Or – “The Thirst For Power Isn’t Always A Selfish Endeavor…”

Even when you take into account the length and breadth of my comic knowledge, and my love of the Legion, there’s inevitably going to be somebody who is my least favorite.  (My Top Ten fave-raves?  1) Blok.  2) Matter-Eater Lad.  3) Bouncing Boy.  4) Wildfire.  5)  Pre-Crisis Ferro Lad.  6) Ultra Boy.  7) XS.  8) Tyroc.  9) Polar Boy.  10) Mon-El.)  Still, the entire point of the Hero History exercise, other than serving as an outlet for my creative/didactic urges, is to identify that which makes each hero uniquely awesome, and none deserve (perhaps even NEED) this treatment more than today’s subject.  I’ve mentioned before how certain Hero Histories were more difficult than I expected, but his one was easier than I thought.  I honestly expected myself to be among those needing to be converted to see the light, but the during the perusal of her history found myself reminded of the very point that makes the Legion great: Everyone has something to contribute.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Zoe Saugin of Aleph…  Kinetix!

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The original Silver Age Legion of Superheroes chose their members the way most teenagers would, by being elitist and exclusionary and letting in whoever struck their fancy at the time.  In the post-reboot world, with a more realistic United Planets, there was no way that a group of super-teens was going to be allowed to just run wild across the universe.  In this reality, the Legion’s members were drafted into duty by the United Planets, and planet Aleph was no exception.  When the Legion came a-callin’, Zoe Saugin was doing the one thing that would define her character: seeking out more power.

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Unfortunately for Zoe, little brother Thanot (whose name means ‘death’) is correct, and no power enhancements are hiding in the caves, but that doesn’t stop her from suiting up and trying to impress the Legion…  As one of the few new Legionnaires who didn’t have a pre-Zero Hour counterpart (unless you counted Life Lass of the Heroes of Lallor) none of us reading in 1994 were sure what to expect of the new kid.

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Heh.  In the 1960’s, she probably would have been named “Morpho.”  In those old stories, everyone was an -O.  Universo, Metamorpho, Ultimo.  But these are the wacky 90’s, and cool things end in -ix.  If Zoe were revamped in the current 21st Century Legion, her name would probably end with a ‘z,’ perhaps Animatriz?  Bygones…  Either way, her application for Legion membership was accepted (I thought it was a draft?) alongside Andromeda and Shrinking Violet, with whom she would form a close bond.  Soon after joining, though, it became obvious that Kinetix wasn’t going to be happy with her mere telekinetic powers, and convinces Vi to go on an archeological dig with her.

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Zoe explains how she and her brother were always fighting, while their sainted mother played Indiana Jones, until one day, her mother failed her saving throw and tripped a gas trap.  Mommy Saugin was poisoned, seemingly fatally, and young Zoe realized that she had to step up and save the day.  In so doing, she got her first taste of usefulness, as well as magic.

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Essentially, Kinetix suffers from ridiculously low self-esteem and a desire to be loved by her career-oriented mother.  Still and all, she grows up to become Aleph’s superhero, empowered by the Yellow Moon of Luckeecharmz.  But as she and Violet explore the hidden catacombs of the lost planet of Sompinorother IV, Zoe finds the accompanying blue star!  (The Green Clover, Pink Heart, Purple Horseshoe and Red Balloon of power were, sadly, lost forever to history during the General Mills explosion of 2037.)

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Barely managing to drag Kinetix out in time, Violet is stunned to find that Zoe might have been just as happy to have been crushed as to be powerless…

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“…perfected.”  You have to feel bad for the girl, feeling so very ordinary, yet surrounded by friends and teammates who are awesomely powerful and capable.  It was really around this time that I recall finding myself not liking Kinetix much, focusing on her lust for power and missing the subtleties of her character.  In rereading these issues, I find myself really empathizing with her quest to be more than just average, and wonder if my dislike of her wasn’t just the comic fans’ inherent distrust of new characters.  Either way, without any powers, Kinetix finds herself in a rough position: Cosmic Boy, the Legion’s leader doesn’t feel comfortable with her as a member, but the United Planets isn’t interested in his excuses.

