Archive for the ‘Legion of Substitute Heroes’ Category

The Planet Zwen: United Kingdom Protectorate?

2010/06/10

In Action Comics #862 (April 2008), the Legion of Substitute Heroes stage a daring raid on the Justice League of Earth’s satellite quarters in the unlikeliest of spacefaring vehicles: a 31st century school bus:

I'll say this for the Subs: they know how to make an entrance.

What makes this scene even more hilarious is the position that Stone Boy was frozen in when he entered hibernation mode and crashed through the windshield:

"Suck on this in STEREO, biyotchs!"

The hand gesture he’s making – known as the two-fingered salute – is considered offensive in the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, where it is interpreted as a sign of derision, contempt, or defiance of authority: the equivalent of giving someone the finger. Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will doubtlessly recognize this as the same gesture that Spike made in the Season 4 episode Hush when Xander Harris accused him of being responsible for his sudden loss of voice, a clip of which managed to sneak its way into the opening credits:

"I said I'd like two sugars with my tea, please."

Given that the artist for the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story arc, Gary Frank, is British himself, I think we can safely say that this was done on purpose.

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Days of Legion Past – Part 5: Rainbow Girl

2010/05/28

When the Legion of Substitute Heroes reappeared for the first time in modern continuity in Action Comics #862 (April 2008), they seem to have made quite an impression on readers, none of them more so than the group’s sole female member at present: Dori Aandraison of Xolnar, better known as Rainbow Girl.

A hot chick with permanent PMS? It's every guy's DREAM.

While I wouldn’t normally devote an entire entry to a single character this obscure, Rainbow Girl is an unusual case because of the wealth of misinformation, misconceptions, and dubious claims surrounding her, so I thought it’d be fun spotlighting her here. Besides, I don’t feel like churning out another massive essay right now. The regular readers of my blog (both of you) deserve as much of a break from having to slog through yet another one as I do from having to write it up, so this arrangement works out pretty well for both of us.

Rainbow Girl has a long history with the Legion of Super-Heroes. She first appeared way back in Adventure Comics #309 (June 1963), when she was rejected for membership and presented with an anti-gravity flying belt as a consolation prize:

There's no room for hippies and flower children in the Legion, apparently.

And that’s pretty much it. Yes, that’s right: if you’ve seen and read the above panel, congratulations, you’ve officially covered all the material she ever appeared prior to her reappearance in the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story arc in and are now an expert on the character.

I said she had a long history with the Legion, not an extensive one.

Everything else we know about Rainbow Girl comes from her entry in Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #5 (September 1988), which I’m reproducing here verbatim since any attempt to summarize it would end up being of similar or equal length:

Dori Aandraison of Xolnar
Dori won a trip to Metropolis as part of the “Miss Xolnar” contest, which she won due in part to her power, a heightened pheromonic field which makes her personality irresistable to everyone while surrounding her in corruscating field of light resembling a rainbow. She had hoped to become a Legionnaire simply as a stepping stone towards a career as a holovid actress. After her rejection, she met and married Irveang Polamar, a member of one of Metropolis’ oldest and wealthiest families, so she could stay on Earth and avoid returning to Xolnar.
She never completely shook her ambition to join the Legion and even investigated the Legion of Substitute Heroes as a possible alternative, but Dori felt they lacked too much publicity to do her any good. Dori returned to her life of social teas and power lunches. She is currently working on her autobiography.

So if Adventure Comics #309 was her only appearance, then where the heck did all of this supplemental information come from? As I mentioned in the introduction to my previous “Days of Legion Past” article, the Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes miniseries is notorious for making up details about a given character’s background completely on the fly. In this case, the entire biography was seemingly conjured up out of thin air, and with a significant absence of forethought. I mean, think about it: if she’s surrounded by a cloud of pheromones that gives her a magnetic personality and causes her to ooze charm out of every pore, how could the Legionnaires have refused her membership in the first place? She should’ve been a shoe-in, regardless of how impractical her powers are in battle.

One completely erroneous fact about Rainbow Girl – or, more correctly stated, the nature of her powers – that’s been making the rounds lately originated in her Wikipedia entry:

“In pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, Rainbow Girl originally had the power to separate into four different colored versions of herself; red (heat), blue (cold), yellow (brightness) and green (kryptonite). She was rejected because her green-self posed a threat to Superboy and Supergirl.” – Wikipedia entry on “Rainbow Girl”

The Bits of Legionnaire Business column in Adventure Comics #340 (January 1966) is cited as the source of this information, which I’ve reproduced below in its entirety below for the sole purpose of discrediting it:


As you can see, this section was dedicated to showcasing reader ideas for new Legionnaires and not to describing the powers of existing ones (or, in this case, rejected applicants). It’s sheer coincidence that one letter writer, Rand Lee of Roxbury, Connecticut, suggested a character whose name had already been used before. (DC’s editorial at the time can be forgiven for their oversight, I think, considering that their version of the character had the equivalent of a walk-on part that lasted all of one panel in a comic book published two and a half years earlier.) Whoever wrote the Powers and abilities section of the Wikipedia entry on Rainbow Girl combined known details about the official character with those of Lee’s unused creation to produce a composite character who never existed in the first place. The reason for her rejection – that her green Kryptonite self was dangerous to Superboy and Supergirl – is an outright falsehood, not only because the column never even mentioned that idea but also because she never had the ability to split into four separate forms in the first place.

Interestingly enough, the planet Xolnar was first mentioned in the same issue that Rainbow Girl first appeared in. The only relevance it had to the story, however, was that Shrinking Violet happened to be on it at the time; nowhere is it ever alluded to being Dori Aandraison’s homeworld (or anyone else’s for that matter) at all.

"Brainiac 5, is this an actual planet or just a smudge on the map?"

It was first depicted in the currently out-of-continuity story from Legion of Super-Heroes #15 (February 1991) as an inhospitable ball of ice and the home of the United Planets Militia Academy. Yeesh, no wonder Dori got married just so she wouldn’t have to be sent back there.

There isn't enough life on this ice cube to fill a space cruiser.

The Continuity Verdict

While the real name and home planet provided in Rainbow Girl’s identifier caption are consistent with her Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes entry…

If this is the cavalry, I shudder to think what the main attack force looks like.

…the fact that she “wields the power of the mysterious emotional spectrum, resulting in unpredictable mood swings” most definitely isn’t. By all appearances, Geoff Johns gently retconned her powers so that that the “corruscating field of light resembling a rainbow” generated by her enhanced pheromones is indicative of an even greater, as-yet-untapped potential. He himself has admitted as much in an interview with Newsarama :

“(Rainbow Girl’s) managed to tap into a couple of colors (of the emotional spectrum). But she doesn’t understand them. To her, it’s just more for fun.” – Geoff Johns

Of course, it’s also a shameless plug for his recent work on Green Lantern, but you can hardly fault him for that.

Oddly enough, an unexpected bonus of Rainbow Girl’s reappearance after languishing in obscurity for most of her 45 year history is that it’s redeemed her character a little. While she’s pretty much a blank slate as far as personality goes, after reading her Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes entry, you really can’t shake the feeling that her entire existence was dominated by self-serving actions and an insatiable hunger for fame. The fact that she chose to join the Legion of Substitute Heroes and risk her life as a freedom fighter rather than hide behind her husband’s money or heightened pheromonic field paints her in a better light (no pun intended).


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