Or – “Feeling The Love For The Post-Reboot Squad…”
There are a couple of reasons that I chose to go with this particular Legionnaire. Â The first is a sense of innate laziness, in that her history isn’t nearly as long as some of the other candidates (Brainiac 5, notably.) Â The second is that, sometimes, I feel like the old guy ranting into a vacuum about how comics were better when I was a boy, uphill, both ways, through thirty feet of snow, and the starving children in Romania don’t even HAVE comics, you ungrateful whippersnappers! Â Though thoroughly modern and original to the reboot Legion, today’s History subject comes from a most heroic lineage, with her mother, uncle, cousin, great-uncle and grandfather all carrying on the tradition started by Mr. Garrick in 1939, and though she wasn’t one of “my” Pre-Crisis Legionnaires, she was nonetheless one of the most compelling of the post-reboot newbies. Â (Plus, it’s good to be able to start one of these without having to type “It all started back in Adventure Comics in 1964.”) Â This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Jenni Ognats of Aarok… XS!
It all started back in Adventure Comics, in 1968. Â (See what I did there?) Â But how can that be, you ask? Â Isn’t XS a POST-reboot team member dating from 1994? Â That she may well be, but as Peter Tork once so aptly noted, we all have loved ones, y’know. Â One of the major figures of XS’s life dates back to Adventure #373, a story in which we see what the various Legionnaires do with their downtime. Â When an emergency is sounded, Sun Boy and Phantom Girl are in school, (featuring a cute scene in which the teacher complains that they need “good old-fashioned sleep learning” like he had growing up.) Â Karate Kid and Projectra are enjoying her lavish new penthouse (a gift from her father, King Voxv), and Element Lad is on a date, but all of them respond to the alarm. Â Several experimental super-fast vehicles have been stolen, but when the Legion arrives, they find that their work is already done for them…
The pink-clad strangers identify themselves as Don and Dawn Allen, but refuse to answer any questions about how theyï¿½managed to overtake the superfast planes and bagï¿½the thieves.ï¿½ When Karate Kid tries to keep them from leaving, Don gets physical, and is amazingly able to outdraw the Legionnaire, disposing of Val with a karate through.ï¿½ As we’ve seen recently, Karate Kid is a little bit proud of his speed, and is disheartened that Don was so easily able to take him out.ï¿½ Young Tom Welling gives him a pep-talk, just as another klaxon goes off:ï¿½ the robot miners at the Alpha iron mine have malfunctioned, and the resulting cave-in has trapped some bystanders underground.ï¿½ The super-robots take down Phantom Girl, and capture the male Legionnaires, when once again, the Allens come to the rescue!
None of the Legionnaires has quite pieced together what the twins’ï¿½awesome powers are, butï¿½Don & Dawnï¿½make short work of the robot miners,ï¿½even laughingï¿½at the Legionnaires failure to save the day.ï¿½ The LSH quickly does their homework, but can’t find any indication that the Allen siblings have previously had powers, nor that they’re any sort of threat.ï¿½ When the Tornado Twins stop a fire from destroying a prominent building, Don makes the mistake of shoving Karate Kid out of the way, and a scrap starts.ï¿½ Amazingly, the Allens take down the entire Legion, even outpacing Superboy with their uncanny speed.ï¿½ The newspapers (Newspapers?ï¿½ In 2968?) report that the Legion has once again failed, and that the Allen siblings have promised to reveal the source of their awesome powers.ï¿½ The next day, the Legion arrives at the aforementioned location, only to find a alien spaceship that immediately begins shooting at them.ï¿½ The team attacks, only to find the Crackerjack surprise inside…
It was later revealed that after his murder trial, The Flash traveled forward to the 30th century to reunite with his wife Iris (who was actually a 30th century native who came back in time for some reason…ï¿½ Long story.) and that D&D are actually his CHILDREN.ï¿½ Barry perished in the Crisis, and the universe was reset, causing some changes in the timeline, notably the loss of Superboy Tom Welling as driving factor.ï¿½ Soon after, the Legion experienced the catastrophic events known as the Five-Year Gap, and the Dominators took over the entire Earth.ï¿½ As known heroes and Legion associates, Don and Dawn were marked as enemies of the state.