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Caught between a Rokk and a hardcase, Kinetix won’t accept a life of monitor duty and running the switchboard, and so decides that it’s time for her to find a new source of power.  She sets out on her own, in a one-person shuttlecraft, searching for some sort of magical energy or signpost that might lead her to a way to regain her super-abilities.  Unfortunately, she miscalculated the sort of dangers she might encounter, and ends up floating through space, seconds from an inevitable death…

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This, of course, being the comic book definition of the word “inevitable,” which means “until the writers think of some way to circumvent it.”  See also: Supergirl’s death, Tony Stark’s paralysis, Reed and Sue’s separation, Professor Xavier’s leg injuries, Colossus’ death, Angel’s severed wings, and indeed, about 67% of all the comics published since 1938.  Kinetix is saved from the edge of eternal night (sounds like a soap opera) by another magic-user, this one a hag called Mysa.  The old woman explains to Zoe that she has a destiny much more important than merely seeking out new super-powers…

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Yeah…  this’ll end well.  Kinetix is tutored by Mysa in the ways of mysticism for some time, while her Legion compatriots (especially Shrinking Violet) continue to search for her.  While she’s gone, however, the team interacts with a group of villains that will come to be known as the Fatal Five, including a serial killer known only as the Empress.  Those of you who know your Fatal Five will also recall that her alias in the pre-Zero Hour Legion had an adjective in front of it, and possibly recall a little something about her ocular companion.  Which is why the Melodrama Fairy shook her wand and brought Kinetix back into the Legion at the very moment when it would be most post-modernistically ironic.

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The all-new, all-different Kinetix brings with her a glimpse of the future, in the form of her anime catgirl look, including tail.  She returns to the Legion, empowered by Mysa (and those of you who clicked the link will realize how fitting it is that Mysa’s magic bleached Zoe’s skin to white) and finds that the Emerald Eye is, indeed, present, but not under the control of Emerald Empress.  Oh, no no no, my friends.  The Eye has bonded with (and corrupted) none other than Legionnaire Shrinking Violet, who uses it to reform the Legion into a more tractable entity, with herself as leader, but even Ekron’s orb doesn’t plan on the will of Kinetix.

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Kinetix is overwhelmed by the powers, but she is the first Legionnaire to break free of the Eye’s control, and her defiance was the first step towards the whole team escaping.  Once Violet is overthrown, Kinetix is reunited with both her teammates and with her mom and brother Thanot…

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Heard of her?  More than just that, darling…  Turns out that you weren’t the first person to use magic to save somebody’s life.  Mommy did it first, and moreover, did it while pregnant, saving Mysa’s life AND giving Mysa a connection and a feeling of entitlement to that baby, now known as YOU!  Mysa hoped to use her connection to Zoe to somehow regain her youth and live another life through Kinetix… 

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Okay, I know this is mean, but sometimes I’ve wanted to electrocute the little manga catgirls who haunt my local mall and video game shops….  But just a little bit.  Is that too mean?  Nevermind…  In any case, Kinetix’ lifelong attempt to get her mother’s attention and love finally pays off, as Mom reminds Mysa of the connection they share, the debt that Mysa owes her for the save those many years ago…

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This is really the moment where I started waiting for Kinetix to have her “Dark Phoenix” moment, the point where she finally flipped out and ate the planet of the Asparagus People and Shrinking Violet was forced to talk her down from a magic-induced rage.  My suspicions about this continued, when Kinetix (along with half the Legion) entered the timestream to find the members who were lost when The Emerald Eye went ‘Krak-A-DOOOOOOM!’ some months before.  The encountered once and future Legionnaire Andromeda, but from a point far off in their future, who is stunned by the sight of her old friends…

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The Legionnaires’ lives returned to something resembling normal for a while, until the menace of Mordru the Merciless arose for the first time in the rebooted reality.  Given that the Big M nearly destroyed the entire universe all by himself at least four or five times (once just because his bagel was burnt at the coffee shop) this is pretty huge news.  With most of the team scrambled, dealing with emergencies, Kinetix was left to man the monitor board.  Turns out that the monitor board was already well in hand…

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Wow, that was a terrible pun.  I’m awfully sorry…  Kinetix finds herself once again in the hands of Mysa, who reveals that she’s not the giant jackass she seemed to be in previous appearances.  With the help of her apprentice, Dragonmage, Mysa has been trying to amass enough power to mystically defeat Mordru, who turns out to be her father (a long story which I’ll get to soon enough…)  After that magical menace is ended, a cosmic one rises, as a strange anomaly is discovered in the universe, one into which Andromeda and Mon-El have entered and been lost.  Zoe is part of a Legion team that enters the rift to find them, only to have everyone return from the void changed in ways both subtle and obvious…

