The Legion of Substitute Heroes

Created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
The "Substitute" heroes show that teamwork can compensate for ... certain other drawbacks. From Adventure Comics #306 (1963); art by John Forte.

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Adventure Comics #306 (Mar. 1963)

» SEE ALSO: Substitute Heroes Members Polar BoyNight Girl

With text from the Legion Outpost II E-zine, by Rob Sandusky and John Censullo

The Original Substitute Heroes

The Legion of Substitute Heroes was formed by heroic teenagers who had been rejected for membership by the Legion of Super-Heroes. 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. (Adventure #306) The five founders on that day were:

  • Chlorophyll Kid, Ral Benem of Mardru. As a child, Ral fell into a vat of hydroponic serum. It imbued him with the ability to control the growth rate of all plants. He was rejected by the Legion because they believed this power had "limited use."
  • Fire Lad, Staq Mavlen of Shwar. Breathing in fumes of a meteorite gave Staq flame breath, but it was considered too uncontrollable by the Legion, so he was rejected.
  • 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. This limitation was too crucial for the Legion, and she was rejected.
  • Polar Boy, Brek Bannin of Tharr. The natives of Tharr evolved the power to radiate intense cold, a survival mechanism formed in response to living in close proximity to their sun. The Legion thought Polar Boy's power was dangerous, and he was rejected.
  • Stone Boy, Dag Wentim of Zwen. All natives of Zwen can turn their bodies into stone, in order to survive their planet's six-month-long days and nights.
Freshly minted Subs. From Adventure Comics #306 (1963); art by John Forte.
The Legion is sufficiently impressed by the Substitute Heroes, enough to hold a contest to admit one of them. From Adventure Comics #315 (1963); art by John Forte.
The Subs travel back in time and cross over to a parallel Earth, where they meet the Inferior Five. From The Brave and the Bold vol. 3 #35 (2007); art by Jesus Saiz.
Subs v. Super Pets—too close to call. From Adventure Comics #351 (1966); art by Curt Swan.
When Star Boy and Dream Girl are expelled from the Legion, they find a new home with the Subs. From Adventure Comics #342 (1966); art by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff.

On the day that they all applied for Legion membership, Polar Boy had waited all night and was first up. Ironically, his cold powers were rejected by Sun Boy, but Brek was given an anti-gravity flight-belt as a consolation prize. Later, while walking the Avenue of the Super-Heroes, he was approached by Night Girl, who recognized him from earlier. Together their passion inspired them to form their own group, "to act as a substitute Legion."

Outside Metropolis they met the other three and decided to take back their self-respect. They built a makeshift headquarters inside a mountain, but every time they tried to do good, the Legion beat them to it. Just as they were about to call it quits, they discovered an alien invasion plot and stopped it. Neither the Legion nor the public ever knew about their heroics. (#306) Notes: The origins of the Substitute Heroes were retold in Secrets of the Legion #3 (Mar. 1981). The team's origin was retold in Secret Origins vol. 2 #37 (Feb. 1989).

The "Subs," as they came to be known, made frequent guest appearances during Legion cases. Their first was an unsuccessful attempt to prove that the Legion had been replaced by aliens. In this adventure, Night Girl revealed her crush on the Legion's leader, Cosmic Boy. (Adventure #311) Night Girl also tried to aid the female Legion members when they were struck with a mysterious crimson virus. (#313)

Sometime early in their careers, when the Subs were still jealous of the Legion's success, they decided to "borrow" the Legion's time bubble and travel back to the 30th century. For once, they wanted to 'save the world' before the Legion had a chance to steal their thunder. But when their inexperience caused a series of time anomalies, they sought help from the Doom Patrol's Niles Caulder. Meanwhile in another timeline, they met the Inferior Five. Night Girl struggled in vain against here teammates' incompetence — in the end the Legion did in fact save the day. (Brave and the Bold v. #35)

After nine months in semi-secrecy, the Subs revealed their group to save Earth from a band of space-raiders. The Legionnaires decided to hold a "Super Contest," which would grant just one Sub the privilege of full Legion membership. Stone Boy won the contest because of his willingness to forfeit his chance to save innocent people. Everyone was shocked when he refused the Legion's offer, but he didn't want to leave behind his friends in the Subs. (#315)

The Subs were often available to back up the Legion, and did so they did when the Legion fell 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. (#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. (#322)

