Hero History: Kid Quantum

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Or – “The Thirtieth Century’s Answer To Donny And Marie…”

One of the unavoidable biases inherent in our Terra-centric translation of the events of the various 30th Centuries has been the fact that many more Legionnaires come from Earth than from any other planet.  With Karate Kid, Wildfire, Sun Boy, both Invisible Kids, Bouncing Boy, Ferro Lad, Tyroc, as well as a host of shorter-lived Legionnaires, Sol III holds the record for gestating LSH members, but planet Xanthu (home of Star Boy, Monstress, Atmos, 50% of the rebooted Wildfire, and today’s dual entrants) has a strong heroic tradition of it’s own.  Heck, in some early LSH stories, the team is shown to have their headquarters on Xanthu rather than Earth, though I can’t say for sure if those references are in any way considered canonical.  Though today’s historical subjects weren’t the most long-lived of Legionnaires, and to be honest, sometimes they weren’t the most likable, but both took the challenge of joining the galaxy’s greatest hero team seriously.  One of them inspired the Legion to become a stronger organization, and the other LED the team during some of its’ darkest hours.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of James and Jazmin Cullen of Xanthu… Kid Quantum!

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Now, here comes the complicated bit…  Though we say that James Cullen comes from Xanthu, that’s really only part of the story.  Some of you who’ve been around for a while may remember the events that started off the Volume 4 Legion of Super Heroes series, in which the Time Trapper resurrected Mon-El, but Mon rebelled against his erstwhile creator’s plan and punched him into his component atoms.  This proto-reboot caused changes to the Legion’s history, including the replacement of Kara Zor-El with a Daxamite named Laurel Gand, the advent of Kent Shakespeare as a kind of Clark Kent analogue, and the ascension of Glorith of Baaldur to near-godhood.  But there was another change to the Legion, one that took several years of stories to show itself.  Our story proper starts on the outpost world of Yal, where a mysterious drifter has taken up residence…

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“Rouvin” lives a cowboy life, panning for something that’s probably gold and living in an abandoned cabin in an abandoned corner of a remote backwater planet.  But this ‘Man With No Name’ shtick is just a cover for his real work, writing a treatise that he hopes will unite the galaxy once and for all…

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Unfortunately, there’s once complication that Rouvin couldn’t have predicted:  the resources and dedication of R.J. Brande.  Having disappeared some years before, during the events of the Legion’s “Five-Year Gap,” Brande has spent years searching down the legendary Soul of Antares, a kind of Holy Grail of the universe, created by none other than Glorith herself.

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Stupid Dominators.  I can’t abide by a race that drools all over everything and has poor personal boundaries to boot.  The Soul of Antares is widely believed to be a myth, but Brande has gone underground to try and track it down.  Of course, hot on his trail is his son, Reep (Chameleon Boy of the Legion) who tracks his long-missing dad to Yal, only to find him in the clutches of former Legion villain Orion the Hunter.  But even Cham isn’t expecting to see the face of a man he believes long dead.

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Turns out that another of the side-effects of Mon punching the crap out of reality was an additional Legionnaire joining the team during their early 2970’s heydey.  The story of Kid Quantum’s history is parceled out a bit at a time, but the clearest explanation can be found in R.J.’s private files, revealing that he joined the Legion soon after Chameleon Boy himself…

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But there’s more here than meets the eye, as “James Cullen” is not only NOT from Xanthu, he’s not even a humanoid at all…  Instead, he is, himself, a Protean, imbued with the combined essence of the Protys intellect.  The Hunter is thwarted, but Kid Quantum, Chameleon Boy, and Brande are captured by Brande’s longtime business rival Leland McCauley IV, who intends to once and for all return the Soul of Antares to the Proteans, and create his own race of infinitely adaptable slave lifeforms.  He manages to keep the existence of his quarry safe from one Legion of Super-Heroes, but these heady days are lucky enough to have TWO Legions extant, and the SW6 “Legionnaires” manage to bust in and find McCauley’s secret…

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Dragonmage and Matter-Eater Lad (and, seriously, when they renamed Sun Boy, Lightning Lad, and Element Lad with those gawdawful new codenames, why would they let Tenzil still call himself Matter-Eater Lad?  Why not go with Alchemist!  Livewire!  Inferno!  And Omniphage!) free Kid Quantum from his bonds, and “James” reveals the truth about himself: he, like so many of the Legionnaires, is trying to work off a tragedy in his past.