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While Brainiac 5 is much mellowed, and Gates’ antisocial tendencies somewhat blunted by the exposure to the anomaly, Kinetix seems dazed and confused by the sheer overwhelming flood of input found therein…

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Ironically, though having returned with her best costume since the original, Kinetix is almost a blank slate, sleepwalking through her life, distant and distracted.  Shrinking Violet, still concerned about her friend, convinces Brainiac 5 to allow her to use his Anywhere Machine (not all the goofy names were confined to the Silver Age Legion) to see what Kinetix saw, accompanied by Spark.  Once inside, Vi and Ayla realize that Kinetix’s distraction is due to a thirst for the knowledge, the power, the total perspective that is contained within the anomaly.

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Kinetix watches as her friends and teammates dive towards the anomaly, certain to be consumed by the knowledge within, and finally overcomes her lust for power, stopping them before they lose themselves as well.  Returning to reality, Zoe is returned to a semblance of her former self, only to be possessed by an alien race called The Blight soon after.  The Legion is separated, with half the team lost outside of reality, and the Stargate system destroyed, relegating interstellar travel to years-long voyages and effectively ending the United Planets.  Left behind on Earth, Kinetix is forced to rebuild her life, and gets a helpful idea from former Legionnaire Dyrk Magz, also known as Magno.

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Despite the misgivings of S.P. Liaison Shvaughn Erin, Zoe Saugin joins the Science Police, and becomes a successful officer.  Eventually, her former teammates return to reality, and the Stargates are replaced by Footprint Drive technology (stolen from the teleportation powers of Legionnaire Gates.)  Of course, no period of Legion history is without giant crises, and this is no exception, as the schemes of none other than Ra’s (Is it pronounced “Rahs” or “Raysh?”) Al Ghul.  The planet is thrown into upheaval as he throws his “Hypertaxis” plan into action, and Officer Saugin is on the case!

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The Hypertaxis bombs (designed to jumpstart human evolution) explode in their faces, as well as the faces of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.  Of course, Zoe is not FROM Earth, so I’m assuming that either A: her planet was a colony of humans, or B: her absorption powers allowed the Hypertaxman to put a lien on her genetic code.  (Ba-dump-BUM!)  Either way, The Legionnaires find stopping Hypertaxis a blind alley, until Kinetix reveals herself…

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Eight feet tall and naked? Now, that’s what I call a superhero!  Wooo!  The Legionnaires come together to stop the machinations of Al Ghul (not to be confused with Al Gore) and the tide is turned to their favor as Kinetix leads the mutated humans to help halt the process from consuming the rest of the planet!

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Though the process is stopped, there are a few side effects.  The world is thrown into chaos, with most of society shaken to the core.  The Terrorforms created by the process don’t (indeed, CAN’T) return to normal, and try to find their place in the world.  And, worst of all, Al Ghul has knocked out many of the defenses that would have protected Earth, which is very, very bad, since…  Robotica is coming.

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Oh.  Crap.  That’s bad.  The Roboticans (led by Brainiac 5’s renegade creation, Computo) attack the Earth in force, and the world is again in grave danger of being assimilated or possibly exterminated.  By the thinnest of threads, the Legion manages to hang on, and once again, Kinetix uses her ability to absorb the energies of others to save her friends’ bacon long enough for a counter attack to be prepared…

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Thankfully, when the Legionnaires successfully rebuke the Robotican assault, Zoe is returned to normal, or at least as normal as an 8-foot naked giraffe-spotted woman can be.  Still, her Legion’s days were numbered, as Fatal Five member Persuader discovers that his Atomic Axe can cut through ANYTHING, even the bounds of reality, and begins transporting duplicates of himself and his Fatal Five teammates to Earth, to form a Fatal Five HUNDRED.  The forces of the Legion and the Teen Titans (tied together by the anomalous timestream position of Kon-El) face down with him, and the last we hear of Kinetix comes during a battle briefing with team leaders Cosmic Boy and Robin…

