Or – “They Also Serve Those Who Mostly Stand And Snark…”
The REAL trick of writingÂ these Hero Histories is finding my inner fanboy for each and every lad, lass, kid and queen of the Legion, from their flight-belt heydey, through the salad days of the 70s & 80’s, through Giffen’s blotches, Lightle’s mullets, the Archie Legion’s tongue fetish, and the strange melange that was the 2003 revamp. Â Heck, I even found the time to feel the love for the Legion’s very own Isaac Hayes stereotype (Jus’ talking ’bout Tyroc… Awww, yeaaah!) so, you’d think that no Legionnaire is beneath my notice, and you’d be mostly right. Â But there are a few whom I have had to go and research, to dig for their moments in the sun, and none more so than our current entrant. Â He is, if you believe the internets, one of the most hated parts of the Reboot Legion (right up there with Sensor as a giant cobra and Element Lad’s descent into madness) and his powers quickly became deus ex machina. Â He also nearly sacrificed himself to save the entire universe, and it is to my eternal shame that I forgot that it wasn’t a real death, and that he returned to duty afterwards. Â Ever the iconoclast, politically minded; solitary by nature, but a good friend despite that fact; his sardonic voice kept the occasionally saccharine “Archie Legion” years from being too sweet and agreeable. Â Irascable, prickly, but never ignored, he was the only really ALIEN alien to make the cut in the Legion’s second bright and shiny 30th Century. Â This is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Ti’julk Mr’asz of Vyrga… Â Gates!
The various reboots, restarts, and revamps of the Legion have led to a strange dichotomy when you talk about their membership.ï¿½ Sure, the core membership has carried over from iteration to iteration (Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Ultra Boy, et al) but as we get later in the history we run into the characters who aren’t so beloved.ï¿½ Blok was only a Legionnaire in the pre-Crisis history, while XS appeared in the reboot but wasn’t re-activated for the Threeboot, and Dream Boy has no antecedents in either of the previous versions of the 30th Century.ï¿½ Gates, likewise, is a “single universer,” having yet to be referenced in any way during the Threeboot continuity.ï¿½ Which is too bad, as he was probably the most unique of the ‘Archie Legionnaires,’ as evidenced by his first appearance.
Heh.ï¿½ “Good luck manning your teenage death squad.”ï¿½ Gates is the super-powered insectoid equivalent of Number Six, he will not be briefed, debriefed, filed, stamped, indexed, or put in a funny costume to fight for faceless overlords!ï¿½ Remember, in this version of the Legion, the U.P. forcibly drafted the Legionnaire into service, even going so far as to name Leviathan (the revamped Colossal Boy, who was, frankly, a complete gung-ho tool) team leader.ï¿½ Several months later, Gates arrives at Legion headquarters, having been forced by his people to join up.ï¿½ His disdain for the Legionnaires is palpable, especially for Colossal Boy, (I hate the name Leviathan) but he’s not so dogmatic that an old friend can’t convince him otherwise.
It’s telling to me that, even though he maintains his general attitude of sarcasm, Gates actually does embrace the concept of a superhero team, apparently taking to heart the principle “to each according to their needs, from each according to their resources.”ï¿½ His teleportation skills make Gates one of the most useful members of this Legion (and, to be honest, it’s clear why a teleporting Legionnaire took so long to happen, as he becomes somewhat of a plot device) and gives him a chance to try and educate the soft-skins on the plight of the worker.ï¿½ When Shrinking Violet is possessed by the Emerald Eye of Ekron, a mystic explosion causes half the Legion to be displaced in time to the 20th Century DCU.ï¿½ For most of the team, that’s no problem, consisting as they do of blue-eyed blonde kids (albeit, in one case, a green-skinned blonde kid) but no soï¿½for poor Gates.ï¿½ As they track down the bits of emerald energy to try and harness them to get home, Ti’julk runs face first into some old-school prejudice.
