Or – “Further Adventures In A World Without Tom Welling…”
Today’s Hero History marks a watershed in our examination of the history of the Legion.Â For the first time, we’re actually going to be looking at THREE different women, bound by a common origin and name, but who are NOT precisely the same character.Â Previous Hero Histories have dealt with Legionnaires who might as well have been different individuals between Legion incarnations (Element Lad and Triplicate Girl come to mind) but today’s entrant takes that to the extreme.Â In her tenure(s) with the LSH, she showed courage unparalleled, ingenuity without peer, and a heroic core that had to overcome some rather large interpersonal difficulties.Â She also had a penchant for thong/loincloth uniforms years before every single female member of Youngblood went the same way, proving herself to be an innovator…Â for good or for ill.Â This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Laurel Gand of Daxam…Â Andromeda!
I initially began the story of Laurel GandÂ immediately afterÂ the “Mon-El Punch” (precursor toÂ the Tom Welling Prime Punch?) that reset theÂ Legion’s world at the very beginning of LSH VolumeÂ #4.Â This, after all, made sense, as itÂ WAS the character’s first appearance.Â Â But then I rememberedÂ that, as Mon-El/Valor tookÂ Mr. Welling’s place, Laurel Gand was drawnÂ (albeit loosely) from a previous story as well.Â Â Right about theÂ time of Wildfire and Dawnstar’s Legion debuts, Kal-ElÂ traveled forward in timeÂ as he was wont to do, andÂ encountered an emergency unlike any other he had ever responded to…
Young Clark follows his heroic instincts (with maybe just a tiny touch of hormones) and carries her away.Â Their flirtation is immediate and heated (and also creepy, which we’ll get to in a moment) as Clark finds “something” about her irresistable.Â Later during the same visit, he peeps Wildfire blasting the pretty girl (who claims her name is “Elna”) with a full-force anti-energy burst, something that should have been fatal.Â The Teen of Steel attacks his old pal before the girl rises up, unharmed! Turns out that Wildfire was just doing some work for the Legion Academy…
“Gee, great-great-great-grandpa, you sure are pretty when you’re young!”Â This is one uncomfortable story to read, as Clark finds himself lusting after his own spawn (admittedly several times removed) because she looks like Lois, whom he actually hasn’t met yet.Â Those wacky Legion kids…Â Laurel stayed at the Academy (mostly because for her to make it into the Legion with only her invulnerability powers would require that Clark, Mon-El, Supergirl, and Ultra Boy first LEAVE the Legion, as their bylaws at this time required each member to have one UNIQUE superpower) for several years, becoming most famous as the half-naked girl wearing a Superman cape as a poncho.
She was revealed some time later to be a Manhunter robot in disguise, a development which I didn’t feel the need to cover because A: she wasn’t a Legionnaire, B: this ain’t “Robotic Villain History,” and C: It kind of undermined a cute, relatively harmless (discounting subtle overtures of incest) story from the Legion’s past.Â In either case, when the Time Trapper returned after the Legion’s Five-Year-Gap, he tried to mend fences with his “son,” the long-dead Mon-El.Â Returning the Daxamite Legionnaire to life, the Trapper neglected to factor in his determination, and was practically obliterated by Mon’s rage (a long story told in more detail here.)Â Their battle did a subtle reset of Legion continuity, causing Superboy Tom Welling to be removed from their history.Â This made the Legion a Big-Red-S-Free zone, as his pretty blonde cousin had already been wiped from history by the Crisis on Infinite Earths a year or three earlier…Â but if that’s the case, then who’s THIS?
