Hero History: Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel

by

Or – “Living Proof That The Powers Do Not Always Make The Hero…”

In a very real way, to study the history of today’s subject is to study the history of the Legion itself.  Initially a smiling young teen with what I’ll charitably call “limited” superhuman abilities, she was at the center of one of the LSH’s first great tragedies.  When the team began growing up and dealing with responsibility, she was the first Legionnaire to marry and take on an adult role.  When the team began actively recruiting and training young heroes, she took on a leadership position, and was crucial (even after having been INACTIVE for years) to one of the team’s most difficult missions.  Her sense of self (selves?) may have been occasionally suspect, but her sense of heroism and her willingness to put herself in harm’s way to protect her teammates and friends make her memorable.  Add to that the fact that she overcame a crush on the archetypical teen idol stereotype in a red cape to find true and long-lasting love with Bouncing Boy (who even I, BB’s biggest fan, realize isn’t exactly crush-fodder) reveals the character underneath that Eve Arden haircut.  She’s a study in contrasts, a walking diorama of internal conflict, and she’s not afraid to wear purple and orange together.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Luornu Durgo of Carggg…  Triplicate Girl!

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So, we’re about to reveal one of the great secrets of the Hero Histories…  When a character exists ACROSS the various Legion era (Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, Five Year Gap, Reboot, and Threeboot continuities) how do we choose which costume appears in the big title image?  In the case of some Legionnaires it’s a case of recognisability, (Mon-El’s original red tunic and blue cape, however bland had decades longer in the public eye than his “Big Red M/Starfield” suit) in some cases it’s one of sentimentality, (I prefer Chameleon Boy’s red and purple suit to his purple and yellow one, but I had a beautiful Dave Cockrum picture of the latter) but in the vast majority of cases, it comes down to science:  I go with the one I like better.  This, to my reckoning, is the first time that a Legion costume from current W/KRP (Waid/Kitson Reboot Period, though we may have to change it to the M.A.S.H. ((Manapul And Shooter Handled)) Legion soon) version of the team as my favorite.  It might be noted however, that Luornu has worn some ASTOUNDING rags in her time with the future’s greatest hero team…  (We now return you to your regularly scheduled History!)

The Legion, in it’s 50 year history has been many things.  A home away from home.  The universe’s last, great hope.  A place where young heroes with weird powers can hang with their peers.  But more than anything else, the Legion has served as combination sounding board/Greek chorus for people in blue with big red S’s on their chest.  Thus, a few months after Kal-El of Krypton was visited by three teens from the future, his cousin Kara Zor-El (who had been turned down for Legion membership some months earlier) was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future Soooperheeeoes From Anooother Tiiiime!

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I know it’s just my 21st Century sensibilities (combined with a long track record of perversity) but the term “super girl-friend” just seems like a euphemism for “sapphic life-partner.”  In either case, Supergirl goes to the future, digs up King Arthur’s sword, falls for a green-skinned boy, and completely forgets that she ever had any super-girlfriends.  According to the official LSH timelines, this makes Triplicate Girl the FIFTH member of the Legion, a singular honor for a girl whose power isn’t the most combat-ready.  Still, when you’re in the Legion you learn quickly, it’s not what you do that matters, it’s HOW you do it.

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These panels are from a story that should have been “Saturn Girl: What A BITCH!” (a long story which I’ll get to later) but did anybody else notice what happened there?  Given a weapon, Luornu made THREE versions of it in seconds.  As was pointed out in a recent issue of X-Factor, imagine what happens if you give her a gold bar?  Or a suitcase nuke?  Still think she’s a weak Legionnaire?  That’s what I thought you said.  Speaking of bitches, Major Spoilers very own Queso Grande, Stephen, pointed out some of the quiet mean-spiritedness of the Legion not long ago, discussing a story that Triplicate Girl was an integral part of.  The girls of the Legion showed up in the present day (which is now 45 years ago, even though they’re from a thousand years from now and…  My head hurts.) and dragged “Elastic Lad” forward with them to perform a series of superfeats…

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Isn’t she adorable there?  Lu is always drawn as the uber-cute girl next door, something that really appeals to me.  (The fact that I identify with Bouncing Boy more than almost any other Legionnaire doesn’t hurt, though.)  Saturn Girl and Lightning Lass also torture E-Lad (who, for the ironically impaired, is really James Bartholomew “Jimmy” Olsen) until they send him back home with a newfound sense of his own attractiveness (and what I can only imagine to be a pretty spectacular case of…  nevermind.) 

