Or�- “The Real World’s Greatest Detective Ain’t Some Spoiled Rich Kid From Gotham…”

Today’s entrant marks a real watershed in the history of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  Before Tellus, before Blok, even before the pseudo-alien blue skin of Shadow Lass, came today’s subject.� The first really alien alien on the Legion roster, (even though Brainiac 5 preceded him, Querl is really just a blonde white kid colored oddly) he comes from a mystical, secretive, and widely-reviled race of shape-shifters.  In a universe that fears and loathes his people, he acts as an ambassador, proving that perceptions, predispositions, and prejudices aren’t always true.  But then, when he’s around, most things aren’t exactly what they seem.  His keen eyes (and scanning antennae) never miss a trick, and his mind is as sharp as the tips of his ears.  One part Spock, one part Phillip Marlowe, with a healthy dose of Robin Goodfellow, he’s one of the stalwarts of all incarnations of the Legion to date, and one of the most recognizable characters in their 50 year history.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Reep Daggle of Durla…  Chameleon Boy!


Cham’s story starts in the exact same panel as Colossal Boy’s did some weeks ago, in the introductory panels of Action Comics #267.  At this early phase of the Legion’s history, there were always characters floating around the periphery of the stories, never quite identified, to give the impression that the team had hundreds of members from hundreds of worlds.  In this issue, Linda (Supergirl) Danvers is, like her cousin Tom Welling before her, scouted for membership in the greatest crime-fighting organization of the 30th century, but unlike ol’ Tom, they take a few moments to introduce her to other team members.


Invisible Kid’s uniform there always cracks me up.  (This scan is from the original issue, as well, not from the Archive editions, which recolor him to his more expected tan and green colors.)  He looks like the futurist child of Jor-El and Elvis (Jor-Elvis?)  Either way, Supergirl is suitably impressed by the shape-shifting abilities of young Mr. Daggle, and Cham was well on his way to a long career of standing in the background of every crowd scene in Legion history, making retrieving these images a large pain in the rearish areas…  Not long after his own debut, came the debut of a character who would often define Cham’s role in the team, the ever-lovable Proty.


At a time when Legion characterization was at a premium, Chameleon Boy and Proty were often seen joyfully shape-shifting away, turning into wilder and more creative creatures every time, and most of the time, Cham was upbeat and smiling.� However, it was also notable that we never saw another Durlan wandering around the 30 C, not even in a crowd shot, a situation that hinted that there might be more to Reep than he let on.� His isolation as an orange-skinned creature with antennae was lessened somewhat by his ability to transform into anything he wanted, but there was still an undercurrent of loss and alienation there.� And it wasn’t all fun and games, either…� Readers of the recent Lightning Saga in JLA/JSA know that one of the earliest missions of the LSH had some very real and very mortal consequences.� When Lightning Lad was lost on a mission, the team couldn’t save him from dying, so they suspended him at the edge of forever, and six of his friends came together with a dangerous plan…


On the surface of it, something here doesn’t quite add up.� Lightning Lad’s saviors include his best friend Sun Boy, his girlfriend Saturn Girl, twin sister Lightning Lass, Mon-El who came up with the resurrection idea in the first place, Tom Welling the star of the book and… Chameleon Boy?� Indeed, Cham doesn’t even get much in the way of lines before Imra sacrifices herself, dying to save her man…� But wait, you say, how can that be?� Saturn Girl has been part of the Legion for decades afterward!


