Or – “In Every Woman, There Is A Queen…”

Generally speaking, my favorite Legionnaires are the ones who are most positive and fun:  Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad, making up for less-impressive powers by force of personality.  Blok, with his thoughtful, yet upbeat alien nature.  Volume four’s Lightning Lass, with her “all wilts in worry, grows in sunshine” serenity combined with her ability to stay positive while kicking your @$$.  But today’s entrant is a bit different…  Of the seven Legionnaires currently stuck in their past on their mysterious mission of mercy, she is the most esoteric, the one with the hardest to define powers, and the one who’s nature is furthest from my own.  Though initially the first Hero History subject who wasn’t a favorite character, I am very gratified to report that once I did my research, (though perusing back-issues is hardly WORK, since sitting in a comfy chair with a soda reading a comic is probably my native habitat) she has revealed herself to be noble, possessed of a heroic nature, and occasionally wont to wear costumes that show more skin than Fred Dukes in a speedo.  Originally, like Blok and Dawnstar, she used her real name as her alias, but paradoxically found her greatest fame under a mask.  This is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Projectra of Orando…  Sensor Girl!

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The story of Sensor Girl actually starts in the exact same place as that of Karate Kid: Adventure Comics #346, the first professional writing work of a lad named Jim Shooter.  In this tale, which debuted FOUR new Legionnaires, we met the princess of Orando for the first time.  In company with Ferro Lad, a man who turned to bludgeoning iron, Nemesis Kid, a man who could create a counter for any power used against him, and Karate Kid, a master of personal combat, Jeckie may not have seemed terrifically impressive, but she had one thing going for her:  a killer beehive hairdo.

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Okay, she had more than that.� Though her costume and styling intimates a kind of space-age Zsa Zsa Gabor, Projectra has an inner core of strength, and isn’t willing to be sidelined in the “strike a pose and point” girly school of superheroes.� As the assembled Legionnaires somewhat skeptically check out her evening gloves and wasp waist, the future Sensor Girl shows them exactly WHY they call her Projectra.� And it ain’t cause she beeps when she turns a page, folks…

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The well-seasoned and powerful Legionnaires, used to working in combat situations, well-acquainted with working under fire, are induced to pants-wetting panic by the demonstration of her powers.� Her illusions are more real than reality itself, causing even young Tom Welling to freak a little bit, even though being in space or the ocean doesn’t mean a thing to him.� Princess Projectra is unanimously voted into the Legion, and immediately caught up in the drama about a Legion traitor.� When Nemesis Kid is shown to be the turncoat, (and remember that name, Spoilerites, ’cause he may just pop up again before we’re done here) Ferro Lad, Princess Projectra, and Karate Kid become respected members of the team.� When the menace of the Sun-Eater threatens the galaxy, the Legion is forced to take the most drastic action of all.� They gather the five worst, most powerful, nastiest villains in the universe to assist them, unwittingly creating the Fatal Five.� Projectra is sent to find a stone-killer called The Persuader, a real nasty piece of work with an Atomic Axe and a penchant for decapitation.� Some might be intimidated by a man like this, but Projectra is NOT impressed.

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The green-eyed future monarch stares him down, and Persuader agrees to join her.� He tries to give her a little strong-arm technique, but Jeckie steps back.� Persuader mocks her “silly illusion” powers, (once again, write that one down) but they return to the Legion.� The combined forces of the team confront the Sun-Eater, and Projectra is heroically�at the forefront of an early assault…� an assault that might mean her own death.

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When even the combined efforts of even the Legion and the Fatal Five can’t stop the Sun-Eater, a desperate plan is hatched.��The man who, for legal reasons, DC might prefer that we call “Tom Welling”�will fly a bomb to the Sun-Eater’s core, detonating the creature from within, and saving the galaxy.� Unwilling to see the hero who inspired the entire Legion die, Ferro Lad punches him out, and sacrifices himself to save the universe.� It is the first tragedy of the graduating class of Number 346, but it is far from the�last.� Ferro Lad’s death left a long shadow over the team, who are really just a bunch of kids…� All Legion recruits must be under 18, by the very bylaws that created the group.� So affected are they, that soon after his death, the members of the team find themselves haunted by what seems to be his ghost.� Most of the members are from scientific planets where they pooh-pooh mysticism, but Projectra’s home of Orando is a place of knights and wizards, and she’s not only WILLING, but trained and able to run a seance and confront their lost pal.

