LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES

Title

The Legion of Substitute Heroes

Created by Edmond Hamilton & John Forte

This profile is reprinted from the Legion Outpost II E-zine, and was written by by Rob Sandusky and John Censullo

» SEE ALSO: Profiles: The Subs

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Adventure Comics #306 (March 1963)

Earth-0

The Legion of Substitute Heroes was formed by heroic teenagers who had been rejected for membership by the Legion of Super-Heroes. (Adventure #306) Each was given a reason for their rejection—“too uncontrollable” or “not useful enough.” They banded together to prove their worth, regardless of the Legionnaires opinions. The original five members were:

Polar Boy
Night Girl
Stone Boy
Fire Lad
Chlorophyll Kid

Polar Boy — Brek Bannin of Tharr. The natives of Tharr have developed the power to radiate intense cold, due to the proximity of their planet to their sun. Polar Boy applied to the Legion, but his power was deemed "useless" and he was rejected. Brek was the driving force behind the organization of the Subs, and led the group for most of their history. Brek later disbanded the Subs when he was offered membership in the Legion, which he went on to lead for one term.

Night Girl — Lydda Jath of Kathoon. A native of a perpetually dark planet, Lydda fell in love with Cosmic Boy and asked her father, a scientist, to create a serum to give her powers so she could join the Legion. She gained super-strength, but it only worked in darkness. Because of this, she was rejected. However, she developed a romantic relationship with Cosmic Boy , and was often seen in the company of him and other Legionnaires . Lydda joined the original Subs and the second incarnation of the Subs.

Chlorophyll Kid — Ral Benem of Mardru. The Kid's powers over all plants were bestowed upon him when, as a child, he fell into a vat of hydroponic serum. This allowed him to control the growth rate of all plants. He was rejected from the Legion for having a power with "limited use." At one point, he developed a weight problem and was treated on the planet Bismoll. Ral was a member of the original Subs and the Sub-Heroes who fought underground to depose the Dominators on Earth.

Fire Lad — Staq Mavlen of Shwar. Breathing the fumes of a meteorite gave Staq flame breath, which was considered too uncontrollable by the Legion and led to his rejection. When the Subs re-formed as the Sub-Heroes during the "Five Years Later" storyline, Staq had not only controlled his breath, but was showing leadership qualities. He was a member of the original Subs and the Sub-Heroes.

Stone Boy — Dag Wentim of Zwen. All natives of Zwen have the ability to turn to stone, as their planet has six month long days and nights. Stone Boy has the honor of actually being rejected from, then later invited to be a member of, the Legion of Super-Heroes (he turned down this membership to stay with the Subs). After the Subs went underground, Dag became a fierce fighter, willing to be the first in line, as he learned to move his body in stone form, rather than stay rigid.

Freshly minted Subs.
From Adventure #306 (1963). Art by John Forte.

The "Subs" made numerous appearances during Legion cases. Their first was an unsuccessful attempt to prove that the Legionhad been replaced by aliens. In this adventure, Night Girl revealed her crush on the Legion's leader, Cosmic Boy. Night Girl was perhaps the most persistent member in their earlier days. She next turned up trying to aid the female Legion members, who had been struck with a mysterious crimson virus. (Adventure #311)

After nine months in semi-secrecy, the Subs revealed themselves to save Earth from a band of space-raiders. This led to the Legion holding a "Super Contest," which would give one Sub the right to become a full-fledged Legion member. His willingness to give up that chance in order to save innocent people won Stone Boy that contest. Ironically, he refused the offer of membership, not wanting to leave his friends in the Subs behind. (Adventure #315)

The Subs were often available to back up the Legion, and did so they did when the Legion fekk to an unseen enemy on the planet Throon. The Substitute Heroes launched a suicide run on the planet, and succeeded in rescuing them. After returning to Earth, the Substitute Heroes were made official Legion Reservists. (Adventure #319) It wasn't long before they were called in again, against a major foe. They joined the Legion in attempt to penetrate the Time Trapper’s Iron Curtain of Time. (Adventure #322)

