Legion of Substitute Heroes
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|Legion of Substitute Heroes|
|First appearance||Adventure Comics #306 (March 1963)|
|Created by||Edmond Hamilton (script)
John Forte (art)
|Base(s)||Metropolis (31st century)|
The Legion of Substitute Heroes is a group of fictional characters in the future of the DC Comics universe. The "Subs", as they are often called, are a group of rejected applicants to the Legion of Super-Heroes who banded together, hoping to prove to the Legion that their powers were not as useless as the Legionnaires claimed. They first appeared in Adventure Comics #306 (March 1963) and were created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte. They were depicted as reasonably effective superheroes until Keith Giffen, during his tenure as Legion writer, began depicting the team as something of a joke. The Subs regained some respect when founding member Polar Boy joined the main Legion and a new Legion of Substitute Heroes was formed.
Silver Age history
The Legion of Substitute Heroes was founded by Polar Boy, Night Girl, Stone Boy, Fire Lad, and Chlorophyll Kid, five young heroes whose powers were not sufficient to earn them membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes — Night Girl for example could only use her powers in the dark. After receiving a Legion flight belt as a consolation prize, the five disconsolate teenagers decided to form a group that could pinch hit for the Legion. After several failures as a team, the Subs managed to save the Earth from an invasion by Plant Men while the Legion was off planet fighting a decoy armada of robot spaceships.
At first operating in secrecy, the Legion of Substitute Heroes was gradually recognized by the real Legion as a valuable asset, most notably after the assault on the Citadel of Throon when the regular Legionnaires were all defeated and it was left to Polar Boy and Night Girl to lead an effective attack and end the siege. The Substitute Heroes saved the Legionnaires from such threats as the Taurus Gang and the lethal League of Super-Assassins.
Members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes include:
- Antennae Lad (Khfeurb Chee Bez from the planet Grxyor): has the power to tune into any broadcast from any era, but mostly at random.
- Chlorophyll Kid (Ral Benem from the planet Mardru): has the power to make plants grow extremely fast. He gained this power after falling into a vat of super plant growth formula as a small child. He claims that he can only accelerate plant growth, not control plants, although some of his actions seem to contradict this.[volume & issue needed]
- Color Kid (Ulu Vakk from the planet Lupra): can change the color of objects or people. Gained his power after being struck by a ray from another dimension. In the 1985 Legion of Substitute Heroes one-shot, he was temporarily known as Color Queen after being exposed to Granderian Gender-Reversal Germs by Infectious Lass.
- Double-Header (Frenk and Dyvud Retzun from the planet Janus): has two heads as a result of gradual mitosis.
- Fire Lad (Staq Mavlen from the planet Schwar): gained the power to breathe fire (often accidentally, as he suffers from allergies) after inhaling vapors from a meteorite.
- Infectious Lass (Drura Sehpt from the planet Somahtur): spontaneously generates infectious diseases. Her aim and control are haphazard, though.
- Night Girl (Lydda Jath from the sunless planet Kathoon): has super strength and invulnerability which were engineered for her by her father, but they are only effective in darkness.
- Polar Boy (Brek Bannin from the planet Tharr): had the ability to project cold and ice. When introduced he had difficulties controlling the powers, but became proficient after training for several years. After the Substitute Heroes disbanded, he was admitted to the Legion proper, and later elected its leader.
- Porcupine Pete (Peter Dursin from Earth): has quills he can inaccurately shoot from his body.
- Stone Boy (Dag Wentim from the planet Zwen): has the power to turn into stone for hibernating on a planet with a six-month-long night. In the beginning Stone Boy could only transform into an inanimate stone statue and was often used in humorous ways (e.g., being dropped on a villain), or as a distraction while the other "Subs" carried out some mission. Stone Boy won a Legion test and was offered full membership but he declined and stayed with the Subs. During the "Five Year Gap", he underwent hypnotherapy and gained the ability to stay conscious during his transformation and, eventually, even to move in his stone state.
