Monday, December 21, 2015

Alternate History: Power Girl and the Legion of Super-Heroes

Today we're hopping in our Legion Time Bubble and heading back to 1986 to fix the time stream! Come along as we speculate some alternative history!

Crisis on Infinite Earths really put a retcon-whammy on Legion continuity. We lost Supergirl and Superboy, which also removed the inspiration for the Legion. Our favorite 30th century heroes spent the next 20 years trying to make sense of their history. To be fair, the Legion weren't the only ones hit hard by the Crisis. Wonder Woman, Hawkman, the JSA, anyone connected to the Superman family, and many more. Most characters found their Post-Crisis footing fairly quickly. For whatever reason, the Legion continued to struggle. There was another character that never quite made the adjustment to the Post-Crisis universe -- Power Girl. Now, let's connect some dots...

What I'm proposing today is we travel back in time to 1986 just before Crisis began affecting DC continuity. Upon arrival our task is to convince the DC creative staff to retcon Power Girl into Legion continuity. This simple change would fix decades of headaches for numerous characters (and fans).

The Problems

The Problems with Superboy:

  • In the Pre-Crisis universe, Superboy's exploits in the 20th century inspired Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad to found the Legion of Super-Heroes. In the Post-Crisis universe, writers were left with the task of "patching the holes" in continuity created by Superboy's absence. To retcon the inspiration of the Legion, first we were treated to a story about a "Pocket Universe" Superboy. Later it was decided to completely remove Superboy from the Legion's history. In this era, the inspiration for the Legion came from Mon-el's exploits in the 20th century when he was called, "Valor." Finally, after Infinite Crisis Superboy was returned to Legion continuity (somewhat) and once again served as the inspiration to form the team. The inspiration behind the Legion's formation was a confusing mess for about 20 years.
  • In the Pre-Crisis universe, Superboy would frequently travel to the 30th century and share adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes. In the Post-Crisis universe, writers replaced Superboy's 30th century exploits in a variety of ways. At first the adventures of Superboy in the 30th century were replaced with the "Pocket Universe" Superboy. Then once Superboy was removed from Legion history completely, they used multiple tactics to replace Superboy. In some cases, it was just assumed that Superboy wasn't present for certain adventures. In other adventures, characters such as Mon-el or Ultra Boy fulfilled Superboy's role in the story. Even later, characters such as Kent Shakespeare were created to retroactively fill in the gaps created by Superboy's absence. Finally, after Infinite Crisis it's assumed Superboy was returned to his Pre-Crisis adventures. Again, another confusing mess for about 20 years.

The Problem with Supergirl:

  • In the Pre-Crisis universe, Supergirl spent time as a member of the Legion hanging out in the 30th century. She even maintained a romantic relationship with Brainiac 5. For about five years after Crisis, the absence of Supergirl from continuity created a paradox with Legion history. In 1990, the Legion writers retroactively replaced Supergirl's 30th century activities with a new character, a Daxamite named Laurel Gand (a.k.a. Andromeda). In the Post-Crisis 20th century, there were several attempts to create a new Supergirl (Matrix, Matrix/Linda Danvers, Cir-El, and eventually an updated Kara Zor-El). The updated Kara Zor-El even spent some time with a rebooted Legion. While the Laurel Gand solution was fairly clean, the specter of the original Supergirl hung over the Legion for about 20 years.

The Problem with Power Girl:

  • In the Pre-Crisis universe, Power Girl was the Earth-2 version of Supergirl. She was from Krypton and the Earth-2 Superman's cousin. In the Post-Crisis universe, DC creative staff decided Superman should be the only Kryptonian. For whatever reason, DC allowed Power Girl to survive in the Post-Crisis universe while they decided to kill Supergirl. The problem was if Power Girl was no longer Superman's cousin or Kryptonian, who was she and where was she from? The answer came as a shoe-horned origin revealing Power Girl as the time-lost granddaughter of the Atlantean sorcerer Arion. In this new timeline she grew up mistakenly thinking she was Superman's cousin, but later found out about her true Atlantean history. This origin wasn't very popular with fans and was rarely referenced by subsequent writers of Power Girl's adventures. As time went on it was suggested that Power Girl's Atlantean origin might be a lie. When Infinite Crisis rolled around in 2005, DC creative overturned the entire Crisis ramifications and revealed Power Girl was (and always had been) exactly as she was prior to Crisis -- the cousin of the Earth-2 Superman and from Krypton. What a confusing twenty years for Power Girl fans! They took a strong female character with tons of potential, and bogged her down with an overly-complex origin.

The Solution - 

Power Girl and the Legion of Super-Heroes

There is a very simple solution that fixes all of the continuity headaches for the Legion and Power Girl. Here is what we should suggest to the DC staff in 1986 for the Post-Crisis continuity...
  • Retcon: Power Girl is from Daxam instead of Krypton. Most of her previous adventures remain intact because she grew up thinking she was Superman's cousin and from Krypton. Just have her discover at some point that she's not actually Superman's cousin, but was rocketed from Daxam for whatever reason. Superman can still view her as an "adopted" cousin. 
  • Retcon: Power Girl's adventures in the 20th century inspired Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lighting Lad to form the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • Retcon: The Legion traveled back to the 20th century and invited teenaged Power Girl to join their club. She had many adventures with the Legion, including a romance with Brainiac 5. Any Pre-Crisis Legion adventure that featured Superboy or Supergirl, retcon Power Girl in their place. If a story was dependent upon a male character, retcon Mon-El or Ultra Boy to fulfill that obligation.
  • Going Forward: Power Girl is available to appear in Legion comics regularly.