And suddenly, it’s clear why Cham was there.� Though lamenting the loss of his old pal and “pet,” Chameleon Boy didn’t wait too long before getting another Protean to pal around with.� Proty II took up the job of standing on Chameleon Boy’s shoulder with aplomb, but seemed more proactive than his namesake, even joining the Legion of Super-Pets and acting as a hero (albeit a somewhat minor one) himself.� Chameleon Boy was known for his outgoing nature and his love of the ladies, a tendency which occasionally got him in trouble…


Luckily, the betrayal of the female Legionnaires was temporary (as it always was) and Supergirl reversed the effect on Cham’s molecules.� It’s interesting to note that his shape-shifting powers would, in fact, allow him to become intangible (though not invisible) in apparent violation of the laws of physics themselves.� Cham also had a little bit of the showoff in him, taking a part-time job with a movie company in his spare time…


Note that his name is misspelled Reef there…� I will not be making any “Reefer Madness” jokes, but you should know that the battle was a long and arduous one.� And, as was contractually obliged in the Silver Age, Chameleon Boy was transformed into�a toddler and was a key part of destroying the evil plans of the Time Trapper…


Note that Tenzil (Matter-Eater Lad) is going straight to town on that candy rocketship…� You have to love the early Legion stories, if only for the fact that even as infants, the kids always get the upper hand on even the most powerful of villains.� Around this time, Chameleon Boy started showing�an interest in�detective work, and a mind for puzzles and mysteries.� His skills at identifying clues and unraveling conundrums is aided by one of the passive aspects of his awesome Chameleon powers…�


He actually defeated the villain because his sixth sense detected minor differences in the PORE PATTERNS of two people, on a level so basic that he barely even realized it himself.� Eat it, Batman!� Ha!� Chameleon Boy was also a big fan of the miraculous last-second save (something he shared with teammates Element Lad and Brainiac 5) such as the moment where Tarik the Mute and his evil Legion of Super-Villains force Colossal Boy to kill Tom Welling on the penalty of C.B.’s parents’ lives…


Seemingly killing one of his fellows snapped Colossal Boy out of his reverie, and a giant-sized smackdown was laid upon this first LSV.� But once the smoke was cleared, there was still the matter of the death of Tom Welling to deal with.� Fortunately for the Legion (and for DC’s publishing revenues) the funeral of Clark Kent was still decades away (in 1987 and 1993, respectively) as Reep once again shows off his flair for the dramatic.


Say what you will about the speed of Mon-El or XS, Cham pulled that one off quickly, efficiently and with perfect timing.� Chameleon Boy was even granted leadership of a special Legion Espionage Squad, leading the likes of Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Invisible Kid and the Legionnaires of subtler power into battle on occasions where brute force just wouldn’t suffice.� Still, there was a pervasive mistrust of the Durlan race throughout the galaxy, and Cham was one of the only Legionnaires to ever face prejudice during those long-gone days…� But, as you might have guessed, he’s not the kind of being who takes that sort of ignorance lying down.


Amazingly, Cham and the Princess form a deep spiritual bond, and he even agrees to go through with the marriage ceremony of her people (which involves putting your head on a chopping block and having royal axemen gesture over you…� It’s a strange metaphor for marital law.)� His Legion pals misunderstand the situation, and teleport him away at the last second, leaving Reep angry and distressed.� I’m not sure why he didn’t just, y’know, go back, but I’m sure there was a valid reason.� An impressive show of both Cham’s abilities and his resolve come when he accidentally encounters Mordru’s blood crystals…


The gem is actually a weapon, designed to fill whomever views it with an irrational hatred of the person seen in the gems.� Cham uses stealth and subtlety to capture the Boy of Steel (!) and hold him captive in preparation for a super-murder.� The big blue boy scout being missing sends the rest of the Legion into action, traveling back in time, only to find that Superboy has turned the tables on Reep, and is preparing to heal his mind and send him back home.


So.� In one single story, Chameleon Boy was able to overpower Tom Welling, outsmart Brainiac 5, and nearly succeed where Luthor, The Galactic Golem, Mxyzptlk, and even Lois Lane had failed, nearly killing the real steel deal.� Luckily, Tom has a few tricks still up his sleeve, and Reep is freed from the influence of Mordru before he kills the greatest hero of the 20th Century.� Not long afterward, Chameleon Boy got his Dave Cockrum-designed costume upgrade, the first change of uniform for him, and also used his powers to undermine a war on planet Pasnic.


