Or – “How To Really Make An Impact As A Legionnaire…”

As I may have mentioned before, the early days of the Legion of Super-Heroes are a continuity cop’s nightmare, with strange developments galore as the team cameoed their way across the Superman universe, rolling through the accumulated lore of their parent title on their way to building an empire. On the way, the varying writers made for some really inconsistent storytelling, such as the fact that all Legionnaires were supposed to have one UNIQUE super-power even though Kryptonian powerhouse Tom Welling and his identically powered cousin Laura Vandervoort were allowed to be concurrent members, or even the varying characterizations of Saturn Girl. But of all the odd choices made in those days, you have to question the decision-making of a team that rejected the relatively-powerful Polar Boy, Night Girl, and Fire Lad, but inducted Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, and today’s Historical subject. Known primarily for his up-beat nature, Chuck Taine is the Legion’s everyman, the unlikely Legionnaire who nonetheless made the most of every chance he was given, the regular guy who still managed to bag the ultimate male fantasy wife. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Charles Foster Taine of Earth… Bouncing Boy!


We begin this week the same place we did last time ’round, in Adventure Comics #276, mere moments after Brainiac 5 and Supergirl have made their bids for Legion membership. Now, I will grant you that inflating and ricocheting around the room like a portly Daffy Duck isn’t exactly the super-power equivalent of gold bullion, but when you’re up against a man whose mind makes a Cray look like a Timex T-99 and a woman who can crush cars with her breasts, it’s easy to see why Chuck was overlooked. Heck, even Dirk Morgna, the much-decorated Legionnaire known as Sun Boy paled in comparison to the star-crossed supercouple…


Astonishingly, both Dirk and Chuck were rejected from the Legion in this issue, as glowing and bouncing weren’t considered Legion material at that time. Dirk was the first Legionnaire to join AFTER S-Girl and B5 (a story for another time) but Mr. Taine wasn’t so lucky. Chuck made a fool of himself by mistaking an advertisement for a bomb before finally showing how truly useful his powers could be when Saturn Girl faced down a criminal with electrical powers. Chuck’s rubbery body and bouncing kept him from being grounded, making him immune to the electrical bolts, and he succeeded where even a founding Legionnaire failed to stop the villain. Cosmic Boy himself reversed the decision on Chuck’s powers, and let the tenacious human basketball join the Legion. Honestly, I suspect that the decision was made more on his ‘never-say-die’ attitude than his rebounding abilities, but nonetheless he was in. Soon afterwards, Chuck explained the origins of his power…


“Savage… Exciting… Yet Harmless!” I think that should be our new Major Spoilers motto, right there.Chuck was shocked soon after to find that his body could expand and take on a rubbery texture, (luckily he wore futuristic stretch fabric, though the fact that vertical white stripes are not the portly man’s friend must have escaped him) giving him the ability to bounce to great heights.A chance encounter with Lightning Lad gives him the idea that will change his life forever…


In a weirdly ham-handed 1960’s kind of way, you have to wonder if this wasn’t DC’s way of making even the fat kids feel like superheroes…Once in the Legion, Chuck took on the role of cheerleader and unofficial morale officer, keeping his teammates spirits high even in the worst of situations.Knowing how hard it was to be rejected, Chuck even took it upon himself to encourage the new crops of Legion applicants during tryouts, telling them the story of his three rejections, and reminding them that even if they don’t get in, they shouldn’t give up on their heroic dreams.Shepherding the young superheroes would eventually become a career for him, ironically…


“If that idiot Bouncing Boy made it in, certainly my power ofmentally creatingmany, many sharp angles on my stupid red jumpsuit will get me into the Legion!”Heh…I’m confused as to why Chuck styles his hair to look likea Weeble, though.The only thing I can think of is that Dippity Doo no longer exists 1000 years from now.After Bouncing Boy has been in the Legion for a few weeks, the team is made aware of the threat of a villain called “Jungle King, the Monster Master” and draws lots to see who will face the terrible threat.Care to guess who took the prize?


