Sunday, March 30, 2014

My number-one favorite comic book non-human: Cosmic Boy.

Cosmic Boy was from the planet Braal, where everyone has magnetic powers. Realizing the United Planets faced an increasing threat from super-villains, Rokk Krinn traveled to Earth and fell in with Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and together they formed the Legion of Super-Heroes. Cosmic Boy was elected the very first Legion leader. His sometime girlfriend was a super-hero named Night Girl. She grew up on a planet of darkness, and had super-powers. But she lost them in light, meaning she was too vulnerable to join the Legion. Cosmic Boy took pity on her and dated her on and off.

Cosmic Boy's costume was originally bright pink (hmm!), with black insets on the torso, white trunks, and white boots. He had four metal circles on his chest, his emblem for magnetism.

You can read a lot more about Cosmic Boy, his costums, and the Legion behind this link...

In August 1974, penciller Mike Grell took over the Legion of Super-Heroes book. Fans loved Grell's work, which had finesse and lightness to it that was highly popular at the time. Grell decided that many of the characters had a very dated look, and so chose to update a number of costumes. Now, the 1970s were the era of Disco and Free Love and all that, and his idea might not have been such a good thing... When it came to Cosmic Boy's costume, it decidedly wasn't. Grell didn't like the pink part of the uniform, because he felt it was too faggoty. (Oh dear...) But junking the costume wasn't permitted. So Grell did the next best thing: He got rid of it. Only the black portions of the costum remained, in the form of long gloves, long boots, and a sort of bustier around Cosmic Boy's torso.

Grell left the Legion as primary penciller in January 1978. Thus began a period of real upheaval for the Legion. Some of DC Comics' best writers, like Paul Levitz, were writing the book. But it was not a top priority for them (it was often the third or fourth title they had to write), and the stories were often quite poor. DC decided Superboy should leave the Legion, and so in January 1980 the book entered "Volume 2" of its existence with Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 2) #259 (notice it's no longer Superboy and the...). DC Comics also launched a new line of comics. Up until now, their comic books had been printed with a 1960s-era printing press and color, on extremely thing newsprint (known colloquially as "cigarette paper" because it could be used to roll cigarettes). Comics were generally priced at about 35 cents. DC Comics decided to move to a brand-new printing technology (the water-based ink and rubber plates that composed the Flexographic process) which allowed for much brighter colors. To accommodate this new color, the books would need to be printed on heavier paper (known as "mando"). DC Comics expanded the art in its issues from 17 to 25 in 1981, but also increased the price to 50 cents. The price rose to 60 cents in 1981, and to 75 cents in 1983. In 1983, as the new price hit, DC said that "original stories" would only appear in the new-technology, heavy-paper.

The new, brighter, heavy-paper Legion stories began appearing in a new volume of the Legion, Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 3) #1, which began publication in August 1984. The "old" Legion book continued as well, reprinting stories from Volume 3 about a year later. The "old" Volume 2 book died with Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 2) #354 (December 1987).

In October 1988, DC Comics raised the price of its standard comic books to a full dollar. The Legion's comic book was cancelled with Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 3) #63 (August 1989).

After a two-month hiatus, the Legion returned in Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #1 in November 1989. The Legion's entire history is retconned out of existence, as Superboy is removed from the team's history. In the comic's timeline, five years have now passed (the infamous "five year gap"). Most of the heroes have new names and new costumes. The book has a big, fat writing team consisting of Keith Giffen, Tom Bierbaum, Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon, with pencils by Giffen. The goal of the revamp was to get rid of the "boy/girl/kid" era, and take the Legion in a far, far darker direction than it had ever gone before. This new Legion is often said to reside in the "Glorithverse", because of the large role that the super-villian Glorith (the sorceress assistant of the Time Trapper) plays in it.

The Glorithverse was needed because DC Comics was now convinced it would lose the right to the Superboy copyrights. DC Comics had tried to wipe out its multiverse in the 1985 storyline "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Part of this storyline involved the removal of Superby from all continuity in all books. But for the Legion, this was a huge problem. So the idea was that the Time Trapper had manipulated the Legion by creating a "pocket universe" in which a Superboy clone lived. When the Legion traveled back in time to meet Superboy, they traveled not into the real past but into this "pocket universe". Now, though, DC Comics brass were convinced they had to dump Superboy altogether. They decided to replace him with Mon-El as the Legion's inspiration. They had Glorith attempt to supplant the Time Trapper, destroy the timeline (and eliminate the "pocket universe"), and more. Although Glorith was defeated by Ultra Boy, she apparently killed his fiancee, Phantom Girl. (In fact, she didn't. She sent her back in time to the 20th century, where she became an amnesiac known as Phase and a founding member of a Legion-like group, L.E.G.I.O.N. That group had first appeared in L.E.G.I.O.N. #1 [February 1989].)