Done and done. Forget the Pocket Universe Superboy, Valor, Kent Shakespeare, Laurel Gand, the confusing origin of Arion's granddaughter, and twenty years of fiddling with continuity.

It's possible this suggestion has been put forth elsewhere. If so, I was unaware while writing this piece. I would like to credit the Secret Origins Podcast for sowing the seeds of this idea. When Ryan Daly and Anj (one of our own Super-Bloggers) covered the Power Girl Secret Origins issue, they suggested DC could have made Power Girl a Daxamite in the Post-Crisis continuity. Thanks for the push in the right direction guys!

Power Girl and the Legion of Super-Heroes... what could have been.

Long Live (Power Girl and) the Legion!


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  2. Nice article, but unnecessarily convoluted. Instead of time-travelling back to 1986, use that TARDIS of yours to travel just one more year to '85 and retcon CoIE completely out of existence. While a wonderful story at the time, the ramifications of combining all of DC Comics into 1 universe have done more harm than good. Heck, they've already disavowed the 1-universe concept. There was no problem with a multiverse 30 years ago and anyone who claimed it was "confusing" is being willfully ignorant. Send PG back to (a real) Earth-2 and let Superboy hang w/the LSH. It's not hard. Undoing Crisis is easy. It's comics. Anything is possible.

    1. I like your way of thinking!


    2. Sing it, brother! Testify!!!!!

      My aunt, who'd never read a comic book in her life, grasped the parallel universe concept easily. It wasn't that difficult.

  3. Unnecessarily convoluted, Keith? This IS the Legion we're talking about. ;) But if your fix is to not have Crisis, then you're just not playing the game.

    Power Girl is, today, probably in my Top 10 favorite superheroes of all time. Not in '86 though. Really disliked the Atlantean retcon, and PG was way too angry in JLE to be likable. So who knows how I would have reacted had this happened instead. But today? That's a fun idea, which I think works on many levels, including politically, as it makes the Legion more progressive by having a female inspiration. Things I would still miss: Laurel and Valor's seeding of worlds.

    Wait... Wonder Girl and the Legion of Super-Heroes...

    1. Yeah. I've never been too good at the "What If...?" game. I do, however, like to solve puzzles. The LSH and their relationship to Superboy is an easy one. While I love PeeGee (as I do all of Firestorm's old conquests) and this idea to have her in the Legion is something I would read, it doesn't really solve the problem. (WG and the LSH is a nice concept, too, BTW).
      The LSH is simple, though. The LSH is a super-hero team 1000 years in the future of the current DCU that was inspired by the exploits of Superboy. Bang. LSH books always mention that "information gap" between their time and the current DCU (because of the "Great Disaster" or whatever they're calling it this month). Any good writer can write around the fact that there is no Superboy in the "current" DCU timeline. It's comics. Look at what they're doing in Justice League 3001.
      I will, however, hold out hope that Didio's successor will right the wrongs and we will soon see the "Crisis of No Crisis: The Psycho-Pirate Remembers!" 12 issue Maxi series.

    2. Yes, they could mistakenly be inspired by a figure that didn't actually exist. But Superboy was a member. If he never existed...

    3. False argument. Didn't say he didn't exist. Just that the present story of his return to continuity hasn't been told yet (or whatever story they decide to tell). The important thing is the LSH believes there was a Superboy (and that they visited Smallville, et al) and this Superboy believes (and has the abilities to show) that he is the Last Son of Krypton. How this is eventually resolved is up to the author. Heck, it really doesn't need to be solved. It's not important to the story. Everyone knows who Superboy is, even if he "doesn't currently exist". It's comics. Until "CoNC: TP-PR!", leave it unresolved.

    4. And somehow this Superboy lived in Smallville and was Clark Kent, etc. so all the stories from the Silver Age can happen. Gotcha. You're taking the Roy Thomas route of explaining how it DOES fit when there's an apparent contradiction.

    5. Exactly! ...Kinda. Just saying that what's going to happen in the "near future" of the DCU should not affect what happens(-ed?) in the "near future +1K" of the DCU and that it would be easy to do this.

    6. Heck, I could even envision one panel of Brainy trying to sort out the disparate Superboy info (young Superman vs Cadmus clone of Paul Westfield (with some Roxy Leech) vs a hybrid of Superman/Westfield vs Superman/Luthor, etc) and throwing up his hands and giving up.


  4. I like this retcon, and it makes for more sense than any of the patches that various offices tried to make to fill the holes left by the now non-existent Superboy or Supergirl.

    Unfortunately, I think DC was divided into too many fiefdoms for anyone to suggest this. It solved two of their problems, but the Legion was in one editorial camp, and Power Girl bounced back and forth between first the Warlord camp (!) and then the JLI/JLE camp, Post-Crisis. This narrow-minded thinking is what caused the dissolution of the Pocket Universe patch to begin with. The Superman office simply didn't want to play ball with other offices at the time, which is just ridiculous.

    I hate to give Shag much credit, but I love this idea. If there had to be a Crisis (and there didn't), then this was the best way to go with these two concepts.


  5. "they suggested DC could have made Power Girl a Daxamite in the Post-Crisis continuity."

    That would have been the most logical solution. But, comic book retcons and logic don't always go hand in hand.