That bright red cape might be a dead giveaway, I s’pose.Â With her former teammates in peril, the mysterious blonde dives in, faster than a speeding bullet, and smashes through walls with more power than a locomotive.Â I remember reading this issue in ’89, and having no idea what was going on, but thinking how cool she was.Â I suspect that my hormones may have had a hand in that, as the mystery Legionnaire’s costume was somewhat unique for the times…
Turns out that she wasn’t even there as a former Legionnaire, but was instead looking for a former Legion associate, Rond Vidar (a.k.a. the Green Lantern of 2989, a long story which I’ll get to later) whom Mordru had imprisoned.Â But, once a Legionnaire, always a Legionnaire, and working with twenty-three other heroes tends to make teamwork second nature…
The Legionnaires are very glad to find one of their lost sheep among them again, finally calling her by name (apparently Laurel Gand went by her real name as a Legionnaire, although during this tenure certain Legion wags suggested that her new name be “Flying Buttress” in honor of her new attire) and identifying her as one of their oldest members.Â Rokk Krinn, the former Cosmic Boy offers her membership in his newly-reborn Legion, and she agrees to join up…Â There’s just one small complication.
Why was a former Legionnaire trying to save Rond’s life?Â Because he’s her baby daddy, thanks for asking.Â One of the great joys of this period of Legion history was seeing the rebooted universe’s twist on the Legion tales we already knew, and we quickly got the strangely-familiar history of Laurel Gand.Â Turns out that she wasn’t raised on Daxam itself, but on an asteroid city called Argo City Ricklef II.
Young Laurel’s parent’s (who were NOT just recolored versions of Jor-El and Lara, despite all indications to the contrary) were key to the defense of Daxam, a fact that did not excape the notice of the Khund empire.Â TheÂ Khundian warlords attacked, quickly disposing of the staff onboard, but missed the presence of the little pig-tailed daughter of the base commander.Â It was a mistake that would cost them dearly…
Having single-handedly defeated a Khundian fleet, Laurel’s name became known far and wide throughout the galaxy.Â The “Little Girl who Stopped The Invasion” went to live with her father’s cousin Eltro Gand (whom you may remember from Mon-El’s Hero History) until an assassination attempt by the Khunds forced her to go into hiding.Â Taking on a secret identity, she went to stay in the interstellar version of an orphanage, Laurel finds herself isolated from everyone, afraid to get close to anyone for fear that she would be discovered.Â So, it’s understandable that when the telepathic voices in her head started talking to her, that she would obey.Â (Just be glad they didn’t tell her to burn things…)
Well, that looks familiar, now doesn’t it?Â It’s clear at this point who this young lady has been created to replace, wouldn’t you say?Â (Notice also that Triplicate Girl’s Reboot codename of Triad makes it’s first appearance here, years before the actual reboot happened…)Â As happened in the original continuity, the young LSH is stunned to find not only that are they getting a tryout from the descendant of a legendary hero in Laurel, but also the descendant of a legendary villain.Â Enter: Brainiac 5!
Brainiac’s 12th level super-mind makes the connection that his ancestor Vril Dox and her ancestor Lar Gand worked together as members of the intergalactic police force known as L.E.G.I.O.N.Â (Licensed Extra-Governmental… um… Idiosycratic…Â One-Man-Army-Designed-Only-For-Law-Enforcement-Division, I think…) and his quick-thinking gets him a place in the LSH alongside hers.Â I mentioned earlier that Laurel used her real name as a Legionnaire, and the reason for that is simple:Â That name is still remembered, throughout the galaxy, ESPECIALLY by the onrushing Khundian armies.
That “pleated skirt and band uniform top” look she has going there is absolutely adorable, and one of my favorite Legion costumes EVER.Â And, unlike her counterpart, Supergirl, Laurel stuck with the Legion for the long-term, allowing her to be present for moments of LSH history that Kara was not.Â Case in point: The Conspiracy against the Time Trapper for causing Tom Welling’s death…
Of course, since neither Tom, nor the Trapper are a part of this continuity, things have changed, just a bit.Â In this world.Â Instead of avenging the death of a dear friend, the Legionnaires are responding to Glorith’s murder of the entire planet Trom.Â You may have remembered that the Trapper rather easily slapped down Mon-El, Duo Damsel, Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5, but Glorith has the added problem of ANOTHER invulnerable Kryptonian-level powerhouse with superhuman speed…Â and Laurel is LIVID!