In time, the original Subs might enjoy real Legion membership, but they probably didn't expect that a real Legionnaire would join their own ranks! When Star Boy was forced to kill in self-defense, the Legion punished his lack of judgment and expelled him from the team. Star Boy asked his new love interest, Dream Girl, to join them as well. (#342)

The Subs added their first recruit, another Legion reject called Color Kid. Ulu Vakk was master of the light spectrum and could alter the color of anything. The Legion thought this was a useless power. (#342),

When Superboy and Supergirl were forced to resign because of a kryptonite cloud surrounding the Earth, they asked if they could 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 Color Kid's "useless" power that changed it to an innocuous blue kryptonite. Superboy and Supergirl returned and Star Boy and Dream Girl were also allowed to return to the Legion. (#350-351)

The Subs were eventually considered Legion Reservists. They were called to help against the Scorpius gang (#374), and Night Girl went into action by herself when the Legion was attacked by the villainess Uli Algor. (Action #386)


An "Adult Legion" story from Adventure Comics #354-355 showed a glimpse of the future in which Night Woman was married to Cosmic Man, and Polar Man was an active member of the Legion.

Superboy Era

The Subs are Earth's last line of defense! From Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #243 (1978); art by Joe Staton and Jack Abel.
Polar Boy and his crew help Brainiac 5 defeat the League of Super-Assassins. From Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #254 (1979); art by Joe Staton and Dave Hunt.

Over time, the Legion came to respect the Subs, and treated them almost like members of their team. They were invited as guests to the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. (Superboy vol. 1 #200)

And when the Legion built a new headquarters, they gifted their original rocketship-shaped building to the Substitute Heroes. (Superboy #211)

Night Girl and Cosmic Boy continued dating and grew closer. They double dated with Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl in an attempt to overcome the grief over the death of the Legionnaire, Chemical King. (Superboy #229)

Naturally, the Subs were on-hand for the marriage of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl as well. (All New Collectors' Edition #C-55) And they lent a crucial hand when resources were stretched during the Earth War. (#243-245) The Subs truly shined when they helped Brainiac 5 defeat the League of Super-Assassins. (#254)

Comic Relief

The Subs hold their own against the forces of Darkseid. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2 #294 (1984); art by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt.

Profile picture includes the new members Infectious Lass, Double-Header, Porcupine Pete and Antennae Boy. from Who's Who: The Definitive Guide of the DC Universe #13 (1985); art by Keith Giffen.

A pinup from the swimsuit issue of Amazing Heroes #138 (1988); art by Ty Templeton.

These lovable misfits were consistently willing to help, as when Computo took over Legion HQ (Legion vol. 2 Annual #1); to defend Weber's World during Darkseid's great attack (Legion v. 2 #294); to celebrate the Legion's anniversary (#300); and to round up the Legion of Super-Villains. (Legion vol. 3 #3-4)

Despite all they had done over the years to earn the Legionnaires' respect, the Substitute Heroes were still prone to accident and ridicule. They sometimes struggled to gel as a fighting unit or to control their super-powers.

After many years, the Subs finally expanded their ranks to admit two new members, the Legion rejects Infectious Lass and Porcupine Pete. (DC Comics Presents #59) Their super-powers were also deemed too unpredictable for the Legion; Infectious Lass had been rejected due to the debilitating potential she presented. Since then, she became somewhat close to Pete, who likewise endangered the Legionnaires during his trial. (Superboy vol. 1 #201)

The Subs also established an "Auxiliary" which, ironically, was reserved for heroes they deemed unprepared for missions. (DC Comics Presents #59) These included Antennae Boy, who received radio waves from the past or present with his super-ears with antennae on them. He was rejected because he could not control this and the sound was often deafening. (Adventure Comics #305) And Double-Header was a boy with two heads atop one body. They tended to argue among themselves. (#323)

Polar Boy and Night Girl began to distance themselves from the group after some especially embarrassing cases. One was their "team-up" with Superman and the Ambush Bug in the 20th century. (DC Comics Presents #59) By luck as much as anything, the Subs managed to defeat Pulsar Stargrave -- smashed to smithereens by Stone Boy. (Legion of Substitute Heroes Special #1)

Cosmic Boy was also confounded by their incompetence when they became stranded in space and needed to be rescued by 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...

The new Legion of Substitute Heroes: Bouncing Boy, Night Girl, Karate Kid II, Cosmic Boy and Comet Queen. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3 Annual #3 (1987); art by Greg LaRocque.
Rainbow Girl joins the Subs. From Action Comics #35 (2007); art by Jesus Saiz.

