Saturday, September 19, 2015

Polar Boy Elected Legion Leader!

In Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #36, Polar Boy was elected the newest Leader. His election was the main plot of the story in that issue, so we thought this was a good chance to look at the details of his election specifically and Legion elections in general.

First, there doesn't seem to be any particular numbering system to differentiate the Leaders. In the United States it is popular to call the President "Number 42," but there was never any numbering system mentioned in the Legion stories. This was probably to keep the fans from realizing that the Legion had been around for more than 14 years....!

Here are the official leaders of the Silver & Bronze Age Legion, in chronological order:
Cosmic Boy (2 years), Saturn Girl (2 years), Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid, Ultra Boy (1/2 a year), Karate Kid (1/2 a year), Mon-El (1/2 a year), Ultra Boy (1/2 a year), Mon-El, Wildfire, Lightning Lad, Dream Girl, Element Lad (2 years), and Polar Boy. For more on each of their terms, read our History Lesson post HERE.

In LSH #36, Polar Boy expressly asks for the votes not to be tallied until all the votes are in. This is not an uncommon request. In fact, before Superboy & The Legion #247, we never saw exactly how the election results were announced. Before Lightning Lad's election in that issue, the stories always just imparted the information of that there was a new Leader. A good example is Superboy/Legion #225 when Wildfire is the presumed Leader, or the last page of Action Comics #392 where Mon-El takes over from Karate Kid. In neither story are there any election scenes shown at all.

Also, the election results for Dream Girl's victory in Legion (v2) #291 were not presented as a running tally, either. It was only after her election that she "broke tradition" and made the process an open vote, as shown in Legion (v2) #306 and Legion (v3) #12. It is also important to note that from these two election results we learn that only a clear majority of votes is necessary to win (and not a 2/3 majority or some other specific ratio). I have no idea what would have happened in a tie...would there be a re-vote, or would Legion advisor Marla (or later, Senior Advisors Costmic Boy and Lightning Lad) cast the deciding vote? We'll never know.

In these last two examples you can look at the Legionnaires' icons and figure out who voted for whom. For example,  in Element Lad's first victory he was selected by nine Legionnaires: his write-in was started by Chameleon Boy, Brainiac 5, and Shrinking Violet, and that convinced Shadow Lass, Invisible Kid, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and Sun Boy to vote for him, too. Seven members voted for Dream Girl and six for Ultra Boy. Before these two elections you had to surmise on your own who voted for whom....unless a character was so bold as to announce their choice, as Shadow Lass did in Superboy/Legion # 226 (she voted for Superboy).

In contrast, Legion #36 was the first time that we get reactions of each Legionnaire to the Leader announcement, but not necessarily a clear knowledge as to who voted for whom. Let's look at the three pages of reactions.
Clearly Colossal Boy, Sun Boy, and Shrinking Violet are not supporters of Polar Boy. Saturn Girl had announced her support of Element Lad, and Tellus had already admitted to voting for Sensor Girl. The other four are not so easy to understand, but I would argue that all of them could be considered to be in the Polar Boy camp.
 Element Lad would not have voted for himself in the best of situations, so he must have voted for either Polar Boy or Sensor Girl. It's funny that he, Ultra Boy, and Phantom Girl clearly don't care WHO won. Ultra Boy did say that he was going to vote for Polar Boy earlier in the story, though. Dawnstar seems annoyed at Polar Boy's victory, so she probably did not vote for him. Blok and Magnetic Kid, however, seem to be more happy at the news, so perhaps they DID. Chameleon Boy likewise doesn't seem to care, but because he isn't shown smiling at the news, my guess is that he did not vote for Polar Boy. And Dream Girl announced that she was voting for Sensor Girl, so perhaps that swayed her sister White Witch to do the same?
Lighting Lass showed animosity towards Polar Boy's method of electioneering, and now she's laughing, so she did not vote for him. Shadow Lass, on the other hand, seems to be more open-minded towards him. Mon-El, however, seems to agree with Lightning Lass. Brainiac 5 was supporting Element Lad, Invisible Kid told Polar Boy that he had voted for him, and Polar Boy.... well, he MIGHT have voted for himself.

