Let’s take a frivolity break from the serious issues of the 21st Century and board our time bubble for the 31st Century for another adventure with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…
Writer: Paul Levitz, Penciller: Kevin Sharpe, Colorist: Blond aka Kevin Senft
Adventure Comics #516, DC Comics, September 2010
Brainiac 5 arrives in the 20th Century in a time bubble to pick up Superboy for an important meeting back at Legion headquarters in 31st Century Metropolis. The two join Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl at a meeting chaired by Pheebes, longtime private secretary of R.J. Brande, the recently-assassinated Legion benefactor who was one of the wealthiest individuals in the galaxy.
Via a hologram recorded before his death, Brande recounts to the gathered Legionnaires how he left the planet Durla and created a financial empire, initially by developing a method to reenergize fading stars. Desiring a way to stanch the interplanetary aggression that devastated his world, Brande envisions bringing Superman to the 31st Century as a powerful champion for peace. To that end, he funds multiple experimental time-travel projects, including one with a super-bright, young Coluian on the research team, Brainiac 5. As Brande travels across the galaxy on business, he’s notified of a breakthrough in Brainiac 5’s time-travel research and hurries back to Earth. As Brande disembarks from the starship, two disgruntled Durlans attempt to murder him, but are thwarted by three teenage passengers, Rokk Krinn from Braal (Cosmic Boy), Garth Ranzz from Winath (Lightning Lad), and Imra Ardeen from Titan (Saturn Girl), each with a unique super-power. He convinces the three to form the Legion of Super-Heroes with himself as the patron benefactor. Superboy is eventually transported to the 31st Century as Brande originally envisioned and he joins the Legion. As the hologram comes to an end, Brande instructs Pheebes to continue funding the Legion.
The Legion of Super-Heroes made its first appearance in April 1958 in Adventure Comics #247 with Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl visiting 1950s Smallville in a time bubble and inviting Superboy to join the Legion. Since then, Legion writers have presented several versions of the Legion’s origins, including this 2010 version.
I’ve already seen several permutations of this “Legion’s origins” narrative, so the story is…yawn…getting a bit wearisome. Brande’s identity as a disguised Durlan and the biological father of Chameleon Boy are developments presented by Legion writers following the Silver Age.
Levitz’s characterization of Brande as a grandfatherly, but bluntly-to-the-point German is humorous. The best I can say about Sharpe’s pencils is they’re passable while Blond’s colors are awesome.
It’s my contention that DC’s ongoing reboots/reincarnations/alternate-Universe permutations of the Legion have whittled away the fan base to a point that the venerable franchise is no longer sustainable as an ongoing monthly.