Perhaps his misadventure with the Subs woke Cosmic Boy to the potential of the organization, as a backup to the Legion. He had recently retired from full-time Legion service but was drawn into a crisis involving the Dominators. To fight them, Cos formed a new band of Substitute Heroes with a combination of veterans and promising new Academy Students. Night Girl joined him along with:

  • Bouncing Boy (Chuck Taine of Earth) and his wife Duo Damsel (Luornu Durgo of Cargg) were retired Legionnaires who ran the Legion Academy. He could inflate into a ball and bounce like a ballistic. She could split herself into two identical bodies.
  • Comet Queen (Grava of Colony Extal) was a promising Academy student who could fly and emit noxious gases.
  • Karate Kid II (Myg of Lythyl) was another Academy member and master of martial arts.

Afterwards these six officially decided to form a new group, a reliable backup for the Legionnaires. (Legion vol. 3 Annual #3)

This incarnation of the Subs appeared once more during the "Magic Wars" (Legion vol. 3 #63), as did Chlorophyll Kid and Fire Lad. (#61) Cosmic Boy and Night Girl also shared an adventure in the twentieth century. (Cosmic Boy #1-4)

Legion Retroboot (post-Infinite Crisis)

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 joined the Legion full-time to help 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 Comics #862-863)

Infectious Lass later appeared with other time-tossed heroes in Tales of the Unexpected vol. 2 (2006).


Original Legion

  • Action Comics #386
  • Adventure Comics #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 of Super-Heroes vol. 2 #294–297, 300, 306, Annual #1
  • Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3 #3–4, 8, 14–15, 63, Annual #3
  • Secret Origins v. 2 #37
  • Secrets of the Legion #3
  • Superboy vol. 1 #148, 200, 208, 211, 212, 229
  • Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #236, 243-245, 254
  • Superman Family #175
  • Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #47
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72
  • Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #316
  • Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #4, 5, 8, 13, 16, 18, 22
  • Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #1, 2, 3, 5
  • Who's Who Update '87 #3


  • Action Comics #862-863
  • The Brave and the Bold vol. 3 #35


Name (Aliases) First appearance Joined Final Status (Retroboot continuity)
1. Chlorophyll Kid (Ral Benem of Mardru) Adventure Comics #306 (Mar. 1963) Adventure Comics #306 (Mar. 1963) Active as a Legionnaire
1. Fire Lad (Staq Mavlen of Shwar) Active as a Legionnaire
1. Night Girl (Lydda Jath Krinn of Kathoon) Active
1. Polar Boy (Brek Bannin of Tharr) Active
1. Stone Boy (Dag Wentim of Zwen) Active
6. Color Kid (Ulu Vakk of Lupra) Adventure Comics #342 (Mar. 1966) Adventure Comics #351 (Dec. 1966) Inactive, blinded
7. Star Boy (Thom Kallor, Sir Prize of Xanthu) Adventure Comics #282 (Mar. 1961) Adventure Comics #342 (Mar. 1966) Active as a Legionnaire
7. Dream Girl (Nura Nal, Miss Terious of Naltor) Adventure Comics #317 (Feb. 1964)
Active as a Legionnaire
9. Porcupine Pete (Peter Dursin of Earth) Superboy vol. 1 #201 (Apr. 1974) DC Comics Presents #59 (July 1983) Active
9. Infectious Lass (Drura Sehpt of Somathur) Lost in time
11. Antennae Boy(Khfeurb Chee Bez of Grxyor) Adventure Comics #305 (Feb. 1963) Status unknown
11. Double-Header (Dyvud/Frenk Retzun of Janus) Adventure Comics #323 (Aug. 1964) Killed by Earth Man, Action #860 (Feb. 2008)
The New Subs
13. Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn of Braal) Adventure Comics #247 (Apr. 1958) Legion vol. 3 Annual #3 (1987) Active, a Legionnaire
13. Bouncing Boy (Chuck Taine) Action Comics #267 (Dec. 1959) Active, a Legionnaire
13. Duo Damsel (Luornu Durgo Taine, Triplicate Girl) Action Comics #276 (May 1961) Active, a Legionnaire
13. Karate Kid II (Myg of Lythyl) Legion vol. 3 #13 (Aug. 1985) Became a Legionnaire; killed by Radiation Roy, Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3
13. Comet Queen (Grava of Colony Extall) Legion vol. 3 Annual #3 (1987) Active, a Legionnaire
18. Rainbow Girl (Dori Aandraison of Xolnar) Adventure Comics #309 (June 1963) Action Comics #862 (Apr. 2008) Active

Glorith Reality: The S.U.B.S.

