Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Who's Who: Legion of Super-Villains

The Legion of Super-Villains
by Russell & Siskoid

Membership varied, but core characters included: Cosmic King, Lighting Lord, Saturn Queen, Chameleon Chief, Sun Emperor, Radiation Roy, and Nemesis Kid
Relationship to Legion: Archenemies 

Legion Log
The Legion of Super-Villains has almost as long a comics history as the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion made its debut in 1958, but it was initially considered supporting characters of the Superman Family before it finally received its own series in 1962. So in Jan, 1961 it was not surprising for Lightning Lad to be used as a plot device in one of Superboy's battles with Lex Luthor. (Superboy #86). During that encounter, Lighting Lad let it slip to Luthor that he was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the future. That made Lex think that there had to be a Legion of Super-VILLAINs, too. So in one of the next chronological appearance of the Legion (Superman #147, Aug 1961) Lex worked to contact villains from the future. He was successful, and were introduced to Cosmic King, Lighting Lord, and Saturn Queen for the first time.

However, to make things more complicated, these were the adult versions of these characters!

A nice touch was to name each of these characters with a "ruler" name: King, Lord, and Queen for the charter members, and later Sun Emperor and Chameleon Chief.

Even after the Legion received their own series, the adult trio of Super-Villains appeared several times in Superman stories. The idea that these characters would be introduced in their younger versions seemed to have never occurred to editor Mort Weisinger; when they were finally introduced in the pages of Adventure Comics (in 1965), they were introduced as time-traveling adults!

Their second appearance in Adventure Comics is also as adults, but this time it is in the context of "the Adult Legion" story-line, so it makes a little bit more sense.

A year later, the Legion of Super-Villains finally made their actual debut in "current" Legion continuity. A criminal named Tarik the Mute blackmailed Colossal Boy to help him create a "training academy" for super-powered criminals. At this time former Legionnaire Nemesis Kid, Lightning Lord, and Legion rejects Spider Girl, Radiation Roy, and Ron-Karr were members. There was no sign of Cosmic King or Saturn Queen.

The Legion of Super-Villains returned a few years later, now featuring Sun Emperor and Chameleon Chief, who had appeared as adults in a Jimmy Olsen story with no background or fanfare in 1962 but then was promptly forgotten. The other members were returnees Lighting Lord, Nemesis Kid, Spider Girl, and Radiation Roy. There was still no sign of Cosmic King or Saturn Queen.

The next plot of the Super-Villains involved them each taking a blood oath to murder a Legionnaire. In preparation to succeed at that, the LSV expanded its membership to be closer to a true Legion. Besides introducing several new members, the LSV added former members of the League of Super-Assassins and several of the rejects from Superboy/Legion #212. One of the new characters was Cosmic King. Although he appeared here without any specific origin or background, it was generally assumed that he was the younger version of the "adult" character.

After the LSVs' plot on Orando failed, they never managed to attack the Legion again before the Magic Wars. Individual members appeared as prisoners on the prison planets Takron-Galtos and Labyrinth. Unfortunately, the Silver/Bronze Age ended without Saturn Queen ever having appeared in "current" Legion continuity, though she would appear in the Five Years Later time frame.

The Legion of Super-Villains as such did not appear in the Five Years Later time frame, the Reboot, nor the Threeboot, though of course, specific members might have. Legionnaires from these timelines did meet the LSV assembled by Superboy-Prime during the so-called Final Crisis, a villainous group that assembles former LSV and Fatal Five members, in addition to normally solo Legion villains like Dr. Regulus, Black Mace, Grimbor, Universo, and Earth-Man.

After Infinite Crisis, the Legion of Super-Villains' history has presumably been restored. Saturn Queen finally enters the contemporary timeline to get her team back together and bring anarchy to the universe in the form of a Chaos god, starting with the destruction of the worlds that house the immortal beings that represent will (Oa), faith (the Rock of Eternity), and wisdom (Utopia). They were defeated by the Legion at the cost of Earth-Man's life.

The Adult Legion of Super-Villains made a final appearance in the 21st Century, trying to drastically alter the past by attempting to murder Superman and Batman's parents to raise these heroes themselves, while also sabotaging other heroes' origins. They managed to create a timeline where their powerful children rules over Earth with an iron fist, but were defeated by Princess Diana and her rebels. Batman's death created a parodox however which, through a sequence of timey-wimey events caused the real timeline to be restored and cemented. The LSV were taken into custody by the Adult Legion.

The Legion of Super-Villains has appeared in the Legion of Super-Heroes animated series. Its members were Lightning Lord, Hunter, Esper, Tyr, Wave, and Ron-Karr.

Defining Villainous Moment: 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #1-6
(reprinted in An Eye For An Eye TPB)
The LSV attempts to kidnap a whole world and escape 
into a universe without a Legion of Super-Heroes
(Saturn Queen & Tarik did not appear in this story.)

Important Legion of Super-Villains Stories:

Superman #147
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 1)
The debut of the Legion of Super-Villains

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #63
The debut of Chameleon Chief and Sun Emperor

Adventure Comics #331
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 4
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 2)
The first appearance of the LSV in "current" Legion continuity....
as time-traveling adults!

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #87
Saturn Queen takes control of Jimmy Olsen and nearly causes him to murder his friend

Adventure Comics #354-355
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 6
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 3)
The LSV returns, but this time the story is set in the "Adult Legion" future continuity

Adventure Comics #372
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 4)
As panel 2 explains, this is the actual debut of the Legion of Super-Villains

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #208
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11
and Showcase Presents The Legion Vol. 5)
The LSV returns with a plot to discredit the Legion

The Best of DC Digest #24
The Legion discovers the final fate of Tarik the Mute 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #1-6
(reprinted in An Eye For An Eye TPB)
The LSV's master plot ends in death

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #8
(reprinted in The More Things Change TPB)
The Legion rounds up the last free members of the LSV

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #18
Members of the LSV are moved off of Takron-Galtos during The Crisis

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #21
Members of the LSV participate in a mutiny on the way to their new prison planet 

Action Comics #583
 (reprinted in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow TPB)
The LSV murders Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2
Superboy-Prime assembles his own Legion of Super-Villains during Final Crisis

Legion of Super-Villains #1
Saturn Queen reassembles the Legion of Super-Villains

Legion of Super-Heroes (v6) #12-16
The Legion fights to prevent the LSV from bringing Chaos to the universe

Superman/Batman #14-18
The Adult Legion of Super-Villains creates a timeline in which they rule
the 21st Century through their "Super-Sons"

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series
The Legion of Super-Villains appeared on the animated show

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic group of Super-Villains !

    I think they and the Fatal Five were just the Best rogues any group could face !

    Avengers = Masters of Evil

    X-Men = Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants

    Justice League of America = The Crime Syndicate of Amerika and Legion of DOOM

    Just great stuff!

    I'd love to see the Crime Syndicate of Amerika version where the LSV's are the good guys .