- Legionnaires Dream Girl and Star Boy also served with the Substitute Heroes, Star Boy after being expelled from the Legion for killing Dream Girl's ex-boyfriend, which was later ruled self-defense. Dream Girl served with the Subs after joining the Legion under false pretenses. Both later rejoined the main Legion under the disguises of "Miss Terious" and "Sir Prize".
After a colorful, if not exactly impressive, career, the Substitute Heroes were disbanded by Polar Boy, after assisting Senator Tenzil Kem in averting an attempt by an army of replicas of Computo the Conqueror to take over Bismoll in a particularly inept, yet successful manner. Brek went on to attain full membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes. Many of the remaining members would eventually join the Legion as well during the "Five Year Gap".
Shortly before the "Five Year Gap", a new Legion of Substitute Heroes was formed. It consisted of former Legion of Super-Heroes members Cosmic Boy, Bouncing Boy, and Duo Damsel, as well as Night Girl, a new Karate Kid (Myg of Lythyl), and Comet Queen.
During the events of Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 4), the "Subs" came into their own as an insurgent group that was helping the Terran resistance to the Dominators. Here, old Subs Fire Lad, Stone Boy, Chlorophyl Kid, Color Kid, and Porcupine Pete, were joined by new allies such as Ron-Karr and Grinn.
Following the Zero Hour reboot, the Subs appeared in Legionnaires #43 during Legion tryouts. Infectious Lass, Fire Lad, and Color Kid were seen on the cover, while Stone Boy, Chlorophyll Kid, Night Girl, and Polar Boy all tried out. Night Girl knew very well that the Legion wouldn't accept her because of her power's drawback, but she was really planning on meeting Cosmic Boy who, at the time, was trapped in the 20th century.
Polar Boy and Night Girl appear in one panel of Legionnaires #49, concluding that their unseen team is not ready to aid the Legion against Mordru (Night Girl calls them a "poor substitute").
Infectious Lass also reappeared as a student in the Legion Cadet Program just before the Legion's continuity was rebooted again.
In the Legion series launched in 2004, Polar Boy and Chlorophyll Kid (renamed Plant Lad) appeared as a part of the new Wanderers led by Mekt Ranzz. This version of Polar Boy can only slow molecular movement. Night Girl applied for membership in the Legion but was rejected and made a reserve member, (as part of the "Legion Reserve"), along with Sizzle, an energy manipulator, and Turtle, a strong and durable alien.
Versions of Infectious Lass, Polar Boy, Night Girl, Stone Boy, Fire Lad, and Chlorophyll Kid similar in appearance to their pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths counterparts appeared in the Tales of the Unexpected limited series and the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes storyarc in Action Comics. Porcupine Pete and Antennae Lad have not been seen.
- Infectious Lass: Drura Sehpt of the planet Somahtur. Was tossed into the time stream by Earth-Man, and has appeared as part of a group of forgotten comic book characters, including Doctor Thirteen, and battled against the Architects in the Tales of the Unexpected limited series. She's fallen in love with the deceased pirate Captain Fear.
- Color Kid: Ulu Vakk of the planet Lupra. Was blinded by Earth-Man.
- Double-Header: Was murdered by Earth-Man.
- Night Girl: Lydda Jath of the planet Kathoon. Now a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
- Polar Boy: Brek Brannin of the planet Tharr. Now a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Had his arm ripped off by Tusker, but has since replaced it with one made of ice.
- Stone Boy: Dag Wentim of the planet Zwen. No longer has the ability to move in stone-mode.
- Fire Lad: Staq Mavlen of the planet Schwar. Has moderate control over his fire-breathing abilities, and can actually turn his hair to flames when powered-up.
- Chlorophyll Kid: Ral Benam of Mardru. Claims he can talk to plants.
