Hero History: Shadow Lass
Or – “If You Had Powder Blue Skin, You’d Probably Show Off Too…”
Talok VIII is an anomaly in the worlds of the Legion. It’s a hidden, backwater world of swords and sorcery, the kind of place that Red Sonja or Claw the Unconquered wouldn’t feel at all out of place, and it’s favorite daughter has a tendency to dress in a manner that would befit Sonja as well. As with last week’s entrant, she was that rarest of Legionnaire stories, a hero so successful that she was offered LSH membership in the middle of a mission. She was also a part of the Legion’s longest and most successful romance, standing by her man in the face of madness, death, even the unraveling of their very universe. Like the darkness she manipulates, today’s historical subject inspires fear in some, and a deep calm in others. She’s loyal, powerful, and chockful of surprises, a feat in itself for a woman wearing less fabric than my average pair of socks. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Tasmia Mallor of Talok VIII… Shadow Lass!
I mentioned the things that Shadow Lass has in common with the White Witch (and didn’t mention that fact that, like Mysa, she is the relative of a hero whom we met first) but she also shares a bond with former HH subject Chemical King: Both first appeared in flashback from a point even further in the future… As he had in his teens, a grown Kal-El pierced the timestream and visited his friends, a grown-up Legion of Superheroes. Among the things we saw for the first time was the Legion’s Hall of Heroes, listing those Legionnaires who had (at this point in time, anyway) already fallen in battle…
This cameo was only a split-second affair, but was enough to make Legion fans wonder… A few months later, when trapped in the Super-Stalag of Space (looong story, but great title) the team met Grev Mallor, the Shadow Kid of Talok, but it took the abominable menace of the Fatal Five to bring the Mallor family’s real star into the spotlight. In a strange reversal, Talok closed it’s borders and began firing on any approaching ships. The local authorities call in the Legion for help, but even the kids of the LSH don’t know the planet well enough to navigate… Enter Shadow Lass!
The Legionnaires are surprised to find that Shady is not only a capable hero in her own right, she’s easily the equal of their own membership. They discover (the hard way) that Talok is under the control of the wicked Fatal Five, but not quick enough to avoid getting captured and put in Republic Serial villain deathtraps…
Shadow Lass escapes her trap first (thought the other Legionnaires are not far behind) and the team regroups. Shadow Lass reveals that the reason she’s trying so hard to impress the Legion is a simple crush… on Brainiac 5! He seems to share her feelings, but their feelings go by the wayside, as there’s business to take dare of… Of which to take care? Of care to which take the one thing? However that sentence might have begun. Kal-El comes up with an ingenious plan (for a kid from Kansas anyway): Kick the Fatal Five’s butts!
Real creative there, Clark… Solving your problems with your fists yet again. Shadow Lass stands alongside her new compatriots against the greatest threats in the galaxy, the monstrous evils brought together to destroy the Sun-Eater. Each of the Legionnaires is forced into combat, leaving Shadow Lass to face down arguably the most powerful member of the Fatal Five,… The Emerald Empress! What maneuver could she use to defeat this monstrous foe? A full on shadow attack? A feint, leading her enemy into a pincer maneuver? Perhaps a cat and mouse game, picking away at the Empress’ defense bit by bit?
How about that kung-fu classic “Fistinnaface?” Heh. That… is… awesome! The Legionnaires take down the the FF with a display of moxie, courage, guts, super-karate and yellow-sun fueled musculature, and Shadow Lass is offered a position of honor with the Legion, the first hero to be given such a promotion in the field. (Polar Boy was, understandably, highly pissed.) But even the threat of the Fatal Five pales in comparison to the awe-inspiring power of Mordru the Merciless, a foe so powerful that he knocked Mr. Welling out with a single shot, and sent the most powerful fighting force of the 30th century into an ignominous retreat!