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Turns out that their mean-spiritedness was all in Jimmy’s best interests, in the hope of tricking his on-again/off-again significant other Lucy Lane.  Even when the kids of the Legion TRY to be wicked, they’re squeaky-clean.  Unfortunately, a cruel reality was about to rear it’s shrouded head in agony… 

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The name… is Computo.  Initially designed by Brainiac 5 to be the ultimate in majordomo/sidekick/remote control caddy, it gained sentience, and began trapping Legionnaires to power it’s secondary power units.  The most powerful LSHer’s were forced to go on the run, but even in their panic, the kids of the Legion had a code.  They had to say goodbye to one of their own…

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The urn-ship reminds me of the U.S.S. Palomino from ‘The Black Hole,’ quite possibly one of the most underrated science fiction films of the last 40 years…  but I digress.  Speaking of digressions, my wife and daughter refer to stalking around with an angry look as “Hate-Facing” which I can only presume is a phrase that I must have unconsciously drawn from my years of Legion readership, a pretty cool legacy if I say so myself.  The remaining Legionnaires vow to avenge her loss, only for the Silver Age to tap them on the shoulder and whisper “Hello?  Ironic twists, remember?”

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The team rejoices, thrilled that they didn’t lose one of their oldest and most beloved members, and regroups against Computo.  But you have to ask yourself why Luornu is laughing here…  She has just gone through the equivalent of losing an arm, or having the lower third of your body disintegrated, and she’s yukking it up, looking remarkably like Mary Tyler Moore.  More on that thought process later, actually, as soon after the newly coined Duo Damsel decides to carpe herself a couple of diems and perhaps a little super-huggin’ and kissin’ to boot.

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Duo Damsel’s teen schoolgirl crush is actually more than it seems, as it really HAS to be when you think about it.  This is the greatest hero of 10 centuries, a man that she grew up practically worshipping, and her feelings for him run much deeper than she would ever want to let Clark know.  This makes the morning when Mordru the Merciless first attacks the Legion even more terrifying for her…  After all, what does a woman who splits into two women do against a menace that clobbers TOM WELLING?

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Mon, Shady, Clark, and Luornu retreat the only way they can: into the time machine, returning to C.K.’s home turf of Smallville.  Hiding out in the farm town, the four remaining Legionnaires try to create a plan to take down the most powerful menace of all time while stuck in the middle of Kansas.  Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever spent a Saturday night in small-town Kansas, but I’ll guarantee you that unless Mordru can be stopped by cow-tipping, slab parties, or off-roading in your big brother’s Blazer, then the LSH’s arsenal is damn near empty.  Worst of all (to Duo Damsel, anyway) is the fact that while Mon-El and Shadow Lass grow closer, the boy she wishes would notice her is oblivious to her charms…

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She makes a good point about inter-temporal relationships here, one that Querl and Kara might have benefitted from hearing, actually.  The team does manage to take down Mordru, with the help of Dream Girl, the White Witch, and one big Hail, Mary moment.  When a villain called Tarik the Mute captured Colossal Boy’s parents, holding them hostage to try and blackmail him into revealing the Legion’s secrets, he forced the Legion’s big man to teach his ‘Legion of Super-Villains.’  Most of the Legion stayed in reserve, and when they did come in, Luornu showed a little bit more of her own awesome in taking down Nemesis Kid, a villain who could take on Mon-El himself!