That, my friends, is HARDCORE.Â Now back on active duty with the new grown-up, dark and gritty LSH, Laurel serves double-duty as team powerhouse and mom.Â She takes on a third role when she and Chameleon Boy go undercover in the Khund empire to try and figure out who their mysterious new leader, the “Demon Mother” really is.Â Of course, it’s the Legion, and things are bound to go awry…
A timely intervention (no pun intended) on the part of Shrinking Violet (a long story with, thankfully, a pretty short wait time) sends Glorith into the timestream via chronal howitzer and removes her (temporarily) from the Legion’s face.Â Being roughly seven-feet tall, a knockout, and possessed of a blond mane that makes the entire porn industry cry, Laurel is pretty noticeable, a fact that annoys her teammate “Bounty,” formerly the Legionnaire known as Dawnstar.
The LSH becomes embroiled in controversy, discovering that the entire government of Earth has been undermined and is now under the control of alien fiends known only as the Dominators.Â We’ve touched on this time in Legion history before, several times, but now it’s time for… the REST of the story!Â Devlin O’Ryan, a young Legionnaire gifted with the ability to reflect attacks aimed at him, is in Metropolis when all hell breaks loose.Â Moments from having their control of the governmentÂ discovered, the Dominators detonate Earth’s fusion powerspheres, leaving the largest cities on the planet in ruins.Â Beneath the ruins of Metropolis, Devlin finds one of their greatest achievements in cold storage: The SW6 batch, seemingly a complete set of clones of the Legion circa Adventure Comics #350-something…
Horrified at the state of things, these young Legionnaires vow to find out what’s really going on, and set about to find the person or persons responsible for the state of their (mostly adoptive) home planet.Â Completely out of their element, surrounded by a world they can barely recognize, much less understand, the Legionnaires are naturally out of step.Â Tellingly, though, it’s Laurel who first shakes off her paralysis and remember what they do best…
While the young SW6 Legionnaires are skulking about below the ruined city, the grown version of the team is trying to finally take down the Dominator threat.Â Unfortunately, the Dominator-controlled Earthgov is still grasping for control, releasing an artificial creature known as B.I.O.N. (think Amazo with the powers of all the Legionnaires) to take their “clones” back into custody.Â As powerful as B.I.O.N. may be, he ain’t too bright, mistaking the elder Laurel for her teen counterpart and attacking.Â But a Laurel by any other name will still roast your robot ass with her laser vision, thank you very much…
Faced with three times her own power, even a Daxamite can be overpowered, especially when your opponent has complete control of gravity, electricity, radiation, heat, can turn invisible, grown to superhuman size, shrink to microscopic stature, blah blah blah fishcakes.Â The grown-up Legion takes a gravely wounded Laurel back to the infirmary, while the SW6 Legion finally tracks down the minds behind the Dominator’s plot.