When Ultra Boy was accused of the murder of An Ryd, (not to be confused with Ayn Rand, noted philosopher and objectivist) he found himself being railroaded by his own former mentor Marla Lathem into prison.� The Legion mobilizes against him, but Ultra Boy’s street smarts and powers allow him to escape and go underground.� Luckily for U.B., he had at least one Legionnaire on his side…


Once again, Chameleon Boy’s versatility comes to the front, as he is able to track a subject who shook off even Dawnstar’s super-tracking powers.� Cham�is a step ahead of Ultra Boy, explaining that he is willing to listen, that there’s just enough about this whole setup that smells bad for him to listen to what Jo has to say about his�innocence…


Chameleon Boy sets aside any questions of preconception, and looks at the situation rationally.� For someone to have framed Ultra, they would have had to have complete access, not only to the Legion’s protocols, but free access to their headquarters, to Ultra Boy’s flight ring, to the very Legion computers themselves.� If it IS a frame-up, it’s a frame-up by a Legionnaire, and Cham isn’t sure he likes what the evidence adds up to.


…Brainiac 5.� The Legion’s resident genius officially popped his cork somewhere around issue #230, but Cham played his part cagey, not revealing that he knew until issue #250, allowing for Brainiac to be an integral part of the Earthwar.� When he finally revealed his hand, Chameleon Boy was one step ahead, and Brainy’s madness was overcome.� Soon after, though, Cham had a sanity-affecting moment of his own.� R.J. Brande, the Legion’s financier and spiritual father, contracted a terrible case of Yorggian fever, and revealed (thinking that he was dying) that one of the reasons he has been backing the Legion so strongly is that his own son is one of the team!


Though we had previously met his “mother,” Ji Daggle, it was revealed that she is technically his aunt, that R.J. had left Durla after the death of Cham’s mother.� Once Reep is aware of his father’s identity, he’s not sure how to take it, and for once, his emotions get the best of him.


Unsure of everything, Cham falls back on the one part of his life that has never failed him: the Legion.� Cham returns home to headquarters, and decides to act on the growing tensions with the Khundian empire.� Unfortunately, his mixed emotions on finding his real father lead him to overstep both his authority and his own better judgement.


Chameleon Boy doesn’t think so, and leads the team straight into a trap.� Colossal Boy and Saturn Girl join them (I honestly can’t remember how, maybe I’ll get into it when Imra gets her H.H…� It’s not important right now) and the fivesome spends a tense night on an abandoned asteroid, leading to the end of Light Lass and Timber Wolf’s relationship, adding tension to the already troubled leadership tenure of Lightning Lad (eventually leading to his resignation, a looong story which I’ll get to later) and also leads to a shocking set of ramifications for one Mr. Reep Daggle.


That…� could be bad.� Taken into custody, Chameleon Boy is thrown in prison.� Takron-Galtos, the soul-sucking thirtieth-century equivalent of a Turkish penitentiary, filled with� the most horrible, powerful, and amoral bastids the universe has to offer…� Most of whom owe their continued incarceration to Chameleon Boy and his Legionnaire partners.� His time in prison is pretty much one big fist-fight, which he can handle.� But finally dealing with his long-lost father proves a bit harder.


Chameleon is eventually pardoned for his crimes, and the war with the Khunds averted, but he finds that his powers have been suppressed.� In order to get them back, he undertakes a dangerous quest, returning home… to Durla.� R.J. insists on accompanying him, and the twosome find that the planet is still a radioactive wasteland, and that their people are still hidebound, dogmatic, and isolationist.� Reep is forced to bathe himself in the dangerous radiations that gave his people their shape-shifting powers, in the hopes of returning his Chameleon abilities…


Though a bit worse for the wear, Chameleon Boy steps out of the energy re-powered, and he and his father prepare to leave, when they are confronted by the First Speaker, leader of the Durlan tribe they hail from.� When they attempt to leave, they are told that Reep has broken their law, and thus must face the most powerful and versatile shifter in mortal combat to earn his freedom…� The First Speaker is fast and agile, but he’s no match for a Legionnaire.


