Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes Favorites -- The "Gap" Years

And now for part 2 of my examination of my favorite Legion of Super-Heroes characters.


In 1989 the Legion went through a bit of a "soft" reboot, jumping forward in time 5 years into a grimmer and grittier world, and undergoing some subtle (and not so subtle) continuity changes to remove Superboy and Supergirl from the Legion's history.  The "Gap" Legion was marked by a generally darker tone, with the Legion having been disbanded and slowly coming back together over the course of the series.  Reviled by many, but I've always been a big fan.  One of the big complaints by many was that the characters tended to call each other by their real names instead of their code names . . . a practice I actually appreciated, and will replicate here in my picks.

Tenzil Kem

Although Tenzil Kem was a member of the Legion during the Silver Age as the prosaically named Matter-Eater Lad, it wasn't until Keith Giffen's re-imagining of the character during the Gap years that I truly fell in love with the character. No longer a super-hero in the traditional sense but rather a Senator for his planetary government, Giffen chose to embrace the innate absurdity of the character's abilities, allowing Tenzil to save the day not by eating any form of matter, but by confounding his foes with his warped and absurdist humor.  Need I go on?

Sussa Paka 

Pre-Gap, Sussa Paka, a.k.a. Spider-Girl, was a rejected Legion applicant who decided not to go the Substitute Hero route, but instead joined the Legion of Super-Villains instead.  Post-Gap, Sussa had abandoned the LSV and their murderous ways, but had continued her life of crime as an accomplished thief who becomes romantically interested in Ultra-Boy and tries to reform for him.  Sussa's mostly unrequited love and her attempts at turning over a new leaf made her one of the more interesting characters in the Gap years for me; of all the pieces of characterization I miss from subsequent reboots, this one probably stings the most.

Salu Digby

Another old school Legionnaire, Salu was codenamed Shrinking Violet, both for her ability to shrink to microscopic sizes, and because she was a bit on the shy side.  However, in the 80s Vi was kidnapped and held captive for an extended period of time, and upon her release was much more outgoing and aggressive.   This trend continued in the Gap years, as over the course of the series we learned that during the Five Yar Gap Salu had returned to her home planet of Imsk and become a soldier, enduring many hardships and emerging even tougher, despite harboring some secret guilt for her part in the war.  Towards the end of the Gap years, she emerged as the team leader. I had grown to appreciate Vi during the latter years of first Legion iteration, but it was watching her continued growth in the Gap Years that bumped her up to the top.

1 comment:

  1. My personal favorite bit from the Gap is that Brainiac 5 starts insisting everybody start using codenames again. Tenzil and Andromeda declare they will be called Pope Anastasius III and Flying Buttress respectively. Good times...