“Aaaaah!” he screams into a live camera feed, and the entire city of Metropolis excretes a brick.ï¿½ (Note the guest appearance by James Bartholemew Olson as the anchorman, there…ï¿½ This was during one of his “grown-up” periods.)ï¿½ Gates and his teammates aren’t able to find their way home from 1995, but manage to build a working time gateway, only to find themselves tossed BACKWARDS, rather than forwards.ï¿½ The kids of the Legion find their minds wiped, and are forced into old social roles (Ultra Boy as ‘Joe Knotts,’ a ne’er do well from the wrong side of the tracks, Cosmic Boy as ‘Rick Crane,’ class president, Brainiac 5 as ‘Earl Docks,’ know-it-all smart kid, etc) but Gates, for some reason, is immune.ï¿½ The workings of his unusual insect mind keep their mysterious manipulator from turning him into the monster in his little passion play, and Gates manages to awaken his partners memories as well…
Most ironically, when the kids of Mr. Swan’s class (and, yes, he is named and modeled after longtime Legion artist Curt Swan) called Gates a ‘commie alien,’ they weren’t that far from the truth, as his leanings really DO resemble those of the communist theory.ï¿½ Of course, when your people tend to be manipulated and controlled by chemical signals of a hive-mind, you might have a few issues about independence and the gestalt.ï¿½ Gates and his team return to the future, with their mysterious manipulator forgotten (for now) and joins Brainiac 5 in a mission to examine a strange space anomaly.ï¿½ Thought their interactions are contentious, Gates and B5 are about as close to friends as either is likely to get in the Legion, and their shared experience in the anomaly only builds that commonality…
Apparently, he’s part pill-bug…ï¿½ The strange consciousness in the time vortex keeps the Legionnaires (including Umbra, Andromeda, Kinetix, and Mon-El/M’onel) hostage, manipulating their perceptions and even their personalities before finally letting them go.ï¿½ Interestingly, these are the Legionnaires who have the biggest problem with accepting group-think, as though someone has singled out those Legionnaires most likely to think for themselves.ï¿½ Andromeda leaves the anomaly with her xenophobia and general hatefulness tempered, Umbra’s contentiousness is smoothed down somewhat, Brainiac 5’s contempt for the lesser minds around him is lessened, and even Gates finds himself much more accepting of the soft-skins and their strange ways…
Brainiac and Gates embark on the beginnings of a careful friendship, but the team isn’t through with being jerked around yet.ï¿½ The mysterious someone who has been controlling the timestream isn’t happy with the alterations created by Zero Hour, and resets things to the way they used to be.ï¿½ Unfortunately, he doesn’t count on those LSHers who joined in the new reality having as strong a connection to their team as the pre-Crisis revamps do.ï¿½ Gates, along with Monstress, Kid Quantum II, Kinetix, XS, and Ferro, are all drawn to Legion headquarters to try and parse out their fascination with the young super-team, only to find a reconstituted Tom Welling and Bouncing Boy…
Once again, it’s Gates whose mind resists tampering, with his strong sense of individuality rejecting the new shared history that has been forced on them.ï¿½ He manages to stir his teammates to action, awakening their knowledge of the way things OUGHT to be, but finds that the entire Legion is arrayed against them.ï¿½ Once again, the teleporter from Vyrga finds himself the Legion’s last hope…
Heh.ï¿½ Even when he’s busy saving the day, Gates is refreshingly bitchy, something that I appreciate greatly in this incarnation ofthe Legion.ï¿½ Finding their way out of headquarters, the Rebooters are suddenly plucked from the timestream by a mysterious force, and the mind that has been torturing the Legion through time and space is revealed as… the Time Trapper!ï¿½ Even though he knows he’s seriously outgunned, Gates responds with split-second timing, ready to attack and get his friends out.ï¿½ Unfortunately, even the power of Tom Welling or Mon-El couldn’t outrace time itself…
Still, you have to admire the little guy’s guts.ï¿½ This incarnation of the Trapper, while as mysterious and sinister as his or her earlier counterpart, seemedï¿½only to be TESTING the Legion in preparation for someï¿½coming test (aï¿½test which was never explained, though itï¿½could have been theï¿½loss of the Stargates, the invasion of the Blight, or any of the other dark and grittiness that eventually overcame this incarnation of the LSH) but apparently, Gates and friends passed his exam.ï¿½ After their ordeal, though,ï¿½Legionnaire Kinetix was still emotionally withdrawn and barely functional, and none of the team (includingï¿½supporting-cast mainstay Doctor Gym’ll) known how to help her.ï¿½ Luckily, Gates pays attention, even whenï¿½his words might say different.ï¿½
Kinetix situation is a long story, (one which we’ll get to later) but the life of the Legion doesn’t allow for a lot of downtime.ï¿½ As soon as the Time Trapper was defeated, the menace of the Dark Circle reared it’s head, and the team was off.ï¿½ Invisible Kid, leader of the Legion Espionage Squad, neededï¿½a couple of extra hands on his team to pull of his latest undercover mission.ï¿½ Worst of all, he needed Gates, the rabble-rousing individual to do the one thing that he LEAST wants to do in all the universes…
…join the Science Police.ï¿½ Oh, the humanity…ï¿½ Or insectity?ï¿½ Bug-manity?ï¿½ Aaah, nevermind.ï¿½ Undercover with the SP’s, Invisible Kid and Gates find that the minds behind the Dark Circle’s power are Durlans, Chameleon Boy’s people.ï¿½ Cham blames himself for not staying to change the nature of Durla, but once again, Gates understands the nature of the system better than any of his more idealistic peers.