Rocking his late father’s uniform, Donï¿½powers upï¿½and races off to save his beloved twin from certain death, seemingly putting to lie the theory that their powers are gone.ï¿½ (In case you can’t read the small print on the Omnicom, the Dominator-controlled Earthgov claims that they used their “speed powers” to planet a bomb that destroyed the Quebec City powersphere.)ï¿½ As he rushes in to the Dominator torture chambers,ï¿½Don quickly finds Dawn, and escapes.ï¿½ It’s a heroic happy ending…ï¿½
…in his mind.ï¿½ In reality, their powers were truly temporary and never returned, and the Dominators set them up and committed cold-blooded murder.ï¿½ The treatment of the Flash’s children became a rallying point, and helped to publicize the secret rulers of Earthgov, leading to their being deposed by the Legion some issues later.ï¿½ It’s strange to me that in a team with so very many members, no speedsters were part of the Legion during it’s initial incarnation.ï¿½ The closest we came was near the end of Legion volume four, when Kent Shakespeare (himself a clear ‘placeholder’ for the time-erased Tom Welling) visits his young friend Ivy, a patient on an orbital space-hospital.ï¿½ Grimbor the Chainsman attacks, hoping to capture the young superhumans in Ivy’s ward, one of whom is a young woman with super-speed named Mara.
Mara appearedï¿½only a fewï¿½months before the Zero Hour crisis rebooted the 30th century world of the Legion, and was never heard from again, but she’s a clear prototype for what would come next.ï¿½ In the rebooted Legion universe, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Lightning Lad used their combined powers as before to save multi-kajillionaire R.J. Brande from an assassin, but the U.P. quickly took over the operation, even initiating a draft for new members.ï¿½ One of the planets scoured was Aarok, home of a young widower named Jeven Ognats…ï¿½ His dead wife?ï¿½ One Dawn Allen, and their daughter seems to have inherited more than Grampa’s nose.
Jenni, along with over a dozen other heroes, (most of whom are updates of pre-existing Legionnaires) is brought to Earth, outfitted with a costume, a flight-ring, and is dubbed “XS,” making her one of those select superheroes whose name is nothing but initials, joining such stalwart company as Astro City’s MPH, NRG (an alternate name for fellow Legionnaire Wildfire), and… um…ï¿½ RVD?ï¿½ I dunno.ï¿½ XS initially discovered her powers when the Dominators, having killed her mother, tortured her father before her very eyes in the hopes of triggering her speed genees through stress, and their experiments were successful.ï¿½ Though her family history has gifted her with Grandpa’s super-speed, nothing in her life has prepared her for the rigors of combat and life with the Legion.ï¿½ On her first mission, she panics upon confronting the creature called Tangleweb…
Cosmic Boy talks to her after the mission, giving her a pep talk that she misinterprets as more than just friendly advice.ï¿½ XS quickly develops a crush on Cosmic Boy, which works to her advantage at the funeral of Legionnaire Kid Quantum (killed in battle with Tangleweb, actually, proving that XS may have been absolutely correct to take off at a dead run.)ï¿½ Jenni is watching her new heart-throb intently when her speed-altered perceptions kick in…
Much like the time that Wally West’s powers kicked in during a shootingï¿½in a movie theatre, Jenni’s speed-force kicked in before she even truly recognized the danger:ï¿½ a bomb in the coffin.ï¿½ Moving so fast that time itself nearly stands still, only XS is able to respond to the crisis.ï¿½ As the explosion slowly expands, XS pulls R.J. Brand and the president to safety, clears away the onlookers and her teammates, but can’t quite fight the outward-expanding force of the explosion, leaving Cosmic Boyï¿½in the midst of the blast.ï¿½ Accelerating to her maximum speed, she grabs a lamp-post and whiplashes back into the bomb’s radius…
Having single-handedly saved the entire Legion, XS finds the confidence that had been missing, and quickly becomes used to the rigors of battle.ï¿½ When an angry Durlan called the Composite Legionnaire comes seeking her teammate Chameleon, XS is willing to play decoy and draw the creature’s fire while her teammates formulate a plan.
When a group of renegade Daxamites (Kryptonian-levels threats, each of whom is as powerful as the Legion’s most powerful member, Andromeda) the team is split in all directions to try and stop them from destroying Earth in a misguided “purification” crusade.ï¿½ XS is one of the few members able to keep up with the Daxamite killers, and is the only one fast enough to save innocents from an oncoming tidal wave.
With teammates like Brainiac 5 and the brilliant Invisible Kid, it’s easy for the intellects of the Legionnaires to get overlooked, but when Dirk Morgna (the rebooted version of original Legionnaire Sun Boy) finds his powers too difficult to control, it’s XS (as quick-thinking as she is on her feet) who comes up with the solution.
