aka Absorbency Boy
Created by Cary Bates and Mike Grell
NAME + ALIASES:
Kirt Niedrigh, Absorbency Boy
Justice League of Earth, Legion of Super-Heroes
As Absorbency Boy: Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #218 (July 1976)
As Earth-Man: Action Comics #859 (Jan. 2008)
The Legionnaire called Earth-Man is one of several who began their heroic careers as a Legion reject. For some like Kirt Niedrigh, tthe Legion's rejection of his membership application was the most disappointing event of his life, and his anger led him down the path towards revenge.
As Absorbency Boy, Niedrigh lost his bid for membership to Tyroc. Soon afterwards, he enacted a plan to arrange for his rival's demise. Absorbency Boy found his way into Legion headquarters, biding his time for the chance to prove his superiority. Using his power to absorb others' super-powers, Kirt disabled Superboy and Sun Boy. Still, Tyroc outsmarted him and was sent packing. (Superboy #218)
After this, Niedrigh gave up on a career as an adventurer and took up his studies. He traveled to the Arctic, where he unearthed a crystal tablet bearing what appeared to be the "true history of Superman." This document claimed that Superman was not born on Krypton, but on Earth. To Kirt, this all made sense. He reasoned that the Legion had brought Superman from the past in order to legitimize their platforms of racial harmony and galactic peace.
He regarded the Legion's presence as an alien invasion. Taking the name Earth-Man, he succeeded in convincing many people that the Legion had fooled people for years with "their version" of Superman's history. He began recruiting like-minded individuals and formed the Justice League of Earth, with Spider-Girl and several other powerful Terran rejects. Golden Boy helped him fund their endeavor. (Action #859)
Earth-Man's message swept the globe and soon aliens became the targets of persecution. The Justice Leauge began to purge Earth of other super-powered heroes. When they faced the Substitute Heroes, Color Kid was blinded, Infectious Lass tossed into the time stream, and Double Header was killed. (Action #862)
The Legion was forced to go underground during this time. Meanwhile, the Justice League grew near-invincible. Brainiac 5 ultimately hatched a plan to retrieve Superman from the past, in order to right things. But when Superman arrived in the 31st century, he found that Earth-Man had used Sun Boy's powers to turn Earths sun to red. (Action #858) While the Justice League captured the three Legion founders, Superman and several others rallied the underground forces. (#859)
Soon the Legionnaires galvanized support from across the United Planets for the Legion—and Superman's true legacy. (#861)In their final battle, Brainiac revealed to Niedrigh that all Legion applicants have always undergone secret mental evaluations by Saturn Girl, which he'd failed. (#862) When Sun Boy was freed, the Earth's sun reverted to yellow, and Superman's powers returned. He was then able to defeat Earth-Man, and encouraged the people of Earth to end their xenophobic ways. (#863)
Not long after this, Superboy Prime was dropped into the 31st century, and he assembled all the Legion's past foes into a massive Legion of Super-Villains. Upon their defeat, Earth-Man was returned to prison. (Legion of Three Worlds #1-5)
But for all their efforts, the Legion still faced the challenge of righting the prejudices of Earth's population. In order for the Legion to remain headquartered on Earth, Earthgov mandated that the Legion accept Earth-Man as a member. Brainiac 5 crafted a special flight ring for Kirt that would also serve as a "collar." In a strange twist of fate, the same day that Earth-Man received the Legion ring he'd so coveted, he was also chosen to become the first member of a new Green Lantern Corps. Its recruiter, Dyogene, visited Earth-Man and bestowed him with a second ring. (Legion v.6 #1)
Earth-Man could absorb the super-powers of other sentients. These wore off after an indeterminate amount of time. The powers could also be drained by certain technological devices.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- Action Comics #859-863
- Legion of Super-Heroes v.6 #1–16