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In order to defeat the Five Hundred, The Legion must send Kon back to his regular time, and in so doing unravel the threads that would have led to their future, resetting reality for the W/KRP (Waid/Kitson Reboot Period) Legion to follow.  That team made the only decision that any Legion could, sacrificing themselves to save the world. But Kinetix, like Kent Shakespeare before her, was ignominiously wiped from reality while in the hospital.  Still, as the great Mick Foley taught us, sometimes the only way to go out is flat on your back, and it doesn’t effect the things you did before.  Kinetix seemed to be born under a bad sign, gaining and losing mystical powers the way some of us do pesky extra pounds, and was up and down the Legion power-ranks quicker than a whore’s drawers (thanks to John Constantine for the metaphor) but she still embodies the point of the Legion of Superheroes:  even those who aren’t perfectly heroic can still save the world.  Though just an average girl, she personally turned the tide against Mordru, against The Emerald Eye (twice) and against Ra’s Al Ghul, and no matter how much I may have been irritated by her in the 90’s, I find myself admiring her heroism now.  For Kinetix, Legion membership was a test, a chance to prove that she really belonged, and she was willing to pay nearly any price to show that she had what it was worth, to show that she was truly a hero.  And when you boil it down, what more can you really ask of anyone?

**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:

Blok
Bouncing Boy
Brainiac 5
Chameleon Boy
Colossal Boy
Dawnstar
Dream Girl
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Gates
Invisible Kid
Karate Kid
Kent Shakespeare
Lightning Lass
Matter-Eater Lad
Mon-El
Sensor Girl
Star Boy
Supergirl
Thunder
Timber Wolf
Tyroc
Ultra Boy
Wildfire
XS

Or you can just click “Hero History” in the “What We Are Writing About” section on the main page… Collect ’em all!  Next time out, we set our sights on the brightest of heavenly bodies (at least, to hear him tell it) in the Legion cosmos…  Prepare for ladykilling and Tom Selleck mullets, as well as flared shoulderpads galore, as we examine the tragic career(s) of the hero known as Sun Boy!

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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8 Comments

  1. Everan
    March 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    Wow, wow! I can’t get enough of these. I’ve never read Legion and probably never will (blame geography), but each of HHs is an entertaining and informative ride. As a reader, I have no choice but to simply absorb a fraction of your love for the characters. Can’t wait for the next one. Thank you!

  2. EPIC
    March 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm — Reply

    I’ve wanted to electrocute anime cat girls too, don’t worry.

    Once again, nothing but love for these. Kinetix was definitely one of those I never knew anything about, so now I know, right? Actually, I don’t think that sentence made much sense . . .

    Great job!

  3. Katzedecimal
    March 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    “Jean Grey? What are you doing in the Legion of Superheroes?” Ah yes, Kinetix, first of the “let’s poke fun at Marvel” characters. I think that’s half of what made her so irritating (the other half being, of course, the power tripping and the get-it/lose-it power thing that screamed “now that we’ve got our parody character, we can’t decide what to do with her.” …wait, that’s three halves. It’s been a long Monday…) Still, she did eventually grow on me. She had spunk. (I, uh, *cough* did like the cat-girl version. But I also like how she got the cheek tattoo by being bitch-slapped ^___^ )

  4. March 10, 2008 at 8:58 pm — Reply

    Absolutely.

    NO.

    ANIME.

    SMILEYS!!!

  5. Katzedecimal
    March 10, 2008 at 9:07 pm — Reply

    T_T *sads*

  6. May 11, 2008 at 8:32 pm — Reply

    She may have started as a Jean Grey swipe, but she became, I thought, very interesting despite all the back-and-forth the writers put her through, and she was my favorite character in this era…which made her eventual fate a little hard to take. Whatta waste.

    Anyway, very nice overview!

  7. Invisible Brainy
    June 23, 2008 at 10:00 am — Reply

    As a huge Kinetix fan (6.218 feet to be exact =p), I gotta say your entry did her justice. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  8. dark side
    July 18, 2008 at 9:20 am — Reply

    I give you credit for keeping this very positive. Being a negative person myself, the story of Kinetix is an interesting example of what happens when the creative team don’t like a character. She started off as a parody of Phoenix, then became an anime cat girl, and finally degenerated into a representation of somebody’s dark sexual fantasies. Sort of like the fresh yong girl who goes to Hollywood to be a movie star, finds out it’s not as easy as she thought it would be, got herself into situations where she was exploited, and finally ended up in porn.
    On a lighter note, I have really enjoyed this series. Keep up the good work.
    Good luck on condensing Saturn Girl’s entry into an easy read.

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