In time, many of the Subs would ultimately enjoy Legion membership, but long before that happneed, a former Legionnaire became a Sub instead! When Star Boy was forced to kill in self-defense, the Legion concluded that he had not explored all his options and expelled him from the team. Star Boy then approached his new love interest, Dream Girl, and asked her to join them as well. (Adventure #342)

Soon the Subs added another long-time member, the reject called Color Kid. (Adventure #351)

Dream Girl
Star Boy
Color Kid

Dream Girl — Nura Nal of Naltor. Dream Girl joined the Subs after a brief stay with the Legion, which she joined under false pretenses. It was her hope to perfect her powers very early in her career. Later, she went undercover as a replacement for Supergirl when green kryptonite kept Supergirl from coming to the 30th century. Nura then joined the Legion when the kryptonite problem was eradicated.

Star Boy — Thom Kallor of Xanthu. Thom was born with the power to make things super-heavy. This power was the outcome of living with his parents in a space station. He later gained powers similar to the original Superboy when he flew his space cruiser through the tail of a comet. These extra powers eventually wore off, leaving him with his original weight-increasing power. He gained Legion membership, but was expelled when he killed a man in self-defense. He joined the Subs and maintained a relationship with Dream Girl. He later re-joined the Legion in an alternate guise when Superboy was discharged, but then was reinstated as a member in good standing.

Color Kid — Ulu Vakk of Lupra. The master of the light spectrum, Ulu could alter the color of all things. The Legion thought this was a useless power, but later it was Color Kid who changed all green kryptonite (fatal to all Kryptonians) to blue, a harmless isotope. He also learned how to disorient his opponents with his color powers.

Subs v. Super Pets—too close to call. From Adventure #351 (1966). Art by Curt Swan.

When Superboy and Supergirl were forced to resign from the Legion due to a green kryptonite cloud surrounding the Earth, they asked to name their replacements. They chose Sir Prize and Miss Terious, who were actually Star Boy and Dream Girl disguised in armor. And the kryptonite cloud? It was changed in color to blue by Color Kid. After this, Superboy and Supergirl returned, and Star Boy and Dream Girl were also allowed to return to the Legion. (Adventure #350, 351)

The Subs served as Reservists again against the Scorpius gang (Adventure #374), and Night Girl went into action by herself when the Legion was attacked by the villainess Uli Algor. (Action #386)

Over time, the Legion came to regard the Subs very highly, and treated them almost like members of their team. They were present, for example, at the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. (Superboy v.1 #200) They continued to accept the Legion's rejects whenever the need arose. Their next members were Infectious Lass and Porcupine Pete, whose powers were also deemed too unpredictable for the Legion. (1st app. #201)

Porcupine Pete
Infectious Lass
Antennae Boy
Double Header

Porcupine Pete — Peter Dursin of Earth. Born with rough skin and spines, Peter thought these would make a formidable power and would be useful to the Legion. They rejected him when they learned he could fire them, but not control how they were fired or their direction. He joined the Subs to perfect his power. He was last seen working with the Sub-Heroes, battling to save the Earth from the Dominators.

Infectious Lass — Drura Sehpt of Somahtur. Drura had the power to infect anyone else with any of the millions of germs and diseases that she carries, which she herself is immune to. She was rejected by the Legion due to the debilitating potential she presented. She later joined the Subs, and was became involved in a long-term relationship with Jacques Foccart, the Legionnaire Invisible Kid II.

Antennae Lad — Khfeurb Chee Bez of Grxyor. Antennae Lad's power was the ability to pick up radio waves from the present or the past, using his ears which have antennae on them. However, he was rejected because he could not control these pickups, and the sound was often deafening. He tried out for the Subs, but was deemed not ready for even that team and was instead placed in the Subs' Auxiliary. He wound up working at the Metropolis Time Institute, picking up valuable ancient recordings. He has yet to be reintroduced in the reboot.

