Monday, November 29, 2021

Who DIDN'T Join When

OR, “You're the next contestant on 'Who Wants to be a Legionnaire?'” 

by Emsley Wyatt

Having recently done a two-part article on the joining order of Legionnaires, I was casting about for an idea for my next article. Then I remembered that old writer's maxim: “Look at the flip side of the story.”  Well, the flip side of who joined is who didn't join. It seemed a natural, especially given that the Legion's first appearance was, in essence, a tryout story….! 

So today we'll take a look at the rejected applicants, in publication order.  If I left anyone out, please let me know.

The first rejected applicant was none other than Supergirl, in Action Comics #267 (Aug 1960).


Rejected Applicant: Supergirl
Powers: Numerous
Reason for Rejection: Technicality (temporarily over age limit)
Note: Supergirl was ultimately admitted to the Legion.

The next rejected applicants appeared in Action Comics #276 (May 1961). They were Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, and Sun Boy. All were ultimately admitted to the Legion.

Rejected Applicant: Shrinking Violet
Powers: Super-Shrinking
Reason for Rejection: Other applicants selected instead 

Rejected Applicants: Bouncing Boy
Powers: Super-Bouncing
Reason for Rejection: Power was not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicants: Sun Boy
Powers: Super-Radiance
Reason for Rejection: Other applicants selected instead 

By the time the Legion received their lead feature status in Adventure Comics, the “tryouts” became a regular staple of the series. Adventure Comics #301 (Oct 1962) brought a raft of new applicants.

The fellow in the yellow was Storm Boy, who was discovered to be a fraud who was using a “pocket weather control device.”  He was exposed and escorted away by Triplicate Girl.

The other individuals in the picture are not identified by name and we have no idea as to their powers. 

There was another applicant in this issue, Lester Spiffany.


Rejected Applicant: Storm Boy
Powers: None
Reason for Rejection: Fraudulent Applicant (power dependent on mechanical device)

Reject Applicant: Lester Spiffany
Powers: Super-Arrogance
Reason for Rejection: “Nobody buys his way into the Legion.”

Two more rejections took place in Adventure Comics #305 (Feb 1963): Antennae Boy and The Dynamo Kid.

Rejected applicants: Antennae Boy
Powers:  Able to pick up radio signals
Reason for Rejection:  Insufficient control of power

Rejected applicants: The Dynamo Kid
Powers:  None
Reason for Rejection:  Fraudulent Applicant (power dependent on mechanical device)

The next batch of rejected applicants were seen in Adventure Comics #306 (March 1963). They were Polar Boy, Stone Boy, Chlorophyll Kid, Fire Lad, and Night Girl. Yes, this was the debut appearance of our old friends, The Subs.

The funny thing is that three of these heroes eventually got what they wanted: Polar Boy ultimately joined the team, Stone Boy was invited to join but declined out of loyalty to his teammates, and Night Girl, although she never joined the Legion, did establish a romantic relationship with Cosmic Boy, which was her whole reason for applying to the Legion in the first place.

Rejected Applicant: Polar Boy
Powers: Super-Cold
Reason for Rejection: Power not sufficiently controlled

Rejected Applicant: Stone Boy
Powers: Ability to turn into a statue
Reason for Rejection: Power not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Chlorophyll Kid
Powers: Ability to accelerate plant growth
Reason for rejection: Power not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Fire Lad
Powers: Fire breath
Reason for rejection: Power not sufficiently controlled
 
Rejected Applicant: Night Girl
Powers: Super-strength, but only at night.
Reason for rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Two rejected applicants appeared in Adventure Comics #307 (April 1963), the issue in which Element Lad was inducted. Neither were given names so I'll just call them “Mister Green” and “Camera Eye.”

Mister Green was sort of a prototype character for a later applicant, Color Kid, except his power was even more useless: he could only turn things green, and only temporarily. Camera Eye was kind of a living movie projector, which would be a cool power to have but as the Legion itself observed, not particularly useful. 