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K.Q. makes peace with himself, apologizing to his people, and preparing to meet death…  But his fellow amorphous blobs aren’t about to let that happen.  They instead merge their essence with his, causing the Soul of Antares to once again bond with his people.  But after so many years in bipedal humanoid form, Kid Quantum’s body is locked in it’s current form.  The Protys take pity on their brother, though, and manage to give him a little going-away present…

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Kid Quantum, who wasn’t ever really that human, but is no longer truly an alien, returns to the one place where he knows he’ll fit in, pleding Allegiance to the Legion of Super-Heroes…  Well, to be honest, it’s the SW6 Legion, but depending one when you ask, they may have originally been intended to be the original Legion and the adult Legion meant to be clones.  In either case, Kid Quantum is back where he once belonged, in stories that none of us have actually read…  And people say the Legion is inaccessable!

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If you’re wondering what’s up with the flag there, I believe that Matter-Eater Lad made a new one out of Valorium (the metal that causes the Flight Rings to fly) thinking that it would fly better…  Still, as with Kent Shakespeare’s run in the Five-Year-Later Legion, we find the living proof that Kid Quantum really was a Silver Age Legionnaire, as he is transformed, per the Legion’s Constitution (Section 6.11 states clearly, “Every Legionnaire will be transformed at least once into a preschool version of his or herself, wearing a cute little costume and talking like Bizarro.”  The sad part is that, given the Legion’s tendency to have weird clauses like “You can’t get married” and “Each member must have one unique superpower, even if that just includes the Kryptonian ‘Super-Ovulation…’ ” it doesn’t actually sound that far-fetched.) into a Legion Baby.

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Kid Quantum and the Shrinking Violets make some pretty cute kids though.  Unfortunately, soon after Kid Quantum returned to Legion active status, the Zero Hour crisis began wiping out bits of the 30th Century.  The Legionnaires, new and old, mobilized to find some way to stop their world from being wiped out of continuity, but since the problem originated with the bisecting of the team’s timeline when the SW6 Legionnaires were split away by Glorith years before.  The timestream becomes highly unstable, and many Legionnaires pay the price…

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Kid Quantum was lost to the vagaries of the timestream, and the team finds themselves disappearing, one by one.  The Legion was forced to restore their world by merging with their SW6 counterparts (as seen last time in Shrinking Violet’s Hero History) and the 30th Century is restarted.  In this new reality, rather than the Legionnaires recruiting guys like Bouncing Boy, Matter-Eater Lad and Dream Girl just because the like ‘em, the United Planets asked each of their member worlds to draft Legion members.  Xanthu, with it’s heroic tradition so much like Earth, has many candidates from which to choose…

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James’ horror seems to be a combination of two things: First, he doesn’t get to prove that he is the most worthy to be Xanthu’s planetary champion, and second, he’s kind of a schmuck.  Kid Quantum reports to U.P. headquarters on Earth as part of the second wave of Legionnaires, alongside Leviathan, XS, and others.  They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but it doesn’t seem that Quantum is at all worried about such things…

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Sangano!  In any case, this K.Q.’s extreme narcissim seems partially founded, as he proves himself to be an able hero in combat.  Unfortunately, he’s also self-centered in the extreme, and not that much of a team player.  When the newly-minted Legion faces down Tangleweb (a teenage mutant ninja cyborg spider) Kid Quantum makes no friends and influences no one.

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Thanks to Phantom Girl (because Apparition is, was, and always will be a terrible name, worse than Triad, worse than Dreamer, worse than Gas Girl) Kid Quantum’s fat is pulled from the fire.  Unfortunately for him, though, even the beautiful Tinya can’t overcome his ridiculously inflated ego.  Quoth a great philosopher, “Ya cain’t fix stupid.”

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As had happened in the Five Year Gap Legion stories (which were in many ways, a dry run for the rebooted LSH that followed) Kid Quantum’s untimely death led the team to disallow members who drew their powers from technology rather than being hit by a meterorite, trapped in a reactor, or, that old favorite, coming from a planet where this stuff just sort of happens.  A couple of years later (our time, mind you) Legionnaire Star Boy, Xanthu’s replacement for Kid Quantum, ends up spearheading a team of Legionnaires back home, where he meets the planetary protectors, the Uncanny Amazers!

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You may remember Atom’X (Ugh) from his ever-so-brief run as half of the Rebooted Wildfire, and Monstress is a not-really-all-so-long story which I’ll get to eventually, but of most pertinance is the young lady on the right.  Jazmin has a good reason to dislike the Legion, having been given a bill of goods by Xanthu’s ministers to think the Legionnaires responsible for the death of her brother…

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Kid Quantum’s anger works to the Amazers’ advantage, as the ineffectual middle-management suckups that run the Amazers decide that Star Boy can only return to the Legion if the heroes can defeat the Amazers in… MORRTALLLL COMMMBAAAAT!  After Mon-El excuses himself from the festivities (with a really funny moment where he explains that there’s a draft in the ring, and lifts it singlehandedly as though to move it) the Legionnaires and Amazers face down.  But the Legionnaires find that their responses are slowed, their wits somehow dulled during the competition…

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I think Konk (the floating head girl) may get her own Hero History, or at least a website deidcated to her awesome.  Jazmin realizes that she’s being played, and shows that James isn’t the only Cullen who can be a bit high-handed with things.

