Super-hero groups have a long history of membership change. Add adolescence to the mix and you're bound for classic teenage drama. From the beginning, the Legion's three founders set its bar for membership rather high. For every Legionnaire admitted to the group during their famous "tryouts," scores of would-be heroes were turned away. Some were defeated, some inspired to do better, and others to revenge.
The campaign to expand the Legion's ranks began immediately after its formation. Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad advertised for applicants at they same time they were planning their new headquarters. Their call drew a veritable freak show of hopefuls, including:
- Arm-Fall-Off Boy, whose arm could be detached and used as a weapon. The Legionnaires found him hideous but politely declined his application. Note: A version of this hero called Splitter auditioned for the Legion of Earth-247 in Legionnaires #43.
- Mnemonic Kid, a girl who could induce memory loss. She was rejected for her callous disregard of others' feelings.
- And Fortress Lad (a native of the planet Fwang), who could transform his whole body into a large shelter.
Fortress Lad and Mnemonic kid met after their rejections and Mnemonic Kid was keen to have her revenge. Fortress Lad, however, was shocked by her malice and refused an alliance. When Mnemonic Kid moved to shoot the Legionnaires, Fortress Lad jumped in front of them, activated his powers, and surrounded them with his massive frame. Mnemonic Kid kept pouring on her memory powers, hoping she would reach the Legionnaires inside. Instead, her energies made Fortress Lad forget that he was anything but an inanimate structure. Mnemonic Kid tried one last time to kill the Legionnaires with a grenade, but caught the brunt of the explosion herself, and died. Sadly, Mnemonic Kid had succeeded in removing some of the Legion's memories, too, and they forgot about Fortress Lad — who then became the Legion's first headquarters! (Secret Origins #46) NOTE: Other applicants were shown in this story, but not named.
The next recorded Legion tryouts yielded powerful recruits like Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy and Chameleon Boy. In the latter tryout, a young hero named Calcu-Lad was rejected. (Legion v.3 #39)
NOTE: All the above characters were created in flashback stories about the Legion's early days. In Legion v.4 Annual #1, Reflecto was also shown as a rejected applicant at the same time Ultra Boy applied. That story could remain in continuity, but it's too hypothetical at this point for me to really include him in Earth-0 continuity.
The Legion of Substitute Heroes
The most famous Legion rejects are probably the Legion of Substitute Heroes. These five heroes took their rejections as a call to arms, rather than a slight. (Adventure Comics #306) Over the years, they proved their worth and bravery many times over. Many candidates auditioned at this tryout. One (Estimate Lad) was known to be rejected, but five others from that day went on to make history, forming the Legion of Substitute Heroes:
Over the years, more rejects went on to affiliate with the Legion of Substitute Heroes. NOTE: The issue of each character's rejection appears in parenthesis.
Some might argue that the Legion has admitted their share of "weak" Legionnaires in lieu of better candidates. Indeed, several Legionnaires were initially turned down the first time they applied, but each demonstrated true heroism and guile and eventually convinced the Legion they were worthy. Among them…
Most rejected applicants were simply too ridiculous to admit, under any circumstance. They appeared once and apparently gave up their aspirations of super-heroics.