…and KICKS their ASSES!Â Laurel single-handedly brings in the Dominators leadership, and frees Earthgov once and for all.Â Laurel the younger and her SW6 team make their public debut soon afterwards, and the Legions are torn by the thought that one or the other of them are some sort of cloned petri-dish experiments.Â Unfortunately for them, there’s no time to worry (or even to test WHICH of them is the original) as the damage to Earth proves irreparable.Â All the Legionnaires (including the badly wounded elder Laurel) are thrown into panic-mode trying to evacuate an ENTIRE PLANET before the inevitable occurs…
The team’s do their best, but the Earth is lost, and a sizeable chunk of population goes with it in the explosion.Â But many of the cities survive, thanks to an ancient series of evacuation domes that fire the cities into space (!) and links them together as a floating network of cities that is dubbed “New Earth.”Â The SW6 Legionnaires decide that they will stay to protect this new concern as the old Legion protected Earth, and for the first time, we see both Daxamite powerhouses side by side.Â Awesomely, their discussion isn’t about family, heroism, or loss, but instead about fashion…
The younger Laurel and Brainiac are deep in the throes of their initial romance at this time, and the grown Laurel is reminded of her lost love for her Brainy, even though she’s (at least common law) married to his best friend now.Â In order to separate themselves from their predecessors, the SW6 kids choose new codenames and costumes (including the truly excreble Alchemist and Apparition code-names) and we’re treated to the first appearance of the name that would end up identifying Laurel Gand (or at least a VERSION of Laurel Gand) for longer than any other…
With New Earth covered by their younger selves, the older Legion heads out into space, and soon encounters a menace beyond calculation (again.)Â It reminds me of the original Star Trek series, where every power reading was off the scale and every menace a new and unknown exotic threat.Â This time, they’re faced with old Bugaboo Mordru the Merciless, who has raised an army of zombies to combat the hated super-brats of the LSH.Â Among his Army of Darkness is the entire population of the planet Trom, home of Element Lad.Â Faced with imminent extinction, Laurel impulsively acts on her old feelings…
The Legionnaires survive the explosion (Laurel immediately grabs Brainy by the collar and snarls “Nothing happened, greenskin!”) only to have to combat their OWN lost members.Â Facing Blok, Karate Kid, Chemical King, Reflecto, Ferro Lad and the like carries a high price on the team.Â Not only are their foes nearly indestructible, the horror of killing old friends and lovers is nearly unbearable.Â Once again, Laurel keeps her wits about her, combining her sharp mind and inhuman powers to end the zombie threat single-handedly.
While the elder Laurel has to process grief and old feelings for Brainiac, young Andromeda finds herself in an even worse spot, emotionally speaking, as the Coluans recall Brainiac 5 to their home planet, and then try to hold him hostage as “Coluan communal property.”Â Once again, Laurel’s impulsive side comes to the forefront, as she rockets off to save her chartreuse prince…
The worldmind of Colu has doneÂ a number on young Querl, though, controlling his words, and trying to make him resign from the Legion.Â Faced with a quandary, the logic of his people against the emotional ties heÂ has to the Legion and Andi, Brainiac’s mind… shut down.Â Andromeda quickly races to her green beau’s side to provide support (literally and figuratively.)
And what gives a young man more endorphins than the presence of a statuesque girl in a skin-tight costume?Â The only thing I can think of would be chocolate-covered-amphetamines during a Demolition Derby where each driver is made of breasts…Â Either way, the young lovers are reunited (their relationship perhaps strengthened by the knowledge that their grown selves had grown apart) and declare their undying love the way only teenagers can:Â with a marathon makeout session.
But, the universe is a very harsh place, and while the Luck Lords of Ventura smiled on Andromeda, her older self was not having nearly as good a time.Â The government of Earth had been freed from the clutches of the evil Dominators, only to fall under the mental sway of Universo!Â This, his third or fourth major power play, was probably the most successful, as Vidar managed to not only turn the United Planets against the Legion, but indeed take them into custody and render them powerless!
The saddest part of it all was the fact that the Legion really DID work alongside the Khunds, even inducting several super-powered Khunds onto their team for an issue or three (a long story which, honestly, I probably really WON’T get to…)Â Universo’s evidence is proof enough, and the Legionnaires who were part of that mission (Lightning Lass, Shrinking Violet, Timber Wolf, Laurel, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Cosmic Boy, Spider-Girl, and someone I’m sure I’m forgetting) are forced to go undercover.Â
Y’know, for all her brilliance, sometimes Laurel can be a real dummy.Â She’s a seven foot blonde invulnerable woman who tends to wear a red cape.Â How different will she look as a seven foot blonde woman in a red PONCHO (a nod to Laurel Kent?) wearing goggles?Â Seriously, that’s like positing that the world’s most recognized superhero can just put on a pair of horn-rimmed glasses and nobody will recog–Â Um.Â On second thought, we can probably forgive Laurel.Â She just keeps the wrong company for secret identities.Â The Legion goes on the run, but the jailer man and Sailor Sam were searching everywhere for their merry band.Â Even though they’re wanted by the authorities, when the Legionnaires hear of a Khundish plot to blow up Weber’s World, new seat of United Planets power, their heroic natures betray them, and they rush in.Â Laurel realizes that the entire world is mined with explosives, and only a woman with superspeed and invulnerability would have any hope of finding them all and surviving, right?