- Rainbow Girl: Dori Aandraison of the planet Xolnar. Possesses the ability to wield the power of the emotional spectrum, causing unpredictable mood swings from angry (red), to hopeful (blue), to confident (green), and others. She only appeared once, as a rejected Legion applicant in pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, and originally had the power to separate into four different-colored versions of herself. Red was heat, Blue was cold, Yellow was brightness, and Green was Kryptonite. She was rejected because her Green Kryptonite self posed a threat to Superboy and Supergirl.
In part five of the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story-arc in Action Comics, Fire Lad, Stone Boy, Chlorophyll Kid, and Rainbow Girl are called in to help battle the Justice League of Earth, a tyrannical, alien-hating association formed out of super-powered beings also rejected by the Legion. After the villainous group is defeated, the Subs decide to claim their satellite base as their own. During the course of the story, it is revealed that a large part of why the heroes were rejected from the original Legion was due to subtle psychological scans run by Saturn Girl during their applications for membership; while the heroes who joined the Legion of Substitutes were denied membership because they lacked control of their abilities or simply didn't possess useful powers, characters like Radiation Roy, Spider Girl, and Absorbency Boy were rejected because their profiles revealed they had deeply disturbed psyches and a variety of psychotic tendencies, prompting Brainiac 5 to agree with Polar Boy's decision to call the Subs for aid.
In other media
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Legion of Super Heroes
Characters from the Legion of Substitute Heroes first appeared in the Legion of Super-Heroes episode entitled "Lightning Storm", and then again in the episode "The Substitutes", which focused completely on them. They are portrayed as a mix of sympathetic and comedic characters who are determined to be heroes but not entirely aware of their limits.
The Legion of Substitute Heroes in the animated series consists of:
- Porcupine Pete – portrayed as something of a "mother's boy" who is not always good with his powers, but is determined to be a hero and has a definite sense of responsibility. Pete easily forgets that his quills can hurt others. He is the unofficial leader of the team. Voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
- Chlorophyll Kid – portrayed as a classic nebbish, but clever at using his limited powers, such as creating cacti to distract an enemy with human-like silhouettes. When pushed, he'll take risks to protect others. Voiced by Alexander Polinsky.
- Stone Boy – portrayed as highly intelligent. He once uses a fall in his stone form to strike an enemy, yet speaks little. In fact, his companions actually were surprised when he did speak up, suggesting they thought he was mute. His ability to use his stone form ranges from ineffectual to clever, perhaps because he doesn't have the sense of humor to realize when he is doing something silly. He also at times seems to forget to change back to flesh. He seems to have some small knowledge of science, which he shares with the team, giving an excellent insight on Starfinger's Ionosphere-gobbling space-worms and how to stop them. Voiced by Yuri Lowenthal.
- Color Kid – portrayed as energetic, enthusiastic, often ignorant of danger, and a bit flamboyant and campy. He has an excellent eye for color, but hasn't caught on entirely how limited his powers are. His most noteworthy use of his abilities is to conceal an obstacle to trip a villain and conceal his fellow heroes. Voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
- Infectious Lass – portrayed as withdrawn and seems to suffer from a mild asthma-like condition and sounds permanently congested, often sniffling during speech. Her powers involve creating an infectious slime, but it seems limited to creating a quick, mild cold. Voiced by Kari Wahlgren.
In addition, Antennae Lad, Polar Boy, Fire Lad, Double-Header, and Night Girl all appeared in cameos in both episodes as prospective members of the Legion.
In the second-season (and series) finale, "Dark Victory", The Substitute Heroes and other previously rejected auditions from the first season are shown among the Legion during Cosmic Boy's speech in part one. Polar Boy is briefly seen in part two.
- Adventure Comics #319 (April 1964)
- Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #3 (1987)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 5, #48 (February 2009)
- Adventure Comics #309 (June 1963)
- Action Comics #862 (February 2008)
- Action Comics #863 (March 2008)
- The Brave and the Bold #35 (July 2010)