She outfits him with a tinted transuit (the nearly-invisible space suit that the Legionnaires wear to allow them extra-atmospheric operations, a simple answer that even eluded Brainy.ï¿½ When the Emerald Eye of Ekron possessed Shrinking Violet, the entire Legion came togetherï¿½to fight her, but when the smoke cleared, half the team had been shunted back to the 20th Century, including XS.ï¿½ Because of her super-speed and vibrational powers, Jenni was separated from her cohorts, instead crashing into Manchester, Alabama, then-home of Max Mercury and his young ward, Bart Allen, the speedster known as Impulse.
Impulse is remarkably dense at this point in time, but XS quickly becomes an important part of his life.ï¿½ Proving once again that she’s an intellectual force to be reckoned with, Jenni quickly grasps the rudiments of English, but Bart lacks the patience to teach her the language.ï¿½ Instead,ï¿½XS decides toï¿½take matter into her own hands…
…and teaches HERSELF to read and speak English in a matter of minutes.ï¿½ With their respective Tornado Twin parents gone, and the rest of their family 1000 years away, Jenni and Bart quickly bond, and Jenni stands alongside the “Cyclone Rangers” during the battle with Savitar chronicled in the Flash’s “Dead Heat” storyline.ï¿½ For several issues, she remains part of the supporting cast of Impulse, but eventuallyï¿½she is able to accessï¿½aï¿½working Cosmic Treadmill (theï¿½deviceï¿½their Grandpa Barry used for time-travel) that would allow her to go home.ï¿½ After learning to play guitar and saxophone in fifteen seconds, (long story) she breaks the news to her cousin.
Though separated from her family, her team, and everything she knows, Jenni still makes time to make Bart feel better.ï¿½ With the help of 27th century Flash, John Fox, (long story) Jenni uses her powers to head into the future, bouncing forward to the 30th Century before realizing that she’s a few years too early.ï¿½ Encountering her grandfather while her mother is still a child, Jenni quickly enlists his help in traveling forward to her own time, and Barry blithely asks about what will happen in the future, unaware of his own imminent demise.
“…I’d say I have a lot to be proud of.”ï¿½ Awww…ï¿½ Barry’s superior speed and experience with time-travel gives Jenni the boost she needs to get moving, but unfortunately she travels too far forward, bouncing through several time-zones before landing at the literal end of the universe, behind the “Iron Curtain of Time.”ï¿½ Any good Legion fan will tell you, you don’t go there without encountering the purple-robed overlord of that barren land, the mysterious man with the Rube Goldberg plan,ï¿½the Cowl most Foul,ï¿½the rag-handed bad boy from beyond the time stream…ï¿½ Give it up for: the Time Trapper!
Thanks, folks…ï¿½ He’ll be here all aeon, and remember to tip your waitress.ï¿½ As is the case with nearly everything T.T. does, his motives remain terribly unclear, though probably nefarious.ï¿½ Returning home,ï¿½XS finds that the Legion has been reunited, and she returns to duty.ï¿½ï¿½Jenni’s crush on Cosmic Boy is muted somewhat when the legendary Lar Gand returns fromï¿½something-that-can’t-be-called-The Phantom Zone, and returns to action asï¿½M’Onel (apparently a Martian word forï¿½”He Who Wanders,” no matter how much it sounds like his Kryptonian name from Pre-Crisis.)ï¿½ Jenniï¿½finds herself crushing on him as well, her emotions as speedy as her feet.ï¿½ Taking out her frustrations on the Legion’s training robots, she finds herself a new friend to take her mind off the obliviousness of Legion males.ï¿½
That’s Dyrk Magz, (aka Magno) another U.P. conscript to the team, who I’m sure will someday get a (very short) H.H. of his own.ï¿½ The relationship never came to fruition, unfortunately, as soon after the Legion was overcome by the menace of The Blight, a very Borg-like alien race that subsumed a great many Legionnaires into it’s hivemind.ï¿½ Thanks to her speed, her wits, and her flat-out moxie, XS manages to elude being absorbed, and becomes one of the only defenders against her Blighted teammates.
