Monday, September 20, 2021

The Original Legion: Who Joined When? (Part Two)

Who Joined When? (Part Two)

By Emsley Wyatt

Continuing our review of the original Legion of Super-Heroes and the order of the induction of their members. Previously I profiled the sixteen members who joined before the Legion got their own series in Adventure Comics. Now they had an ongoing series of their own. So from here on out, it's all pretty straightforward.  No more guessing games, no more interpreting panels, or reading tea leaves.  You see a new Legionnaire and you know it.

When the Legion of Super-Heroes got their own series beginning in Adventure Comics #300 (Sept 1962) the editors thought it was a good idea to bring new readers up to speed on who these folks were.  Two panels on the splash page do a good job of showing, first the Clubhouse, then, in statue form, the bulk of the Legion itself.

Three additional Legionnaires were spotlighted in Adventure #301 by showing them, on the mission monitor, doing important stuff on other planets like battling a giant, melting a lead robot, and taking the place of a battering ram.  Adventure Comics #300 was noteworthy for another reason. Mon-El was liberated, at least temporarily, from the Phantom Zone and inducted into the Legion.  Saturn Girl created a serum, XY-4, that gave Mon-El relief, on a short term basis, from the effects of  lead exposure.

Mon-El later obtained permanent release from the Zone in Adventure #305 (Feb 1963).

The next new Legionnaire was Matter-Eater Lad, admitted in Adventure #303 (Dec 1962).

It's almost as if, after bringing in Mon-El, arguably the most powerful Legionnaire, they decided that they needed someone at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I love that Sun Boy is all like: “Who's this dude?”  Of course, he and Lightning Lad were returning after a brief hospital stay.  I can imagine what Matter-Eater Lad's initiation must have been like.  “Eat this!”  “OK, now eat this.”  “Give it to Tenzil, he'll eat anything.”  And look at that side-eye Bouncing Boy is giving him.  “Yes!! I'm no longer the most ridiculous guy in this outfit.”

DC continued to pad the roster in Adventure #307 (April 1963) with the introduction of Element Lad, or, as he was originally known, Mystery Lad.  With an unknown super-power he was truly an interstellar man of mystery.  His power, the ability to transmute elements, hearkened back to the days of alchemists. Having a character with such a power in the super scientific 30th Century was quite a juxtaposition.

The expansion continued in the very next issue, Adventure #308 (May 1963) with Lightning Lass. Ayla Ranzz is added in a bizarre story where she impersonates her (then) dead brother to fulfill his legacy.  Man, that was some weird stuff, wasn't it?

When Supergirl returns she says: “I dug up King Arthur's sword, Achilles' helmet, and King Richard's shield to get into the Legion.  How about you guys?”

Matter-Eater Lad: “I ate a gun.”

Lightning Lass: “I impersonated my semi-deceased brother.”

Supergirl: “Uh, why am I hanging out with these people?”

The next person admitted was Dream Girl, who joined in Adventure #317 (Feb 1964).

Now, when I had the idea to do this series, I decided not to count those “Legionnaires” who infiltrated the Legion for ulterior motives.  Although the discussion of “False Pretenses Lad” was necessary last time, I am not going to count Dynamo Boy, Command Kid, Nemesis Kid, or the Murran spies. 

 However, Dream Girl is, of course, a little different.  For one thing, she didn't “infiltrate” the Legion for sinister purposes but, rather, she legitimately joined for noble ones.  For another, she did eventually rejoin the Legion, in Adventure #350 (Nov 1966). Although, again in a somewhat less than straightforward manner (being disguised as “Miss Terious.”) 

By they way, Dream Girl's debut was the first story, though regrettably not the last, in which random Legionnaires would be turned into infants.  Dream Girl herself got that treatment in Adventure #356 (May 1967).

Additional new Legionnaires were introduced in Adventure #346 (July 1966): three of them, along with another infiltrator.  These was more new Legionnaires sworn in at one time than ever before.