In the very first issue, we learn the United Planets has collapsed after a massive economic depression spanning half the galaxy. Certain worlds, once peaceful and friendly, now begin to make war on their former UP neighbors. Imsk in particular becomes expansionist and aggressive, and makes war on the comparatively undeveloped world of Braal. In Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #1, Shrinking Violet is among those Imskians who willingly attack Braal. Rokk Krinn is also on the front lines, trying to defend his world. The Imskians use chemical warfar against Braal, and when the proves ineffective they unleash their most terrible weapon: A device which magnifies each Braalian's magnetic powers 10,000-fold. The device is unleashed at a Breaalian site known as Venado Bay. Hundreds of thousands of Braalians literally tear themselves apart, and die painful, horrific deaths. The remainder, further away from the device, simply "burn out" their powers and now are nothing more than normal human beings.

Cosmic Boy continues to live on Braal after losing his powers. Braal is a broken world, its people hungry and despairing, laboring as slaves for the Imskians -- who rape Braal of its resources. But as the "five year gap" ends, Chameleon Boy reforms the Legion and asks him to return as the Legion's leader. Cosmic Boy refuses at first, as he has now powers, but later agrees since leadership is his one power which no one can take from him. In Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #55 (March 1994), Brainiac 5 builds Cosmic Boy a pair of high-technology gloves which replicate his magnetic powers. Taking the name Polestar, he becomes an active-duty Legionnaire again. His costume was new, too: A black coverall with cowl and a purple stripe down the right side and covering the right arm, featuring gold boots, gold gauntlets, and a gold belt with abdominal disk.

Now comes the completely mind-paralyzing shit-trap part: One of the Legion's worst villains was the Time Trapper. No one knew who he was, what his origin was, nothing. He resided at the End of Time, and struck at the Legion over and over. In Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #24 (December 1991), the Legionaires discover what appear to be clones of themselves. These clones are called the "SW6 batch", these clones were created just before the death of Ferro Lad some 20 years earlier and are dressed in their old pre-Grell costumes. The clones are initially in the possesion of the Dominators, a shadowy fascist group of galactic manipulators. But the Legion then learns that the clones were originally in the possession of the Dark Circle -- a galactic cabal intent on taking over Earth. Much later, the Legion learns that they were actually created by the Time Trapper.

The "SW6 Batch" Cosmic Boy had an even different costume! His costume was purple on the inner legs, inner arms, and central torso, with all other parts of the costume being black. The silver disks on the front of his costume were back, as were the shoulder ridges. Like all Legionaires from the SW6 Batch, he wore a gold belt with a huge abdominal disk emblazoned with an "L", and had rectangular pouches on either hip. He had no boots.

By 1992, it was apparent that the new Legion was a big fucking kick in the nuts. Sales of the book were plunging, and fan outraged at what had happened to the Legion was hitting nuclear firestorm levels. Furthermore, Keith Giffen had finally left the book. Determined to "go out with a bang", Giffen destroyed the Earth in Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #38 (December 1992). Nine cities survive under domes. These cities travel through space to found a New Earth on an uninhabited world elsehwere. To give fans of "the old Legion" something to read, the SW6 Batch was spun off into its own book. Legionnaires #0 debuted in April 1993. These Legionnaires help defend New Earth.

In 1994, DC Comics was suffering from some heavy-duty sales slumps due to the destructon of its multiverse in the 1985 storyline "Crisis on Infinite Earths". To resolve the problem, A new timeline crisis story was created, "Zero Hour". Hal Jordan, the former Green Lantern, has gone mad after the destruction of his home town Coast City and its 7 million inhabitants. Intending to wipe out the timeline and restore Coast City, Jordan is in fact undoing time itself -- and will not be able to stop it. "Zero Hour" was intended to fix many of the continuity problems created by "Crisis on Infinite Earths". It worsened them.