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The team almost follows through with�his demands,�preparing to disband and never act as heroes again,�before it is revealed that the “ghost” is just a�projection of an evil Controller (although it is the actions of what may be the REAL ghost of Ferro Lad that help to uncover this deception.)� Though her powers are entirely mental, Projectra is hardly a weak sister, and is trained in both combat and the use of weapons.� She’s perfectly willing to go medieval on the collected behinds of the criminals of the 30th century.

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You have to figure that dating Karate Kid means more than just knowing the difference between unagi and sashimi…� Projectra’s 60’s characterization, like many of the female Legionnaires, tends to be a bit silly and girlish (“It was the sixties!� We didn’t know then that girls were good for anything!”) but she maintains her regal bearing and her inherent air of royalty.� When the team returns to her home planet, they find the citizenry in an uproar, and the more powerful members try to protect Jeckie from a near-riot.� Princess Projectra grabs her noblesse oblige firmly by the neck, and steps forward, nudging Superboy and the others out of her way.

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When the most powerful sorceror in the known universe, Mordru, first comes into power, The Legion finds that they can’t truly defeat him.� So powerful that he can pick and choose the planets he wants to capture, they create a plan to trap him in an airless vault (since his phobia against being buried alive would render him powerless) and utilize a classic bait-and-switch routine to get him there.� Convincing him that all the Legionnaires were trapped in their headquarters,�they lured Mordru in and he killed them all and blew the HQ to smithereens.� Or at least, that’s what he thinks…

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Notice the look on her face there?� She’s going to give Mon-El repeating nightmares of a threesome with Jabba The Hutt and Roseanne Barr for the rest of his natural life…� And the White Witch will mystically cause his colon to spell out “Chauvinist Oinks What?”� Some time later, Projectra revives her bait and switch tactics again, proving her worth as a capable and thoughtful Legionnaire.� Returning from a mission, she and Saturn Girl find that their teammates don’t recognize them, and their faces are missing from the Mission Monitor Board.� More freakishly, their places in the Legion have been taken by Saturn Boy and Prince Projectur!� She soon senses something is amiss.� Thinking that it’s all some sort of trick, Projectra sets up a trap of her own.

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Projectur’s use of her nickname is the last clue she needed, and Jeckie unmasks her counterpart as…� Brainiac 5!� Turns out that the Legion’s future-telling computer (which is wrong so often that they might as well ASSUME the converse when the damn thing speaks) predicted that Projectra would crack under pressure during a mission, and so her teammates decided to create a scenario where that could happen.� With friends like these…� Yeesh.� Given that her original costume was, essentially, a bathing suit, gloves and a cape (and that adding a cute little hat would make her the Scarlet Witch) Projectra’s suit changed not long after…

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…into the outfit Supergirl would wear in her cartoon outings thirty years later!� Creepy.� And as for “quivering,” I think the creature may be more marveling over the acres of exposed flesh you’re rockin’ in your 30th century “Queen Stripper” outfit.� This costume lasted about fifteen seconds, before being replaced with her more familiar red and gold lace-up number (which still sported as much flesh as was legal in 2977.)� Long involved with Karate Kid (who first kissed her during their first visit to Orando) Projectra was a little wigged out when he returned to the 20th century for his own series.� When Val began a relationship with a woman called Iris Jacobs, Jeckie was almost willing to give him up to make him happy.� She travels back to let him know that she wants him to be happy, in contrast to the jealousy and game-playing that characterizes many Legion romances, but Karate Kid has a surprise for her…

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He returns to the future soon afterwards, and the two of them return to their courtship, but the past is a constant in the Legionnaires lives, and they time-travel the way you or I would drive down to the Kwik Shop for a tank of gas (or petrol, depending on where you’re from.)� When a time paradox occurs during the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, Projectra is among the Legionnaires who return to the past to fix the problem, and we are treated to one of my favorite comic-book moments of all time:� The Legion of Super-Heroes wiping out a 1977 Chrysler LeBaron on a lamppost.