The Earthquake beast’s power brings down the entire wall, freeing the other creatures, and the Monster Master is defeated by his own beasties, thanks to Chuck’s quick thinking and bouncing abilities…Even with this win under his not-inconsiderable belt, the future doesn’t look bright for Bouncing Boy.As is always the case with the Legion,though, there’s a killer robot or a precognitive computer or a strange ray-gun around every corner, lying in wait.It’s a miracle that these people weren’t all melted into slag by the end of their second issue…


Even powerless, Bouncing Boy’s courage keeps him in the game, and he becomes the first Legion reservist, an honor seldom given to anyone who didn’t know Clark Kent in high school.When the menace known as Computo breaks free, and begins capturing Legionnaires for his nefarious plans, Bouncing Boy shows the guts to step up, powers or no powers.


That Computo is a sadistic little Erector set, ain’t he?Giving a guy his powers back so that he can fail to help his friends?That is cold, folks.Not only that, Compy claims that the powers will last 30 minutes, but they only last about ten.Computo was defeated by Brainiac 5’s secret antimatter projector, and not long after, a super-genius named Zan Orbal decides to right a few of the wrongs that were perpetrated on the Legion by callous fates, including Matter-Eater Lad’s temporary obesity problem and the arm that Lightning Lad lost battling the Super Moby Dick of Space…

What?You think I make this stuff up?Anyway, Orbal’s herbology skills put Neville Longbottom to shame, as he creates a series of potions that cure everything short of Saturn Girl’s ingrown pinky toenail…


Bouncing Boy once more leaps into action with his pals, and defeats the Wild Huntsman and his ever-so-effeminate little green hat.Chuck also shows off his mental prowess, playing detective to discover the seeming betrayal of Gim Allon (Colossal Boy) and even acting as prosecutor in C.B.’s trial.He also learned from his peers, taking Karate Kid’s self-defense class and earning impressive marks.When the entire Legion loses their powers due to a villainous plot, Bouncing Boy shows that being a Legionnaire is about more than just super-powers.Sometimes it’s about a mean right cross…


Though he occasionally seemed to flirt with Saturn Girl, (even vowing once that he would die to save her) the next phase of Chuck Taine’s life would take him in a very different direction.With most of the team in the field, only he and Duo Damsel (the former Triplicate Girl…a long story that I’ll get to later) remain at headquarters.When a mission arrives, Duo D. sends her better half off on the mission, leaving her free for her date with density…


Gotta love the simple romances.With all the drama of Timber Wolf/Lightning Lass and the sparks of Ultra Boy/Phantom Girl, it’s good to see one Legion couple who isn’t ready for a sub-plot on “As The Galaxy Turns.”When her second self returns, Luornu is horrified to find that she’s created an entirely new life for herself, complete with a fiance and a new name.Growing up on a planet where this kind of mental disconnection is the worst aberration imaginable, Luornu turns to the heart of the Legion for support.


Thankfully, Lu’s situation is only temporary, and she finds that having Chuck in her life is worthwhile, and the two of them continue their relationship.When the United Planets reviews the Legion, and tells them that they must lose a member or lose their funding, Chuck quickly takes the initiative, ready to sacrifice himself rather than ask one of his friends or his beloved Duo Damsel to quit.The only problem is, she’s as protective of him as he is of her, and has the same idea…


Chuck’s belief that he is “the least useful” of the Legionnaires is echoed in the attitudes of many of the Legion’s villains (as well as the writers who keep powering and depowering him with various changes of regime on the title) especially one Otto Orion, son of Orion the Hunter.Having seen dear old dad defeated by the assembled LSH, Otto has decided to take them down one at a time, starting at (in his estimation) the bottom of the barrel.Capturing Bouncing Boy as he returns from a mission, Orion reenacts ‘The Most Dangerous Game’, but he has seriously underestimated Mama Taine’s bouncing baby.


Chuck’s pride is uncharacteristically wounded by the snide attacks of a man wearing zebra skins and pigtails, and Bouncing Boy lets himself be taken into custody again.But there’s a method to his madness, as the dip in freezing cold waters has done what Chuck hoped:given hima nasty cold to reckon with…When you’re roughly 400 pounds of elastic with a tendency to ricochet, the last thing people want you to do is SNEEZE.