Of the four, three would die, two at the hands of the others.  Princess Projectra would be the sole survivor, leaving the Legion to become Queen of her planet but rejoining later as Sensor Girl.  There was some reader feedback about the inclusion of Karate Kid, given that he had no actual super power, merely highly developed skill.  Well, the same argument could have been made with regard to Brainiac 5, but his abilities are mental rather than physical.  Ferro Lad, of course, became the first Legionnaire to actually perish during a mission (not counting now-alive Lighting Lad and still-alive Duo Damsel). And Nemesis Kid's rank was purged as soon as he revealed himself to be a spy for the Khunds. 

Princess Projectra, Ferro Lad, and Karate Kid represented new writer Jim Shooter putting his indelible stamp on the Legion. 

The next Legionnaire to be admitted was Shadow Lass in Adventure #366 (March 1968).  Shadow Lass was one of the Legionnaires first shown as deceased in the cover of the “Adult Legion” story in Adventure #354 (March 1967) when Superman went into the future, well, further into the future, to interact with the Legion as adults.  But in this story she is alive and well.  She is also a rather lovely shade of blue.

The circumstances of her admission were unique.  Never before had a Legionnaire taken the oath during the heat of battle.  She was assigned to assist the Legion as a native guide while they investigated the militarization of her home-world.  It turned out to be a plot by the Fatal Five to escape from another dimension.  

This story is notable for another reason.  It marks the end of the beloved “Super-Hero Clubhouse” that had served the Legion as its headquarters since its inception.

Seven months later, another two Legionnaires were inducted in Adventure #372 (Sept 1968): Timber Wolf and Chemical King. This story is also noteworthy because it was the “in universe” introduction of the Legion of Super-Villains. 

Timber Wolf was introduced, as Lone Wolf, in Adventure #327 (Dec 1964), almost four years earlier. Chemical King is another of those Legionnaires shown in the “Adult Legion” story as having died before he reached adulthood. He was less fortunate than Shadow Lass, as his death ultimately did occur in Superboy #228 (June 1977). 

Timber Wolf and Chemical King were the last Legionnaires admitted into the group during the series' Adventure Comic run. No new Legionnaires were admitted during the time that the Legion was featured in the back pages of Action Comics.

No new Legionnaires were introduced until Superboy #197 (June 1973), although that story ended with the character ERG-1 presumed dead.  Fortunately, he was a lot harder to kill than your average corporeal being and returned in Superboy #201 (April 1974). This story also featured yet another Legion infiltrator.  Jeez, don't these guys do background checks? ERG-1 was finally admitted in the next issue with a new name: Wildfire.

The next Legionnaire to join was somewhat controversial.  That would be Tyroc, who joined in Superboy #218 (July 1976).  Folks were glad to see, finally, a Black Legionnaire. However, his portrayal was regarded as being steeped in stereotypes.  His very super-power involved yelling, for Pete's sake.  His costume, although consistent with the Seventies aesthetic, also caught flack. Writers never seemed to know what to do with the character so he eventually returned to his homeland, going into literal limbo. 

Fortunately, the next Legionnaire wasn't so vulnerable to accusations of racial stereotyping.  What? Oh, that's right.  It was Dawnstar. She joined in Superboy #226 (April 1977).

Apparently, DC got the message because the next Legionnaire was a big gray guy.  Do something with that!

Blok was originally introduced as a bad guy under the influence of the Dark Man.  He switched sides and joined in Legion #272 (Feb 1981).

The next Legionnaire to join was Invisible Kid Two, who came aboard in Legion Annual (v1) #1 (1982).  Like Tyroc, he was Black, but being from the Ivory Coast he was a French speaker and wouldn't let you forget it, either.  Come on.  Captain Picard is French, but he doesn't rub your nose in it.  IK2 comes across more like that old John Lovitz character, Frenchy, from Saturday Night Live.

