Exploring the Multiverse: Superboy’s Legion
As I mentioned last time, I love the concept of an unlimited Multiverse. The exploration of alternate histories makes for a plethora of interesting stories. This installment of Exploring the Multiverse looks at one of my favorite stories from DC’s Elseworlds series, Superboy’s Legion.
This is one of those alternate realities that hinges on one event, and changes everything based upon that. Superman’s rocket is stopped from ever reaching Earth, stuck in an asteroid belt for a thousand years. Since young Kal-El was unborn in the rocket, per details in the post-Crisis origin for Superman, his gestation was suspended for a millennium.
Due to Superman’s absence from the twentieth/twenty-first century timeline, Lex Luthor had very little resistance to his plans. However, Batman proves the foil, crippling him. Luthor, seeking immortality, secretly uploads his consciousness to a massive computer that comes to be known as Universo. Young Kal Brande begins idolizing the heroes of that time and fashions a costume and calling himself Superboy. In this endeavor, he is inspired to begin performing heroic feats by the shrinking presence of the Green Lantern Corps. He meets Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy when rescuing a freighter and holds public try-outs for a Legion of Super-Heroes.
In their first outing, they save the planet of Rimbor from a devastating asteroid and are joined by four other heroes on hand to try and save the planet. They are attacked by the Fatal Five, who kill Colossal Boy and kidnap Brainiac 5. Ultra Boy takes several Legionnaires to save him. Superboy is inspired out of a depression to take a smaller group of heroes to assist. The battle takes place on Colu, although on Earth, Universo is reformed by Saturn Girl using the Emerald Eye revealing Luthor’s secret influence in Universo. Luthor, distraught to learn that he is just a program imagining himself to be human, constructs a huge mechanical body that he detonates, but not before Superboy and Ultra Boy take him far into space where no one is harmed by the explosion.
The Legion goes on to be led by Ultra Boy with Superboy takes the name Kal-El (a nod to the Legionnaire Mon-El) The Legion swells in size with new recruits. He also begins dating reporter Lois Olsen, which we can only assume is a descendant of Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, or both. We see that the twentieth century was grim for super-heroes, but don’t get much more detail than what Saturn Girl pulls out of Luthor/Universo’s memory.
I recall reading that Alan Davis intended to do a sequel to this two-issue series, but DC had abandoned it’s Elseworlds line, so we never got to see other ways the alternate reality could have differed from the “primary” universe that almost all DC stories pull from. Using The Nail as a guideline, but pulling away all of the Kryptonian elements, we can come to a similar conclusion than what is depicted here in flashbacks. I really enjoyed it since this reality was dark in it’s treatment of the heroes and the threats that they faced, but retained the optimistic charm of the Legion stories of that era, known as “the Archie Legion.” It took elements from each, including the death of Colossal Boy and a Legionnaire losing an arm. Alan Davis includes enough cameos for any Legion fan, but is such a masterful storyteller that even a casual fan should read this series.
Yes, I managed to make this a review of this series, encouraging more people to read the Legion. I’ll admit that.