Double-Header — Dyvud & Frenk Retzun of Janus. An early reject from the Legion, Dyvud and Frenk share the characteristics of all Janusians -- they start as a single entity and then as they grow, split into two individuals. However, this organism was very argumentative with itself. Due to this, and a lack of any real super-power, they were rejected from the Legion. When they applied to the Subs, they were deemed not ready and placed in the Auxiliary team.

When the Legion built a new headquarters, their old one went to the Subs. (Superboy #211)

After dating for sometime, Night Girl and Cosmic Boy grew closer. After the Legionnaires had just come from the funeral of Chemical King, Cosmic Boy called Night Girl went out with Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl in an attempt to cheer themselves up. (Superboy #229) Night Girl next helped Cos stop the Worldsmith on the planet Braal. (#236)

Naturally, the Subs were on-hand at the long-awaited marriage of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. (All New Collectors' Edition #C-55) And they lent a hand when resources werre streteched during the Earth War. (#243-245) But the Subs truly shined when, with the help of Brainiac 5, they defeated the League of Super-Assassins, of which Blok was a member before joining the Legion. (#254)

They lovable misfits were never far helped in a variety of cases: against Computo (Legion v. 2 Annual #1); defending Weber's World during Darkseid's attack (Legion v. 2 #294); the Legion's anniversary (#300); and rounding up the Legion of Super-Villains. (Legion v.3 #3-4)

Despite these successes and years of good deeds, the Subs were always prone to accident and ridicule. Polar Boy and Night Girl began moving away from the group after several especially embarassing cases. The first of these was their "team-up" with Superman and the Ambush Bug in the 20th century. By this time, they had even added a "Legion of Substitute Heroes Auxiliary" that included rejects Antennae Lad and Double-Header. (DC Comics Presents #59) By luck as much as anything, they did manage to defeat Pulsar Stargrave, who was smashed to smithereens by Stone Boy. (Legion of Substitute Heroes Special #1)

Even Cosmic Boy found himself in the company of their incompetence when they were stranded in space and needed to be rescued by the Legion Academy cadets. (Tales of the Legion #316)

When he'd finally had enough, Polar Boy disbanded the Subs, and successfully applied for full membership in the Legion. (Legion v. 3 #14)

But Seriously...

Perhaps it was his misadventure with the original Subs that awoke Cosmic Boy to the potential of the organization. After he had retired from full-time Legion service, Cos formed a new band of Subs with a combination of veterans and promising new Academy Students, Comet Queen and Karate Kid II. This band came together in a time of crisis and pulled off an impressive defeat of the Dominators. Afterwards, they decided to form officially, and operate as reliable backup for the Legionnaires. There is only one recorded mission for his formation of the Subs. (Legion v.3 Annaul #3)

Cosmic Boy
Night Girl
Bouncing Boy
Duo Damsel
Comet Queen
Karate Kid II

Cosmic Boy — Rokk Krinn of Braal. Coming from a planet where everyone has magnetic powers, Cosmic Boy was a founding member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Bouncing Boy — Chuck Taine of Earth. Bouncing Boy has the power to inflate into a ball and bounce like a ballistic. He was the first Legionnaire to lose his powers, and was a sort of inspiration to rejects everywhere ("if he can join, we can too!"). He ultimately regained his powers, but resigned from the Legion anyway to marry Duo Damsel.

Duo Damsel — Luornu Durgo of Cargg. Like all inhabitants of Cargg, the heroine originally called Triplicate Girl could split herself into three separate bodies. She became Duo Damsel when one of her bodies was killed by Computo. She left the Legion when she married Bouncing Boy, and they went on to distinguish themselves as heads of the Legion Academy, where they trained young heroes.

Comet Queen — Grava of Colony Extal (Grall III). Wanting desperately to be a Legionnaire and wishing to emulate her favorite member Star Boy, Grava jumped into the tail of a passing comet. With no ship for protection, her body underwent great changes: she can fly, has partial invulnerability, and emits noxious comet-like gases. Comet Queen applied for Legion membership, made the first cut, but did not become an active member. She also joined the Legion Academy.