According to "Zero Hour", Glorith joins force with the Legion's most terrifying villian, the wizard Mordru. Hours before the Zero Hour event, they kidnap Cosmic Boy. The Legion rescues him. Or so it seems... It turns out that Cosmic Boy was actually lost in a corner of time where his mind created a vast library of information. Trapped there for centuries, he learned the secrets of time itself and became -- gasp! -- the Time Trapper. Why? Because the Polestar gloves had unhinged his mind. Glorith's continual manipulation of the Legion timeline, however, worsens the effects of Hal Jordan's attempt to undo the destruction of Coastal City. Subsequently, the "Glorithverse" is destroyed, and the Time Trapper re-emerges. Polestar gives up his power gloves in Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #55 (March 1994).

During the events of Zero Hour, the SW6 Batch realize they can help stabilize the timeline by merging with their adult counterparts. They do so in Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #61 (September 1994). In that same issue, the Time Trapper is revealed to be an aged Rokk Krinn. The last issue of the SW6 Batch comic was Legionnaires #18 (September 1994).

Legion continuity was thrown out with Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #61. Everything fans had read since the 1960s was gone. (Earth came back to life, too, thank goodness.) In October 1994, a Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #0 was published, which lands between issues #61 and #62. Numbering began again with Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #62, and ran for 66 issues before being transformed YET AGAIN in May 2000. In May 2000, several Legionnaires -- including Monstress, Braniac 5, Umbra (Shadow Lass), Kid Quantum, Saturn Girl, Live Wire (Lightning Lad), Apparition (Phantom Girl), Element Lad, and Chameleon (Chameleon Boy) -- are removed for a year after falling through a rift in space. Their adventures traveling through time and space to return to Earth in the 30th Century are documented in the book Legion Lost, which debuted with issue #0 in May 2000 and concluded with Element Lad's Death and Live Wire trapped 1 billion years in the past in issue #12 (April 2001). Meanwhile, fans could stay caught up with the rest of the Legion by reading the limited series Legion Worlds. It debuted with issue #1 (June 2001) and ended with issue #6 (November 2001), and covered the antics of Mon-El on Earth; Lightning Lass on Winath; Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Bouncing Boy, and Shrinking Violet on Braal; XS, Dreamer, Insect Queen, and Atmos on Xanthu (home world of Starboy); Karate Kid and Ferro Lad on the Kid's home world of Steeple; and Timber Wolf and Apparition (Phantom Girl) on Rimbor. (Interestingly, Braal is still seen to be defeated and occupied by a military force.)

Meanwhile, Legion of Super-Heroes got a new title, The Legion. This book debuted with issue #1 in December 2001 and ended with issue #38 in October 2004. Most interestingly, Superboy was returned to the Legion. DC Comics had since resolved its legal battle with Joe Shuster's heirs in 1992, and apparently with Joe Siegel's heirs in 2001 -- ending the copyright dispute over Superboy. In the meantime, DC Comics had "killed off" Superman in 1992. They had created a new Superboy (allegedly a clone of Superman, but since revealed to be a bioengineered human being with telepathic powers that mimicked those of Superman) and named him Conner Kent/Kon-El. Conner Kent repeatedly flew into the 31st century to have adventures with the Legion.

The Legion was cancelled due to low sales in October 2004.

The cancellation did not last long. In Teen Titans (Volume 3) #16 (November 2004) and again in Teen Titans/Legion Special (Novembeer 2004), the Legion was rebooted YET AGAIN!!!!!!! The Legion's own book started anew all over again with Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 5) #1 (February 2005). Beginning with issue #16 (May 2006), it was known as Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 5), and the numbering continued. The title returned to Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 5) with issue #37 (February 2008). The whole thing collapsed again and ended with issue #50 (March 2009). The 2004 "The Legion" version existed in a very different future. Instead of the progressive, bright, happy place depicted in most (gulp) Legion comic books, this was a future of emotional and sexual repression, a world where surveillance of everyday life was omnipresent, and a world which was hunkering down against repeated attacks by alien powers and super-villains. The Legion in this new rebooted version was seen as a bright light to the youth of the future, a group of fun-loving, sexually liberated, free-spirited folks who believed in democracy and openness. This Legion was said to exist on Earth-Prime, not Earth-One. (We hadn't seen the Earth-One Legion since Legion of Super-Heroes [Volume 4] #61 in September 1994!)

The Cosmic Boy of this future, however, had an even different costume.Rokk Krinn's costume now had black legs, and the exterior of his torso was a black stripe. The arms were all black up to the lower shoulder, but the interior of the torso, the shoulder, and the lats/collarbone were a midnight blue.  Two black stripes went over each shoulder, and the four circles on the chest were now just black dots.

