girl applying for Legion membership but doesn't make it, but may be part of a Legion reserve.  This is not explored further as  it was towards the end of the Threeboot.

When we come to the Retroboot, the Subs make a valiant effort again.  While Color Kid is taken out of action, we see Rainbow Girl now as a member.  Stone Boy is back to his original powers and Chlor says he can talk to plants, but can't really.  So we are back to more of a comedic approach and there are only 4 of them present (Fire Lad is there).  However, this is their only appearance. Night Girl and Polar Boy are members of the Legion.

Now beyond the original Subs, we see a Legion Annual for the Baxter series where Cosmic Boy, Night Girl, along with Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Karate Kid II and Comet Queen form a "new Subs."  Why?  I don't know.  There is literally no point to it as they are basically the Legion Academy with Lu, Chuck, Rokk and Lydda. And why would Cosmic Boy retire from the Legion in order to head up a new group?  Maybe Levitz just needed a filler story and that's what we got.

The Subs as a group really serves no purpose.  It seems like they sometimes get their own missions but who funds them? I can't believe there is work for them that the SPs couldn't handle.

If you are rejected from open tryouts, then you need to go into the Academy or join the SP.   As Legion leader, if your  team of nearly 25 plus Reserves and Academy is not adequate, a bunch of rejects won't make a difference. I know some people enjoy them, and truly, I don't dislike them either. Fire Lad could easily qualify for Legion membership with the proper control and my post on Color Kid would expand him a bit.  Chlor could probably get work in conservation. Stone Boy, Porcupine Pete and Infectious Lass may not have the most useful powers.

I really feel the Subs is one of those concepts that should not be revived.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Volume 7: a reflection

I recommend the Legion of Super-Bloggers Blog.  One of the contributors, dranj,  has been going back and reviewing issues from the last two volumes of Legion of Superheroes.  He did volume 7 first and I reread them along with him and gave my opinions.  Currently he is doing volume 6.  I recommend checking it out!

Volume 7 was the last Legion series written, mainly by Paul Levitz with some contribution by Keith Giffen on both art and story.  It was an interesting time for the Legion, and readers!  Between volume 6 and 7, something happened to the Legion Lost team of Tyroc, Chameleon Girl, Timber Wolf, Dawnstar, Wildfire, Tellus and Gates.  Legion Lost's appearance in the 21st century appears to be part of their mission but in vol 7, they are presumed dead.  Maybe there is a reason for this divergence but I will touch upon that later.  Colossal Boy has resigned, presumably because of the presumed death of Yera.  Quislet has completely disappeared and nothing more is said about that.  I find it to be a shame that the truly alien looking members of the Legion are gone.  

In place of those 9 members, 4 of the Academy members are moved up:  Chemical Kid, Comet Queen, Dragonwing and Glorith, with Harmonia also becoming a member.  Rumor is that Levitz was told to bring some new blood onto the team.  Honestly, I would have liked some new blood in volume 6, besides Earth-Man. I wonder if Levitz would have moved on some of the other Academy members from Adventure comics knowing he needed to add new characters in a few months.  What I do know is that when Fabian Nicienza took on Legion Lost, he was given his pick of Legionnaires and he got whom he wanted.  Fabian confirmed this for me on twitter. 

What we got with the volume 7 team actually turned out to be one of the most diverse Legion teams ever.  

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Should have been a contender, issue 5

Danielle Foccart was a character that got ignored in the Retroboot.  In fact, I don't recall Jacques mentioning her once.  It's not quite clear how many years were to have transpired between the end of the Baxter series and Vol 6.  Obviously, there had to be a few years because Saturn Girl's boys were not infants.  If they aged, it makes me wonder how far Danielle had aged.  She easily could have been in the Academy.  Perhaps Levitz felt anything he had shown with her would have been derivative to her development from the 5YL continuity. Maybe he only threw that hint about her having powers as  just a random element years ago, never to be developed again.   It's unclear.

What happened to COMPUTO?

Going back into Vol 6 & 7, I just realized something was missing.  That is the Legion's majordomo: Computo.  I'm not talking about Danielle Foccart here.  That's another post.  No, Computo had been there for all of volume 3.  He added a bit of humor to interactions and helped run their headquarters.  During the Five Year Gap, he was acquired by the Dominators and rebuilt into B.I.O.N. but that continuity is now separate.  I guess he could have been there in the background, but Levitz  didn't even give him a nod.  With Tharok's dismantling of technology in volume 7, it makes me wonder if there couldn't have been some storyline there, such as being destroyed, becoming a weapon against the Legion, or something else.  It could have been interesting to have Tharok acquire him and in the process, he evolves.  I think I may go to Baltimore Comic-Con this year.  Levitz will be there.  Maybe it's worth an ask?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A case of Ultra Boy

Yes, I'm sure many people will think me weird thinking that Ultra Boy is problematic in some way.  It's no surprise Jo is one of the most popular Legionnaires. His one-man-show in Superboy and the Legion of Super-heroes 239 showed that he was plenty capable to best many of his teammates, including Superboy and Mon-El.  Many times, Jo was seen to be quite proficient at switching his abilities on the fly, except maybe when he was flying at full speed across space.  His intelligence, however, varied with writers.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Universe Building: the Legion Academy

The Legion Academy, at one point known as the UP Militia Academy and the Legion Cadet program, was a training school for the Legion of Superheroes.  The wikipedia entry on it makes me chuckle:

Training there may be deficient to some degree, however, as Chemical King, Karate Kid II and Magnetic Kid have all died in the line of battle, though as two of those were selfless sacrifices made to save others, they clearly teach heroism quite well.

LOL.  Initially, it is not clear who was in charge of the training at the Academy.  Wildfire does appear to be heavily involved in it after he becomes a member, but that is after Timber Wolf and Chemical King join.  We see later that Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy later become instructors, which was actually a pretty good way for Levitz to keep their fans happy.  In the Retroboot, however, Levitz demotes Night Girl from full membership to Academy instructor (and presumably reserve status).