Karate Kid II — Myg of Lythyl. A master of martial arts, Myg was born on Lythyl, a planet where power and control meant everything. He left Lythyl and vowed to honor the legacy of the original Karate Kid. On Earth, he entered the Legion Academy.

With the rise of Earth Man and his so-called "Justice League of Earth," a culture of xenophobia spread on Earth. Cosmic Boy and Night Girl both became full-time Legion members to combat this crisis. And at some point, the original Subs reformed and fought Earth Man, too. Earth Man reportedly blinded Color Kid, tossed Infections Lass into the time stream, and killed Double Header. When most Legionnaires had been banished or imprisoned, the Subs soldiered on, led (seemingly) by Fire Lad, and adding another reject, Rainbow Girl. They helped free the Legionnaires and took over the Justice League's satellite. (Action #862-863) Infectious Lass appears with other time-tossed heroes in Tales of the Unexpected v.2 (2006).

NOTES: An Adult Legion story (Adventure #354-355) gave a glimpse of the future. In it, Night Woman was married to Cosmic Man, while Polar Man was an active member of the Legion. Tthe origins of the Substitute Heroes were retold in Secrets of the Legion #3. Their origin was also retold in Secret Origins v.2 #37.

Legion 1.5: Post-Crisis

The Subs. From Who's Who #11 (1991). Art by Ty Templeton.

In post-Crisis continuity (no longer valid), Cosmic Boy and Night Girl went on to have an adventure in the 20th century. (Cosmic Boy #1-4) Their band of Subs appeared once more during the Magic Wars (Legion v.3 #63) as did Chlorophyll Kid and Fire Lad. (#61)

After this, the United Planets fell into some chaos, and Earth was overrun by the Dominators. The Legion itself became a farce, and subject to the Dominion's plans. In that time, many veteran members quit the team, and nearly every Substitute Hero was granted full Legion membership at last. When it became apparent that things on Earth were terribly wrong, the Legion eventually disbanded. Many Subs joined a new group led by former Legionnaires Jacques Foccart and Troy Stewart, who gathered heroes together to form and underground resistance called S.U.B.S.—“Superhuman Underground Battle Squad."

Stone Boy, Infectious Lass, Porcupine Pete, Chlorophyll Kid, Fire Lad and Color Kid doffed their codenames, got serious, and were joined by…

Ron‑Karr of Neptune. This Legion reject was a native of Neptune and had the power to become flat like paper. His ability was usefulness in espionage, though, and he was recruited by the Legion of Super-Villains. He was imprisoned on Labyrinth, but joined the SUBS after his rehabilitation.

Monica Sade was an assassin with the power of teleportation. Her past was a mystery; there were rumors of a bounty on her, and possible links to the villain Universo. She once killed a fellow soldier, and was not the easiest person to get along with.

Chlor
Dag
Staq
Ulu
Grinn
Sade

After the Dominators were purged from Earth, the SUBS were invited to rejoin the new Legion, but instead choose to stay on Earth. (Legion v.4 #41)

In this timeline, Cosmic Boy continued to be active in the Legion, Night Girl gave birth to their first child, and Polar Boy kept busy with various endeavors as well.

Members

Name (Aliases) Home Planet Joined Final pre-Crisis Status
1. Polar Boy (Brek Bannin) Tharr Adventure #306 (3.63) Active in the Legion
1. Night Girl (Lydda Jath Krinn) Kathoon Active in the Legion
1. Fire Lad (Staq Mavlin) Shwar Active in the Subs
1. Chlorophyll Kid (Ral Benem) Mardru Active in the Subs
1. Stone Boy (Dag Wentim) Zwen Active in the Subs
6. Color Kid (Ulu Vakk) Lupra Adventure #351 (12.66) Inactive, blinded
7. Star Boy (Thom Kallor, Sir Prize, Starman VIII) Xanthu Adventure #342 (3.66) Active in the Legion
7. Dream Girl (Nura Nal, Miss Terious) Naltor Active in the Legion
9. Porcupine Pete (Peter Dursin) Earth DC Comics Presents #59 (7.83) Active in the Subs
9. Infectious Lass (Drura Sehpt) Somathur Lost in time
11. Antenna Boy (Khfeurb Chee Bez) Grxyor Status unknown
11. Double Header (Dyvud/Frenk Retzun) Janus Killed by Earth Man
13. Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn) Braal Legion v.3 Annual #3 (1987) Active in the Legion
13. Bouncing Boy (Chuck Taine) Earth Active in the Legion
13. Duplicate Damsel (Luornu Durgo Taine, Triplicate Girl, Duo Damsel, Triad) Carggg Active in the Legion
13. Karate Kid II (Myg) Lythyl Killed by Radiation Roy, Legion of Three Worlds #3
13. Comet Queen (Grava) Colony Extall Active in adventuring
18. Rainbow Girl (Dori Aandraison) Xolnar Action #862 (4.08) Active in the Subs

