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Last updated:
10th Jun 2001

Will The Real Legion Of Super-Heroes Please Stand Up?

This piece was written way back before Zero Hour when the "mystery of the young Legionnaires" lay still unresolved. Since it was first written many changes have occurred (principally the aforementioned Zero Hour and Hyper-Time, which cheerfully shat on everything Marv Wolfman tried to do with Crisis, poetic justice perhaps) and new information has come to light - check the notes at the end of the page.

Don't you think that calling the second book Legionnaires leads to unnecessary confusion? I mean, adult members appearing in the Legion of Super-Heroes are referred to as Legionnaires while young members of the Legionnaires are... well, duh, Legionnaires! Confusing and a real pain in the bottom. And have you ever asked a dealer for Legion and be directed to L.E.G.I.O.N.?

Back in L* #4 we were promised that the "mysterious genesis of the youthful Legionnaires and their exact relationship to the older LSH will be revealed" with a story that will affect the whole DC Universe (boy, this could get tedious). It's about time things were sorted out, but I don’t like the way it’s become the theme for the year's cross-over. I detest these yearly multi-cross-over "epics". Whether they're from DC or Marvel, they're overblown overhyped exercises in cynical sales manipulation. I don't buy books I don't like, and I resent these attempts to force me to do otherwise. Still, it involves the Legion, so maybe I won't mind so much this time round. Will half the existing DC super-hero universe be revealed as a Dominator created conspiracy, I wonder, but then... who cares? In the meantime let's ruminate on the situation and its possible resolution.

Why the problem should be resolved
The situation has been left unresolved for over a year now. Fair enough, the Khund wars and the Dominator's... er... domination of the Earth have tended to overshadow things, but too many aspects have been ignored.

Not only did the young Legionnaires wake up in a strange alien world, their appearance means that either they or their older counter-parts may well be the pre-programmed puppet clones of the Dominion. So far the L* seem to have taken that piece of news pretty much in their stride, integrating into contemporary society with surprising ease to the point that they readily adopt current fashions like ear-rings and long hair. (Starchy Brainy with long hair, and macho Jo wearing a girly ear-ring?!? C'mon, gimme a break.) Look at it this way, suppose you were displaced 17 years into the future would you wear makeup, go topless, have your nipples pierced and walk around with your backside hanging out of your trousers, just for the sake of the latest fashion? (Whaddaya mean yes?!?)

The SW6 batch are young, cast adrift in an unfamiliar and hostile world (which promptly blew up) with no way back to their real home. Perhaps some would be annoyingly stoic about it all and quickly bounce back, but others, if not most, would be as scared as hell and desperately in need of reassurance and support. There's only so much comfort a team-mate can offer before familial support becomes a necessity. They'd seek out their present-day families only to be confronted with some very confused parents and some dramatically changed planets. The Ranzzes are quite wealthy, so who now owns all those the Winathian business assets? Rokk's brother Pol died in the service of the Legion, Lyle's parents are confronted with a resurrected son, as is Andrew's mother and how does Andrew feel about his brother's disappearance?

Something fundamental is being overlooked in the way the whole situation has been played down. Indeed, the almost off-hand way that both groups appear to have accepted the situation strains credibilitythey say it's not . They may put a brave face on things, and even mean it when importantnegative effect on their , but their very sense of self is being called into doubt. Deep down, sub-consciously perhaps, it must have some moralepotentially malignant . Each Legionnaire (young or old) would tend to assume that they were the original, viewing their counterpart as a duplicatewith deeply buried . (OK, both groups have shown admirable qualities during several crises, but either group could well be "sleepers" Dominator or Khund programmingLegion's supposed . The recent "LSH on the Run" debacle missed a fine opportunity by not attributing the criminal actions on such programmingNot only for .) There would be some small element of doubt and this would have to be put to rest. everyone's peace of mind but also for more pragmatic reasons, which group can be trusted with the UP's defence?

It's disappointing that L* deliberately played down the existence of the older team, there is so much scope for interplay, this seems to be yet another example of commerce over-ruling creativity. I had wondered how they intended to work around the fact that L*s never visited their parents, but they just ignored it. Clever, huh?

Whatever the final disposition of the LSH and L* there is still the minor problem of the Dominators having had access to all Legion data, severely compromising Legion security. (Actually, this is also true of Earthgov and the UP, too.)

The theories
The possibilities are as follows (in no particular order of likelihood):

  • the older legion are the real McCoys,
  • the younger legion are the real McCoys,
  • there is a mix, that is some of the older legion and some of the younger legion are the real McCoys,
  • neither of the two teams is the real McCoy, the real ones are dead or squirreled away somewhere,
  • (which all begs the question, what does Star Trek's Chief Medical office have to do with all this???).
  • Concerns over the viability of the clones and Dominator access to Legion cell samples have been voiced. "Problems" like the sterility of clones or the restoration of memory can be dismissed since Dominator cloning technology is clearly sufficiently developed to overcome them. It has been noted that Nemesis Kid (also a Legionnaire at the approximate time the substitution may have taken place) wasn't cloned, he may have instrumental in the acquisition of the necessary tissue samples and so been "spared".