The new S.U.B.S. (Ral, Staq, Drura and Jacques) form an alliance with Universo and his mercenary general, Grinn. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #16 (1991); art by Keith Giffen and Carlos Garzon.
The S.U.B.S. profile picture from Who's Who in the DC Universe #11 (1991); art by Ty Templeton.
Sade turns the tables on her would-be assassin, Bounty. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #36 (1992); art by Jason Pearson and Karl Story.
After defeating the Dominators, the S.U.B.S. (and Universo) receive public acclaim. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #40 (1992); art by Stuart Immonen and Ron Boyd.

After Monica Sade is liberated from the Dominators, her first instinct is to attack Grinn. Later, Staq fills her in about their operations. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #29 (1992); art by Jason Pearson and Al Gordon.

Ulu Vakk tries to encourage the repentant Ron-Karr. From Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #30 (1992); art byJason Pearson and Karl Story.

The Legion was eventually forced to disband because increasing pressure from Earthgov — which had secretly become overrun by the Dominators. By that time, the Legion had become a farce. Many veteran members quit the team and their leader, Sun Boy, was forced to admit nearly anyone who was willing to serve. This included Fire Lad, Chlorophyll Kid, Stone Boy, Color Kid, Porcupine Pete and Infectious Lass, who were granted full Legion membership at last. (2995: The Legion Sourcebook)

After the Legion's end, many Subs joined a new group led by two former Legionnaires: Jacques Foccart (Invisible Kid II) and Troy Stewart (Tyroc), who gathered together heroes to form an underground resistance called the S.U.B.S. — the "Superhuman Underground Battle Squad." (Legion vol. 4 #16, 18)

Stone Boy, Infectious Lass, Porcupine Pete, Chlorophyll Kid, Fire Lad and Color Kid doffed their codenames, got serious, and trained very hard to become a strong physical force. They were joined by a few characters with less-than-heroic pasts:

  • Ron-Karr of Neptune was a Legion reject, a native of Neptune who had the power to become flat like paper. (Adventure Comics #314) His ability was useful for espionage, so he was recruited by the Legion of Super-Villains. (#372) He was imprisoned on Labyrinth but joined the S.U.B.S. after his rehabilitation. (Legion vol. 4 #26) He and some of the others later enlisted in the United Planets Militia Academy. (#57)
  • Grinn was a mercenary with a long career who fought behind the scenes during many of the Legion's greatest battles. He began working with Zaryan the Conqueror, fought Mordru and the Dark Circle during the Earthwar, and the forces of magic during the Magic Wars. In that last battle, his human face became invisible, with the exception of his mouth, giving him an odd and somewhat intimidating appearance. (2995: The Legion Sourcebook) He then served as Universo's second-in-command in his underground group that resisted the Dominators. (Legion vol. 4 #16, 18) Grinn clashed with Staq Mavlen about the fate of the Dominators' genetic experimentation subjects. Grinn later made a unilateral decision to destroy those subjects, resulting in great collateral fatalities. (#25-32) He was killed by the Subs' newest recruit, Monica Sade. (#34)
  • Monica Sade (her name may be an alias) was hired to kill the Dominion ambassador to Earth, but the Dominators were tipped and ambushed her. She was placed in their underground experimentation chambers and later freed by Universo's general, Grinn. (Legion vol. 4 #27) She agreed to work with the S.U.B.S. against the Dominion. (#29-30) She later killed Grinn for recklessly killing an entire chamber of test subjects. (#32-34) She grew tired of the S.U.B.S. and was attacked by Bounty (the amnesiac Legionnaire Dawnstar), but Sade prevailed. (#35-36) When Earth exploded, Sade worked with the S.U.B.S. to evacuate, then set out on her own. (#40,42)

After the Dominators were purged from Earth, the S.U.B.S. were invited to rejoin the new Legion. Troy Stewart was appointed to be the President of Earth. (Legion vol. 4 #41) Infectious Lass was married to Jacques, and they accepted the Legion's invitation. (#43) The others stayed on Earth for a time but ultimately enlisted with the United Planets Militia Academy (a new incarnation of the Legion Academy). (#57)

In the Legion vol. 4 timeline, Brek Bannin (Polar Boy) kept busy with various endeavors on Earth and beyond. (Legion vol. 4 #11, 14, 49) Rokk Krinn (Cosmic Boy) was active in the Legion and his wife, Lydda (Night Girl), gave birth to their first child, Pol. (Legion vol. 4 Annual #3) Antennae Boy became a broadcast professional. (#11, 34-35, 37, 51-52)


  • Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #16, 18, 20, 26, 28, 29, 30, 40, 41, 54
  • Who's Who in the DC Universe vol. 2 #11

Members of the S.U.B.S.