The 2004 version of the Legion didn't last long, either. The "Zero Hour" event of 1994 having failed to resolve the plot problems DC Comics was having, the entire DC Universe and all its comic book lines got YET ANOTHER FUCKING REBOOT in 2005-2006 in something called "Infinite Crisis". At the end of "Crisis on Infinite Earths", the Earth-Two Superman, the Earth-Two Lois Lane, Alexander Luthor, Jr. of Earth-Three, and the Earth-Prime Superboy had gone into a "paradise dimension" to live out their natural lives. However, they could see into the remaining universe. Superboy-Prime, who had not developed powers on Earth-Prime until taken into another multiverse dimension, became increasingly unhinged by the realization that there were other Superboys and Supermen. Feeling they were "stealing" his life and were too gentle with the super-villains they encountered, Superboy-Prime began pounding on the walls of reality in an attempt to free himself. This sent shockwaves through the universe, which restores the multiverse (in part). Superboy-Prime becomes a villain, and is later imprisoned inside a red star.

To reintroduce the Legion of Super-Heroes after the "Infinite Crisis", something called the "Lightning Saga" occurs. It begins in Justice League of America (Volume 2) #8 (June 2007), where an alien agent on Earth is revealed to be none other than the Legion's Karate Kid. When the Justice Society of America's Starman says something to him in an alien tongue (later shown to be the future language Interlac), he comes out of his hypnotic state. It turns out Starman is actually the Legion's Star Boy, sent back in time and through the multiverse by Braniac 5 to help heal a right in spacetime. Unfortunately, he ended up on Earth-22, somewhat insane. Only after the "Infinite Crisis" did he land on Earth-One and receive medical treatment that would allow him to recover his sanity. In Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #5 (June 2007), Starman and Batman liberate Dream Girl from Arkham Asylum (where she has been tortured by Doctor Destiny) and Superman liberates Wildfire from his Fortress of Solitude. In every case, a Legionnaire can be freed by saying the words "Lightning Lad" in Interlac. In Justice League of America (Volume 2) #9 (July 2007), Timber Wolf is found and Gorilla City and Dawnstar on Thanagar. The Legionnairs reunite, and Wildfire shows the JLA and JSA that he has one of Batman's utility belts. The Legionnaires pull miniature lightning rods from the belt, and Superman realizes that they intend to kill one of their own in order to... what? In Justice Society of America (Volume 3) #6 (July 2007), the Legionnaires fly off to Slaughter Swamp to find their quarry, who remains unnamed. Members of the JLA and JSA go there, too, find the old Secret Society of Super-Villains hideout, and appear to de-hypnotize Triplicate Girl. Triplicate Girl says the Legion has come back in time to stop an entity known as Computo. The rest of the JLA and JSA arrive to help, but Computo has awakened and attacks them. The Legionnaires fly off during the battle, which Superman realizes is really an illusion broadcast by Sensor Girl (Princess Projectra). In Justice League of America (Volume 2) #10 (August 2007), the Flash is the only one who pursues the Legionnaires in a timely fashion. The Legionnaires take up positions around the globe. Starman/Star Boy reveals to Dream Girl that he is not meant to return to the future, and she tells him that she is not meant to die. Superman confronts Projectra in Smallville, and she tearfully tells him that yes, this is a resurrection ritual like before. With the other JLA and JSA heroes distracted, Karate Kid uses his lightning rod in Blue Valley to resurrect Wally West (the original Kid Flash and later Flash after the death of Barry Allen) and West's family. Karate Kid survives, having avoided the lighting at the last second due to his powers. The Legionnaires fade into the future (except for Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl, who stay secretly behind), while Wally West reunites with his old friends. Wally and his family left for an alternate dimension at the end of "Infinite Crisis", which allowed Bart Allen -- his nephew from the future -- to come to the past and take up the mantle of The Flash. In the future, Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 debrief their comrades, and learn that West somehow anticipated their resurrection ritual. Brainiac reveals that Bart Allen -- once thought killed by his Rogue's Gallery -- is now trapped Karate Kid's lightning rod, and Brainiac admits that is who they came for.