Appearances

This list does not include appearances of Subs after the team disbanded…

Action #386

Adventure #311, 313, 315, 319, 322, 323, 331, 337, 342, 351, 354-355, 374, 403

All-New Collector's Edition #C-55

Crisis on Infinite Earths #5

DC Comics Presents #59

Justice League Europe Annual #2

Legion of Substitute Heroes Special #1

Legion v. 2 #294-297, 300, 306, Annual #1

Legion v. 3 #3-4, 8, 14-15, 63, Annual #3

Legion v. 4 #16, 18, 20, 26, 28, 29, 30, 40, 41, 54

Secret Origins v. 2 #37

Secrets of the Legion #3

Superboy v.1 #148, 200, 208, 211, 212, 229

Superboy & the Legion #236, 243-245, 254

Superman Family #175

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #47

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72

Tales of the Legion #316

Who's Who #4, 5, 8, 13, 16, 18, 22

Who's Who v.2 #11

Who's Who in the Legion #1-3, 5

Who's Who Update '87 #3

Legion 2: The Subs of Earth-247

When half the Legion's was thrust into the 20th Century by the Emerald Eye, the team held a massive applicant screening. (Legionnaires #43) Many rejected applicants sought solace with other teams including the Workforce. Several, however, decided they were not yet ready for action, and formed their own group: the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Only Polar Boy and Night Girl were fully shown as members. However, other members may include Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Fire Lad, Infectious Lass and Stone Boy, who were all present at the tryouts. (Legionnaires #49) NOTES: The latter five heroes were named in the Legion Secret Files #1. Color Kid is now a female.

Other noticeable heroes (most unnamed, codenames are assumed) at the tryouts were:

Arachno, Blast-off, Blockade Boy, Cahvey Cannus of the Legion Academy (from Anthropologia in his previous appearance, from Sirius Station here), Catspaw, Charma, Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Comet Queen, Crystal Kid, Dev‑Em, Dragonmage, Dreamer, Duck Call Lass, Fire Lad, Graffiti King, Infectious Lass, Insect Queen, KC Carlson (bottom right-hand corner of the cover), Kid Psycho, Konk, Magno, Macaw, Monstress, Night Girl, Particon, Polar Boy, Jed Rikane, Radion, Sensor, Splitter (formerly Arm-Fall-Off Boy), Stone Boy, Sugar & Spike, Tellus, Umbra and Weight Wizard. It is also known that Cherry Bomb, Density, Phantom Lad, and The Tongue were also present, but not depicted.

After this, Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Infectious Lass and Night Girl inexplicably reappeared as part of a group of small children! This group were all aspiring young heroes being led on a tour by Chuck Taine. The kids encountered four Legionnaires who related their origin stories. Antenna Boy and Porcupine Pete were also a part of this group of children. (Legends of the Legion #1-4)

The full roster of the Substitue Heroes, and the true age of some of these characters remains uncertain.

The Subs have not yet appeared in the newest incarnation of the Legion.

» FIRST APPEARANCE: As individuals: Legionnaires #43. As a team: Legionnaires #49

» FEATURED APPEARANCES: Legionnaires #43, 49 • Legends of the Legion #1-4