Chameleon Boy returns home, and his comrades mostly forgive him (though Timber Wolf seems to hold a grudge for some time) and he returns to action.� When the war with the Legion of Super-Villains explodes, Chameleon Boy fights alongside his comrades, facing down Chameleon Chief, another renegade Durlan as well as the other LSV members.� When the teams finally face down, Cham is part of the contingent left on Orando, and is barely able to escape into hyperspace as the planet disappears from our universe.� It’s Chameleon Boy (naturally) who points out the obvious…


The five Legionnaires adventure throughout the not-precisely-universe in which they find themselves, single handedly (or, technically, ten-handedly) destroying a munitions dump where a renegade Controller is creating a new Sun-Eater.� Cham was also present with Brainiac 5 and Ultra Boy when they went back in time to investigate an interesting archeological find:� Brainy’s own Legion flight-ring, somehow in use in the 20th century…


The brief detour into the past led into a very busy time for Chameleon Boy.� The Legion took on new members, founding member Saturn Girl returned to active duty, and the secret of Sensor Girl was on everyone’s minds.� Chameleon Boy’s powers and detective skills were in high demand, and the Legion found itself bouncing from mission to mission, until one fateful morning when Saturn Girl awoke.� Finding herself on a strange prison planet, she can’t even tell how long she’s been here, only that someone seems to have effortlessly taken over the United Planets.� Finding Brainiac 5, Dream Girl, and Chameleon Boy among her fellow prisoners, she tries to break them out of the prison of their own minds.� What she finds in Reep’s gray matter is more alien than any physical transformation the Legionnaire has ever undergone.


Freeing all her teammates, Saturn Girl sets about trying to figure out where they are, and the foursome return to the pretense of mental slavery.� Chameleon Boy finds that his skills at acting and quietly surveying situations serves him well, and he starts to put two and two together.� Unfortunately, his ability to stay under the radar isn’t shared by the much bolder and outgoing Dream Girl.


Chameleon Boy figures out what the four of them have in common (their intellect and will) as well as figuring out who’s behind it all…� Universo!� He remains a constant in the Legion until the end of the Magic Wars, only resigning after the Black Dawn mission (only a few months before the team is disbanded by the Dominator-controlled Earthgov.� Chameleon Boy joins his father and�Marla Latham at Brande Industries, becoming the Chairman of the Board in short order.� Once he has conquered the world of high finance (and the�climate becomes more friendly towards�heroes again) he contacts an old friend…�


Reep has a simple goal:�reform the Legion.� Gathering his old friends together (and a few new ones, as well) Cham starts to reform the nucleus of a new LSH, but finds that the Dominators still have a few aces up their sleeve.� Arming Roxxas the Butcher, the murderer who killed the entire planet Trom, with weaponry that could even kill Mon-El, the disk-heads dispatch him to take out the new Legion before it forms, to kill it in it’s shell.


Luckily, Cham keeps his feathers numbered for just such an emergency…� Having long ago decided (upon a suggestion from Brainiac 5) to shift his key organs into different positions, he isn’t taken down by even having his head blown off.� Cham and Rokk (Cosmic Boy) Krinn become the spiritual leaders of a new LSH, pulling as much cohesion as they can from the diverse personalities gathered, even managing to deal with the strangeness of younger “clones” of themselves.� But, once again, Reep’s heart is torn, and he keeps his investigators looking for his once-again missing papa.� Several months later, a report comes in, and Cham sets off for far off Antares, home of his old friend Proty…


The soul of Antares turns out to be long-lost (retconned) Legionnaire Kid Quantum, who seems to exist mostly to create a black Legionnaire back in the timeframe when it might have meant something, and we discover another huge secret, involving Proty, Saturn Girl and the resurrection of Lightning Lad (which I’ll get to in due time.)� Cham returns to the Legion, and his father once again fades into the woodwork (for a man who has lost his shape-shifting powers, R.J. is good at being unseen.)� But Cham still isn’t quite happy, his restless spirit trying to turn the new LSH into the one he loved from his youth.� But the existence of the SW6 Legion makes him realize what he REALLY misses…