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I think this moment deserves a “Krak-A-DOOOOM!,” don’t you?  It should be noted that Duo Damsel has the strength of two women, even when in her split state, making her stronger than most of the non-super-strong Legionnaires!  More impressively, her powers allow her to do things that the likes of Ultra Boy or Tom Welling cannot.  Get used to hearing THAT phrase, by the way.  She’s also extremely clever in the use of her ability to duplicate, even using it to dodge laser beams…

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Unfortunately for Luornu, having her mind in two brains at once can be very disturbing, causing her to have strange mood-swings and parallaxes.  Worst of all, when one of her falls in love with a mysterious hero called ‘Nam’Lor,” her other self is forced to watch in slack-jawed disbelief.

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You ain’t kiddin’ there, Mon-El!  Bouncing Boy realizes that something very weird is up, using his considerable detective skills (he’s sneaky for a man of his girth) to keep tabs on Duo Damsel.  When most of us argue with ourselves, it’s nothing but an internal monologue about whether we really NEED to eat that whole pack of Zingers on our way home from work.  When Luornu Durgo has an argument with herself, stuff gets BROKE!

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This does beg an interesting question.  Is there an “original” Lu?  And if so, what would have happened if SHE was the one that got disintegrated by Computo?  Either way, her boyfriend (whose name, perhaps tellingly, anagrams to ‘Normal’) arrives again, and ‘Lelith’ orders him to destroy Bouncing Boy!   

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With Nam-Lor’s presence no longer messing with her mind, the two Luornu’s are able to return to normal, but this brush with personality problems is, sadly, a taste of things to come for the girl from Carggg.  (I favor the later spelling of her home planet, by the way, with the triple G’s emulating her triplication powers.)  After a decade (our time, anyway) of wearing her chaste little purple gunnysack, Lu decided she needed a new look, courtesy of Brtzgrrf of Bgtzl’s lingerie catalogue.

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Meee-YOW!  It’s sexy, yet intriguing, especially if you’re red/green colorblind.  Now, you may have noticed that Brainiac 5 has sent only TWO Legionnaires to a distant planet to stop a PLANET-WIDE Civil War.  Is it a sign of his impending insanity?  Probably.  But it’s also a ringing endorsement of the heroism of the particular Legionnaires in question.  Most of us are already familiar with the shape-shifting awesome that is Reep Daggle, but how can Brainiac leave half of a mission of this magnitude in Duo Damsel’s two (well, okay, four) small hands?  Simple: she’s not just a hero…  she’s smart, sneaky, and capable as hell.

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The Dayside of Pasnic has been at war with the Nightside for decades, but Duo Damsel manages to bring both halves of the equation together.  Unfortunately for her, she has forgotten the worst aspects of human (or Pasnician) nature.  When the two kings of Pasnic go hand-to-hand, they drop the remote control that can trigger the entire planet’s devastating nuclear weapon stores…  but Duo Damsel is on the case!

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Luckily for her, Chameleon Boy has a few tricks up his own sleeve, but the recombination of her orange and purple halves helps to show the warring factions the error of their ways…  somehow.  As the kids of the Legion grow up, they naturally pair off into couples, and Luornu realizes that the barrel-chested untouchable Kal-El doesn’t hold a candle to the man who actually COMES FROM her century.  In a very ‘Sixteen Candles’ moment, she realizes that the man she really loves is… her best friend.

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“Ooooh, Rob!!!”  And I thought she looked like Mary Tyler Moore BEFORE…  Yipes.  Still, as the two Legionnaires prepare for their big day, Luornu finds herself unable to split.  She doesn’t want to ruin the most important day of her life, but still finds herself checking in with the Legion’s big green braintrust, to find out why her powers have left her.  One careful brain probing later…

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Lu has blocked the horrifying memory from her mind out of sheer trauma.  It is here that we first learn that, no matter how brave a face she put on at the time, the stress of losing her third self years before had nearly killed her.  Brainiac 5 chooses to back-burner this revelation in order to allow the LSH to have their first big wedding moment, in a two-page spread of pure Dave Cockrum awesome.