Now, we all know you can’t get a cold from being dipped in cold water.But thanks to 30th Century super-science, even the most ridiculous wives’ tales (like getting a cold from being soaked, or stepping on a crack and it’s effect on matriarchal vertebrae) are true for the Legion kids!The Human Billiard Ball returns home a conquering hero, but once again the “permanent” powers given him by the various elastic serums prove to be temporary.Brainiac 5 is heartsick to give him the news that he’ll never bounce again, but Chuck won’t be beaten.If his life as a superhero is over, then he vows to start a NEW phase of life…as a husband.


Lu has likewise lost her super-powers (a long story blah blah blah fishcakes) and the two Legionnaires decide to tie the knot in style:at the Nix Olympia mountains on Mars.Their wedding is the first of the Legion’s big life-changing moments, as two of their own take the plunge in front of their teammates, The Wanderers (Silver Age Version, natch), The Substitute Heroes, and two DIFFERENT Martians (one who resembles J’Onn J’onnz, directly above the head of the person performing the marriage, and Tars Tarkas in the top row, towering over Sun Boy and Element Lad on the far left in the pink cape).


Interestingly, (and quite off-topic) this two-page spread is sometimes referred to as “The Picture That Created The X-Men.”When the late Dave Cockrum drew Superboy Tom Welling and The Legion #200, he asked the editor for this piece of art back, as he was an old-school Legion fan, and wanted it for himself.The editor was going to give it to him, but publisher Carmine Infantino intervened, insisting that DC did NOT return original art, and angering Dave in the process.Cockrum soon left DC for Marvel, and took over the pencilling chores on a relaunch of their lowest selling title, even bringing a character he had intended to bring to Legion with him.That book was, of course, the All-New All-Different X-Men, and I wonder what the world would have been like if he had indeed completed his plan to have Nightcrawler in the world of the Legion…Anyway, back at the HERO portion of the History, Chuck Taine found that being an ex-Legionnaire could be just as dangerous as active duty, but with his quick wits and sharp eye, he was more than up to the challenge.


Not long after, the Legionnaire known as Chemical King was killed in action, saving the universe from World War VII.With the active members off-planet for his funeral, only no-longer-Bouncing Boy is left to handle things at headquarters.When the alarm indicates an intruder, he once again shows that it’s not the powers that make a Legionnaire, it’s their testicular fortitude, and Chuck has it in spades!


Worst of all, the intruder isn’t a villain at all, but a Science Police rookie named Dvron who was sent to take care of headquarters with the team off-planet.Both Dvron and Chuck are quickly captured by the Legion’s defense systems (malfunctioning due to Dvron’s tampering.)Dvron angers Bouncing Boy by calling him a “laughingstock” and Chuck punches the energy field in frustration.His hand swells up as it used to when his powers were active, andChuck has a very dangerous brainstorm…


His powers fully restored, Chuck busts them free and repairs the systems, asking Dvron not to tell anyone about his new powers, since he doesn’t want to return to action and divert his attention from his beloved Luornu.Awww…The two of them travel with a group of colonists, and help to set up a new settlement, but when the Khunds launch an all-out assault on the Earth, even the retired-due-to marriage Legionnaires leap back into action.Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel engage the Khunds on Earth, allowing their teammates to stop the war in space…


The secret of his returned powers out in the open, Chuck fights the good fight again, as the reservists find themselves on nearly active duty status again, with one crisis after another vying for Legion attention.Forced to return to action, Chuck finds himself feeling guilt about wanting to return to his simple life with the girl(s) of his dreams, making the decision to leave the Legion…His reverie is interrupted by Luornu, and he puts on a brave face.


Of course, his resignation is again short-lived, as the coming of The Servants of Darkness and their master, Darkseid of Apokalips, brings ALL the Legionnaires, as well as the Wanderers (not seen since Chuck’s wedding) and the Substitute Legion back into action to defend against hordes of Kryptonian-level Daxamites, driven mad by the influence of the big D.Though out-muscled on every level, Bouncing Boy once again returns to duty…


Not long afterwards, the Legion is called to Orando, for the Royal Wedding of Projectra and Karate Kid, leaving Bouncing Boy in charge of headquarters again.But this time, he brings his lady-love with him, taking advantage of a little down-time with the Missus, and coincidentally explaining how she’s the most important thing in his life.


