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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Sun Boy's power was nothing special?

He could generate heat and light and unlike, say, the Human Torch, his powers worked underwater and in space.

He was one of the most popular Legionnaires, had a real super-hero origin, had an arch-foe in Doctor Regulus and a great outfit to boot!

I agree with Philip!

I'll give you all of those. However, its not about popularity, or how great a character you were, or anything else like that. It's about his value and performance as a team member.

Philip Portelli said:


He was one of the most popular Legionnaires, had a real super-hero origin, had an arch-foe in Doctor Regulus and a great outfit to boot!

How about this then:

In the Silver Age (and Bronze and beyond), he was one of the Legion's Top 5 "Blasters" with Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Star Boy and Element Lad.

He was a major part of the Legion's long-range offense.

22. Bouncing Boy

 

Intangibles – 7 – I always saw Chuck as a morale officer type, and a glue type as well.

 

Perceived Value – 6 – Hard to expect a whole lot out of someone who’s superpower is to get fat and bounce around. One wonders why the Legion let him join with such a useless power*. Heck, they tried their damnedest to keep him from going on missions or putting his neck on the line.

 

Actual Value – 7 – Chuck surprised all of the Legion with his abilities. Sure, he was never a front-liner, but he could be depended upon and when asked to, did well.  

 

Total: 21

 

*It’s long been my personal opinion—and I’ve expressed this opinion before—that some Legionnaires were allowed to join because they were teenagers and the applicants were just so very likeable, and I think Chcuk falls into this class (Duo Damsel as well, but we’ll get to her). I also think it’s the reason Polar Boy wasn’t allowed in—they didn’t like him.

Bouncing Boy was always the "Ringo" of the Legion. Not the most important guy but one that the fans wanted to see!

Randy Jackson said:

*It’s long been my personal opinion—and I’ve expressed this opinion before—that some Legionnaires were allowed to join because they were teenagers and the applicants were just so very likeable, and I think Chuck falls into this class (Duo Damsel as well, but we’ll get to her). I also think it’s the reason Polar Boy wasn’t allowed in—they didn’t like him.

Indeed, you have stated this before. In fact, you're the first person I've come across to make this observation.  And it's a good one.  I believe it can be used to explain away various aspects of the Legion which, othewise, don't make sense.

For example, this excerpt from a Deck Log entry I did on Legion membership standards (http://captaincomics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/deck-log-entry-112-so-...):

For one thing, it would explain why the Legion didn’t have four or five members from planets where all of the population possessed the same super-power. There didn’t have to be a codified prohibition against admitting other members with the same powers (and, as I have pointed out before, there wasn’t one), because that kind of thing sorted itself out during the Legionnaires’ closed-session deliberations.


“I’m not sure we need another shape-changer in the club.”


“I agree. Besides, Durlans are kind of creepy.”


“Tell me about it. Every time I take a sonic shower, I always get the feeling that Chameleon Boy is watching me, disguised as a soap dish or something. Ugh!”


“Then we’re all decided---rejected, right?”



It would also account for how some of the heroes with less-useful abilities made it into the group:


“Look, guys, all this Luornu Durgo can do is split herself into three girls---three normal girls without super-powers.”


“Yeah, but she’s a babe!”


“Honestly---“


“Let’s just put it to a vote.”


COSMIC BOY: “Aye.” LIGHTNING LAD: “Aye.” SATURN GIRL: “No!”


“The ayes have it! The babe . . . er . . . Triplicate Girl is now a Legionnaire!”

I've come to rely upon your observation (with credit to you, of course) in other articles about the Legion, such as from the final part of my "Other Legionnaire Who Killed" triptych (http://captaincomics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/deck-log-entry-147-the...):

It’s been discussed here before that, as much as the Legionnaires presented themselves as responsible and adult, they were still only teen-agers, on the cusp of maturity.  So many of their actions were based on the whims and superficial concerns of adolescents.  Our own Randy Jackson has raised this point a few times.