At some point during her Legion career, (and I honestly can’t really tell where, exactly) XS becomes part of Chameleon’s Espionage Squad, alongside Shrinking Violet and Invisible Kid,ï¿½XS is among the LSHers who open a cryogenic freezer to find the Teen Titans inside, including another of her relatives.ï¿½ After meeting Grandpa and cousin Bart, she reunites with great-uncle Wally, who even then just couldn’t stay dead…
The Titans turn out to be mind-controlled pawns of Brother Blood, who is somehow working with Universo, even though the two of them are separated by 1000 years.ï¿½ Through a complicated (and perhaps a bit contrived) series of events, Saturn Girl and Omen manage to travel back in time astrally, and change history so that the whole story never happened.ï¿½ It wouldn’t be the first time that a meeting with her great-uncle turns out to be more than it seems…ï¿½ When the demise of the Stargate system and the loss of half the team causes the United Planets to disband the Legion.ï¿½ At loose ends, Jenni apparently spent some time traveling the universe, before ending up on Xanthu in the midst of the Robotican invasion, working alongside Star Boy and Dream Girl.
With Robotica jamming all forms of communications, Jenni proves invaluable at transmitting commands (enhanced by Dream Girl’s precognition) to the field, remaining cool under fire and fighting alongside the Xanthuans on occasion.ï¿½ When the Legion finally reforms, XS answers the call.ï¿½ The Legion takes up residence on ‘Legion World,’ an artificial moon-sized headquarters containing a small habitat that simulates the homeworlds of all the team.ï¿½ When the Robtican menace threatens Earth as well, the team is forced to find the legendary Warworld of Mongul.ï¿½ Once onboard, they’re faced with the core lineup of the JLA:ï¿½ Superman!ï¿½ Batman!ï¿½ Wonder Woman!ï¿½ The Martian Manhunter!ï¿½ The Atom!ï¿½ Green Lantern! And Unca Wally!
Once again, her devotion to family helps to save the day, as XS’ realization that The Flash isn’t acting like himself leads the Legion to discover that they’re not the JLA at all, but hard-light constructs of the Warworld’s central A.I.ï¿½ With the sheer number of Legionnaires, naturally the spotlight would rotate a bit, and XS is somewhat in the background during this period, fighting Robotica, welcoming Kon-El to the fold using Tom Welling’s old codename and a variation on Superman’s costume,ï¿½even fighting The Credo, an intergalactic cult of sorts.ï¿½ It is during this battle that she develops another innovative use of her super-speed.
Sure it’s a trick that Grandpa used centuries before, but it’s not as though she had any training with the Allen family powers, right?ï¿½ XS is a stalwart of this Legion, having finally becomeï¿½one of their veteran members, and her teammates have come to count on her speed to the very end.ï¿½ Speaking of that end:ï¿½ we’ve touched upon the reboot (and even the “Threeboot”) Legion periods before, as most of our History subjects did cross over, in one form or another, to this second Legion of Super-Heroes history, but we’ve never actually SEEN how it all ended.ï¿½ Until now.ï¿½ Due to the wonder of time travel, ‘Kon Welling’ was a member of the squad for several months, lost in time, but his contemporary appearances in Teen Titans continued as well.ï¿½ When he disappeared from the regular DCU timeline, his Titans came looking for him.ï¿½ Throughï¿½a complex series of temporal manipulations, the two teams faced one hundred different incarnations of the Fatal Five, and the combined teams are thoroughly overwhelmed.ï¿½ The combined machinations of Cyborg and Brainiac 5 manage to reverse the effects of the time manipulation, but also tear them loose from the timestream…ï¿½ Sending the Titans home, (somewhat) The Legionnaires find themselves thrown into a temporal vortex.ï¿½ XS and her friends find their future once again melting away, and as they did before, choose to go into that good night together, clasping hands and holding tight.ï¿½ When Shikari is thrown loose, Mon-El calls out to her, assuring her that everything will be fine…
One of the benefits of being from the future, I guess.ï¿½ You can routinely be wiped from reality and come back hale and hearty.ï¿½ XS and herï¿½Legion are brieflyï¿½glimpsed during Infinite Crisis, retconned as residing on Earth-247, with Shikari reunited with them, though how she got home has yet to be shown.ï¿½ The Legion restarted in that same issue, with the current Threeboot roster, but as of this writing (issue #31 of the new Legion just came out) there is no sign of XS in the current continuity.
Though occasionally a little skittish and prone to crushing on her teammates, XS lives up to her family legacy of heroism and super-speed.ï¿½ Defined as much by her relationships with others, Jenni evolution throughout her tenure from scared novice to respected Legionnaire is gratifying to watch.ï¿½ The reboot Legion, even more than the original iteration, is about teamwork and supporting your friends, and XS exemplifies the moral of the Legion (“Everyone has something to contribute.”) while upholding her family history of heroism admirably, balancing the twin responsibilities of Legionnaire and Flash and becoming one of the pillars upon which her Legion rested.