President Jacques Foccart steps down to take over the adult Legion, while Reep takes over the leadership of the younger Legion (unofficially called the “Legionnaires”) and finances a whole new headquarters and operation for them.� Still, in the midst of the dark and mostly “realistic” Legion stories of volume 4, came one of the sweetest, funniest, and downright most awesome Legion moments in my memory…� When the Legion held a reunion at the Ranzz farm on Winath, Chameleon was reunited with his old bestest pal, Proty II.


Once again, Cham’s sense of fun wins out, even in an issue filled with dark revelations, some depressing realizations, and quite a bit of angst over how many of the Lads and Lasses were only present as golden monuments in the Hall of The Dead.� Still, things got darker still, when the Zero Hour crisis spread across the 30th Century and caused the world to go even more nuts than usual.� In one of the greatest injustices of our time, Chameleon Boy’s final appearance in Legion doesn’t even show his actual disappearance from the timestream, instead showing it non-representationally on the cover…


It’s one of the problems that I have with the entire 90’s era of comics:�in their haste to give us new and different, they sometimes missed important bits of information.� When the entire 30th Century rebooted, we saw the Legion as a more paramilitary organization, with the U.P. actually drafting Legion members into service.� On the planet Durla, a conversation that we can figure out from context takes place…


“It says here one of us must go to Earth?”� “Are they @(*$ing kidding?”� “Apparently not.”� “Let’s send Daggle…”� “He won’t eat it, he hates everything!”� “Whaddaya mean I got mail?”� Either way, soon after when the new LSH members assemble for the first time, Leviathan (the revamped and much stupider Colossal Boy) sees a Durlan in their midst and attacks immediately!� Throwing punches and racist invective, Leviathan is only stopped when Colossal Boy and Invisible Kid point out the obvious…


This reality seems to have jettisoned the whole “R.J. Brande is my daddy” storyline, but in so doing, sidelined a lot of what made Cham interesting.� Though he still has his keen mind, the detective skills don’t show up immediately, and for the longest time, couldn’t even speak Interlac (the official language of the 30th Century.)� It is only after an attempt on the life of U.P. President Winema Wazzo that it is revealed that he has only been playing possum…


Unfortunately, during the years of the “Archie Legion,” Reep didn’t have a lot to do (other than crush on Spark for some time) and most of his tenure with that version of the team wasn’t remarkable.� That’s not to say that this version of the team was any less heroic, just that Chameleon did a lot of support work with the Espionage Squad, under the leadership of Invisible Kid.� Then, after crossing over with the Titans, the Legionnaires found that they, too, had somehow become lost in time, torn free of their 30th Century, and thrown asunder.� The world of the 30th Century once again reset itself, and the new Legion was a much more worldly (and somewhat snarkier) affair, with a new take on Chameleon.


This time, they have an excuse to leave off the “Boy” as “he” isn’t really a he at all, more an androgynous creature, more befitting a creature who doesn’t have to actually take a static form.� Chameleon is, once again, a� detective, actually moonlighting with the Metropolis Science Police as�one of their own, and solving mysteries as part of his job…� at least until renegade Saturnian Jeyra Entinn outs him to his superiors.� Still, Cham’s sense of duty is such that he insists on tracking down the killer anyway…


Not everyone can be their own bad cop, folks…� It takes a special�kind of guy.� One who isn’t willing to�accept societal roles, or take things at face value.� Chameleon Boy’s tenure in the Legion is as much about non-conformity as it is about�acceptance.��Sure, he’s an alien with strange powers who could conceivably infiltrate us unseen, but instead he chooses to stand�among the heroes, to show what even a�’filthy Durlan ‘shifter’ is capable of becoming given the right impetus.� Reep Daggle may try to fit in, but he doesn’t accept�the thinking that you have to give up the most important parts of yourself to be a part of the crowd.� Being able to turn into anything�may be his�official power, but�Cham’s even greater skill is the ability to remain true to himself, no matter what anyone cares to think of him.�

**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:

Bouncing Boy
Brainiac 5
Colossal Boy
Dream Girl
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Karate Kid
Kent Shakespeare
Lightning Lass
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! Next time, the story of a pretty blonde with incalculable strength who wears the colors of the Justice League’s most powerful member. Who is the mysterous Thunder?