- Lester Spiffany assumed that he could simply buy his way into the Legion. The son of a wealthy jewel dealer, Spiffany was incredulous that the Legion was unimpressed by his riches. He left in a huff. (Adventure #301)
- "Green Boy" could turn anything to the color green. Not surprisingly, the Legion didn't find this useful. (Adventure #307)
- The boy with the Camera Eye was similarly worthless. He could project anything in his brain through his sole eye. (Adventure #307)
- Rainbow Girl (Dori Aandraison of Xolnar) was Miss Xolnar, a beauty whose colorful projections combined with pheromones to bewitch a subject. (Adventure #309) Though she couldn't charm the Legionnaires, she did manage to snare a rich husband on Earth. (Who's Who in the Legion #5)
- Rann Antar had a formula that could change the weight of objects. This wasn't a true power, and was duplicated by Star Boy anyway. (Adventure #317)
- The Mess (Meyer Qayd of Earth) could attract matter towards his body — but not expel it. Not very useful. (Adventure #330)
- Polecat (Dafe Meron of Earth) was born with the ability to emit a powerful stench from his horns. He was rejected for it's lack of application in battle. (Adventure #331)
- Animal Lad (Ennis Janhson of Earth) was rejected alongside two others who couldn't even make it onto the team after it was usurped by Vorm, the evil Dynamo Boy. (Adventure #331) Ennis could change humans and animals into one another. He took up a career in animal husbandry. (Who's Who in the Legion #1)
- Calamity King (E. Davis Ester of Touston) was a jinx. He caused bad luck wherever he went, creating spontaneous stress fractures (physical and mental) in people and objects. He was rejected on the basis that he'd be as much a danger to his teammates as he would be to the Legion's enemies. In fact, Star Boy's expulsion from the Legion was briefly blamed on the fact that he had shaken Ester's hand. (Adventure #342, Who's Who in the Legion #1)
- Estimate Lad was an unnamed applicant who even annoyed the other rejects. He could sort of estimate stuff ... sort of. He was rejected on the same day as the five heroes that would go on to form the Legion of Substitute Heroes. (Secret Origins #37)
- Quake Kid (Shanen Dreyus of Earth) could create earthquakes, but lacked control. After his rejection, he tried to hook up with Infectious Lass, but wound up with only a cold. (Superboy v.1 #218)
- Energy Boy (Sharles Gluck of Ventura) could control nuclear forces, sort of. He was rejected for his lack of control over his powers. (Legion v.3 #14)
Five applicants were featured in the pages of the official DC fanzine, The Amazing World of DC Comics. The first was in #12 (July 1976):
- Nightwing (Lara Londo of Zoon) was the sister of Timber Wolf. Their father, Mar Londo, gave her the powers of flight and "light blue mental stun bolts," whenever she entered the darkness.
Four more appeared in The Amazing World of DC Comics #14 (Mar. 1977). This happened in the pages of "The Legion Outpost," written by Jack C. Harris. Harris "posed" as Element Lad and fielded nominations from fans for new members:
- Transporter Boy was able to transport any living thing to distant planets or make them disappear. He was rejected because his power was "too dangerous," and he demonstrated limited control of them.
- Thunderbow (Arwe Earh of Ythorza) had infallible aim in directing any weapon, telekinetic energy, or teleportation effects. Applicant used the bow as his weapon. He was rejected because use of weapons was contrary to Legion policy, and because his powers were supposedly duplicated by Saturn Girl and Tyroc.
The last two were actually introduced four years later (with the retooled Nightwing), in Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #272 (1981):
- Crystal Kid (Rondo Kane of Zelar) could transform any matter into transparent crystals. His ability was judged impractical.
- Lamprey (Angela Majors of Earth) had aquatic powers from her sea-dwelling father. She was rejected because her powers were described as "too limited" out of water. The profile also said she'd been in suspended animation for centuries
Some applicants had ulterior motives ...
- Dynamo Kid could apparently wield lightning just like Lightning Lad, but he was revealed as a reporter using external technology. (Adventure #305)
- Jungle King, formed the Legion of Super-Monsters after being given the boot. He was eventually killed by one of his own creatures. (Adventure #309)
- Alaktor was a villain who pretended to want to be a Legionnaire. In truth, he only wanted to photograph the Legion's headquarters in order to steal a time-bubble and recruit villains from the past. (Adventure #314)
- The Molecule Master was an evil android and a pawn of the Time Trapper. (Superboy v.1 #201) He was ultimately destroyed in battle with the Legion.
