The Legion of Super-Villains

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Legion of Super-Villains. Superman/Batman #18 © 2005 DC Comics. COVER ART BY CARLOS PACHECO AND JÉSUS MERINO.

The Legion of Super-Villains

(pop culture)
“Calling the future!” enunciates Superman's most persistent foe into a makeshift communicator from his prison cell. “Arch-criminal (Lex) Luthor from the year 1961 calling the Legion of Super-Villains, in the future! Am imprisoned! Need help! Save me!” As implausible as Luthor's plea may sound, it works, as writer Jerry Siegel and artist Curt Swan disclose in Superman vol. 1 #147 (1961). Futuristic weapons materialize inside Luthor's cell, enabling him to escape. He soon convenes with the Legion of Super-Villains, criminal counterparts of the founding members of the thirtieth- century teen-age super-team, the Legion of Super-Heroes, of which Superman was a time-traveling member during his career as Superboy (although in this adventure, the villains appear as adults). Cosmic Boy's doppelgänger is the Venusian master of transmutation, Cosmic King; Lightning Lad's is his older brother Mekt Ranzz, aka Lightning Lord, who shares his sibling's power to generate electricity; and the baleful version of Saturn Girl is Saturn Queen, who professes her passion for outwitting the law with her “super-hypnotism.” With advanced science and trickery, Luthor and the evil Legion trap the Man of Steel, but the intervention of three members of the adult Legion of Super-Heroes—Cosmic Man, Lightning Man, and Saturn Woman—helps Superman turn the tide. The adult Legion of Super-Villains encountered the teen Legion of Super-Heroes in 1965, but it was not until Adventure Comics #372 (1968) that the team's origin was revealed. “School for Super-Villains” by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan spotlighted Tarik the Mute's academy for malevolent superteens with criminal cadets Radiation Roy, Ron-Karr (Ronn Kar), Spider-Girl, Nemesis Kid, a young Lightning Lord, and others, including Legion “traitor” Colossal Boy, who sold out his heroic teammates to save his parents' lives. (This team would eventually evolve into the adult version depicted in Superman #147.) Over time, the teen Legion of Super-Villains recruited Chameleon Chief, Esper Lass, Hunter III, Lazon, Magno Lad, Micro Lad, Mist Master, Neutrax, Ol-Vir, Pharoxx, Silver Slasher, Sun Emperor, Terrus, Tyr (the only member to receive his own action figure, as part of the 1986 Super Powers line from Kenner Toys), and Zymyr. While a post-Crisis rewriting of Legion of Super-Heroes and Superman lore excised the original adult Super-Villain tales, the grown-up Lightning Lord, Cosmic King, and Saturn Queen were seen in writer Jeph Loeb and artist Carlos Pacheco's “Absolute Power” storyline in Superman/Batman #14–#18 (2005). These lethal Legionnaires from the future arrived in the late twentieth century at pivotal moments in the origins of Superman and Batman and altered the heroes' histories—and, as a result, the entire DC Universe timeline. As the Man of Steel and Dark Knight's “parents,” the Super-Villains raised their “sons” to rule a dystopian Earth with an iron hand. Eventually the World's Finest duo restored the natural order, and the Legion of Super-Villains vanished as the time stream corrected itself.
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