About Author

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.


  1. Wow which bio was the most work? This one or Brainiac 5? I would imagine those two, Ultra Boy (my favorite) and Mon-El will be the toughest.

  2. Chameleon is easily one of my fav’s and I really like the genderless approach Waid took with Threeboot. Of course, I like anything that makes members of the Legion seem more alien and less human.

  3. Brainiac was much more work than Chameleon Boy. The one I still fear is Cosmic Boy. Ye gawds, that’ll be a lotta work…

    I don’t think that Ultra Boy and Mon-El will be that hard, as I have most of the major beats of their story down in my head… The boys are among my favorites, actually.

  4. Issue where Rokk finds out about his parents and brothers attack is one of my favorites. Levitz and Giffen at their best. Actually Supergirl and Superboy are the obivous headaches.

  5. Actually Supergirl and Superboy are the obivous headaches.

    Well, yes and no… They’re all tied up in the first dozen or so years of Legion, but disappear entirely in the late 70’s, and only show up sporadically thereafter. Even given Kon-Welling’s appearance in the Reboot, and Kara’s return to the Threeboot Legion, those aren’t going to be nearly as daunting as Imra, Rokk, and Garth…

    Besides, at this point, I’ve gone through the history of the Legion approximately a dozen times, and each pass gives me a better idea of how and when the best bits are. By the time we’re done, I suspect that I’ll be able to quote panel and page of Legion appearances…

  6. Me again, back to babble about the cartoon and show how much of a n00b I am when it comes to the comics XD

    Anyway I really like the cartoon version of Cham, he has a funner personality and looks nicer too *shot* ouch…

    I’m serious, he looks more Alien and a lot cuter, the first and reboot versions of him made him look like he was about 30 even though he was only suppose to be a teen and my reaction to the threeboot version was “lolwhat?”

    Really though, the threeboot design for him is just plain wrong ~_~

    Anyway the cartoon. Cham doesn’t appear until the second season, which is a shame really as he’s a defiant favorite of mine and the cartoon definitely doesn’t show enough of him. He is portrayed as being the joker of the teem, always trying to Chere everyone up (At least that’s what he looks like to me)

    He’s RJ’s son in this as well, from before the season starts, which the Legion finds very useful from the very beginning. Also leading to a few comic moments and one of his timeless lines “My dad’s RICH! Remember?”

    It appears that he can only morph into other creatures in the cartoon, and not plants or other inanimate objects, he doesn’t seem to be as as good a detective either. Although he more than makes up for this with his people skills.

    Also when Timberwolf is accused of being a murderer Chameleon Boy is the one who stands up for him as his lawyer, as well as being the one to help him escape (With a little help from Phantom Girl)

    Chameleon Boy is one of the few to welcome Karate Kid when he joins, whilst most others shunned him for not having Super Powers. In an attempt to get both on Cosmic Boy’s good side and get Karate Kid properly into the Legion (Rather than just having him do laundry) Chameleon Boy Comes up with a Plan to capture the bad guy and save the day.

    It fails spectacularly. And Karate Kid nearly gets blown up! But Cham, being the hero he is, went back to save him.

    How does Cosmic Boy repay Cham for such a Nobel deed? By suspending him! Leading to his second timeless line “I swear Cosmic Boy hates me!”

    And I would write more but I’m exhausted, practically dead on my feet, so I’m going to go to bed.

    After all 16 year olds like myself need all the sleep we can get!

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