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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Lone Wolf made only one appearance before showing up in the Adult Legion story as Timber Wolf, now married to Light Lass because she was attracted to him in his debut and was now stuck with him! Much later at the end of the Silver Age, he officially joined.

I have always considered him to be one of the strongest and fastest Legionnaire, below Superboy, Mon-El, Supergirl and Ultra Boy but above Colossal Boy and Ferro Lad. He was certainly the most agile and acrobatic and the Legion's best brawler.

A lot of people are assuming he's based on Wolverine.

Which would be false since he was created a decade before Wolverine. Heck, Dave Cockrum redesigned Timber Wolf a couple of years before he  went to Marvel to do Giant-Size X-Men #1! 

Ronald Morgan said:

A lot of people are assuming he's based on Wolverine.

Into the Bronze Age and once he went “feral” to capitalize on Wolverine’s popularity it can be argued that Timber Wolf was the Legion’s best brawler, but in the Silver Age I think that title should go to Karate Kid with Ultra Boy as a close second. In his tryout Karate Kid went toe-to-toe with Superboy, and in Adventure #378 he took on the Fatal Five single handed—that’s going to be tough to top. In #377 he defeated the “Champ” in boxing at a carnival on Mercury.

An interesting question does present itself: did Val have superpowers or super strength? No matter how good you are at the martial arts some of the things he did are impossible. At his try-out he smashed a steel beam, and during their battle Superboy was amazed by his strength. Maybe in that regard he belongs in that tier with Timber Wolf just below the big guns.

Philip Portelli said:

Lone Wolf made only one appearance before showing up in the Adult Legion story as Timber Wolf, now married to Light Lass because she was attracted to him in his debut and was now stuck with him! Much later at the end of the Silver Age, he officially joined.

I have always considered him to be one of the strongest and fastest Legionnaire, below Superboy, Mon-El, Supergirl and Ultra Boy but above Colossal Boy and Ferro Lad. He was certainly the most agile and acrobatic and the Legion's best brawler.

I think it was just presumed martial artists have some kind of mystic abilities we're not supposed to understand. Other characters like Mantis also did weird things that normal people can't.

Back in the mid-1960's, I'm guessing that karate was pretty exotic. These days, we have a great idea of what people can actually do with it, but back then it's more likely that it was some sort of magic. Certainly the likes of the Mandarin smashing Iron Man's armor back then also suggests that the creators were more or less making things up to create a sense of wonder. One could, of course, say the same thing about transistors---they can do anything, right?

24. Matter-Eater Lad

 

Intangibles – 5 – Chow down!

 

Perceived Value – 7 – As we all recall, all the Legionnaires laughed when Tenzil attempted to join. After all, what good was his power when you have the likes of Superboy around?

 

Actual Value – 8 – As he himself asserted at the time, and showed later, his power is actually pretty interesting and useful once you get past how silly it seems*. He served well up until being forced into politics.

 

Total: 20

 

* Was an upper limit ever established for just how much he could eat? Would he be limited to an average human-sized meal, or was his stomach like a little black  hole?

He once ate his way out of the "Stalag of Space" -- a tunnel that must have been many meters long and big enough for two people to crawl through. That's an astonishing amount of material, and some super-speed chewing, not to mention his teeth and mouth would have to be nearly indestructible to bite, chew and swallow tons of rock and dirt. It's one thing to be able to digest steel; it's quite another to eat a battleship at super-speed. There had to be something going on there other than "he can eat anything." 

They once said that all Bismollians were "living atomic furnaces" that break down all matter but that was never repeated.

One thing for sure, don't let Matter-Eater Lad spit on you!

Or burp near you!

Or Black Bolt.


 
Richard Willis said:

Or burp near you!

25..Dream Girl

 

Intangibles – 6 – She did somehow change Lightning Lass’s powers to Light Lass, so that’s something. Almost more useful in terms of science than for her actual powers.

 

Perceived Value – 8 –  Precognition should be a great power. After all, you always have a good idea of what’s going to happen. It might put a bit of a crimp in your social life however.

 

Actual Value – 5 – Looking at the history of precognitive characters in superhero comics, their powers really aren’t that useful. Either the character’s powers sometimes work but aren’t 100 percent (Destiny) or their powers work 100 percent but tend to always not quite be what the actual predictions  were(Dream Girl). Either way, in those terms, her value as a team mate wasn’t that awesome. Not to mention some of the ill will fostered by Nura among the female Legionnaires, many of whom were jealous of her looks and the attention the male Legionnaires were giving her.*

 

Total: 19

 

* A pet theory I’ve never shared is that Dream Girl was the impetus behind the redesigns of the female Legionnaires’ costumes, particularly the ones that showed significantly more skin (yes, I know why it really happened, but I’m coming up with an in-story reason).  In order to make sure they attracted as much attention as Dream Girl, they simply started wearing less clothing (to their detriment in some cases—looking at you, Night Girl).

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