D’ya think in the 30th Century, they wear those Che Guevara t-shirts with a hooded bug on them?ï¿½ Viva la causa, indeed.ï¿½ When the Durlan heirarchy raises up to try and overthrow the U.P., the mostly disbanded Legionnaires come together to stop them.ï¿½ Without United Planets tech, or access to the Stargate system, only one sentient has the power to get the various teams in place…
The Dark Circle is taken down, but the mysterious mastermind behind it all nearly escapes, until Brainac 5 and Gates figure out who the real brains of the outfit is…ï¿½ or should I say, ‘Brainiac’ of the outfit.ï¿½ The culprit is none other than Querl Dox’s own mother, Brainiac 4!ï¿½ Her own twelfth level brain is more cunning, devious, and flat-out evil than her son’s, and Mama Brainy resolves to take out her own kidï¿½in an attempt to escape.ï¿½ The only thing that she DIDN’T factor in was her son’s ability to make friends, a power she herself notably lacks, and Gates decides to show her up close and personal the violence inherent in the system.
Brainiac 4 is taken into custody, and Brainiac 5 finds his isolation intolerable, as the mother he spent his whole life wondering about turned out to be a murdering psychopath.ï¿½ The one enemy that his giant mind can’t defeat is itself, as his emotions turn against him.ï¿½ Luckily for big B5, he has one ace that his mother didn’t, as Gates (never afraid to loudly voice any and all emotions that occur to him) tries to help his pal through this rough time.
Triad tries to help as well, but her three selves end up arguing, forcing Brainiac to once again retreat inside his own mind, but Gates refuses to give up on his only friend.ï¿½ Brainiac slowly tries to return to duty, but finds the adjustment harder than he thought.ï¿½ With a little help from Check Taine (former Bouncing Boy and Reboot Legion’s architect and support staff member) Gates finally manages to fight fire with fire, or in this case, emotion with another emotion…
Having saved his pal from himself, Gates returns to duty with the Legion, as the team deals with a mystical attack by super-powerful entities with elemental powers.ï¿½ One of them, Phyre, is a familiar face to Legion fans, a man named… Dirk Morgna.ï¿½ As the elements rise up, the Legion is in danger of being killed by earth, water, air and fire, but once again, it’s Gates to the rescue!
He tries so hard to help his teammates.ï¿½ Gates and Brainiac continue their strange interaction, with the old dismissive Brainiac returning and Gates trying to overcome his placement as stupid lesser mind.ï¿½ When the entire Legion goes out to the beach for a day of relaxation, only Gates and Brainy remain at the Outpost.ï¿½ Unfortunately, even their combination of mental skill and ‘porting will isn’t enough to offset an attack by the Fatal Five!ï¿½ Gates attacks anyway, and nearly gets both of them killed with his bravery/foolhardiness, but manages to pull them both out of harms’ way.ï¿½ Chagrined by his failure, Gates finally loses his cool…
The two of them manage to use one of Brainiac’s inventions (the anywhere machine) to trick the Five into attacking images of them while the real deals escape unharmed.ï¿½ The Chaos in the 30th Century only gets worse, even after the team manages to recapture their headquarters, as the United Planets revokes the Legion’s charter, and member world after member world leaves the coalition.ï¿½ Worst of all, a mysterious force begins destroying the Stargate systems that keep the planets united, and the only thing that might be able to stop them is the now-non-existent Legion.ï¿½ Gates points out the occasional necessity of civil disobedience, and as one the Reboot Legion rises up to do what they do best: fight injustice.
Though they manage to find out WHY the Stargates are collapsing, the team doesn’t have many options in terms of STOPPING the destruction, instead trying desperately to keep them from imploding and creating collapsars that would tear the whole galaxy apart.ï¿½ Even in the face of impending doom, Gates manages to keep both his sense of humor and his sense of social consciousness about him…
The team decides to maneuver their Outpost into the Stargate nearest Earth, using it’s gravity field, bolstered by the teams powers, to keep it from blowing, and stop a chain reaction that would destroy ALL the stargates.ï¿½ Unfortunately, it’s a process that’s somewhat hard on team and Outpost alike.
