There are two distinct Legions of Super-Villains, one which is considered "official," or canonical to the original Legion timeline, and one which is considered to have been an "alternate version" of that timeline. The "alternate" LSV is considered so because they made all their appearances in the "Adult Legion" series of stories which first appeared in Superman #147 (1961) and continued sporadically through 1967. These adventures all happened in Superman's time, not Superboy's. It's safe to say they were from a parallel universe, and were destroyed with the first Crisis, as the Superman/Batman arc suggests. (Though the adult Saturn Queen still survives.)
The reason the adult LSV and Adult Legion are considered so questionable is that they depicted events in the Legion's future that never did come true, or seemed unlikely to occur as Legion history unfolded: the Adult stories predicted that Ayla Ranzz (Light Lass) and Brin Londo (Timber Wolf) would marry, and that Quantum Queen would become a Legionnaire; and that the Legionnaires would all change their names to "Man" or "Woman." Some Adult Legion predictions did come true: the marriages of Cosmic "Man" to Night Girl and the deaths of Chemical King and Reflecto.
This Legion of Super-Villains was formed a decade after the Legion of Super-Heroes, when the LSH had grown to adulthood. They were:
Cosmic King, Laevar Bolto of Venus. Bolto was an inventor who discovered a ray that would transmute elements. He accidentally stumbled into the ray's path and was imbued with this ability himself! Excitedly, he took this discovery to his planets governors, but was cast out. You see, transmutation was considered evil, natch.
Lightning Lord, the admitted brother of Lightnitng Lad, Mekt Ranzz. Mekt shared the same super-origin as his twin siblings Garth and Ayla. On the planet Korbal, they were attacked by lightning beasts. The attack left them not dead, but with the power to weild lightning themselves.
And Saturn Queen, Eve Aries of Titan. Eve grew tired of the idyllic crime-free life on Saturn's moon. She ventured out in search of adventure and quickly settled into a life of crime with the LSV. Like all on Titan, she had formidable telepathic abilities. NOTE: Later tales reveal that Saturn Queen was a young woman from the teen Legion's era, and had been coerced into working with Lightning Lord and Cosmic King. It is unclear whether any of her appearances were actually the adult Saturn Queen, from the adult Villains' era.
Their first recorded caper involved the manipulation of Douglas Nolan, the twin brother of the deceased Legionnaire, Ferro Lad. Nolan, who was under the mental domination of the Villains, attacked on their behalf. When the adult Legion and Superman freed Nolan of this control, the villains retreated to plot again. (Adventure #354) They returned with reinforcements, new members Echo and Beauty Blaze. This team of five was quite formidable, but the Legionnaires were rescued by benevolent 30th-century descendants of Lex Luthor and Mr. Mxyzptlk. (Adventure #355)
The Villains ultimately concluded that they were doomed to failure against the adult Legion of Super-Heroes, and took their crimes into the timestream instead. Their subsequent campaigns mostly included attempts to conquer the 20th century, during the time of Superman.
In Superboy's time, the young Lex Luthor once speculated that "if a Legion of Super-Heroes will exist centuries from now... then a Legion of Super-Villains probably exists in the future, too!" He vowed to one day contact them to help him destroy Superboy. (Superboy v.1 #86) A decade later he eventually succeeded. After Superboy had become Superman, and Luthor had grown into his biggest enemy, Luthor succeeded in contacting the three original Villains, who agreed to help Luthor with a plan to defeat Superman. (Superman v.1 #147)
But Superman called in his own reinforcements: the adult Legion of Super-Heroes. Superman won this battle by cueing into something that Saturn Woman said: that her life of crime had begun only after she left Titan. Superman took a guess and moved some of the debris from Saturn's rings to Earth. Eve was miraculously rid of her evil urges, and turned on her teammates. She vowed to return to Saturn and reform. NOTES: The Super-Villains in this case told Luthor that they were from the 21st century, but then Lighnting Lord went on to say he was Lightning Lad's brother. The LSV made their next appearance in one of Superman's dreams. (Action #286) There were even a few early LSH appearances in which they claimed they were from the 21st century. (Action #287)
Without Saturn Queen, the remaining Villains filled out their ranks with two new members: Chameleon Chief and Sun Emperor. This time they were defeated by Supergirl, with help from Jimmy Olsen. (Jimmy Olsen #63) The next time they returned, Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and the LSV attempted to brainwash Jimmy into killing Superman. (Jimmy Olsen #87)
The Legion's trophy gives Superman the clue to defeating Mr. Mxyzptlk. The adult Legion of Super-Villains appears on the scene to gloat, but the villains flee when they realize they may be injured. (Action #583)
Why were the Legion of Super-Villains so persistent in their attempts to invade the 20th century, despite their repeated failure? Perhaps it was because during the so-called "Crisis on Infinite Earths," they got a glimpse of their own fate. When the Anti-Monitor's antimatter wave swept across the multiverse, all time periods collapsed on top of one another and the LSV found themselves battling alongside the 20th century's Lex Luthor and Brainiac in an army of super-villains. (Crisis #9) Surely this must have been an eye-opening experience for Lightning Lord and Cosmic King. They witnessed the fragility and near destruction of their own timeline from ground zero itself. As a result, did they redouble their efforts?