Rejected Applicant: Mister Green
Powers: Ability to temporarily turn things green
Reason for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Camera Eye
Powers: Ability to project scenes he has observed
Reason for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Two more applicants got turned down in Adventure Comics #309 (June 1963): Rainbow Girl and Jungle King. Rainbow Girl's power set was never clearly stated, but Jungle King could mentally command animals. Jungle King is the first rejected applicant to react to his rejection by going over to the dark side…. but he wouldn't be the last.  Jungle King formed the Legion of Super-Monsters and attacked the Legion. Ironically, he was killed by a monster that he had rejected.


Rejected Applicant: Rainbow Girl
Powers: Unknown
Reason for Rejection: Unknown

Rejected Applicant: Jungle King
Powers: Ability to control animals
Reason for Rejection: Power not sufficiently controlled

Adventure Comics #314 (Nov 1963) saw two new applicants go through the interview process, Ronn Kar and Alaktor. Ronn Kar was never given a code name. His power, such as it was, was the ability to make himself flat. He could have called himself Flat Man, maybe even picking up a sidekick named Ribbon, I don't know.  After being rejected by the Legion, he went on to become another member of the Legion of Super-Villains although, with such a lame power, I'm surprised that even they took him.  

Alaktor was a different kind of case. He expected rejection but was only applying to gain access to Legion headquarters to steal information he needed to accomplish nefarious ends. Funny, I just realized that with the gadgets on his “Marvel Belt,” including a hypnosis gadget, he could have been a prototype for the later villain, Universo.  Like Universo, he even stole a Legion time bubble.

Rejected Applicant: Ronn Kar
Powers: Ability to flatten himself to the thickness of paper
Reasons for Rejection: Power not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Alaktor
Powers: none
Reasons for Rejection: Power dependent on mechanical device

Adventure Comics #317 (Feb 1964) introduced the character of Dream Girl, but also gave us Rann Antar as an applicant. Although he had no powers, he had invented a formula that made feathers as heavy as lead.  No indication of whether this formula had any effect on anything else. Writer Ed Hamilton must have been having an off day if this character was the best he could come up with as an applicant.

Rejected Applicant: Rann Attar
Power: none
Reason for Rejection: No super-powers

Adventure Comics #320 (May 1964) brought us the applicant Radiation Roy. Roy, after his rejection, ended up joining up with the Legion of Super-Villains. He was the second Legion reject to make that transition.


Rejected Applicant: Radiation Roy
Power: Able to give off harmful radiation
Reason for Rejection: Power not sufficiently controlled

In Adventure Comics #323 (Aug 1964), two new applicants were introduced: Spider Girl and Double Header. I wonder if Spider Girl was the inspiration for the Marvel character, Medusa, who premiered ten months later in Fantastic Four #36 (March 1965). Spider Girl became the third rejected applicant to join up with the Legion of Super Villains. It almost looks like the LSV has been scouting Legion rejects….Hey, that would be a good story idea.

Double Header went on to join the Subs.



Rejected Applicant: Spider Girl
Powers: Could control her hair to make it do weird things
Reasons for Rejection:  Power not sufficiently controlled

Rejected Applicant: Double Header
Powers: None
Reasons for Rejection:  No powers; also, annoying

The next rejected applicant was, perhaps, the logical conclusion of the absurd tryout process. It happened in Adventure Comics #329 (Feb 1965) when Bizarro-Superboy wanted to become a member.  

Rejected Applicant: Bizarro-Superboy
Powers: Numerous
Reason for Rejection:  None given, but officially probably Duplication of powers and unofficially, hey, it's Bizarro.

Adventures Comics #330-#331 (March & April 1965) contained a two-part story in which Dynamo Boy, a Legion infiltrator, engineered the expulsion of all other Legionnaires. (Thanks for the playbook, Dream Girl.) Both issues had a tryout sequence. 

In the first issue, Dynamo Boy was selected over two other applicants, Eye-Ful Ethyl and The Mess.  Is it just me or does The Mess look a lot like Alfred E. Neuman? In this story the two absurd applicants actually serve a function other than just idle comic relief: they facilitate the picking of Dynamo Boy as a full-fledged member.

Rejected Applicant: Eye-Ful Ethel
Powers: Eyes in every direction
Reason for Rejection: Power not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: The Mess
Powers: Attracts dirt (doesn't every four-year old do that?)
Reason for Rejection: Power not deemed sufficiently useful

The second part of the story had Dynamo Boy, the sole remaining Legionnaire, doing his own tryouts in a weird counterpoint to the normal process. He was actually looking for potential members who were as evil as he was!