Next up was the White Witch.  She was originally introduced in Adventure #351, way back in December, 1966.  She joined the Legion in Legion (v2) #394 in December, 1982. This makes it sixteen years from introduction to induction, easily breaking Timber Wolf's record.  In her original appearance she bore a striking resemblance to Ann Margaret, but when she returned she looked more like.... I don't know, a goth Twiggy?  (BTW, Ann Margaret was also the model for Spidey flame Mary Jane Watson.)

The next Legionnaires were inducted in Legion (v3) #14 (Sept 1985).  In fact, five of them, more at one time than ever before.  Seems fitting for the last inductees into the classic Legion. 

The first of the “Final Five” was Magnetic Kid. Cosmic Boy's younger brother, with the same power and, it would seem, still having to wear his hand-me-downs.  He was introduced way back in Adventure #335 (August 1965) as Cosmic Boy's kid brother, making it twenty years between the character's debut and his becoming a Legionnaire. This breaks White Witch's record by several months. on. 

Tellus and Quislet became the first non-humanoids to enter (stretching the definition of humanoid to include Blok).  

And Polar Boy finally became a Legionnaire.  The character of Polar Boy was introduced in Adventure Comics #306 (March 1963) but makes the grade twenty-two and a half years later.  Waiving the age limit, indeed.  Still, it does show that perseverance pays off.

And lastly, the final “new” member was Sensor Girl who, as longtime fans know, was the newest persona of Princess Projectra.

And there you have it, the Silver Age-Bronze Age Legionnaires in the order in which they joined! Four years after "the Final Five," the long-standing series ended due to The Magic Wars without any other new members.  


  1. Thanks, Russell, for providing the conclusion for this. I would have gotten back to you, but I had a tree fall in my back yard. Huge oak, much damage to the house but none to me or my dog, both of us were out in the yard when it happened.

    1. Glad you escaped the attempt on your life by Mano.
      I had to add the last few lines when I realized last night that we hadn't updated it, and I had nothing else to post in its place. :-)

  2. This series has been great, much appreciated. I'd love to see it continued on through the first few issues of Vol. 4, then into the Glorithverse, but wow, will things get complicated when SW6 shows up. On another note, I just recently discovered this site and it's a goldmine. I'm engaged on what I hope to be a complete read through of the Legion from April '59 to whatever the last Bendis issue was (January '21?). I used my complete collection of Archives, followed by back issues of S&LSH and LSH up through the Great Darkness Saga, using its deluxe edition and the Curse deluxe edition, and now I'm back to collecting back issues. I recently completed collecting all of Five Years Later (vol. 4, Valor, Timber Wolf, whatever that one issue of L.E.G.I.O.N is). I'm up through vol. 4 #33 in the read through and have started collecting the Reboot issues. After that I'll probably depend heavily on collections, though I do love a letters column. I've gotten pretty obscure in some places. I have the issue of Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth that (sort of) provided the coda to KK's solo series. Anyway, great to find your site!

    1. Someone else is going to have to take it from there. My familiarity with the Legion concentrates heavily on the Silver Age. If you feel up to something yourself, drop Russell an E-Mail, that's how I got started doing this. You could, I'm sure, even remain "unknown". Then the LSB would have its own "Mystery Lad".

  3. Okay, I finally figured out how to comment as myself. That was me posting as "unknown" up above. I'm not sure I have the bandwidth to take on such a project. The only thing I've idly considered that might make sense for this site is completely frivolous. I'd like to track down every panel in the history of the Legion in which one or more of the characters is dancing! Hah!

    1. Chris, if you actually went to the trouble of doing that we would absolutely publish it for you. :-)
      I had a similar idea about tracking down all the animals ever shown in the future, but I was defeated by the scope of the effort.

  4. I love these types of posts the best! I like the dancing idea! I can think of a lot like those myself!

  5. Yay! A Legion post!

    Not to rag on things, but the vast majority of posts lately have been on Valor or R.E.B.E.L.S, both "present." Let's get back to the future!