The "Lightning Saga" fed into yet another storyline: "Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds" (August 2008 to September 2009). Superboy-Prime escaped his prison, had various adventures, and eventually destroyed the entire universe of Earth-51 while trying to fight the destroyer of Earth-51, the Monarch. Everyone thinks the Earth-51 universe is destroyed and Superboy-Prime with it. But the Time Trapper realizes Prime is merely adrift in time, and takes him to the 31st century. Prime is outraged that Superman continues to be an influence even 1,000 years after his death, and decides to destroy the United Planets and the Legion of Super-Heroes. He breaks all the Legion of Super-Villains out of their prison on Takron-Galtos, and the attack begins. Braniac 5 summons Superman from the 20th century, and the last Guardian of the Universe, Sodam Yat, from Oa. Brainiac also tells Starman (still in the 21st century) to place Conner Kent's body in a Kryptonian healing chamber. Traveling to the Justice Leage's old headquarters, Brainiac uses their dimensional portal to summon Legions from two other dimensions: The Universe-247 Legion (the post-1994 Legion, a reference to Adventure Comics #247 where the Legion made its first appearance), and the Universe-Prime Legion (the post-2004 Legion which lived in the repressive society). Brainiac then uses the lightning rod, a Cosmic Treadmill powered by XS (a great-great-great granddaughter of The Flash), and various incarnations of Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass to resurrect Bart Allen -- who did not die, but whose "lightning force" was bottled. Brianiac also travels to Superman's old Fortress of Solitude, where he resurrects Conner Kent. The Time Trapper then kidnaps Superman, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad and takes them to the End of Time. The Trapper reveals himself NOT to be Rokk Krinn but rather Superboy-Prime himself -- now an immortal after having left the Prime universe. The three momentarily stun the Time Trapper and take him back to the 31st century. When Superboy-Prime confronts his older self, he refuses to believe it. He tries to knock his older self out, but the two merely vanish. Brainiac reveals that Prime has been returned to the Prime Universe, powerless now. Because the Time Trapper has been erased from history, the future has been "reset". Several multiverses have vanished due to Prime's disappearance, and Brainiac reveals that many heroes are now probably lost in the Multiverse in time and space. The Universe-247 Legion goes to look for them. Ferro Lad is named their leader, and renames them "The Wanderers", while the Legion-Prime returns to the Prime Universe. Superman returns to the 21st century with Conner kent/Superboy and Kid Flash.

Now, remember: The post-2004 Legion (Legion-Prime) had not had its own comic book since March 2009. There'd been the "Lighting Saga" in summer 2007 and the "Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds" from August 2008 to September 2009.

In September 2009, the post-2007 Legion was featured in Adventure Comics (Volume 2). It's established that the post-2007 Legion has the same history as the Legion prior to "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (1985). Beginning with April 2011, the focus was on the Legion Academy and not the Legion per se. Meanwhile, a new Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 6) began in May 2010 that also featured the post-2007 Legion. But this comic book didn't last past August 2011.

In 2011, all DC Comics titles got rebooted a zillionth time with "Final Crisis." (If you believe that it is the last reboot, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.) This time, Cosmic Boy never becomes the Time Trapper. Rather, the Time Trapper is revealed to be a sentient alternate timeline (wha'? huh?) whose identity changes as time itself changes. Thus, while Cosmic Boy became the Time Trapper, he also didn't. Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 7) #1 debuted in September 2011. At the same time, a new comic -- Legion Lost -- is begun. A man from the 31st century travels back in time to unleash a virus that will graft thousands of pieces of alien DNA into the human genome. Wildfire, Dawnstar, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Tellus, Gates, and Chameleon Girl go back to the 21st century and stop him, but they are infected with a virus. Legion Lost (Volume 2) began in November 2011, and ended with issue #16 in March 2013. Legion of Super-Heroes {Volume 7) staggers on until issue #23 in August 2013. It is hinted that the post-2007 Legion exists on Earth-2, but writers and editors say it could be on any Earth in the Multiverse.

Well, all this junk just drove fans away. Legion of Super-Heroes -- once one of DC Comics' top-selling titles -- was cancelled. Gone. No more to be seen. A pathetic death.

In Cosmic Boy's last incarnation, post-2007, his costume changed yet again. He retained the black pants, but added white boots with a pink band along the top.  The top remained pretty much the same, with the interior color being white. A pink stripe ran along the outside of the arm, and between the black and white elements. The disks went back to being white, and a high collar was added.

Here's a look at all the costumes worn by Cosmic Boy since his incarnation.

I'm not alone in thinking he's hot. There's plenty of fan art!


  1. Thank you for this amazing post! I somehow stumbled on it and being a huge legion fan it was amazing to read the full timeline and continuity. Thanks for taking so much time to write it all down for us all to remember and then go cry in our Braalian Ale! Well done and Long Live LEGION!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it... It was a crying shame what they did to the Legion....