Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Who's Who: Legion Espionage Squad

Legion Espionage Squad
by Russell & Siskoid


Members: Chameleon Boy, Dawnstar, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid I, Invisible Kid II, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet
Members (Reboot): Apparition, Chameleon, Invisible Kid, Sensor, Triad, Violet
Members (Retroboot additions): Chameleon Girl, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Quislet, Sensor Girl, Starman, Tellus
Relationship to Legion: Sub-team

Legion Log
The first mention of the Legion Espionage Squad occurs when the Legion of Super-Heroes was outlawed by President Boltax Kandru and have to infiltrate his office without official government permission. Invisible Kid (Lyle Norg), who was Legion Leader at the time, turned over control of the Legion to the Legion Espionage Squad leader, Chameleon Boy. He then came up with a plan using Duo Damsel, Shrinking Violet, Karate Kid, and himself to infiltrate the UP President's office in an attempt to understand what was happening behind the scenes.

Although this was the first mention of the Legion Espionage Squad, the tone of the conversation between Invisible Kid and Chameleon Boy strongly implied that the Espionage Squad had been organized for a mission previous to this one. According to the Who's Who entry above, it had been organized for a very specific covert operation with Chameleon Boy, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, and Invisible Kid. After this first mission, the Legion duly recognized the Espionage Squad as a sub-team within the Legion, and made Chameleon Boy its permanent leader. This origin story was never told.

The Legion Espionage Squad, by its very nature, preferred to keep a low profile, so its official history is not well known. What is known is that the United Planets are aware of its existence, as on at least one occasion the UP asked the Espionage Squad to investigate an incident that the Legion officially could not.

As for its membership, Shrinking Violet was mentioned as one of the charter members of the Espionage Squad. And although Phantom Girl has been listed as a member for several years, she was not a participant in most of the incidents mentioned herein.

After the so-called Five-Year Gap, the Legion did not officially reform the Espionage Squad, but the temporal clones known as Batch SW6 did go on as usual, and used their version of the Squad on a number of missions, being instrumental, for example, in exposing Universo's treachery in the wake of the Dominators' departure from Earth.

In the Reboot, Invisible Kid once again forms an Espionage Squad, without even the Legion leader's permission. They become instrumental in investigating, exposing and defeating such threats as the xenophobic White Triangle, a treacherous U.P. President, the Dark Circle, and Credo.

In the Threeboot, the Legion never officially creates an Espionage Squad, but that doesn't mean its members don't go on spy missions.

After Infinite Crisis, the Legion Espionage Squad's original history has presumably been more or less restored. An expanded Squad went to the early 21st-Century and helped Superman defend New Krypton from Brainiac, using undercover identities until they were needed. Back in the 31st Century, they helped protect R.J. Brande from an assassin and are still working, mostly behind the scenes, to keep the United Planets safe and stable.

Important Legion Espionage Squad stories:

Adventure Comics #360
(reprinted in The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 7
and Showcase Presents: The Legion Vol. 3)

First mention of the Espionage Squad 

Action Comics #390-391

Chameleon Boy chooses a very different team to take down a dictator
affiliated with the Dark Circle

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #228
The UP asks the Espionage Squad to covertly investigate the Australian Dictator

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #239
Chameleon Boy references the Espionage Squad still being active

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #257
The Espionage Squad works to discover who stole RJ Brande's fortune; 
Shrinking Violet is mentioned as a Charter Member

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #286-287
Chameleon Boy leads the Espionage Squad on a mission to Khundia

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #9
The Espionage Squad gathers evidence against the Sklarian Raiders

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #51
Phantom Girl organizes the Espionage Squad to fight against Starfinger

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual (v2) #4 (1988)
The Espionage Squad takes down Starfinger

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #25
The new resurrected Legion known as Batch SW6 reassembles its Espionage Squad
to rescue Devlin O'Ryan from the Dominators

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #30
The SW6 Espionage Squad is instrumental in proving Universo was working
with the Dark Circle to create superhuman agents

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #71
After the Reboot, Invisible Kid once again assembles an Espionage Squad

Legionnaires #28
The Espionage Squad's first mission is to pose as Durlan delegates
to confuse White Triangle terrorists

Legionnaires #36, Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #80
The Espionage Squad fakes its own death to expose a traitor inside the
United Planets government

Legionnaires #57
The Espionage Squad starts investigating whoever is disrupting the U.P.;
it will turn out to be the Dark Circle

 Legionnaires #63-65, Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #106-108
The Espionage Squad goes up against the Dark Circle

The Legion #33
The Espionage Squad frees R.J. Brande from the Credo

Superman #697-699, Adventure Comics (v2) #8-11, Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton #1-3,
Action Comics #887-889, Supergirl (v5) #51-52
Collectively known as The Last Stand of New Krypton, an undercover Espionage Squad
helps Superman defend his people from Brainiac (after the Retroboot)

Adventure Comics #519
Tells of an early Espionage Squad adventure, in which the Legionnaires go up
against Zaryan the Conqueror

Legion of Super-Heroes (v6) #10
The Espionage Squad protects R.J. Brande from Chameleon Chief

6 comments:

  1. The origin of the Espionage Squad is one of those great "Untold tales" in Legion history, along with the first battle with Mordru. I still remember thinking "did I miss an issue?".

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    1. Yes! Those two were some of the stories that the more recent "look back" series LEGION: Secret Origins should have focused on.

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  2. Jesus, I'm surprised these women can even work together. They hate each other! I never quite understood people's fascination with the Espionage Squad as they were rarely seen as just the 4 or so of them. I have to wonder also why the Legion needed a group of spys/infiltrators. I think Levitz missed an opportunity in creating an LSV Sabotage Squad for them to battle. Imagine Micro Lad, Chameleon Chief, Mist Master and Ron-Karr against these 4.

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  3. I always thought the espionage squad was underused. But I started following the Legion shortly before the failed espionage mission to Khundia, so I can understand if it needed a cooling off period.

    And I'm almost ready to launch an RPG based on the espionage squad that has been percolating in the back of my mind for years ... :)

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  4. No, there is something wrong here!!!
    Even if we didn't see them in action the Espionage Squad was around long before that issue you mention with president Botax. Almost since the earliest Legion stories Chameleon Boy was said to be the head of the Espionage Squad.

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    1. Really? I didn't see any mention of the Squad before that issue.

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