In the last seconds before disaster, the Legion of Super-Heroes manages to pull off the last-second save, even at the cost of their headquarters and (seemingly) their lives, as the entire United Planets watches the Omnicom transmission…
Half the Legion was thrown outside the known universe to fight their way back home in the ‘Legion Lost’ series, while the other half found themselves separated across the United Planets, unable to access the Stargates or get back together without spending decades on slower-than-light ships.ï¿½ This separated state of affairs is why nobody noticed that Gates was nowhere to be found…ï¿½ The Legionnaires left at home put up a monument to their fallen members, while the Lost Legion never realized he was missing.ï¿½ After nearly a year of travel, the teams were reunited, rebuilding the Legion in a newly reassembled and fragile United Planets.ï¿½ In the interim, a man named Leland McCauley had created “footstep drive” starships, capable of transacting linear space, almost by teleportation, and risen to the office of United Planets president.ï¿½ The secret of how and why was kept locked in McCauley’s sub-basement level, until a power outage let the cat out of the bag…
Gates frees himself, only to find that McCauley’s headquarters was being overrun by his old pals, the LSH!ï¿½ The richest man in the galaxy had tried to kill them once too often, but the Legion wouldn’t take such indignities lying down.ï¿½ But, strangely, in a hidden sewer where the skeletons (literally) of McCauley’s rise to power are kept, the team found the body of McCauley himself!ï¿½ Reunited with his friends, Gates helps to fill in a couple of the blanks about Footstep technology…
When the Legion confronts the President, they find that he’s none other that Ra’s Al Ghul, former Batman foe and all-time immortal jackass.ï¿½ The entire team is taken out, and Ra’s prepares to kill Legion leader Kid Quantum, but once again the bug-man is on the case, and Gates accidentally gives Mr. Al Ghul a little something extra to remember him by.
Ra’s is overturned as President, and R.J. Brande installed in his place, much to Mr. Brande’s chagrin, while Gates takes his place again among the foremost heroes of the age.ï¿½ Unfortunately, their triumph was to be short-lived, as the U.P. had barely begun to rebuild their resources when Fatal Five member Persuader discovered that his Atomic Axe could even cut through the boundaries of reality itself, bringing over duplicates of himself and his partners, and bolstering their numbers until the Legion faced a Fatal Five-HUNDRED!ï¿½ Luckily, Kon Welling was among the team by now, and the Teen Titans had tracked down their time-lost member, giving the LSH some backup against their hundreds of foes.ï¿½ The answer comes when the brains of the outfits realize that to stop the onslaught, they had to destroy the Atomic Axes…ï¿½ all 100 of them.
The world of the future is being remolded, by something “pounding against the walls of reality” (Tom Welling Prime punch anyone?) and while the Titans can get home to the 21st century, something is preventing Gates and his team from finding their way back to their universe.ï¿½ The only thing left to do is what they do best, pull themselves together and hold on, desperately fighting against the forces of entropy.
“…we’ll survive!ï¿½ It’s what we do!ï¿½ LONG LIVE THE LEGION!”ï¿½ Gates and his friends disappeared into the timestream, to be replaced by the current, Threeboot version of the Legion, with nary a teleporting big-person in sight…ï¿½ which is sad, really.ï¿½ For all his bluster and complaining, Gates served as a moral center for his team, reminding the powerful and privileged kids of the Legion that they do what they do for the greater good.ï¿½ Political awareness is a rarity among the Legion, as most of them are either idealists in the extreme, or the kind of Type-A personality who will take the lead without thinking of the consequences.ï¿½ Gates’ attempts to figure out, fit in with, and educate the soft pink, orange, green and blue humanoids he is forced to work with underline what the Legion is about: everybody has a place, everybody has a purpose, everybody has something to contribute, no matter how hard they are to get along with.ï¿½ Providing a truly alien perspective in the utopian Legion, (both as an alien and as a socialist) Gates also proved that heroism is heroism, no matter how many legs your segmented body may have…
**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:
Or you can just click “Hero History” in the “What We Are Writing About” section on the main page… Collect ’em all!ï¿½ Next time ’round: He’s stronger than Superboy, with a much more common weakness and a penchant for temporary insanity…ï¿½ the perfect party guest!ï¿½ï¿½Joinï¿½Majors Spoilers as weï¿½spend a few decades in the Phantom Zone,ï¿½to examine the history of Mon-El!