 

Many times in the Legion series, the symptoms of “teenage-itis” poke through their veneer of maturity . . . . 

. . . . To be sure, the most obvious examples of the Legionnaires’ cliquishness and adolescent thinking appear in their membership-offering.

 

Many times, the Legion seems to have accepted new members on the basis of personality alone.  The events of “The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy” scarcely justify his induction into the Legion.  He gets in because he’s the funny fat kid.  The Legionnaires admit it themselves when B.B. is left behind “to guard the ship” in “The Legion of Super-Monsters”.  Once he is out of earshot, his buddies admit that their plump pal is jolly and they like him, but his power of super-bouncing doesn’t help much on missions.

 

On the other hand, Polar Boy, whose power of super-cold clearly would be of benefit, is rejected.  Polar Boy meets all of the qualifications for Legion membership; he’s also noticeably smaller, and probably younger, than the Legionnaires.  To them, it would be like having one’s kid brother tagging along.  So he’s shown the door on the flimsiest of excuses.  (“It might . . . disable us at a critical moment!”)

 

It's a good argument. Too bad more comics don't have teenage-itis to blame for silly stories!

As to Sun Boy, it seemed to the Li'l Capn that he was being pushed as a major member in the early stories of the Adventure run, and then all of a sudden he fell out of the spotlight. As Philip notes, he was not only a powerful character, but he had a unique origin and his own supervillain. Rarities in early Legion, to be sure.

But then, boom, he was suddenly in the background or gone altogether. I didn't miss him -- Lightning Lad seemed to fill his niche nicely -- but I'm curious if anyone felt that way, or if this is just a child's viewpoint.


Bolstering Commander Benson's theory is this two-page spread from way past the Silver Age.  It is by Keith Giffen.  With the exception of Night Girl, none of these characters looks like they would be part of the "cool Kids" clique.  These are the kids the "cool kids" would pick on. 

Infectious Lass might fit in, but she has an "icky" superpower (who would want to hang out with her?), and Polar Boy, as noted, is the annoying (and earnest) younger brother.


Commander Benson said:

Randy Jackson said:

*It’s long been my personal opinion—and I’ve expressed this opinion before—that some Legionnaires were allowed to join because they were teenagers and the applicants were just so very likeable, and I think Chuck falls into this class (Duo Damsel as well, but we’ll get to her). I also think it’s the reason Polar Boy wasn’t allowed in—they didn’t like him.

Indeed, you have stated this before. In fact, you're the first person I've come across to make this observation.  And it's a good one.  I believe it can be used to explain away various aspects of the Legion which, othewise, don't make sense.

For example, this excerpt from a Deck Log entry I did on Legion membership standards (http://captaincomics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/deck-log-entry-112-so-...):

For one thing, it would explain why the Legion didn’t have four or five members from planets where all of the population possessed the same super-power. There didn’t have to be a codified prohibition against admitting other members with the same powers (and, as I have pointed out before, there wasn’t one), because that kind of thing sorted itself out during the Legionnaires’ closed-session deliberations.


“I’m not sure we need another shape-changer in the club.”


“I agree. Besides, Durlans are kind of creepy.”


“Tell me about it. Every time I take a sonic shower, I always get the feeling that Chameleon Boy is watching me, disguised as a soap dish or something. Ugh!”


“Then we’re all decided---rejected, right?”



It would also account for how some of the heroes with less-useful abilities made it into the group:


“Look, guys, all this Luornu Durgo can do is split herself into three girls---three normal girls without super-powers.”


“Yeah, but she’s a babe!”


“Honestly---“


“Let’s just put it to a vote.”


COSMIC BOY: “Aye.” LIGHTNING LAD: “Aye.” SATURN GIRL: “No!”


“The ayes have it! The babe . . . er . . . Triplicate Girl is now a Legionnaire!”