 Four applicants tried out: Golden Boy, whose Midas touch made him a kind of knock-off Element Lad; Polecat, a real stinker; Animal Boy, whose power one-upped Jungle King in that he not only could make wild animals tame, but could turn humans into animals; and finally, Tusker.


Rejected Applicant: Golden Boy
Powers: Turning things to gold
Reasons for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful


Rejected Applicant: Polecat
Powers: Stinking
Reasons for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful


Rejected Applicant: Animal Boy
Powers: Ability to turn people into animals
Reasons for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful….and honesty


Rejected Applicant: Tusker
Powers: Extending tusks
Reasons for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Another tryout session is seen in Superboy #125 (Dec 1965).  The only applicant specifically shown is Kid Psycho. He was rejected on medical grounds because using his power shortened his life span, but he was declared to be a Legion Reserve Secret Weapon. He did not re-appear until his death, in Crisis on Infinite Earths #3 (June 1985). 


Rejected Applicant: Kid Psycho
Power: Ability to generate invisible shields
Reason for Rejection: Medical grounds

Two new applicants appeared in Adventure Comics #342 (March 1966), Calamity King and Color Kid. Although both are rejected, both would show up again as plot points in later stories. 

Calamity King re-appeared in “Evil Hand of the Luck Lords,” in Adventure Comics #343 (April 1966) in a flashback where it is revealed that Star Boy shook his hand just before leaving on the mission where he killed a man and was expelled.  Color Kid showed up at the tail end of “The Forgotten Legion” in Adventure Comics #351 (Dec 1966) where he changes the Green Kryptonite cloud around Earth to Blue, thereby facilitating the return of Superboy and Supergirl to the Legion. I love Brainiac's back-handed compliment to the Subs here.

Rejected Applicant: Calamity King
Powers: Ability to project bad luck
Reasons for Rejection: “A jinx we don't need”

Rejected Applicant: Color Kid
Powers: Ability to change color of objects or people.
Reasons for Rejection: Power not deemed sufficiently useful

Shortly after this story, Jim Shooter took the writer's helm at Adventure Comics and, with one exception, the open tryouts became a thing of the past. This was sort of alluded to in the Shooter-penned “One of Us Is A Traitor” story, when Superboy seems to imply that there are now preliminary tests that must be taken before the applicants meet the actual Legion. Maybe part of the selection process has been contracted out? Given the number of infiltrators the Legion has seen that would make sense.

The person who seemed not to get the memo was Legion creator, Otto Binder, who penned “The Six-Legged Legionnaire” in Adventure Comics #355 (April 1967), in which Lana (Insect Queen) Lang tried out for the group. She doesn't make it because her powers come from her bio-ring, and a Legionnaire’s powers must be natural. She is seen in the company of two other rejectees, about whom nothing is known.  I love Invisible Kid telling her, “Sorry, Lana.  Over on the Group W Bench with the rest of the losers.”  Still, Lana distinguished herself sufficiently later in the story to be made a Legion Reservist.


Rejected Applicants: Unknown male applicants Number Four and Five
Powers: Unknown
Reason for Rejection: Unknown

Rejected Applicant: Insect Queen
Powers: Ability to change into any insect form
Reason for Rejection: Power dependent on mechanical device

After this story, I don't think we saw another rejected applicant for more than six years, until Superboy #195 (June 1973). The applicant in question was Erg-1, later to be known as the Legionnaire Wildfire.


Rejected Applicant: Erg-1
Powers: Numerous
Reason for Rejection: No unique power demonstrated

Less than a year later, in Superboy #201 (April 1974), we saw another open tryout with three applicants, two created to lose to yet another infiltrator.  The two applicants were Porcupine Pete and Infectious Lass.

The infiltrator was Molecule Master, who was not merely your routine infiltrator, but actually an android programmed to steal the Miracle Machine.  Oddly, this was a fact which wasn't detected by the medical exams that caught Kid Psycho's condition. Fortunately, the android was exposed by a returned- from-the-(sort of)-dead  Erg-1, aka Wildfire.