The planet is saved, if only until that Skywalker kid comes rushing in ready to bullseye some womprats, but the Legion’s blonde bombshell is badly injured.Â Adding this injury to the never-quite-healed pains that she suffered at the hands of B.I.O.N. is too much for even aÂ Daxamite’s system to process, and Laurel Gand dies…
The best thing about that picture is how the Legionnaires naturally gravitate towards their loved ones: Shrinking Violet to Lightning Lass, Wildfire to Dawnstar, even Brainiac 5 is ready to support his grieving best friend Rond Vidar…Â It may be a cold comfort, but at least Rond’s suffering didn’t last very long.Â Almost immediately afterward, the Legion’s 30th century home was erased by the events known as Zero Hour.Â In the new reality, the less-bright-and-shiny United Planets DRAFTED Legionnaires into service, including a rather familiar looking Daxamite powerhouse.
But for all her visual similarities, this Andromeda is a very different beast.Â Whereas the original Laurel and her SW6 counterpart tended to be very upbeat (in keeping with their creation as Supergirl-analogues) the Rebooted Laurel is hateful, xenophobic, unpleasant and angry.Â As with all her race, she is susceptible to lead in the atmosphere, and so cannot even take off her protective transsuit.Â Of course, in the process of her very first mission, that suit is ripped wide open, and Laurel contracts a very painful case of lead poisoning.Â So gut-wrenching is her agony that she can barely be restrained, and even de facto Legion medic Brainiac 5 is forced to resort to extreme measures to treat her…
Given their relationship(s) in the original team, it’s interesting to see that Brainiac is still the only one who can get through to Laurel, albeit with his biting sarcasm rather than the connection they shared in the previous iteration of their lives.Â Laurel opens up to the green guy, explaining that she has been contacted by a Daxamite-supremacist group called “The White Triangle” (Worst.Â Name.Â Ever.) and that they manipulated her pride in her people, making her an accessory in their crimes, including attacks on fellow Legionnaires.Â To her credit, Andromeda feels deep guilt about this…
Having grown up with such close-mindedness, it’s not surprising to see Laurel duped by their ploy, letting criminals go in the name of planetary pride.Â What she didn’t count on was the White Triangle (ugh) members gaining their own full set of Daxamite powers and going on a rampage.Â Even though she feels remorse that her actions had negative consequences, Andromeda doesn’t seem to realize that her superiority complex is the problem.Â Brainiac advises her that, even though a lead serum exists, it won’t help HER, as her specific personal chemistry is incompatible, that even Daxamite “superiority” isn’t uniform in the genes.Â He chooses an… interesting approach to try and break her out of her social dogmas…
Laurel casts her eyes downward, shame and anger fighting for control.Â “I can’t,” she tells him.Â “Damn right you can’t,” replies the snarky Brainiac before handing her the antidote.Â With just about everything she was brought up to believe called into question, Laurel realizes that she’s been a fool, and that she’s probably poisoned the Legionnaires against her forever.Â Worse than that, when one of the men she let escape, a murderer called Roxxas (that sounds familiar…) murders the entire planet Trom, she realizes that even children of Daxam can be complete sonsabitches.