    The Case For LSH as The Originals
    For the L* to be the originals the entire Legion would've had to be defeated and/or captured to allow the substitution to take place. Rather unlikely, since the Dominion weren't able to repeat the process.

    Once imprisoned, the Dominators would have to keep the L* undetected under Weisinger Plaza in hostile territory for the better part of 17 years, again very unlikely.

    The Dominion know who the originals are and habitually referred to the young versions as "SW6" and not the "Legion".

    The Dominion did their damned best to persecute and disband the Legion, a cunning plan perhaps, but a bit too cunning. A cloned Legion under their control would pose no threat and provide much needed PR and credibility to the Dominator regime, whereas the results of disbanding the Legion would have been too unpredictable, and meant a loss of control.

    If the L* were the originals why would the Dominators go to all the trouble of restoring Garth's arm and Luorno's missing body? It also begs the question: howcum the Dominators haven't done something about Andrew's face?

    If the L* are the originals there's been plenty of time to reprogram them, and if the actions of Myg and Squire are anything to go by then clearly they haven't.

    >The Case For L* as the Originals
    Why did the Dominators clone only these particular Legionnaires and not everyone who has ever been a member, a truly formidable fighting team? The Dominators would've had access to all Legion cell samples immediately the LSH disbanded and so presumably could have cloned all Legionnaires.

    If the L* are clones ageing them only to 14 hardly makes them effective replacements.

    It is worth noting that if the L* are the true Legion then both they and the adult Legion are under Dominator influence. The adult Legion were created by the Dominators, and so must be under Dominator control for the Dominion to trust them enough to release them, while the L* have had their memories of how they wound up in the chambers suppressed.

    Other Possibilities
    Most clues are sketchy and oblique, even contradictory, and the whole situation is ambiguous (clearly the writers are trying to keep their options open). This non-commital approach leaves open the possibilities that neither Legion is the original, or that each Legion is a mix of real and cloned Legionnaires. There is no specific evidence to prove or disprove any of the possibilities.

    How Will It Be Decided?
    As I've noted the situation is ambiguous, doubtless to postpone any definite decision for as long as possible.

    Presumably, the final outcome will be heavily influenced by commercial considerations, however I feel there have been far too many hints that SW6 are the clones and that any developments to the contrary would be unreasonable.

    The least popular Legion could be easily dumped if things don't work out. If one particular book doesn't sell, it shouldn't be hard to guess which group will turn out to be the clones, and be put on ice (temporarily or permanently).

    Conversely, if both books succeed or fail equally the writers will be free to decide on the basis of more creative considerations. In the former case some sort of out will be required to maintain the status quo, while in the latter case more drastic actions could be considered. It depends on just why SW6 were introduced in the first place, something I canít for the life of me figure out.

    Conclusions

    I feel that the available clues (such that they are) act more to refute than support any theory. It seems likely that the adult Legion are the originals, though there is still the possibility that some members are clones.

    At the moment we have the best of both worlds, with both the adult and junior Legions running around. A delightful case of both having your cake and eating it. I'm really fond of both groups and despite common origins both are clearly defined and fill separate niches. It would be sad to see either one go. However, the situation needs to be resolved. A resolution could preserve both teams with the döppelgangers throwing off Dominator control. A cop-out perhaps, but who cares? If the worst comes to the worst and weíre left with only one version I'd like to see kind of mix of the old and the new. Now that would make for some unusual character interaction.

    With the Legion DC have managed to age and evolve a group of heroes, (gradually and naturally, as opposed to the rather abrupt ret-conning of the "golden age" heroes) although the introduction of the L* seems to be a sign of concerns about the status quo. Whatever happens will the Legionnaires continue to age?

    DC have failed to exploit/develop the potential of a dual Legion. A chance has been missed to compare the old with the modern Legion with the way it used to be, to examine the fundamental essence of group and the stark contrast between its original ideals and its final incarnation.

    Stuff thatís happened/come up since I first wrote this
    Tom McCraw has made a bodge of the Legion.

    When I wrote this I mistakenly thought that it was the Dominators rather than the Khunds who were supposed to have done the cloning.

    The situation was apparently clarified in LSH #53, The ersatz Legion were neither Dominator nor Khundish creations but the product of some mysterious other, which ultimately proved to be the Trapper.

    Things were getting seriously weird. The death of Leviathan and immediate disappearance of old Gim implied that they are actually the same individual at different ages and not copies at all, unless they are somehow linked. Yet Laurelís death didnít affect Andromeda and of course the SW6 Jeckie and Cham are dead too but their older analogues are up and about, hmm.

    It wasn't until Zero Hour that an explanation, of sorts, was made.

    Apparently, Keith Giffen intended for the young SW6ers to be the real Legion (shades of Ben Riley, the Amazing Spider-Clone) rather at odds with the bulk of the evidence floating around at the time.

    And in conclusion? It stops but it never ends:
    Originally, Marv Wolfman & DC decided to "resolve" the continuity cock-ups by scrapping everything and starting from scratch (Crisis).
    Then, Mark Waid & DC decided to "resolve" the continuity cock-ups and SW6 batch quandry by scrapping everything and starting from scratch (Zero Hour).
    Now, DC decided to "resolve" the continuity cock-ups by scrapping everything and starting from scratch (Hyper-Time).


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