Chuck and Luornu soon became the headmasters of the Legion academy, and Chuck’s enthusiastic and encouraging nature is once again given free reign.Their joint leadership produces future Legionnaires Tellus and Magnetic Kid, and trains dozens of heroes to know that they can contribute, even if they don’t get into the Legion.When the United Planets collapses, the Academy continues to operate, and after the Five Year Later gap, we find that Chuck is the leader of one of the finest military units extant in the world.When the Khundian warlordsattack Earth at it’s lowest point,Chuck and Lu’sforces are more than ready to respond in kind…


Unfortunately for the Legion, the Khunds are under the control of Glorith of Baldur, a creepy little blonde who managed to usurp the power of the Time Trapper, and nearly destroyed the entire universe.When the battle gets ugly, Jed Rikane (the purple skinned gentleman above, previously known as Power Boy) is killed, and Chuck’s battalion is thoroughly trounced.Chuck is ready to leap into action himself, before Lu reminds him that his OTHER talents are needed.


With Glorith’s immense magical powers in play, the Legion has only one counter-force:The White Witch, Mysa Nal.Unfortunately, she has been broken by Mordru, forced to be one of his slave-wives, and hasn’t been able to return to her old self.Bouncing Boy once again channels his morale abilities (combined with the military tough-love he learned with his recruits) to force Mysa back to reality.


Some years before, Luornu, Mon-El, Saturn Girl, and Brainiac 5 were involved in a conspiracy to attack the Time Trapper in his lair, and her last alternate body was lost, (See:Story, long, explained later) but it is later discovered that she was NOT killed after all, but was instead enslaved by the Trapper and later Glorith.With the help of the Legion, Chuck is able to reunite with BOTH his wives.


This is one of the few times, I might add, that anybody took a look at the sexual implications of being married to a woman who can create more of herself.Soon after these events, the Zero Hour crisis began unravelling the time-stream of the 30th century, and the Legion was forced to intervene.For the first time in their proud history, the team pulled even their oldest members out of mothballs, and united to stop the threat.But even their powers were no match for the end of the universe themselves, and the team found themselves being erased from reality.When only a few Legionnaires remained, they realized that the problem came from the Legion itself:more properly, from the existence of the SW6 Legion, time-lost versions of the young Legion brought forward in teim.The teams realize that they had to reconstitute themselves in order to reconstitute time, and Chuck and Luornu accept their fate as best they can…


Even in his last moments, Chuck works to keep everyone positive, even when it’s himself…sort of.The Bouncing Boys disappear from the universe, and the entire 30th Century hits a reset button.A new Legion is formed, and many familiar faces join up.But this dark and serious universe seems to have no room for a concept as gentle and silly as “Bouncing Boy.”When rogue Daxamites destroy LSH headquarters, the Legion’s benefactor, R.J. Brande calls in a specialist, a young architect named Taine…


It’s here that we are given the full name Charles Foster Taine (and if you don’t get that, you probably think the Martians landed in Grover’s Mill.)The young man is nearly overcome by hero worship for the Legion, but manages to do his job, even though the LSH keeps damaging the building.At a time when the Legion members (drafted by the United Planets) are nearly at one another’s throats, with the leadership of the team in contention between Cosmic Boy and Leviathan, (Colossal Boy to those who hate biblical superhero names) it once again takes Chuck to make them all realize how good they’ve got it.


His words actually help to turn things around, bringing this new Legion together and remaining as part of the ‘ground crew’ to help with the repeated damage to the HQ.He strikes up a friendship with Tenzil Kem, the head chef in the LSH commissary, and they console one another over being busted from hero to supporting cast member just because comics fans in the 90’s had no tolerance for whimsy.They drown their sorrows in Kono Juice and three-dimensional billiards.


Elastic powers may not be in the cards in this reality, but Chuck’s eye for geometry remains keen, so much so that when aliens rush in brandishing weapons, he’s able to take out two elvabirds with one stone…


Tenzil and Chuck (along with R.J. Brande) are able to defeat the attackers, really Durlan shape-shifters in disguise.When the Legion regroups after the Durlan assault, the team enjoys some downtime.Chameleon, Spark, and Sensor prepare to go dancing with one of Triplicate Girl (now called Triad)’s selves, the flirtatious one, who invites Chuck along.He’s not really a dancer, and when the quiet, shy Triad asks him out for tea, Chuck also is forced to turn her down.Turns out he has tickets to a ballgame, and even thought Triad and Triad aren’t interested, luckily Triad is.


