Unknown Boy, the Unknown Legionnaire Who is Unknown to the Legion

Bloggified by Jake on Thursday, September 14, 2006

The spirit of detente lives on in the comicbloggadome. Earlier this week, Chris Sims featured a review of a story from Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane. Knowing this was my normal stomping ground, he emailed me to make sure I didn't have plans for the issue, which I didn't (I should be so lucky... I'm almost out of stories from the stash of comics I picked up in San Diego). Oddly enough, I'd been planning to email him as I read and planned to review Adventure Comics #334 featuring a Legion of Super-Heroes story, an ISB staple.

Graciously, we agreed to give the other permission to tread safely into our realms. If he was Israel and I was... everyone else in the Middle East, just think of how great a world this could be.

With that, I give you the story of the Unknown Legionnaire, Unknown Boy, a mysterious character about whom we are promised all the clues to unlock his identity. Feel free to grab a pen and a piece of paper so you can follow along and note them as we go, Blue's Clues-style.

The story is all a big flashback, triggered when the Legion lands on a planet called Protea, and find a statue erected to Unknown Boy, prompting Superboy to be taken "back in memory to the greatest mystery-adventure in the Legion's history!" Assuming that statement is true--while I didn't bother to look it up--I can only assume this was one of the first three Legion stories ever written and the other two really sucked.

It starts when a completely superfluous bad guy escapes the Prison Planetoid by stowing away on a supply ship, stealing one of its lifeboat/escape pods, and flying to Protea.For starters, if you're traveling back in time, how can you possibly be late? Hell, you should be able to go back three days before you need to get to class and sit in your dorm room drinking gin, playing Playstation, and masturbating, or as I called it "junior year."

More interesting to me is the level of paranoia Supergirl has that if she is late to or misses a class, people will suspect she's Supergirl. I figure in half her classes, she's probably in a lecture hall with three hundred other students and no one will even notice she's gone. As for the other half, how often do college coeds not show up to class without being raked over the "are you Supergirl?" coals? Maybe there's some "Supergirl until proven innocent" policy at Stanhope College which forces all students who commit even the most minor infractions to face a tribunal and swallow Kyrptonite pills, but I think it's more likely that Supergirl is just a paranoid idiot.

Somehow, I see a typical conversation with Linda Danvers going something like:
"Look, Counting Crows is going to play at Desert Sky Pavilion. You want to go?"

"I don't know. I might not be able to afford tickets... um... just because I don't have the money... not because I'm Supergirl. I mean, not that Supergirl couldn't afford to go. She probably has plenty of money, but I wouldn't know for certain since I'm not her. It's so silly that you would think something like that. You're silly. You're a silly goose. That's what you are. Silly silly silly goose. Supergirl! As if! I wish I was Supergirl! I'd fly into the future and hang out with the Legion of Super-Heroes--which I obviously can't do! In fact, I just made them up since they don't exist yet--I mean 'don't exist

"Alright... then you want to catch that Ed Norton movie at 7:40?"

Anyway, Supergirl flies away and the rest of the team flies to Protea, which is the home planet of Chameleon Boy's pet, Proty II, a shapeshifting little blog of dough that looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy with too much water in his mixture. Given that all the native creatures of Protea are shapeshifters, the Legion decides they can't trust anyone and need a method to determine who is who they say they are and who isn't."Gee, Chameleon Boy, I'm really sorry for spraying my completely untested, experimental anti-shapeshifting spray directly above you while you were bending over. How was I to know you might stand up sometime in the next five minutes?"

"That's okay, Brainiac 5. It's partially my fault for not listening to a goddamned word you were saying while you were explaining the key to all of our survival on this strange planet. On the bright side, after this incident, I don't feel nearly as guilty about spilling the 'anti-too-smart-for-his-own-good-green-asshole-acid' into your oatmeal this morning... and every morning."

Powerless, Chameleon Boy remains behind to guard the ship. Though given what happens to some of his teammates, powers don't really seem to matter much. Everyone splits up to scour the entire planet for Dr. Norm Eldor, the bad guy so unimportant to this story I didn't bother scanning a single frame with him in it.

Brainiac 5 crosses paths with Saturn Girl, but when she tries to lure him into a mysterious tower he suspects she might not be what she seems and sprays her just to be certain.You invented a spray that turns a hot, young, voluptuous girl into an overbearing blob of dough intent on smothering you and making you wish--moreso the longer you struggle against it--that you could get away no matter what sacrafices you have to make, even if it means dying?

We have that in the 21st century too, genius. It's called "marriage." (Thank you, I'll be here all week. Tip your waitresses!)

