Just for fun, I’ve decided to rank the Silver Age Legion of Super Heroes. This is my list, so if you disagree, please create your own. I’d love to see it.

 

Here are the guidelines I’ve set for myself for this list:

 

  • The Silver Age ends in 1968—the end of 1968
  • Only active, full-time Legionnaires are being considered. No Subs, Reservists or Honorary members, and nobody that was a member for one story but was expelled afterwards.
  • Rankings will be based on each character’s potential and actual contributions to the team. It’s entirely possible that a character I think is pretty awesome is ranked pretty low—or vice versa.

 

Characters will be ranked in several areas:

 

  • Intangibles – what, beyond their powers and abilities, did they bring to the team? For instance, if a character helped significantly boost morale, made a major scientific contribution or brought great leadership, that character would likely get extra points.
  • Perceived Value – Looking at the character’s powers and abilities, what should they bring to the table for the team.
  • Actual Value – Looking at the stories, what did those characters actually do with their powers and abilities? What contributions did they make?

 

I’ll tell you all right now, there are gonna be some surprises.

 

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And Hulk forgetting his own first name.


Dave Palmer said:

Stan also gave us Peter Palmer, at least for one panel.

I never say Supergirl as fitting in the Silver Age Teen Titans.  She was too old.  She was younger than the Justice Leaguers but she was more of an adult.  She would go off on space missions on her own, and occasionally find romance (as opposed to the "junior-high-ish" antics of Wonder Girl with Mer Boy and Bird Boy).  

When they first appeared as the Teen Titans, Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and eventually Speedy came across as young teens.  The Legion were older teens.  Eventually as the Silver Age progressed the Teen Titans caught up to the Legionnaires in age.

Initially, the Teen Titans seemed younger:

While Supergirl, despite the "girl" in her name, interacted with the adult heroes as a peer.  Also, remember Barbara Gordon was a college graduate and eventually a Congresswoman despite being "Batgirl."  And Hawkgirl was certainly an adult.  Now, Bat-Girl, she was a young teen.  Supergirl as a peer of the adult superheroes is evident in her two teamups with Wonder Woman:


Ronald Morgan said:

 Let's put Supergirl in Teen Titans instead! After all that was the sidekick team.

I think you're right, Dave. IIRC, Supergirl was said to be 15 when she first arrived, and she was certainly at least a couple of years older when she began interacting publicly with the other heroes.

I think the name ending in "girl" confused a lot of writers, especially in the case of Batgirl, whose age is all over the map.

Part of the reason for the Silver Age writers (including Stan Lee with Invisible Girl) using the suffix "girl" was that it was common in their day (movies like His Girl Friday) and part may have been that their customers were boys and girls.

Not to mention that the Titans were generally already overpowered against most of their foes. Supergirl would have just made it harder to write even semi-believable stories.

18. Phantom Girl

 

Intangibles – 5 – Phantom Girl, Phantom Girl, does whatever a Phantom Girl can.

 

Perceived Value – 8 – A classic example of how a character who doesn’t have the most raw physical power can still be really, really useful.

 

Actual Value – 8 – As a team member, it’s hard to complain about anything she did. As her powers were needed, she was able to use them effectively.

 

Total: 21

19. Chemical King

 

Intangibles – 5 – Nothing special, at least not during the Silver Age. Not a whole lot afterwards either, but that’s neither here nor there. Plus, I always dug his costume.

 

Perceived Value – 9 – This is a character that should have been one of the Legion’s big guns that wasn’t a brick, along with Element Lad. The ability to speed up and slow down chemical reactions should be a powerful one, especially for someone with the right imagination.

 

Actual Value – 7 – Sadly, whoever was writing Legion stories at the time either didn’t or couldn’t figure out many ways to allow Condo be useful in a story. He’d occasionally perform some low level trickery, but I can’t recall an instance where he did something truly impressive.

 

Total: 21

I think I read this in a letters page where someone suggested that a better name for Chemical King would have been Catalyst King. Maybe that would have prompted the writers to be a bit more creative in their use of his powers. Like you I always liked him as a character and thought he could have played a much bigger role.

Dave Palmer said:

I think I read this in a letters page where someone suggested that a better name for Chemical King would have been Catalyst King. Maybe that would have prompted the writers to be a bit more creative in their use of his powers. Like you I always liked him as a character and thought he could have played a much bigger role.

From the letter column in Action Comics # 387 (Apr., 1970):

Condo Arlik, alias Chemical King, should be called Catalyst King.  Why?  Because a catalyst is something which speeds up or slows down a chemical reaction without itself being permanently changed.  This is exactly the power Condo has.

                                                      --- Mark Stofan, Farmington, Maine

(True---but he's afraid not everybody would understand the word.  Some people might think a catalyst is a person who deals in cattle.)

                                                       --- Ed.

Thanks Commander. So that notion has been rattling around in my head for 47 years, but I knew I had read it somewhere and that it wsn’t something I’d come up with on my own.

Dave Palmer said:

Thanks Commander. So that notion has been rattling around in my head for 47 years, but I knew I had read it somewhere and that it wsn’t something I’d come up with on my own.

Glad to help, Mr. Palmer.  It says something weird about my brain, though, that not only did I remember the same letter, but also, forty-seven years later, the exact issue in which I would find it.

I found Chemical King's name interesting as well, but for different reasons. Almost all of the other Legionnaires had names that reminded one of their youth, but Condo's name suggested a fully mature adult.  One would have thought 'Chemical Prince' would ahve been more appriate.

The again, I suppose Chemical King just sounds better.

Randy Jackson said:

I found Chemical King's name interesting as well, but for different reasons. Almost all of the other Legionnaires had names that reminded one of their youth, but Condo's name suggested a fully mature adult.  One would have thought 'Chemical Prince' would have been more appopriate.

The again, I suppose Chemical King just sounds better.

There were some folks 'way ahead of you on both counts, as seen in the Legion Outpost letter column from Adventure Comics # 376 (Jan., 1969):

In my opinion, your new member should be called Chemical Prince, not Chemical King. Is he a real king (or a prince)?  After all, Princess Projectra is a real princess.

                                                                         --- Robert Gleaner, Audubon, New Jersey

(No, Chem is not really royal; and the King just has a better ring to it than "Chemical Prince."  --- Ed.)

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