I've come to rely upon your observation (with credit to you, of course) in other articles about the Legion, such as from the final part of my "Other Legionnaire Who Killed" triptych (http://captaincomics.ning.com/profiles/blogs/deck-log-entry-147-the...):

It’s been discussed here before that, as much as the Legionnaires presented themselves as responsible and adult, they were still only teen-agers, on the cusp of maturity.  So many of their actions were based on the whims and superficial concerns of adolescents.  Our own Randy Jackson has raised this point a few times.

 

Many times in the Legion series, the symptoms of “teenage-itis” poke through their veneer of maturity . . . . 

. . . . To be sure, the most obvious examples of the Legionnaires’ cliquishness and adolescent thinking appear in their membership-offering.

 

Many times, the Legion seems to have accepted new members on the basis of personality alone.  The events of “The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy” scarcely justify his induction into the Legion.  He gets in because he’s the funny fat kid.  The Legionnaires admit it themselves when B.B. is left behind “to guard the ship” in “The Legion of Super-Monsters”.  Once he is out of earshot, his buddies admit that their plump pal is jolly and they like him, but his power of super-bouncing doesn’t help much on missions.

 

On the other hand, Polar Boy, whose power of super-cold clearly would be of benefit, is rejected.  Polar Boy meets all of the qualifications for Legion membership; he’s also noticeably smaller, and probably younger, than the Legionnaires.  To them, it would be like having one’s kid brother tagging along.  So he’s shown the door on the flimsiest of excuses.  (“It might . . . disable us at a critical moment!”)

 

Thinking about it, it would be difficult to disagree. He seemed to fade into the background after a while--although most of the Legionnaires that didn't have "Super" in their names did as well. There were just so many of them that it's sort of understandable why some would be ignored for a long time.

Captain Comics said:

It's a good argument. Too bad more comics don't have teenage-itis to blame for silly stories!

As to Sun Boy, it seemed to the Li'l Capn that he was being pushed as a major member in the early stories of the Adventure run, and then all of a sudden he fell out of the spotlight. As Philip notes, he was not only a powerful character, but he had a unique origin and his own supervillain. Rarities in early Legion, to be sure.

But then, boom, he was suddenly in the background or gone altogether. I didn't miss him -- Lightning Lad seemed to fill his niche nicely -- but I'm curious if anyone felt that way, or if this is just a child's viewpoint.

From what I can tell Sun Boy first appeared as a Legion applicant, with Bouncing Boy and Brainiac 5, in the second Supergirl/Legion story in Action Comics #276. His second appearance, in Adventure Comics #290, was a Superboy-and-Sun Boy story, and he was a key character in the Legion stories from Adventure Comics #302 and #318.

In his second story Sun Boy and his impostor perpetually glow. So perhaps he was featured there because Weisinger liked the visual of a glowing superhero, or thought it would work on a cover. Or the story may have required a Legionnaire whose power could be on when not in use, since it's Superboy who collects the McGuffins.

"The Secret Origin of Bouncing Boy!" from Adventure Comics #301 was another case where a Legionnaire who'd appeared previously as a walk-on was used as a main character.

The Adventure Comics #302 story built on Sun Boy's origin, which had been established by the feature "The Origin and Powers of the Legion of Super-Heroes" in Superman Annual #4. I suppose some other Legionnaire could have been used in that plot, but perhaps the story was suggested by the idea of relighting something.

The Dr Regulus story came later, in Adventure Comics #348. It was the third one by Jim Shooter, and combined the theft of the heroes' HQ from Fantastic Four #6 with the sky craft with specialised traps from Fantastic Four #17. So Dr Regulus was probably modelled after Dr Doom, and his connection to Sun Boy on Doom's connection to Reed. Perhaps Sun Boy was chosen because Regulus could be fitted into his origin

23. Lone/Timber Wolf

 

Intangibles – 5 – A fascinating back story, but not much extra to the team.

 

Perceived Value – 8 – Another brick in the wall. Always useful, but perhaps a bit superfluous on this team.

 

Actual Value – 7 – Not used much, but seemed capable when he was used.

 

Total: 20

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