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I’ll give a Major Spoilers ‘Bronze Blok’ award to the first person to successfully identify everyone in this two page spread…  and yes, I *do* know who they all are.  That’s my job, thankyaverramuch.  Chuck and Luornu say their ‘I dos” in fine fashion, but even in the bright and shiny future Brother Taine can’t catch a break…

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Dum dum DAAAH!  Starfinger!!  If only Brainiac hadn’t kept her affliction a secret.  Luckily for Luornu, Kal-El is more than up to the challenge of a man in a diving suit with breast implants on his face, and her two selves are reunited with her newly chosen better half.  A few months later, Legionnaire Princess Projectra is stricken with a mysterious “Pain Plague” that threatens to kill her.  The Legionnaires manage to save her, temporarily by putting her in a device that allows them to share her crippling pain…  Karate Kid’s self-discipline, Ultra Boy’s invulnerability, even the sheer unbridled power of Mon-El fails to save her.  But, thankfully for Jeckie, there’s an adage in the 30th Century: “Once a Legionnaire… ALWAYS a Legionnaire.”

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Write that down, ladles and jellyspoons.  Once again, Duo Damsel’s powers did what Tom Welling’s couldn’t.  Soon after that mission, though, Chuck and Lu came to the most important decision of their lives.  They’d been Legionnaires since they were young teens, but the time had come to separate themselves from their youth group, and make a life as adult newlyweds.  The Taines relocated to the far-off colony world of Wondil IX…

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The icy world finally allows them to separate themselves from the LSH, and they finally find the thing that a married couple needs at the beginning of their relationship: time to be alone.

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Bow Chicka Wowwww WAAAAOOO!  Oh, sorry.  I guess I just have a thing for women with Marilyn Quayle hair in hideous two-tone coveralls.  Everybody has their turn-ons, I suppose.  Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel do eventually return home to Earth, even returning to Legion Reserve Duty, but eventually find their real calling in the LSH Academy.  Luornu and Chuck show the heroes who would be Legionnaires what it REALLY takes to get by against the likes of Mordru or Pulsar Stargrave, and Duo Damsel shows off one of the rarest powers in the 30th Century: common sense.

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Luornu’s keen eye for a troublemaker, as well as her strength of character serve her (and the Academy Cadets) well.  Still, you can’t keep a good Legionnaire down, and when an emergency situation causes retired founder Cosmic Boy to pull some friends in to take care of a situation while the active Legionnaires are out of the universe, guess who he pulls in as his first recruits?

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Bouncing Boy!  The 2nd Karate Kid!  Night Girl!  Duo Damsel!  Spongebob Squarepants!  Either way, Luornu’s ties to the regular Legion are renewed.  When the Tom Welling that the team has known for years turns out to be nothing more than a sham, a homunculus created by the Time Trapper who then gives his life to save the Legion, certain members within the team put together a plan… for revenge.  New recruit Tellus catches wind of this internal conspiracy with his telepathy, and turns to the one woman he trusts implicitly for support:  Duo Damsel.

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Dum DADA!!!  The Legionnaires all took Kal’s death hard, but some harder than most.  Mon-El, who loved him like a brother.  Saturn Girl, who founded the Legion in his name.  Brainiac 5, who considered him an inspiration.  And Duo Damsel, who loved him with both her hearts, even to the point of facing the Embodiment of Entropy searching for vengeance, and was willing to pay even the highest price to get it…

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With her last spare body destroyed, Luornu returned to the Academy and to the waiting arms of Chuck.  As the Legion’s world got darker, and the Legion was slowly edged out by the Dominator-controlled Earthgov, the Academy was transformed into Boot Camp for the United Planets Militia, with the newly minted Generals Taine in charge.