History repeates itself, as Luornu gives up her crush on Valor (the post-reboot version of Mon-El) for the man her alternate, original self married.Chuck stayed on with the Legion, taking a higher profile role as the caretaker of their new Legion outpost, an orbital station from which the Legion begins operating.When the Stargate systems begin to collapse due to the effects of the alien Blight, Chuck is one of the first to recognize it, and is key in devising the strategy to overcome it.


Several Legionnaires are lost through a collapsar, spending a year outside conventional space, a year in which the world of the Legion asks “Where are we going?And why are we in this handcart?”When the team returns to reality after a year, they find a few things have changed, and one of them goes a long way towards undoing one of the great injustices of the reboot era.


Chuck Taine has, in the Lost Legion’s absence, helped to create an entire planet, called LegionWorld, as well as developing his special ship, the Bouncing Boy, designed to act as a high-speed juggernaut, ricocheting off other ships as an offensive weapon.Chuck acts as official pilot and majordomo for this new Legion, and becomes a much more integral part of the team afterwards…


Chuck continued appearing with this Legion until they were torn free of the timestream in the Teen Titans/Legion special, when the 31st century once again reset into the current Threeboot version of the Legion.Chuck has yet to appear in this version of the Legion, except as a joke in the letter column, but the last issue did introduce a character who seems vaguely familiar.If this is a new version of Bouncing Boy, I’m kind of hoping that he gets the same reimagining that has made the rest of the new team so enjoyable.The greatest part of Bouncing Boy was reading about a character who was AWARE that his power was, essentially, ridiculous but wasn’t about to let that slow him down.No matter what the odds, no matter how stacked the deck might have been, Bouncing Boy was ready with a joke or an encouraging word to keep his teammates heads on straight.Being voted membership in a team so overtly powerful should be testament enough, but his career speaks for itself.People can talk about their Element Lads, their Wildfires, their Tom Wellings and Mon-Els, but history has proven one thing:When the chips are down, Bouncing Boy is the one Legionnaire who will always find a way to pull out a victory, even if it means that he himself comes out worse for wear…and isn’t that what a truly great hero should do?

**If you’ve enjoyed this Hero History, you might want to ‘Read All About It’ at your Local Major Spoilers!Our previous Major Spoilers Hero Histories include:

Brainiac 5
Dream Girl

Karate Kid
Matter-Eater Lad
Sensor Girl
Star Boy
Timber Wolf

Or you can just click “Hero History” in the “What We Are Writing About” section on the main page… Collect ’em all! Tune in next week for the Winathian pixie who’s had nearly as many names as Hank Pym, but originally went by the striking sobriquet Lightning Lass!

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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  1. Baal
    July 30, 2007 at 12:37 am — Reply

    Okay, I’m officially hitting male menopause. Parts of this Hero History made me well up.

  2. July 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    Don’t think of it as being old. Think of it as being young with more experience and a tendency to cry for your imaginary friends… :)

  3. Hiya
    July 31, 2007 at 9:56 pm — Reply

    Bouncing Boy is more frightening than Egg Fu, he’ll become a villain in Final Crisis and he will bounce around cheerfully to destroy… the source walls between worlds! Now that’s what I call making an impact. :-)

  4. G-Force
    August 14, 2009 at 8:58 pm — Reply

    As of Adventure #1/504 Bouncing Boy is back in the Legion. About time! Johns will write the perfect legion.

  5. Jason
    January 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm — Reply

    He scored the hottest chick in the Legion. He must have had something going for him.

  6. Howard Norris
    October 18, 2013 at 11:26 am — Reply

    Bouncing Boy WAS huge (pun intended) to my childhood! Fat boys of the world unite. No where else on the planet could a fat boy be a hero. I was a fat boy and needed this role model to defeat the image police. Nowadays the overweight are always the joke or clown. Sure BB was a clown also, but occasionally he kicked butt, and of course ended up with DD! Chuck Taine is up there in my TOP 7 of influences. Thank you DC and the LoSH!

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