The only witness to Andromeda’s heroic actions, Shrinking Violet, escapes from the inferno that Roxxas created by the barest skin of her teeth, and reports that Laurel and Roxxas are dead.Â The Legion mourns their lost members (Apparition, the rebooted Phantom Girl was likewise seemingly killed) and the entire United Planets believes her to be dead.Â Of course, U.P. President Winema Wazzo knows the whole truth, which (characteristically) she uses as a wedge against Cosmic Boy…
Finally realizing the error of her ways, though a bit too late, Laurel is left in solitary confinement for many months, until Cosmic Boy is forced to activate his backup plan.Â With most of the Legion out of commission or otherwise occupied, he activates the Legion Rescue Squad, consisting of Lightning Lad and Ultra Boy, (currently working for Leland McCauley’s Work Force) Element Lad (last survivor of Trom) and the wandering soul called Valor, recently freed from the not-calling-it-a-Phantom Zone.Â The team goes to pick up their last member, and as surprised as they are to find Andromeda alive, the Legionnaires are more mystified by her response to Valor.
It’s interesting to see her interactions with Valor, one of the revered people (I hesitate to use the g-word here) of Daxam.Â His very presence seems to calm Andromeda down, allowing her to get past years of programming and find her inner strength.Â Her performance with the Rescue Squad is so impressive that even the new Presdident of the U.P. (R.J. Brande) takes notice.
A new day dawns for the Legion, finally free of United Planets kibitzing and the interference of President Wazzo, and the team realizes that they can do it their own way.Â For Andromeda, that means time to get her head together.Â She resolves to return home to Daxam and find a way to better emulate her famous ancestor (Mon-El by any other name…)Â But first, she has a little bit of personal business toÂ take care of.
Ahhh, young love.Â Long months pass for the Legion before Andromeda rears her head again, but much to the surprise of everyone (myself included) when that head does appear, it’s wearing a wimpole!Â Turns out that Laurel has taken her “What Would Mon-El Do?” stance to it’s logical extreme, becoming an acolyte (read that as “nun”) of his religion.Â When Mon encounters her later, Laurel has finally come to terms with her actions, but refuses to return to the LSH.
Andromeda instead rededicates her life to the search for truth, living simply without the exhibitionism of using her powers.Â During this search, however, she interacts with a strange space anomaly of unknown origin…
Laurel investigates the strange “Fires of Creation,” and is herself pulled bodily into the anomaly.Â Time moves differently within it, and Laurel finds herself changed by it’s pull.Â Whatever actually happens within the Fires isn’t unpleasant, however, and Laurel even sends an avatar out to find the one man that she still believes can help her to understand it all.
Mon-El, too, is taken within the anomaly, and the when the Legion finally tries to investigate, three of their number are seemingly lost to the fires as well.Â Luckily, the transformative effects seem to be positive, and a short time later, all the Legionnaires emerge unharmed (but not unchanged) by the experience…
All the Legionnaires disagree as to how long they were within the Fires, or even what happened there, but each of them finds his or her self improved.Â Gates is more pleasant, Brainiac 5 less caustic, Mon-El more… Mon-Elly, and Kinetix stops speaking, which can only be described as an improvement.Â Wait,Â too mean?Â Okay, nevermind.Â Sister Andromeda, for her part, finds herself cleansed of her guilt, and even possessed of new energy manipulation powers (finally achieving that “Unique Power” requirement that she had been lacking for so long…)Â When the planet Durla is thrown into chaos by internal political maneuvering, the sisterhood dispatches Andromeda there to help stem the chaos.Â As final proof that Laurel has turned herself around, she decides to stay among the shapeshifters to see if she can do some real good…
In any incarnation, Andromeda was known for courage, for strength of both body and will, and most of all, for being essentially naked most of the time.Â Â Someone had remarked when we did Supergirl that he kind of expected to see the Andromeda history wrapped up into Kara’s, but I felt that Andromeda, like Kent Shakespeare was more than just a placeholder for a character lost to the vagaries of the timestream and angry editors.Â Laurel was a Legionnaire, through and through, and despite her 1990’s debut was a shining example of the Silver Age of the Legion.Â She grew up, her world and demeanor changed, but Andromeda never grew out of the idea that her powers could and SHOULD make a difference.Â
**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! Next time ’round, we head back to the Legion’s heyday in the 1960’s to peep the genesis of Imsk’s favorite daughter… Be here as we break out the magnifying glasses for a look atÂ Shrinking Violet!