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Still, for all her tactical prowess, Luornu found herself haunted by the loss of her other selves.  Suffering from a unique type of post-traumatic stress disorder, Lu found the nightmares becoming more common and more horrifying…

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No matter how much she laughed on the outside, the psychic feedback of having 1/3 of herself destroyed was devastating to Triplicate Girl.  Remember that unspecified stretch of time where her teammates created the memorial, signed it and sent it off to Shanghalla?  During that period, Luornu’s other two selves were near catatonia, dealing with the most horrifying thing that could ever happen to a Cargggite.  Indeed, on Carggg, if one of your selves died, the other two were ostracized, considered themselves mostly dead, a fact which didn’t escape Lu…

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Impossible, you say?  Not in the world of the Legion…  Remember a few weeks ago when we discussed how the “TOM WELLING PUNCH!” was actually presaged by Mon-El’s fateful fists?  One of the changes that came from that punch was the removal of the Time Trapper from history, replaced by Glorith of Balduur.  And where the Time Trapper callously wiped Lu’s other half from the timestream, the canny and perverse Glorith had other ideas…

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As terrible as losing a part of herself was, finding out that Glorith had perverted her very nature, forcing her other self to serve as armored slave for years without her knowledge was worse.  No longer Triplicate Girl, no longer Duo Damsel, clad only in her nightgown, Luornu Durgo had reached the very epitome of rock bottom.  She had nothing in her favor, nothing left to give…  except the vast reservoir of strength that made her a Legionnaire in the FIRST place!

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Glorith found herself routed by the LSH, losing not only her stronghold, but her slave when Luornu suddenly found herself capable of producing forcefields as powerful as Brainiac 5’s!  She reintegrated her long-lost body, and became Duo Damsel once more!

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Well, less Damsel than Soccer Mom, but I don’t think they could get away with calling her ‘Multiple MILF.’  These events took place late in the original history of the Legion, mere months before the chaos known as Zero Hour.  As the timestream was rebooted, the Legionnaires found that their world was unravelling, and that they were unable to stop it.  Realizing that the coming reboot was inevitable, the Legionnaires and their SW6 counterparts had to remerge themselves so that they could guarantee that the new world had heroes…  The two remaining Luornus and her three younger counterparts merged into one as her beloved husband and his kid self watched.

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Fittingly, the last moments of the original 30th Century watches the Legion’s history rewind, and among the last things seen in this world (along with Ferro Lad’s sacrifice, Lightning Lad’s resurrection, the initiation of five new Legionnaires in Volume 3, Karate Kid’s defeat of Nemesis Kid, Chameleon and Cosmic Boys relaunching the Legion, and the original founders saving R.J. Brande) was Luornu during the first Mordru adventure…

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When the new world formed, R.J. Brande was once again saved by three teenagers from an assassination attempt, and supported the three of them in their bid to kick off a new heroic age.  But what Brande didn’t realize was that his personal assistant wasn’t without her own heroic nature or superpowers!

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Having saved the President of the United Planets from certain death, Luornu Durgo was quickly fitted for an orange and purple costume, and became, once again, one of the first recruits to the Legion of Super-Heroes!

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Renamed Triad (but I’m still gonna call her Triplicate Girl, because I’m basically an old comic book crank who hates change) Luornu was a central figure of this new Legion.  Her costume colors were explained away as representing the color of her eyes (her neutral self had one purple and one orange, and her duplicates had purple eyes and orange eyes, respectively) instead of the limitations of Silver Age four-color printing presses to create unique color patterns.  (Ever wonder why so many Legionnaires wear odd color combinations?  Cosmic Boy and Element Lad’s pink suits?  Lighting Lad’s tan and navy combination?  Twenty heroes made it difficult for each to have their own unique color combination, y’see?)  The pre-Crisis Triplicate Girl was eventually revealed/retconned to have three different personalities, and this difference was played up in the new reality…

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The rebooted Triplicate Girl’s multiple personalities were much more marked than before, however, with one Triad being blunt to the point of sociopathic, and another so timid that she made Shrinking Violet look like Donald Trump.  When she was attacked by a xenophobic group of Daxamites and beaten for her alien nature, one of her selves was left on the verge of death.  Triplicate Girl was forced to admit the truth to Brainiac 5.

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Sent to live with her Grandmother (likewise a freak in Cargggite society) Luornu was encouraged to explore her varying natures and emotions, but Gramma’s death left her in the custody of the state.  In this future reality, freakishness was NOT tolerated and Triplicate Girl was remanded to the custody of a brutal state hospital where she became Girls, Interrupted.