The four escaped Legionnaires go the only place that they can: back to Smallville, circa “20 years ago” by way of 1960-ish. Unfortunately, Shady’s cerulean skin kind of makes her stick out in a crowd in 1942 Kansas (they should have gone to San Francisco in ’67) so Our Man Kent (he of the rubber masks that look real enough to fool people who kiss them and compressing his Sears toughskin suit into a six-inch packet and shoving it in a pocket in his cape) comes up with a fine plan: Pancake makeup. (Shoulda stuck with thinking with the fists, there, Clark-O…)
And it’s suddenly clear how Clark manages to pull off his second life. The people of Smallville… are morons. “Remember me? Your cousin? Y’know, from France, where everyone is slightly bluish?” These people obviously have to write “Breathe in, breathe out, left, right, left” on their hands to keep moving through the day… In any case, Mon-El, Triplicate Girl and Shady insinuate themselves into Kansas life as admirably as a man who spent centuries in a ghost state, a girl who turns into three people and a woman from a futuristic planet of barbarians can.
What you’re seeing there, folks, is a date with destiny, the first moment where the Legion’s Daxamite powerhouse met his blue-skinned babe and saw her, not as a teammate, but as a woman. Shadow Lass and Mon-El’s romance, however, is not the first item of the day, as the evil Mordru manages to pierce the time-barrier, forcing the Legionnaires back home. But, even when confronted with the ultimate evil, Shadow Lass find the courage to stand her ground, and it instrumental in the defeat of the sorceror…
The Legion successfully buries Mordru, triggering his life-long claustrophobia, caging the greatest threat in the galaxy, and cementing their position as most powerful crime-fighting force in the universe. When another super-team, The Wanderers, arrives to try and take that title, the Legion’s most powerful members set out to battle them, leaving their teammates behind. Faced with separation from her new beau for the first time, Shadow Lass finds herself preoccupied…
Shadow Lass and Mon-El continued to date, becoming closer and closer, and forming one of the LSH’s longest-lasting couples. Some months later, the twosome (as well as Karate Kid and Princess Projectra) are possessed by the spirits of two lost aliens lovers/competitors, and end up fighting one another…
Tasmia’s costume by Frederick’s of Rokyn. This particular costume was a reader-submitted fashion, appearing only the once, and ranking in the top 3 ugliest Legion costumes of all time. And that, my friends, is saying something… Tasmia returned to her navy blue/black uniform soon after, a wise decision, but no matter how much mental torture, how many Fatal Five attacks, how often they’re facing the worst the galaxy has to offer, she and her crimson-coated paramour endure.
Shadow Lass remained a fixture of the team throughout their battle with Starfinger, through the Earthwar, when the Khundish armada attacked and very nearly conquered Earth, past Omega’s near-destruction of Legion headquarters (and the madness of Brainiac 5) without a scratch. But, as with the Tick before her, she found herself out of her depth (no pun intended) in the sewers…
“We’re filth! We’re filth! We come from filth, we’re going to filth!” Shadow Lass quickly recovered from this beating, but soon after, a mysterious madman named Dagon the Avenger began capturing the parents of the Legionnaires, including Tasmia’s own mom. For a Talokian (a race that practices ancestor worship) this affront was intolerable, and Shady led her teammates to try and save the ‘rents from his horned highness.
