The Bottle City Travel Guide: Pre-Crisis 30th Century Metropolis
DC's Convergence crossover is built around pitting cities pulled from different eras against each other in an ultimate battle to determine which continuity reigns supreme, and as you may already know just from reading that sentence, that can get a little confusing. With all the Gothams and Metropolises (Metropoli?) throwing their heroes against each other, we thought it might be useful to offer our readers a handy guide to telling Pre-Flashpoint from Post-Crisis with a series of Bottle City Travel Guides!
Today, we're taking a trip to the Metropolis of the 30th Century! Well, one of many Metropolises of one very specific 30th century, so... this is already getting a little too complicated.
Pre-Crisis 30th Century Metropolis
Major Players: 30th Century Metropolis serves as the headquarters of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The problem with that is that the Legion has been rebooted more often than any other DC title, to the point where there was a time in 2007 when there were three completely different and unrelated versions of the team running around at the same time in three different ongoing series. This one, however, is the original, introduced by Otto Binder and Al Plastino in 1958's Adventure Comics #247.
As you might expect from 30 years of stories that introduced all kinds of bizarre concepts to the cast --- including a few "Rejected" characters that ended up sticking around --- the Legion of this era had a pretty massive membership. Fortunately for us, most of the cast have been trapped outside the dome. Here's the active roster:
- Superboy - In this timeline, Clark Kent had all of his powers from the moment he landed on Earth, and took to crimefighting at a very young age as Superboy, long before he moved to Metropolis and became Superman. This, in turn, inspired a group of super-powered teenagers from the future to form their own Legion of Super-Heroes, who made a habit of going back in time to screw with their heroes before offering them membership. Once he joined, he split his time between the two eras, flying through the time barrier under his own power to hang out with his pals before returning to Smallville and his parents' General Store.
- Ultra Boy - Jo Nah of the planet Rimbor. Was swallowed by a radioactive space whale (get it? Jo Nah?) and given the best powers in the history of comic books: He has all of Superboy's powers --- strength, flight, speed, invulnerability and "Penetra-Vision," but he can only use one at a time. Romantically involved with Phantom Girl.
- Colossal Boy - Gim Allon of Earth. Exposed to a radioactive meteorite that gave him the ability to grow to, uh, colossal size.
- Sun Boy - Dirk Morgna of Earth. Exposed to atomic radiation and given the ability to project solar-charged light and heat.
(Side Note: Jeez, there sure are a lot of children being exposed to radiation in the future. You'd think someone would address that problem, if only because giving teenagers super-powers is a generally terrible idea.)
- Lightning Lass - Ayla Ranzz of Winath, where almost all children are born as twins. Got the power to shoot lightning out of her hands when she and her two brothers were attacked by "Lightning Beasts." Spent some time as Light Lass when her powers were altered by Dream Girl to make things less heavy, but regained her original powers when the Legion of Super-Villains attacked en masse. Notable as one of the earliest examples of LGBTQ representation in superhero comics due to a romantic relationship with Shrinking Violet. Sister of Lightning Lad (her twin) and the villainous Lightning Lord.
- Shadow Lass - Tasmia Mallor of Talok VII. Projects darkness in the form of shadows that can also be made solid, which makes it completely ridiculous that they rejected Night Girl (who is super-strong and invulnerable but only in the dark) rather than just pairing them up and sending them out to wreck the collective face of evil. Married to Mon-El.
- Invisible Kid - Jacques Foccart of Earth, who took over the identity of "Invisible Kid" after the original, Lyle Norg, was killed by Validus, a monster who can shoot lightning out of his brain. Much like John Cena, you can't see him. Member of the Legion Espionage Squad alongside Shadow Lass and Chameleon Boy, who does not appear in this story.
- Brainiac 5 - Querl Dox of the planet Colu. A "12th Level Intelligence" with a "computer brain" who acts as the Legion's strategist and tactician. Invented the Flight Rings that allow the entire team to fly and communicate over vast distances. Totally crushing on Supergirl. Distantly related to Brainiac, the Superman villain who is responsible for all these bottle cities in the first place.
Major Attractions: If you're visiting beautiful Metropolis (or P-C30cM, as it's known to natives), be sure to check out various LOSH-related attractions. The major headquarters is probably off limits, but you can always check out the Legion's original "clubhouse," which is actually a super-powered youngster who had the ability to turn into a building and then lost his memory and forgot he was ever not a building.
The Legion is awesome, by the way.
Major Storylines: The era that we're dealing with in Convergence is actually a really dark time in the history of the Legion. The series had always been ahead of the curve in that respect --- the Legion was killing off characters, bringing them back to life and cutting off their arms back in the early '60s, largely because their role as a distant-future spin-off of a Superman spinoff set in the past meant that they were isolated enough to get away from it --- but the early '80s saw things get pretty rough for what started out as a bright, atomic-age future.
The biggest touchstone for why everyone's so grumpy in this comic is clearly Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen's Great Darkness Saga, arguably the greatest Legion story of all time, where the teenage heroes battle Darkseid, who returns after a thousand years, enslaves an entire planet where everyone has Superman-level powers, and then makes them reshape the planet itself into a statue of his own head that he can ride through space.
See? Told you they were awesome.
More directly, however, would be "Eye For An Eye," by Levitz, Giffen and Steve Lightle, the story that kicked off the Legion's ongoing series in 1984. The basic premise is that the Legion of Super-Villains decides to get serious about killing their enemies, and ends up doing a pretty good job of it. This is where Lightning Lass gets her original powers back (as a result of being blasted by her own brother, Lightning Lord), and where Karate Kid is murdered on his honeymoon after his wedding to Princess Projectra by Nemesis Kid, who betrayed the Legion in his first appearance. Nemesis Kid, who has the power to nullify anyone's super-powers, is in turn killed by Projectra, who decides not to use her powers and just straight snaps his neck with her bare hands instead.
It is Dark with a capital D, but it's also one of the best and most overlooked action stories of the '80s, and set the stage for a long few years of much darker sci-fi adventure. The end result is that the Legion were no longer the optimistic space teens that they started as. Until they suddenly were again, I mean.
Why It Ended: Oh brother. You'd think the easy answer to this one would be Crisis On Infinite Earths, but that's not the case --- at least, not directly. This version of the Legion actually managed to survive that event relatively intact, largely because the Levitz/Giffen era was selling really well and had a die-hard fanbase. The problem was that Superboy didn't. The new continuity after Crisis included a Superman who was never Superboy because his powers didn't fully manifest until adulthood, and since the Legion was built explicitly on Superboy, their entire history no longer meshed with the rest of the DC Universe --- something that was an even bigger problem since Crisis was essentially meant to make things simpler and avoid exactly this kind of headache.
The original solution was to isolate the Legion even further by a retcon that explained their Superboy as the product of a pocket universe created by the Time Trapper, a longstanding Legion villain. That held for a while, including a "soft reboot" that jumped ahead by five years and an attempt at reviving the brighter, younger future by introducing a gang of teenage clones, but eventually it was just too much of a headache to sort it all out. Thus, Zero Hour rolled around, wiped out the Pre-Crisis Legion for good, and rebooted everything with a new start and some rad new costumes. But that set the tone for the next 20 years, paving the way for the team to eventually be rebooted, threebooted, debooted New 52ted and canceled.
In short, their odds for survival in Convergence ain't looking so hot.