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I’m digging Sun Boy’s leisure suit, too.� Projectra’s illusion-casting saves them from the cops, and the entire Legion reunites to unravel the time-twister (once again the work of a Controller.)� Projectra returns to active duty until she is recalled to Orando.� Her father, King Voxv is dead…� Karate Kid goes home with the devastated Jeckie, only to find that her cousin has stolen the throne of Orando from her.� Thrown in the dungeon, Projectra wants only to be comforted by her lover, but he convinces her to fight for her life and people.� Karate Kid agrees to participate in ritual combat in her stead, facing the most dangerous man on the planet for his lady’s honor.� Val wins, and Projectra is able to overcome her evil�relative�without truly realizing what it all means…

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The princess is now a queen, and she and Karate Kid stay on Orando to handle affairs of state.� The entire Legion is invited to witness their wedding, fighting with what seem to be the gods of old before the ceremony.� Their happiness was, sadly, short-lived as the Legion of Super-Villains reforms, more powerful and dangerous than ever, with a new creed:� Each LSV member will KILL a member of the LSH to prove their loyalty.� A traitor to one Legion, Nemesis Kid (I told you to remember this jerk) sets his sights on the man who once exposed his betrayal:� Karate Kid.� The entire planet of Orando is teleported out of our dimension, and the LSV nearly succeeds, until Karate Kid sacrifices himself to stop their plot.� As the LSV falls apart, and the Legionnaires regroup, Nemesis Kid finds himself on the receiving end of poetic justice.

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Nemesis is not impressed, quickly evolving a defense against her illusions, but Projectra keeps coming.� He looks into her eye, and something that he sees there throws him.� The man who could fight “Tom Welling” or Mon-El hand to hand hesitates, for a split second.� Jeckie takes her opening, stepping forward and grabbing him by the neck as she explains just what a worthless sack of crap he is, and exactly what the words “I claim your life” mean when spoken by the Queen of a medieval world where knights and honor aren’t just things of the past.

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No one does, though her Legion membership would certainly be forfeit, had other factors not made the question moot.� Projectra resigned from the Legion�immediately afterwards and her�entire world was removed from our dimension soon after, as the mystics of Orando were tired of technology and hordes of super-powered invaders.� She left with them, and was not seen again…� Because five of their members were lost during the battle with the LSV, the Legion was forced to take in more new recruits than ever before, including one member admitted solely on the word of founder Saturn Girl.� Sensor Girl’s powers are vague, but it’s obvious that she has some sort of clairvoyance/super-vision powers, is stronger than normal, and can see through nearly all illusions.� Brainiac 5, suffering from an emotional breakdown because of the anniversary of Supergirl’s death, is certain that Sensor Girl is Kara, returned from the grave.� Mon-El, forced back into the Phantom Zone temporarily, says that no one would believe what he saw in the costume, while Ultra Boy’s penetravision reveals… an empty suit!� When the Legion rookies are forced into a conflict with the newest incarnation of the Fatal Five, Sensor Girl is knocked unconscious, and the illusion of her costume is dispelled to reveal her true self…

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Sensor Girl continues her strange and standoffish ways, but stands by her teammates as they once again take on the Five.� Her old “friend,” The Persuader finds out who’s inside the suit, and once again mocks her powers, singling her out and attacking.� Sensor Girl uses her powers to create an army of duplicates of herself, keeping Persuader off balance.� He responds with violence and derision before Sensor Girl shows him just how dangerous she can be.� He should have heeded the lesson of Nemesis Kid…

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The Persuader was never quite the same again…� Having been part of the Legion team that first created the Fatal Five, Jeckie’s history was inextricably tied to them.� When the Emerald Empress started to lose her mind, she attacked the Legion (wearing their new futuristic Keith Giffen pocketed-costumes) and single-handedly nearly destroyed them.� The Empress finally revealed to Sensor Girl what, exactly, she wanted:� freedom from the Emerald Eye of Ekron and it’s evil influence.� The Eye had slowly taken over her mind, keeping her alive through even the most terrible injuries, forcing her to act as it’s hands in the universe.� Once again, Jeckie’s sense of honor was stronger than any concern for herself, and she agreed to assist her sworn enemy…