The Legionnaires end up following the clues and taking out Dagon, even saving the kidnapped parents (including Chameleon Boy’s rather milfy mom in some interesting red bondage gear) from their imprisonment. But Tasmia isn’t there to see it, as she has accompanied Dawnstar and Tyroc to his home island of Marzal, and is about to find out how and why the Marzallians dropped off the radar for all those years. Hint: it ain’t because of the hedges…
Shadow Lass and Dawnstar (an interesting pair, one representing dark, one representing light) manage to return home, but the near-miss seems to catalyze Tasmia into action. She and Mon-El take a leave of absence from the Legion, embarking on their first-ever couple trip together. Of course, with the Legion’s universe being the place that it is, their vacation is naturally interrupted by a call for help…
Mon-El and Shadow Lass end up on a strange, uncharted planet, encountering a series of odd threats withou really being sure where they are. The automated defenses are even a match for Mon-El’s Daxamite invulnverability, but Shadow Lass is amazed to find that HER powers terrify the locals…
Mon-El and Shadow Lass leave without ever finding the name of the planet, but it’s former ruler is awakened by their actions, and sets in motion a plan that he created years ago. He uses his power to return his home to the state you may remember it, the home of the legendary firepits, the planet… APOKALIPS. Darkseid beings gathering magic items of power from throughout the universe, and a confused LSH (still unsure of what they’re facing) tries to stop him. One of the items that the Legionnaires expect will be pillaged next is on Shadow Lass’ home planet, and she is the natural choice to lead a Legion contingent there…
It’s not Shady’s doing, but it IS the work of the Shadow Champion of Talok… or at least A Shadow Champion, in the form of her ancestor Lydea Mallor. The creature once known as Lydea attacks, but is overwhelmed by the Legionnaires, and taken into captivity. Seeing one of her revered ancestors corrupted in this manner is almost too much for Shadow Lass, and her disconcertitude (is that a word, d’ya think?) is palpable…
The Legion finds that Darkseid isn’t the only Fourth Worlder who has returned, as Izaya the highfather (Big D’s opposite number) is also reincarnated, but in the form of a child. As the Legion fights against his Servants of Darkness, Darkseid himself attacks Izaya, only to find him defended by Shadow Lass and Light Lass. Irony that light and shadow have to work together to repel him, though, isn’t it?
The Legion repels Darkseid by the barest of margins, and Tasmia and Mon-El try again to resume their interrupted vacation, traveling to the furthest reaches of the galaxy to try and find a place to relax, eventually settling on a little place that pretty much only Mon-El is aware of…
…called the Science Asteroid. Those of you who’ve been paying attention just felt a chill down your backs, and for good reason. But, obviously, the Shadow Woman that Superman saw dead in the far future couldn’t be our pal Tasmia, right? I mean, she’s Shadow LASS, and her skin is precisely the wrong color, right? Certainly, Shady’s safe…
Well, crap. Superman’s visits to the Adult Legion showed us a future that had been, ever so slowly, coming more and more true, but Mon and Shady weren’t aware of these prophecies, nor did they have any way to have heard this information… But when the Science Asteroid comes under attack, the twosome leap into action, unaware of the (you should pardon the expression) shadow falling across their path.
Tasmia tries to slow down the attack on the asteroid, but finds the entire facility imperiled by a generator damaged in the attack… Shadow Lass valiantly battles on, unaware of the prophecy of her death.
She battles on, using her powers to absorb as much of the radiation as possible, but even the wielder of the sacred shadow power has her limits. Shadow Lass tries to reverse the reaction destroying the generator, but is too late…
Thankfully, since the future of the future which took place in the past is still an alternate reality, the stories of the Adult Legion of Superheroes faded off into a parallel reality, and Shadow Lass survived the attack. With their future finally once again unwritten, the LSH engaged some of their most dangerous foes, garnering a few new enemies, and facing down with several old ones, including her first opponents as a Legionnaire, the Fatal Five!