Rejected Applicant:  Porcupine Pete
Powers:  Shoots projectile quills from his body
Reason for Rejections: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful or adequately controlled

Rejected Applicant:  Infectious Lass
Powers:  Ability to give people diseases
Reason for Rejections: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful or adequately controlled

Jim Shooter may have taken the Legion away from the open try-outs in his initial run, but he gets credit for the next six Legion rejects during his second turn as Legion writer. In Superboy #212 (Oct 1975) this group was not actually referred to as “The Legion of Super Rejects,” but that is what they have come to be called.  All had powers identical to existing Legion members and were rejected on that basis.

Rejected Applicant: Magno Lad
Powers:  Magnetism
Reason for Rejection: Duplication of powers of current Legionnaire Cosmic Boy

Rejected Applicant: Esper Lass
Powers:  Telepathy and Mind-Control
Reason for Rejection: Duplication of powers of current Legionnaire Saturn Girl

Rejected Applicant: Phantom Lad
Powers:  Ability to change into a phantom
Reason for Rejection: Duplication of powers of current Legionnaire Phantom Girl

Rejected Applicant: Micro Lad
Powers:  Shrinking
Reason for Rejection: Duplication of powers of current Legionnaire Shrinking Violet

Rejected Applicant: Chameleon Kid
Powers:  Shape-shifting
Reason for Rejection: Duplication of powers of current Legionnaire Chameleon Boy

Rejected Applicant: Calorie Queen.
Powers:  Ability to eat anything and immediately able to use that energy as increased strength
Reason for Rejection: Duplication of powers of current Legionnaire Matter-Eater Lad
(Editor’s note: oddly, Calorie Queen was not admitted upon Matter-Eater Lad’s resignation later in the story!) 

In Superboy #218 (July 1976), we don't see the tryouts, just the aftermath of three rejected applicants:  Infectious Lass was back for another try, Quake Kid, and Absorbency Boy, whose name and power weren't stated until later in the story for dramatic reasons. Although Infectious Lass says she has better control of her abilities, the Legion didn’t agree. Quake Kid takes advantage of the situation to put the moves on her, inviting her to his place in his retro-jetter.  Careful, Kid, you don't know what you might catch….! Later we learn that Absorbency Boy didn't take being rejected easily, as he plotted to demonstrate his usefulness by taking on new Legionnaire Tyroc. Absorbency Boy later returned as Earth Man, and managed to join the Legion in that identity. Infectious Lass, too, was eventually granted membership during the 5YL era. 

Rejected Applicant: Quake Kid
Powers: Not stated, but obviously something to do with quakes (unless he could quake real well himself)
Reason for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Absorbency Boy
Powers: Ability to imitate the powers of others by absorbing residue left on objects
Reason for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

The next open tryout wasn't until Legion of Super-Heroes #272 (Feb 1981) in which the rejected applicants were Lamprey, Nightwind, and Crystal Kid. (Editor's Note: each of these characters were created by Legion fans. They each first appeared as Legion Applicants in an issue of Amazing World of DC Comics!) 


Rejected Applicant: Lamprey
Powers: Not stated in this story, but revealed in later stories. Breathes underwater and projects electrical shocks
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in this story, but potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Nightwind
Powers: Not stated in this story, but revealed in later stories. Manipulates wind
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in this story, but potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Crystal Kid
Powers: Not stated in this story, but revealed in later stories. Ability to change objects or people into crystal
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in this story, but potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

All three ended up in the Legion Academy, where potential Legionnaires could hone their powers. It was introduced back in Adventure Comics #371 (August 1968). Some, like these three, were rejected applicants. Others, like Laurel Kent and Shadow Lad, would not have been eligible for Legion membership due to the duplication of powers rule.

The next open try-out wasn't until over four years later, in Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #14 (Sept 1985), a fact which was even commented on in-story. Here we have the entire raft of applicants.

Some of this group were accepted as Legionnaires, but the rejectees are Comet Queen, Mentalla, Energy Boy, two Skreeks (dubbed by fans as Flotsam and Jetsam), Tiger Girl, and Power Boy.