Whatever the motivation, their final plan was specifically designed to ensure the survival of their own timeline. To this end, the adult Legion of Super-Villains made one last appearance in the distant past. Somehow they concluded that in order for their own timeline to survive, they would need to dramatically alter past events. This time Lightning Lord and Cosmic King brought Saturn Queen back into the fold and traveled to the 20th century — to murder the parents of Batman and Superman and raise the heroes as their own. (Superman/Batman #14)
They also sabotaged and murdered those who were destined to become Earth’s other major heroes — Hal Jordan, Aquaman, Barry Allen, Martian Manhunter. The LSV raised Superman and Batman as their children. While the parents remained mostly in their moon-based home, their mighty sons subjugated the Earth completely. Their reign was eventually challenged by Princess Diana and a band of Freedom Fighters. Diana slayed Batman, and was slain in turn by Superman. Batman's death set the LSV's carefully executed time-tinkering into a spin. (#15)
Following this new change to the timestream, Superman and Batman began reliving their deaths throughout numerous realities. In one of these realities, Superman and Batman met Metron, Darkseid, and an alternate Superman (from the same universe as the LSV). These three convinced Batman and Superman of the truth — that their “parents” had orchestrated their entire existence for their own ends. The only way to stop the time fluctuations was to restore the damage at the source: at the LSV's initial departure from the 31st century.
The Villains were very savvy time travelers, and escaped back into their future to devise a new ploy. Here, the absence of a Batman resulted in Ra's al Ghul's global domination. The LSV allied with Ra's and also summoned their past members Echo and Beauty Blaze to help defend against the return of their "sons." (#17) Superman and Batman were victorious and returned the villains to their proper time—at a moment before their initial departure. There they also met the adult Legion of Super-Heroes, who were waiting to take the LSV into custody.
After the heroes had left, the villains' worst fears became reality. Superman and Batman had succeeded in cementing their own timeline — one which did not lead to the LSV's. As a result of Superman and Batman's efforts, the adult Legion of Super-Villains' timeline gave way to the antimatter wave of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and ceased to exist. (#18)
Ever resourceful, Saturn Queen somehow managed to also survive this "crisis event." Like very few others, she slipped through the cracks when the new multiverse was created, and wound up in the shrunken city of Kandor. There she teamed with another cosmic survivor, Ultraman of Earth-3, to take over the city. They found themselves in conflict with Supergirl, to whom Saturn Queen gave information about the fate of her Kryptonian home, Argo City. (Supergirl v.5 #6-8) Saturn Queen and Ultraman remain at large.
The adult LSH and LSV made one other appearance in Superman's final pre-Crisis storyline, which was billed as an "Imaginary Story." It was Superman #423 (Sept. 1985) — written by Alan Moore — and Action #583 (Sept. 1985). The Superman from this imaginary timeline also appeared in the story arc from Superman/Batman #14-18.
Legion v.2 #300 (1983) paid homage to the Adult Legion stories. In this tale, the Legion watched the dreams of the teen Douglas Nolan, which showed glimpses of possible futures.
The LSV's Superman/Batman appearance brings up an important point for DC continuity — it is totally centered around events that occur during the lifetimes of Superman and Batman. From Superman's perspective, he is constantly encountering strange visitors from the future. And they're different every time. Before the Infinite Crisis, Superman first met a Legion in which Blok was a member. (Superman v.2 #8) Later, he met the original three founders. (Adventures of Superman #476) The next time the Legion came to his era, they were younger, and Lightning Lad was called "Live Wire." (Legion v.4 #85) He will most certainly meet the current Legion as well. What would Superman conclude? That the future is constantly changing based on the course of events taken in his own time period.
|Name (Aliases)||1st app.||LSV Affiliation||Final Status|
|THE ADULT LSV (from an alternate future)|
|Cosmic King I (Laevar Bolto of Venus)||Superman v.1 #147||Superman v.1 #147||From an indefinite future; status unknown|
|Lightning Lord I (Mekt Ranzz of Winath)|
|Saturn Queen I (Eve Ares of Titan)||Superman v.1 #147||Active in the 21st Century "Kandor"|
|Chameleon Chief I (unrevealed)||Jimmy Olsen #63||Jimmy Olsen #63||From an indefinite future; status unknown|
|Sun Emperor I (unrevealed)|
|Beauty Blaze (unrevealed)||Adventure #355||Adventure #355, Superman/Batman #18|