To be honest, though, it’s not so much the Fatal Five as the Fatal One, as Persuader has returned to Talok VII, the world he once subjugated with his partners, and teams up with Lady Memory (a local supervillain type) to try and do it again. Memory uses her powers to drive Mon-El mad, returning to him the memory of every second of his 1000 years of imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. With the big man out of the picture, she sets her sights on destroying Tasmia, her rival for control of Talok…
Lady Memory attacks full force, confident that she’s taken down the stronger half of the LSH couple, and hits Shadow Lass with the full force of her power, then moves in for the kill…
“Strongest” is such a relative term. Shadow Lass returns to the Legion, and stands alongside them during the war with the Legion of Super-Villains, and supported her beloved Mon when his “big brother” Kal-El was killed due to the schemes of the Time Trapper. When Mon embarked on his quest for vengeance (alongside Brainiac 5, Rond Vidar and Duo Damsel) he told no one, not even Shadow Lass. Beaten to within inches of death, Mon-El is returned to the Legion wounded, and, in Mercutio’s words, only a few tomorrows from being found a grave man. Tasmia set aside her Legion duties to stand by her man, as the doctors fight to repair his Daxamite body from injuries that would have liquefied you or me…
In a touching display of emotion, Shadow Lass proves that her feelings for Mon are more than just a schoogirl crush, turning to the traditions of Talok VIII to show him how much she cares for him…
Though not the first Legion wedding, it is the first to involve ritual maiming and loss of digits… So, it’s got that going for it. Which is nice. Despite her support and the best efforts of 30th century medicine, Mon-El dies from his injuries not long after, and Tasmia resigns from the Legion, returning home to become (essentially) a nun, spending years in isolation. When the Trapper again shows his hand, and accidentally resurrects Mon-El (WITH his powers and mind returned to their old selves) the couple is reunited, but immediately (again!) there is an emergency, as Talok VIII comes under attack by Khundian battle-cruisers.
Tasmia and Valor are reunited from death, but an even greater power conspires against them, as the timestream is changed by the events known as Zero Hour, changed in ways both subtle and obvious. One of the most heartbreaking changes came because of Mon himself, as the young Lar Gand made his way to Earth and had heroic adventures there BEFORE being put into the Zone. When Lar (as Valor, one of the worst superhero names ever) DIED in the past, the future was again altered, causing Mon-El and Shadow Lass to forget one another… But even with the love of her life erased, Shadow Lass remained a hero and a force to be reckoned with.
When the two ex-Legionnaires were forced to work together to save the universe from being erased, they both realize how familiar and how right their pairing feels. Shadow Lass once again goes with the one universal constant that never fails her, no matter the universe or the iteration: her instincts.
The Zero Hour crisis gets that much worse, causing things, people, ENTIRE PLANETS, even Legionnaires to disappear into lacunae in the timestream. Just as Mon and Tasmia realize who they really are, and who they really SHOULD be, one of these time eddies (Eddie’s in the timestream? And that’s his sofa, then?) engulfs Shadow Lass.
Awww… Even in the face of universal disaster and unavoidable catastrophe, Shadow Lass is saved by her love for Mon-El. The Legionnaires, along with whatever ragtag forces they can bring together to help them, embark on a last-ditch effort, to bring the pocket universe Earth (a long story which I’ll get to eventually) into their dimension to try and restore balance. During the battle to save that Earth, Tasmia is gravely wounded, and can no longer fight against the forces that try to wipe her from the cosmos…
The end of Shadow Lass and Mon-El led quickly to the death of the Legion, at least figuratively, as the universal peril forced the remaining team members to merge together with a time-lost duplicate Legion (the SW6 batch) and restart the 30th century from scratch. The new LSH started out roughly the same, but rather than allowing a group of super teenagers to choose their own group, the rebooted United Planets tried to take a stronger hand. This failed miserably, allowing the team to start holding open tryouts for the team, and a familiar blue-skinned girl from Talok VIII…
The Legion tryouts turn into chaos, and the newbies end up saving the day, but it’s clear that things are a bit different. Still as heroic as ever, the new Tasmia Mallor is a cynical, dark personality, and isn’t entirely sure that she wants to be a hero, or to be a part of something as Apollonian as the Legion.
Shadow Lass serves the team admirably, this time calling herself by the not bad but very blah nom de guerre Umbra, battling against Mordru (again), a Bizarro Legion, and even the menace of the Fatal Five (why does that sound familiar?) When the stargate system that keeps the “United” in the U.P. collapses, Shadow Lass is among the members of the Legion who are lost outside the universe, and who end up fighting one of their own and losing two more in their desperate bid to get home. But soon after returning, Umbra/Shadow Lass is horrified to find…
That the shadows of Talok have left her, for reasons unknown. The team manages to take down R’as Al Ghul, who has managed to use his immorality to take over the Earth, infiltrating Earthgov at it’s highest levels, and taking over the planet. She battles alongside her teammates, but can’t bring herself to cheer after they’ve won victory…
Confused and taken aback, Tasmia finds herself drawn to the traditions of Talok again, returning to the old ways in an attempt to try and find herself again. It’s a cold comfort however, and Ms. Mallor realizes that there’s only one thing she can do… return to her old stomping grounds.