Because we don't get to see the breakdown of which candidate got how many votes, it's impossible to tell for sure who else voted for whom, but with three candidates the magic number to win is nine. It seems fairly safe to guess then that the following members voted for Polar Boy: Sensor Girl, Quislet, Timber Wolf, Blok, Magnetic Kid, Shadow Lass, and the aforementioned Ultra Boy and Invisible Kid. Postulating that Polar Boy voted for himself (Ultra Boy did it when he was running) or that Element Lad voted for him, hat is a majority.

Outside of Legion continuity, the writers chose the Legion Leaders for the first ten terms or so; it was only with the election of Wildfire in 1977 that writer Paul Levitz allowed the Legion fans to write in and vote for their favorite character. This became the plot of Superboy/Legion #225, as Superboy received the most write-in votes, but Levitz balked at making him the actual Leader due to the nature of his membership. In the last few elections, the letter column usually announced the most vote getters. In Legion #36, this was the official fan-based tally:

By the way, one of those winning votes was mine, as I distinctly recall voting for Polar Boy in this election.


  1. I voted for Shadow Lass in that election.

    I loved the Legion Elections. I had made a line graph sometime around the second or third time the letter column posted the results and every election I would pull it out and add the latest results. (What? No, I didn't go to my high school prom. How did you know?)

  2. Aw, poor Magnetic Kid. Not a single vote.

    Anyhoo, unless I'm misunderstanding, it seems the requirement is for a plurality, not a majority. (Majority would require more than half the votes, plurality just requires more votes than any other single candidate.) In the Element Lad/Dream Girl/Ultra Boy race, the tallies were 9/7/6, so Element Lad only had a plurality. (Yeah, I'm just being nitpicky.)

    And, of course, now that I think of it, there was actually a fully documented Legion Constitution to consult, wasn't there? Hold on... ah, here we go: "8.4 Unless the question shall be put to a vote of the active membership and carried otherwise for that year, the Leader shall be elected by a simple plurality of active members voting, with the Legionnaire receiving the second-largest number of votes being elected Deputy Leader." No mention of what happens in a tie, though. Very odd, really. (Section 8.3 holds that a quorum of only 3/4 of the active membership is required to actually hold a vote, though.)

    Legion elections were definitely one of the more fun things about the title, and a really cool way of getting the readers involved. Too bad they didn't keep it around.

    (Hold on... wasn't there an Internet poll a few years ago to vote for Legion leader, or am I imagining things? Whatever happened to that, anyway? Were the results ever published?)

    Okay, I'll stop rambling now...

  3. It's still around though there was definitely a hiatus after vol.3 of the series. Mon-El was most definitely elected by readers in vol.6 of the series. I'd have to check if Phantom Girl was too, after that.

  4. Ah, okay. I saw when they announced setting up the poll, but I never saw anything about it after that; I figured the sites that covered the poll would also cover the results, but... guess not.

    I voted for Quislet.

    1. Quislet?
      You must have seen something in him that I didn't. ;-)

    2. Yeah, I dunno, I always kinda liked the little guy. Probably wouldn't say he's my favorite of the team, but he amused me. I can see why people would find him annoying, though.

      Plus, I figured he probably wasn't going to get too many votes, and he'd definitely be a contender for the title of "Worst Legionnaire To Be Leader", so the idea amused me at the time. *Shrug*

    3. Would have been worth it just to see Levitz try to justify the vote!

  5. I do remember voting for Phantom Girl. And I remember Levitz announcing the Mon-El election, but I don't think I went in and voted...but maybe I'm getting those two elections mixed up.

  6. Love it. You're not counting Sensor Girl's win in the lead up to the Magic Wars?

    1. I noticed that Sensor Girl's election was omitted too.

    2. We'll talk about this topic again when she is elected. :-)

    3. We'll talk about this topic again when she is elected. :-)

  7. I'm surprised that Wildfire, with his popularity among readers, wasn't a multiple-time leader.

  8. I voted for Ultra Boy in this election. I could not believe that POLAR BOY actually won! POLAR BOY????