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Heh.  Some months later, after Monstress has joined the Legion, the threat of Mordru forces the team to split up, and Star Boy and Monstress are once again sent to their home planet to help.  Atmos’ leadership proves to be less than stellar (because Atmos is a jackass, thank you very much) and Star Boy takes over.  After the menace is defeated, Thom finds that it’s difficult to come home and be BMOC…

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After joining the team, Kid Quantum II finally lightens up a bit, even opening up to her teammates about why she has come off as, frankly, a bit of a tool.  Turns out that being the baby sister of the first Legionnaire to die in the line of duty (due to his own arrogance, no less) doesn’t exactly make for the easiest life.

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Jazmin quickly manages to turn the Kid Quantum name around, even once again adopting the starburst symbol that her brother wore, and becoming a respected member of the Legion.  But Xanthu is a rather greedy planet, and once again summons home all of their native Legionnaires at the first sign of crisis.

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The Legion manages to expand their ranks and their operations, opening the orbital Legion Outpost, and fending off the attack of the Blight.  But almost immediately afterward, a strange rift in the sky forces the team to sacrifice the Outpost to close a rend in reality.  In so doing, nearly half the team finds themselves lost in space, without even an Environmental Control Robot to warn them of danger.  Half the Legion remains on Earth, thinking their distaff members dead, while the lost Legionnaires are thrown outside the galaxy and lost in time for millions of years, only to be awakened by the presence of Shikari of the Kwai (another short story that I’ll get to soon enough.)  Even lost beyond space and time, Kid Quantum is quick to protect inncents.

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After a tense journey, and the death of a several of their number, the Lost Legionnaires return home, only to find the galaxy changed drastically by the loss of the Stargate system.  Restoring their status with the United Planets, the Legion rebuilds an even bigger headquarters called Legion World, and expands their numbers.  As is the custom of the team, voting is thrown open for the Legion to vote one of their own to leadership, and even Kid Quantum is surprised by their choice…

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Kid Quantum’s reign as Legion leader is a tumultuous one, as threat after threat arises to attack the weakened U.P., but K.Q. is more than up to filling the shoes of Cosmic Boy, and finds herself in a unique position as leader of a Legion that has the full blessing and authorization of the President of the U.P.

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Of couse, among the surprises of this era of the Legion was the appearance of a young Clark Kent, and the temporal translocation of Kon-El to the Legion, shaking the entire team, including several of the founding members.  One of the most affected is Rokk Krinn, Cosmic Boy himself, who is part of a secular organization that admires the work and philosophies of Kal-El.  Luckily for Cos, he has Kid Quantum to lean on…

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I remember how much that panel shocked me the first time I read it.  For Jazmin to have effectively thawed the ice in reboot Cosmic Boy’s veins was nearly unheard of, but it was nice to see them both let down their guard for a change.  Heavy hands the head that wears the crown, and all that, and Cosmic Boy surely understands the pressures of leadership.  Of course, change is the watchword for all Legionnaires, and Kid Quantum’s team soon finds itself fighting the an interdimensional army consisting of duplicates of the Fatal Five, alongside the 20th century Teen Titans.  Once again, the 30th century is changed by actions that took place in the 20th, and the Legion’s world is rewritten.  Thrown loose of space and time, the team falls into the unknown, and their leader instructs them to hold tight to one another…

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If you ‘ve gotta go, go with a gratuitous buttshot, I always say.  The reboot Legion disappears, and the new Legion series restarts, but a few months later, in the pages of Infinite Crisis, we find that the LSH somehow did find their way home, at least to SOME version of their home, on Earth-247.  Of course, since there are only 52 Earths left now, I can’t be sure that E-247 still exists, but either way Kid Quantum and her Legion continue fighting the good fight…

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Thus far, there has been no sign of any Kids Quantum in the new Threeboot LSH, but since the new Legion is based mostly on the Silver Age version of the team, that’s not so surprising.  Even as one of the first “continuity implanted” Legionnaires, James Cullen showed himself to be tenacious, principled, and well-worthy of Legion membership.  Though his rebooted self proved to be less impressive, his successor took the name and proved herself to be every bit the hero hethe original was.  Whether James or Jazmin, Kid Quantum showed the central tenet of the Legion: Everyone can be a hero, and every hero has something to contribute.

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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:

Andromeda
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
Shrinking Violet
Star Boy
Supergirl
Sun Boy
Tellus
Thunder
Timber Wolf
Triplicate Girl
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 look at a different sort of legacy, as a little sister once again emerges from the shadow of an older sibling.  But instead of emulating her big sister, Mysa found her own path to greatness…  Be here as we invoke the magic words and examine the Legion career of The White Witch!