Heh. “Talok VIII must have some interesting ceremonies.” That’s awesome. When Shady returns to Talok, she finds that the reason her shadows have been taken from her is that someone else is using it… and that someone else has deemed her unworthy of the powers. Tasmia is forced to stand her ground against a foe who attacks her with her own abilities.
As in the previous continuity, Tasmia’s entire family has the genetic potential to cast the shadows, but it is her own cousin Grev that has stolen the power from her, and in the months that he has had them, he has cast the whole planet into shadow and forced them to acquiese to his will. Tasmia has nothing going for her other than natural courage and a desire to be a hero… but as we’ve learned throughout these histories, sometimes that’s good enough.
Finally accepting her destiny to be a hero, Tasmia confronts Grev, and realizes during their battle that the shadows still know her, and indeed, want her back. Grev has used some sort of mystical trick to draw the dark spirits of her ancestors away, but Tasmia is able, through force of will to regain her powers and free her home planet…
This version of Tasmia rejoined her Legion, finally secure in her place in the galaxy. Though she never fulfilled her destiny with Mon-El as before, there were hints that she had some feelings for him. This version of the Legion lost their place in time during a battle with the Fatal Five, now the Fatal Five Hundred after recruiting endless alternate versions of themselves from throughout the universes. Loyal to the last, the reboot Legion was last seen floating throughout the timestream, holding tightly to one another… Their loss left a void that the universe couldn’t leave unfilled, so another version of the LSH sprouts up in it’s place. In this world, Shadow Lass is not only an established hero, she’s a bona-fide badass, as dangerous as most any of the Legionnaires in combat, and dating Karate Kid.
Heh. Sarcastic as her pre-Crisis version, with a bit of the darkness that marked her second incarnation, this version of Shadow Lass provides the best of both worlds, and also gives the new Legion of Super-Heroes a good deal of their edge.
After Karate Kid breaks up with her, Shadow Lass ends up dating (wonder of wonders) Ultra Boy, getting her one step closer to the invulnerable man of her dreams, at least in my opinion, but the advent of Kara-Zor El to her Legion disturbs her, giving us the first glimpse of Tasmia’s more emotional side…
Heh. Luckily for her, Ultra Boy doesn’t really have a subtle side, and his seeming fixation has less to do with the skirt than it does for her being more powerful than he is. When Supergirl is voted into leadership, she (with the assistance of Brainiac 5) needs to put together a fighting force to head to the planet Lallor, and chooses the Legion’s three most dangerous members: Timber Wolf, the feral hand to hand fighter from Zuun. Atom Girl, aka Shrinking Violet, the most dangerous Imskian alive. And Shadow Lass, who shows that there is much more to her than just fighting skill when things go wrong…
Throughout her Legion career(s), Tasmia Mallor has shown herself to be a woman of passion, a woman who lives by her gut and emotions, and whose heroic urges come not from self-aggrandizement, or the need to exhibit her powers, but from a family tradition, an obligation to the generations of shadow champions that came before. Whether fully covered, nearly nekkid, or glued into that hideous orange lifevest of a costume, Shadow Lass proves that you can be a hero and still be perfectly human. (Or at least Talokian…)
**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:
The White Witch
Or you can just click “Hero History” in the “What We Are Writing About” section on the main page… Collect ’em all! In our next outing: he wears pink, he has magnetic powers, and his last name is Krinn, but he’s not a Legion founder. We turn our spotlight on Cosmic Boy’s little brother, who gave everything he had to be a hero… Join us for the life and times of Magnetic Kid!