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She ran away from the triple-crazy house to get a job in R.J. Brande’s office pool, and the rest is history.  As before, Triad finds herself inexplicably attracted to an invulnerable kid from the past (in this case, Valor, the rebooted Mon-El, who is a religious figure on her homeworld) but finds herself (well, one of ‘em, anyway) strangely attracted to the charms of one Charles Foster Taine…

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Triplicate Girl shows off her leadership skills in this incarnation as well, leading many missions herselves.  But when a particular mission goes bad, her purple self blames teammate Ferro, calling him stupid and causing him to stop talking to all three of her.  Though her internal debates are always loud, this particular one takes the conflict to a new level.

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After this version of the Legion nearly implodes (half the team is lost outside the galaxy, and the Stargate system that put the ‘united’ in United Planets destroyed) R.J. Brande leaves Earth for parts unknown turning his vast fortune and resources over to the woman he knows he can trust with it…  Luornu Durgo.  Being able to be in three places at once makes her as good an administrator as she is a hero…

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The team reforms, and Triad/Triplicate Girl returns to duty, even being voted deputy leader before, once again, time starts to unravel.  The Legion has to team up with the Teen Titans to try and stop the Fatal Five from wiping out both 21st and 31st centuries.  Turns out that the Legion has to (again) sacrifice themselves to maintain the stability of the timestream (again.)  The rebooted Legion of Superheroes is last seen somewhere in the timestream, staying united, even in the face of oblivion… 

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The new Legion reality dawns, and once again, the thirtieth century’s most powerful teens come together to fight corruption, injustice, and bad haircuts.  In this new reality, many of the Legionnaires reappear in forms that are slightly different.  Triplicate Girl, in this reality, does NOT come from a planet full of people who have the ability to triplicate themselves.  Instead, she is the last survivor of a planetary disaster on Carggg…

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…and repopulates the planet with herselves.  Rebuilding the planet, and society, the thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of Luornu’s think that they need to branch out.  Choosing three of their number, they send her out into the world, to experience the outer society and join the Legion.

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Forever alienated from herself, Triplicate Girl returns to the Legion, becoming Cosmic Boy’s right hand women, and aiding him in his ongoing power struggle with Brainiac 5.  When the alien Dominators capture Cosmic Boy and torture him, Luornu selflessly offers herself up as a sacrifice.  The Dominator leader sees through her ploy to use her triplicated nervous system to split the pain up and save herself.  Instead, he puts on a special pair of gloves, and uses their unholy science to torture Luornu as mercilessly as he did Cos.

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Broken, beaten, at her lowest point, Triplicate Girl has betrayed her friends and teammates.  The Dominator prepares his forces, and opens a teleport window to allow them to once and for all destroy the Legion…  until Triplicate Girl lets the other shoe drop.

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Even when nearly ripped apart, all of her bodies in terrible pain, and Luornu’s heroic inne still wins out.  The nature of her powers meant that Triplicate Girl had three times as many chances to get injured, mutilated, or killed as her teammates, but no matter how often or how bad she was hurt, Triplicate Girl bounced back.  Her strength of character is easily a match for the muscles of Kal, Kara OR Mon-El, and her inner heroism even let you forgive her complete lack of color sense.  Throughout all incarnations of the Legion, she has remained a smart, capable, and impressive presence, and (along with Bouncing Boy and others) the sight of her triplicating herself has become one of the iconic images of Legion history.  Three times the hero in one package, Luornu proves that it’s not your level of power that matters, it’s your level of courage

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**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
Chemical King
Colossal Boy
Dawnstar
Dream Girl
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Gates
Invisible Kid
Karate Kid
Kinetix
Kent Shakespeare
Lightning Lass
Matter-Eater Lad
Mon-El
Sensor Girl
Star Boy
Supergirl
Sun BoyThunder
Timber WolfTyroc
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 week: the alien who makes Blok and Chameleon Boy look as familiar as Bob and Betty McGinness from Akron, Ohio…  Be on your guard as we dive into the depths of Mother Ocean for a look at the telepathic underwater superstar of the 30th Century – Tellus!