Name (Aliases) 1st app. with the S.U.B.S. Final vol. 4 Status
Drura Sehpt (Infectious Lass) Legion vol. 4 #16 (Mar. 1991) Active with the Legion
Jacques Foccart (Invisible Kid II) Active with the Legion
Ral Benem (Chlorophyll Kid) Active with the U.P. Militia
Staq Mavlen (Fire Lad) Active with the U.P. Militia
Troy Stewart (Tyroc) Active, President of Earth
Peter Dursin (Porcupine Pete) Legion vol. 4 #18 (May 1991) Active with the U.P. Militia
Dag Wentim (Stone Boy) Legion vol. 4 #20 (July 1991) Active with the U.P. Militia
Ulu Vakk (Color Kid) Active with the U.P. Militia
Ron-Karr Legion vol. 4 #26 (Feb. 1992) Active with the U.P. Militia
Monica Sade Legion vol. 4 #29 (May 1992) Active
Universo (Vidar) Legion vol. 4 #16 (Mar. 1991) Active
Grinn (unrevealed) Killed by Sade, Legion vol. 4 #34 (Oct. 1992)

Reboot: The Subs of Earth-247

When half of the Legion disappears into the past, new member tryouts are held. From Legionnaires #43 (1996); art by Jeff Moy and W.C. Carani.

When half the Legion's was thrust into the 20th Century by the Emerald Eye, the team held a massive applicant screening. Other noticeable heroes (most unnamed, codenames are assumed) at the tryouts were:

Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid (a female), Comet Queen, Crystal Kid, Dev‑Em, Fire Lad, Infectious Lass, Insect Queen, Kid Psycho, Night Girl, Polar Boy, Jed Rikane, Splitter (formerly Arm-Fall-Off Boy), Stone Boy (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. (Legionnaires #49) NOTE: The latter five heroes were named in the Legion Secret Files #1.

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

The full roster of the Substitute Heroes, and the true age of some of these characters were never clarified.


  • As individuals: Legionnaires #43 (Dec. 1996).
  • As a team: Legionnaires #49 (June 1997)


  • Legends of the Legion #1-4
  • Legionnaires #43, 49

Threeboot Legion

In the Threeboot Legion, there was never a Legion of Substitute Heroes, but Polar Boy and a "Plant Lad" were supporting characters in the group called the Wanderers. Night Girl became a reserve member of the Legion.

Other Media

Many familiar comics heroes appear in the cartoon during the Legion membership tryouts. (Star Boy and Matter-Eater Lad are admitted.) From Legion season 1, episode 9 (2007).
Porcupine Pete forms his own team with Infectious Lass, Stone Boy, Color Kid and Chlorophyll Kid.

The Substitute Heroes were featured in two episodes of TV's Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon. In "Lightning Storm" (season 1, episode 8, 10 Feb. 2007) Legionnaire Bouncing Boy hosted a seminar for future Legion applicants, who included Porcupine Pete, Kid, Stone Boy, Color Kid and Infectious Lass. Also shown were Antennae Boy, Double Header, Fire Lad, Invisible Kid (Jacques), the Mess, Night Girl, Polar Boy, Polecat and Quake Kid.

In "The Substitutes" (season 1, episode 9, Feb. 2007), the Legion conducted its first membership auditions, which attracted a plethora of mostly undesirable candidates. Star Boy and Matter-Eater Lad were admitted.

A group of rejects (Porcupine Pete, Chlorophyll Kid, Stone Boy, Color Kid and Infectious Lass) banded together to secretly help the Legion. They confronted the villain Starfinger who unleashed monsteres into Earth's ionosphere. The rejects wrestled Starfinger's glove away from him. The Legion apologized to the rejected heroes and they named themselves the Legion of Substitute Heroes; they vowed to support the Legion.

The animated Subs also appeared in the comic book, Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #3 (Aug. 2007).