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The Emerald Empress immediately succumbed to her injuries, but was finally free of the Eye’s influence.� Having killed again (though unintentionally) Sensor Girl was afraid that she would be ejected from the Legion.� Instead, strangely, she was elected leader for the first time.� Perhaps the creeping influence of magic on their world had affected the voters, or perhaps the LSH was realizing that her experience running a planet might help her with the cat-herding that is Legion leadership.� Enter Timber Wolf…

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This is as good a place as any to bring up one of my questions about the return of the Legion…� Projectra only became Sensor Girl AFTER the death of Karate Kid, in part because of the anguish at losing her beloved.� To have him with her and her in her Sensor Girl guise means that either they come from different time periods, or they come from a timeline that is parallel to, but not identical to the way the original Legion timeline runs.� It’s a minor nitpick, but one I feel needs mentioning…� The life of a Legionnaire is never an easy one, and Projectra ended up being the last leader of the Legion during it’s original run.� After losing her family, her planet, her husband, and being the only survivor of her “graduating class,” you might think that her trials would cease.� You would be wrong…� A Dominator controlled Earthgov began an ongoing agenda of harassment against the Legion, culminating in the “Black Dawn” incident, which cost Wildfire his life and Timber Wolf his humanity.� Projectra quit soon after, and returned home again.� It would be nearly fifty issues into the “Five Year Gap” version of the Legion before we saw her again, visiting her husband’s grave on Shanghalla.� By coincidence or by design, Sensor Girl was the only person present when Mordru put his horrifying plan into effect.

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The Legion’s own dead members (and an army of zombies) were rising, and Sensor Girl/Princess Projectra returned temporarily to duty.� As Mordru’s zombies became more and more powerful, the entire Legion was stretched to near the breaking point.� Everyone was forced to fight, and once again, Projectra’s combat reflexes served her well…

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Does it count if you kill a guy again after you killed him the first time?� I’m not sure.� But in either case, Mordru’s plot soon spun out of control, and was only made more chaotic by the influence of the Zero Hour crisis on the world of the 30th Century.� Sensor Girl’s mystic abilities were central to the plan to try and stabilize the timeline, working together with The White Witch, Dream Girl, and Dragonmage to use Devlin O’Ryan’s Reflecto powers to undo the damage to the timestream.� Like Dawnstar before her, Projectra was the key to the plan, and like Dawnstar before her, that was the plan’s downfall…

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With Sensor Girl gone, the plan failed.� The timestream unraveled and reknit itself, in the first Legion “reboot.”� For many months, the new Legion rebuilt itself with no sign of the Orandan princess, until the team was forced to hold “tryouts” for new members.� A strangely familiar platinum blonde in a very old-fashioned costume arrived on the scene.

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Even the beehive was back!� But the entire point of the reboot was creating new takes on the old characters, and Jeckie was no exception.� When an alien attack forced the newest Legionnaires into action, Projectra’s powers were especially useful, as she could see THROUGH illusions (and also Umbra/Shadow Lass’ darkness) to the truth.

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AAAHH!� Cobra!� Run!� The illusion of the snake stops the villain in his tracks, and the rest of the Legion takes him into custody.� But there’s still one or two surprises yet to be seen…

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The reboot Legion was, in some ways, even brighter and shinier than the original, as this scene shows.� Rather than the intensity and self-confidence shown by her pre-Crisis incarnation, this version of Sensor was calm, perhaps even a little dull, with her major characterization being a flirtation with Chameleon (also not a humanoid.)� When Ra’s Al Ghoul returned once again, using “Hypertaxis” evolution energies to jumpstart Earth’s population, that energy transformed her from pure snake into freaky snake/human hybrid creature.

