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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Humans can do amazing things (e.g., Olympic athletes, Jackie Chan).  Where do we draw the line between humans at the edge of human potential and those with superpowers?  Does Batman have superpowers (or a metagene)?  He certainly does some incredible stuff.  I did find an interesting discussion from last summer about whether or not he is a metahuman (e.g., https://io9.gizmodo.com/batman-is-not-a-metahuman-1797341024).  

Taking a cue from the JLA movie I think his most important "superpower" is (could be) that he is "rich."  I think he could do more good for Gotham by using his wealth to create jobs than he can jumping around on rooftops as Batman.  But the Batman stuff is many times more fun to read about (says the business professor who actually teaches this stuff as his day job).  

Here's a question, albeit not necessarily about the Legion, what long-running character is the best representation of a "normal" human doing extraordinary but still plausible things?  Sgt. Rock, perhaps?

Blackhawk or Jonah Hex?

Before they put her back in the tights, I'd say Oracle.

Christopher Chance?

Roy Raymond?

Jason Bard?

Adam Strange?

The more cerebral the character, maybe the more likely he (or she) is to be depicted engaging in plausible physical activities.

egads, Snapper Carr?

Where do we draw the line between humans at the edge of human potential and those with superpowers?"

Something that would pose serious legal challenges in a superheroes-banned situation like Legends or Civil War. Which the comics invariably ignore.

"I think he could do more good for Gotham by using his wealth to create jobs than he can jumping around on rooftops as Batman." He's been pouring money into charity in a big way for decades. As Max Collins put it, Batman treats the symptom, Bruce Wayne tries to cure the disease.

The ban in Watchmen didn't care about superpowers, just actions. So-called vigilantes we're what the ban dealt with.

Fraser Sherman said:

Where do we draw the line between humans at the edge of human potential and those with superpowers?"

Something that would pose serious legal challenges in a superheroes-banned situation like Legends or Civil War. Which the comics invariably ignore.

"I think he could do more good for Gotham by using his wealth to create jobs than he can jumping around on rooftops as Batman." He's been pouring money into charity in a big way for decades. As Max Collins put it, Batman treats the symptom, Bruce Wayne tries to cure the disease.

Dave Palmer said:

Here's a question, albeit not necessarily about the Legion, what long-running character is the best representation of a "normal" human doing extraordinary but still plausible things?  Sgt. Rock, perhaps?

Doc Savage.

I always felt that the whole superpowers thing really depends on the intent when the character was created. Especially for long-running characters, power creep tends to happen and the characters do more and more things they shouldn't be able to do. For instance, as I think most of us know, Spider-Man was listed in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe as being able to lift approximately 10 tons (or tonnes, if you prefer). However, there's a channel on YouTube I follow that examines the actual science of super heroics, and some of his feats would require him to be able to manage 100 times that limit.

Getting back to the Legion, Karate Kid was intended to be a normal human. Even if he did perform superhuman feats, he himself was not superhuman. At least, that's how I see it.

And we don't know what kind of training Karate Kid had. What he did was beyond what Earth-based martial arts could do but he was trained in alien martial arts as well. That edge allowed to perform feats no other human could do.

Of course, in Watchmen the only superhuman was Dr Manhattan. The movie version had nonsuper characters smashing marble tables and pillars with their fists and bodies, which was erroneous.

Richard Willis said:

The ban in Watchmen didn't care about superpowers, just actions. So-called vigilantes we're what the ban dealt with.of

According to "The Law and Superheroes" technically it banned "costumed adventuring" while fighting crime. Still, your point is taken, so I modify my statement to "almost invariably."

Legends, by contrast, bans "superheroes" which raises all kinds of questions: what if Batman just wore ordinary clothes and kept fighting crime? Would the Guardian Angels in NYC qualify?

Civil War was even messier since it nominally involved registering superhumans but non-metas such as Misty Knight and Shang-Chi were required to sign up.

Richard Willis said:

The ban in Watchmen didn't care about superpowers, just actions. So-called vigilantes we're what the ban dealt with.

Fraser Sherman said:

Where do we draw the line between humans at the edge of human potential and those with superpowers?"

Something that would pose serious legal challenges in a superheroes-banned situation like Legends or Civil War. Which the comics invariably ignore.

"I think he could do more good for Gotham by using his wealth to create jobs than he can jumping around on rooftops as Batman." He's been pouring money into charity in a big way for decades. As Max Collins put it, Batman treats the symptom, Bruce Wayne tries to cure the disease.

Maybe the rule in Civil War was "You have to register if you have been featured in a comic book on Earth-0."

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