Rejected Applicant: Comet Queen
Powers:  Flight, gas bursts
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in the story, but because other members were chosen instead, potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Mentalla
Powers:  Mental telepathy, mind control
Reason for Rejection: Powers not deemed sufficiently useful, also duplication of powers of another better qualified candidate (Tellus)

Rejected Applicant: Energy Boy
Powers:  Ability to create a nuclo-globe (whatever that is)
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in the story, but because other members were chosen instead, potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicants: Skreeks
Powers:  Unknown
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in the story, but because other members were chosen instead, potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Tiger Girl
Powers:  Unknown
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in the story, but because other members were chosen instead, potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

Rejected Applicant: Power Boy
Powers:  Control over his molecular density
Reason for Rejection: Not stated explicitly in the story, but because other members were chosen instead, potentially Powers not deemed sufficiently useful

As Bouncing Boy escorts Power Boy off-stage he says, “Maybe the Subs, kid,” not knowing yet that the Subs have been disbanded.  Nothing much is known about the Skreeks or Tiger Girl, but Power Boy, or at least a character with that name, does make it into the Legion in atleast one timeline: a statue of him is shown as a dead Legionnaire in the Hall of Heroes in the Adult Legion story (Adventure Comics #354). 

Comet Queen becomes a member of the new Legion of Substitute Heroes (Legion of Super-Heroes Annual (v2) #3) and is eventually granted actual membership during the Five Years Later years. The truly tragic character here is Mentalla. Determined to prove herself worthy of membership, Mentalla leaves the try-outs and eventually infiltrates the New Fatal Five in order to help take it down. Ultimately, she perishes at the hands of the Emerald Empress. She, too, eventually gets a statue in the Hall of Heroes. 

And finally, in a “the end is but the beginning” twist, the last tryout we see before the Legion continuity is erased and re-established is actually the first one ever conducted!  The story, “The Little Clubhouse that Could,” appeared in Secret Origins #46 (Dec 1989) and featured seven applicants. Only three, however, played a part in the story.

We have Unknown Male Applicant number, er, where did I leave off, six or seven? The heck with it. Some of them you can't even tell gender. Lets' call them The Contortionist, Wing Man, Bearded Plant Lady, and Weird Alien Dude. The three we do get information on are Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, Mnemonic Kid, and Fortress Boy. 

The first is the obligatory comic relief character, failing to impress the Legion with his detachable limbs. The second, Mnemonic Kid, demonstrates her ability of being able to selectively erase memories, but then is unable to restore them. The object of her test is a kid playing in the park and she is unconcerned about the fate of said kid after she uses her powers on him. She is rejected for being unable to reverse the effects of her power, but also for being a grade-a jerk. She then decides to take revenge on the Legionnaires for rejecting her, going after them first with a blaster, then a grenade. 

The Legion would have been finished before it had even started but for the actions of Fortress Boy, whose power enabled him to turn into a fortress and shelter the Legionnaires, who had been subjected to Mnenomic Kid's memory-erasing power and were briefly unable to act in their own defense.  She also zapped Fortress Boy, erasing his memory of how to, er, unfortress himself. She ends up killing herself instead of her intended targets. Fortress Lad, of course, turns into the Legion’s Club-House. 

I don't know about anybody else but I find the idea of the Legion unknowingly setting up shop in the essentially lobotomized corpse of one of their applicants somewhat, well, creepy.

Well, that's it for the rejects. So now we've covered members and rejects, so that's it right?  Nope, this coin has a third side….Stay tuned.

7 comments:

  1. Great article, Russell! I love reading stuff like this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, but it was actually by Emsley. :-) I like it, too.

      Delete
    2. Sorry Emsley! I looked right over the credit. My apologies. Great article. Russell is okay too. ;-)

      Delete
  2. Oooh, another pun. You could say that, as a reservist, Lana definitely earned her stripes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love how you compiled all of the rejected candidates here. Thanks for the research and work!

    Lately I've been drawing the Legion for fun, with my own 'adjusted roster', where very early on the team sets up a training facility so that some of my favorite rejects (Polar Boy & Chlorophyll Kid, for example) and heroes who never made it in for various reasons (Gas Girl, Gates, Dragonmage, Lamprey, etc...) get in either eventually or far earlier than in the books. Most of the timeline and roster stay the same, but it's been a fun exercise!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What happened to my comment? Where's Fruit Boy? Plaid Lad? Barber Boy? Accordion King? Ze Tongue? Many more

    ReplyDelete
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