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While much more interesting looking (and also now tortured by what she considered to be an abomination of a body) Sensor’s new state didn’t last much longer.� Having already been rebooted (with the Five Year Gap stories serving as a sort of proto-reboot) DC decided again to restart the continuity, and once again Projectra returned.� This time she retained her trademark platinum blonde hair, but had no real powers…� unless you count a huge checkbook.� With no R.J. Brande in sight, the princess of Orando was the new Legion’s major source of funding…

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“Daddy, I might finally get to do something important!”� I love that line, I really do.� The new take on Projectra may seem a little less serious than her Pre-Crisis incarnation, but she’s so charming and fun that I don’t mind.� Then, a few months into the new team dynamic, the greatest foe the team has ever seen shuts down the entire United Planets, and even Projectra is affected by it all.

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With her powers returned, Projectra is again an important part of the Legion, and though she still has tragedy in her past, we can only hope she doesn’t go through what her initial incarnation had to deal with.� Though occasionally used as a plot device, (to motivate Karate Kid, mostly) Projectra proved that courage and ingenuity are as important to a Legionnaire as their super-powers.� Overcoming each obstacle put before her, Sensor Girl kept coming back stronger from each setback, never shrinking from a challenge, even if it meant jeopardizing herself or her repuation.� A woman�who can face down�a maniac with an unbreakable atomic axe wearing nothing but a bathing suit, evening gloves and a cape, knowing that her power is nearly useless on offense, possesses the kind of courage and audacity we only WISH we could have…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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7 Comments

  1. June 18, 2007 at 10:52 am — Reply

    What a freakin’ awesome post! I recently found this site and it has become my new favorite.
    Thanks!

  2. Maximus Rift
    June 18, 2007 at 5:48 pm — Reply

    You know, I just noticed that 6 of the 7 Legion members in Lightning Saga are couples. Weird.

    Also, we might get an explanation as to why we have Sensor Girl when KK is alive in the last volume of Lightning Saga. You never know, it might actually be part of the plot.

  3. June 18, 2007 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    You know, I just noticed that 6 of the 7 Legion members in Lightning Saga are couples. Weird.

    That’s actually how Tom Grice and I guessed who the seventh member was a few weeks ago, figuring that if Thom & Nura and Drake & Dawnstar came along, that Karate Kid wouldn’t be without his lady (especially since their relationship is probably the strongest of the three.) As for Timber Wolf, it’s rather fitting for the lone wolf to fly solo. :)

  4. Maximus Rift
    June 18, 2007 at 8:42 pm — Reply

    Ah. But according to your own Timber Wolf HH, he’s had a girlfriend. So according to your theory, it could have also been Light Lass.

  5. June 19, 2007 at 7:09 am — Reply

    Ah. But according to your own Timber Wolf HH, he’s had a girlfriend. So according to your theory, it could have also been Light Lass.

    A good point. Moreover, the costume he’s wearing in JLA (the Cockrum-era suit) was destroyed and replaced with the “Disco Bondage” Timber Wolf suit BEFORE he broke up with Ayla…

    I may have to instate Rule #2: Spoilerites will stop countering Matthew’s groundless suppositions with logic and clear-headed thinking! :D

  6. pedantic peasant
    June 24, 2007 at 10:36 pm — Reply

    I started as a Legion fan in the late 70s, early 80s. Hated the magic wars and decline into darkness, and fell away for a while as a result until they rebooted with the double title in the late 90s.

    Projectra has always been one of my favorite characters, and as Sensor Girl one of my favorite lines came when they were fighting someone (Doctor Regulus?) and their instruments are out as they approach orbit and SG just rattles off all the info they need about temperature and etc. And when they ask how she can do this her answer is along the lines of “I can see through ALL illusions, and distance is the greatest illusion of all” Although I may be mistaken on the distance part, it may have been measurement. But it was another great instance of mhow in the late 80s they were re-casting all the “wimpy, female” heroes who’d been created to have demure powers into far more powerful people by reexamining the assumptions of what the power meant.

  7. Eric
    December 3, 2008 at 9:48 am — Reply

    Projectra showed up “5 Years Later” before the Mordu resurrection of the dead Legionnaires. She was seen during the “Red Cloud/Red dawn” attack as queen of Orando , right?

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