The Legion of Super-Villains
Some teens did not handle their rejection well. Like Mnemonic Kid before them, they turned against the team they'd so wished to join. A handful of rejects took up a life of crime with the Legion of Super-Villains:
The Legion of Super-Rejects
That same year, a similar group called the Legion of Super-Rejects rose to challenge the LSH. These rejects all hailed from the same planets as current Legionnaires, and had the same powers, too. This was precisely the reason they could not be admitted. (Superboy #212) Some of these applicants were so incensed that they turned to the Legion of Super-Villains (Esper Lass, Magno Lad and Micro Lad). Others either went on to more productive careers (Calorie Queen), or were never heard from again (Chameleon Kid and Phantom Lad).
The Legion Academy
Some rejects chose to train further, in hopes of mastering their powers and someday warrant Legion membership. They entered the Legion Academy:
Two impressive applicants were nearly admitted to the team, but for various reasons did not get the vote. They have both died bravely and are honored with statues in the Legion's Hall of Dead Heroes.
- Kid Psycho (Gnill Opral of Hajor) was the sole survivor of his world, and actually had a pretty useful power: he could create force fields. But when the Legion learned that the use of his powers shortened his life span, they could not in good conscience ask him to risk his life that way. He was admitted as an honorary Legionnaire (Superboy v.1 #125) and eventually died in the first major Crisis. (Crisis #3)
- Mentalla (Deyla Castill of Titan) thought she had a pretty good shot at filling Saturn Girl's recently-departed shoes. her powers were indeed impressive, but she was passed over in favor of Tellus. (Legion v.3 #14) To prove her worth, she went undercover to join the Emerald Empress' new Fatal Five. (#25) When her duplicity was uncovered, the Empress killed Mentalla. (#26) The Legion erected a statue of the heroine for their Hall of Heroes.
The Justice League of Earth
The formation of the 31st century Justice League is the pinnacle of "reject revenge." After failing in his audition (Superboy #218), young Kirt Niedrigh (Absorbency Boy) gave up on a career as an adventurer and took up his studies. He eventually 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 lend legitimacy to their claims of racial harmony and galactic peace. He regarded the Legion's presence as an alien invasion.
And although many Legionnaires hailed from Earth, many more worthy Terrans were denied membership in their club. (Action #859) Kirt turned his conviction into a crusade to dismantle the Legion and the United Planets. He took the name Earth-Man and formed the Justice League of Earth with Spider-Girl and several other powerful rejects ...
- Storm Boy (Myke Chypurz of Earth), who was rejected for using technology to control the weather. His application began as a fraternity stunt. When Myke wanted to join a prestigious fraternity, he was assigned the task of becoming a Legionnaire. Using his precocious scientific knowledge, he miniaturized a weather-control device and hid it in his pocket. When he applied as Storm Boy, he was unable to fool Cosmic Boy, and, in sending Myke away, the Legion publicized its rule that an applicant's powers could not be created by external devices. (Adventure #301)
- Golden Boy (Klint Stewirt of Earth) could turn anything into gold. The Legion rejected him because his power would devalue precious the mineral. (Adventure #331) Eventually, Klint's own skin turned to gold and he learned to use his metallic form to greater advantage.
- Tusker (Horace Lafeaugh of Earth) was rejected by Vorm, the evil Dynamo Boy. Tusker could extend his unbreakable tusks, an ability which grew to include an entirely unbreakable skeleton. (Adventure #331) Horace turned to an unsuccessful life of crime before joining Earth-Man's Justice League. Tusker was rejected the same day as his sometime-ally ...
- Eye-ful Ethel (Ethel Lyn Niwtyn of Earth), a mutant born with eyes all around her head. When she was rejected for having such a superfluous power, she joined with Tusker to try their hand at crime. After being foiled by the Legion of Substitute Heroes, she became a school teacher, working closely with Earth-Man's Justice League. Who better, than a woman with "eyes in the back of her head"? (Adventure #330)