Unfortunately, Brainaic 5's spray only seems to take Chameleon Boy out of the game as the Proteans who are sprayed with it lose their ability to hide in plain sight, but wind up being just inches away from the Legionnaire who sprays them, turning them into massive blobs capable of overpowering whomever had the spraycan. Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, and Sun Boy are all taken captive and Cosmic Boy and Phantom Girl are nearly caught, but are saved by a mysterious figure in a lead mask without eyeholes, who flies at superspeed in circles, creating a cyclone that chases off the Proteans."Either that or Standoffish Douchebag Boy. Nah, 'Unknown Boy! Save me!' is easier to yell."

Alright, get out your Handy Dandy Notebooks so we can make sure we have all the clues.Phantom Girl mentions that Ultra Boy is the only person she knows who can see through lead, but he's away on a mission with Mon-El. Also, Ultra Boy can only use one power at a time, so flying and seeing through the lead mask at the same time would be impossible. Hmm, these clues are telling us who Unknown Boy isn't, but not who he is.

Continuing on, the remaining Legionnaires have to find their kidnapped comrades, but can't find the bad guy's base since this planet's rocks are so full of lead no one can see through it to discover the underground lair. Oh, wait, what was number two on the list?

Unknown Boy leads them to the cavern in which Dr. Eldor has the three other members of the team chained to a wall. Of course, before entering, they spray Unknown Boy in the back of the head with Chameleon Boy repelant, giving us another clue. Notebooks, everyone!For several pages after that, we get a boring story about how thousands of years earlier, the Llorn, Dr. Eldor's race, came to Protea and built cities for the blobs, who didn't yet have the ability to shapeshift, thus civilizing them. Unfortunately, the planet underwent a series of natural catastrophies, forcing the Llorn to leave. Before they went, however, they bestowed the Proteans with the ability to shapeshift, which saved them as they were able to evolve immediately in the face of danger. During an ice age, they became polar bears; during floods, they became fish.

What we finally learn is that when the Llorn left Protea, they left behind a super-weapon that can turn people to stone, which Dr. Eldor wants to find so he can... be a bad guy. Did I mention this whole villain thing is really not very well developed?

When the unshackled Legionnaires enter the cave, Dr. Eldor orders the Proteans to attack.Okay, so hurling a building, heat vision, but not blood thirsty. The Legion members don't like to kill people either, so there's a good chance Unknown Boy is already a member of the Legion since everyone else in the galaxy would gut you with a rusty fork as soon as look at you. There's three more clues, so let's write them down.Phantom Girl springs the other Legionnaires and when Dr. Eldor tries to gun them all down, as everyone not in the Legion is wont to do to everyone they ever meet, Unknown Boy jumps in the way of the gun, but is unharmed as he is invulnerable! Oh, and when he goes off to another part of the caves, he can yell loud enough for people on the surface to hear him. Finally, Saturn Girl tries to read his mind, but gets no memory of his identity "as though he were a newly created robot or android."So there's all our clues. Mull it over for a minute.

Anyway, remembering that the Llorn abandoned the planet after a series of earthquakes, Unknown Boy burrows deep into the caves and uses his superstrength to shake the planet, making Dr. Eldor run away in fear of being trapped in a cave-in, directly into the arms of the waiting Legionnaires outside.

With the bad guy caught, Superboy reveals that he figured out who Unknown Boy really is...

Wait... what?Originally, Superboy assumed it was Ultra Boy, even though it was established in the first frame in which Unknown Boy appeared that he couldn't be Ultra Boy...Again, I just don't think it's fair to assume that because someone doesn't want to kill other creatures he must be a member of the Legion. You might make the case that this story takes place one thousand years in the future and maybe times are more savage, but Superboy is living in the 1950's and just visiting 2965! He shouldn't be so cold and cynical about people not wanting to commit murder.

Then again, he probably gets freaked out when he sees coloreds playing baseball on the same field as whites.

With her memory restored after hearing her "name," Supergirl explains how she came to be Unknown Boy. While traveling back to college, she flew through a cloud of red kyrptonite dust around 2165, which wiped her memory clean of who she was or where she was going.So to recap, she didn't know her name, but knew how to smelt lead from rocks, make a mask, design a costume, fly forward in time to a planet none of the other Legionnaires had ever heard of.

And just in case you thought the explanation of how Unknown Boy could see through lead and that apparently we were supposed to guess from the clues that Unknown Boy was Supergirl with the ability to see through lead because she'd been exposed to red kryptonite was the stupidest part of the story, things get even dumber at the very end, when Superboy explains that Supergirl can still make it back to 1965 in time to get to college! Meaning when she ran off so she wouldn't be late and raise suspicion, she truly had enough time to fly backward in time, lose her memory, create a new identity, fly to Protea under her own power, and take part in the mission anyway.

Whew... now I know why I leave these to Chris...

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