Or – “Bruce Banner Malibu Barbie, Anyone?”

Astute Spoilerites may have noticed that at the very bottom of each Hero History, tucked under the seemingly endless links, there’s a coming attraction for the next episode.  It’s my old-school television roots showing…  In any case, the last Hero History promised a little bit a Tinya in your life, and I was well into gathering my research for her story, when something happened.  Something important, something that caused an immediate change in plans.  In order to explain the significance of this event, I need to tell you the story of “The Hero History That Did Not Want To Be Told.”  Many weeks ago, I broke down my outline of Legionnaires and the order in which I wanted to indoctrinate them to their moment in the sun.  Way back in March, I completed my Sun Boy history, and turned to the next hero in rotation…  only to find that I didn’t own her last appearance.  But of course, I WORK in a comic store, so this shouldn’t be too hard, right?  Nope.  The issue was neither in our back issue bins or in the storage area we call the cave.  I asked Deon to order me the collected TPB, but it’s out of print.  I then went to my second line of the defense, a fellow comic store owner in Lawrence.  No dice.  Having checked my friendly local comic book shop, I went to Mile High Comics online.  Out of stock.  Then, wonder of wonders, I found a copy on Ebay…

…only to lose the auction at the last minute.  Another ray of hope came when a new agent came to my team in June, and he, a fellow comic fan, mentioned in passing that he had a copy…

…but when he went to find it, he found that his home had been broken into and many of his comics stolen, including the one I needed.  Yesterday, I spent SIX hours in the comic shops of Kansas City, only to find my efforts in vain.  This issue was destined to evade me.  Last night, I bumped into an old friend online, and lo and behold, she had the issue, and within twenty minutes had given me the images I needed.  After all this folderal, I felt that I must immediately put together her much-delayed and seemingly cursed Hero History before a catastrophic hard drive failure or a plague of locusts struck.  She joined the team on a lark, and soon made herself beloved amongst her fellows, standing by the team in one of their darkest hours, and dying like she lived, as a champion of hope.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers history of Candi Pyponte-Le Parc III of Xanthu…  Monstress!

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The story of Monstress starts early in the rebooted Legion’s timeline.  The United Planets, as you might recall from previous discussions, began this Legion with a draft, and planet Xanthu sent as their representative Kid Quantum… who was promptly killed due to his own arrogance.  Their replacement was Star Boy, who found himself involved in an accident that led to him gaining immense Kryptonian-like powers.  The ruling class of Xanthu (ever aware of their public image) calls Star Boy and his Legionnaire partners back to the planet, where they meet the Uncanny Amazers, Xanthu’s homegrown version of the Legion…

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Atom’X and his super-tight pink pants aside, the Amazers don’t hold the Legion in very high regard (though Kid Quantum II has been fed a line that the team was responsible for the death of her brother) and the Prefect in charge of the team soon challenges the LSHers to a little friendly sport.  A battle, if you will, to prove which team is better (and, if I recall correctly, the winner got to keep the services of Star Boy.)  Being the strong gal, Monstress immediately singles out the biggest threat: Colossal Boy, operating under the horrific nom de guerre of Leviathan.

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Candi’s one-two punch is impressive, sure, but we find out later that Kid Quantum has been using her barely-defined “stasis powers” to hold the Legionnaires back.  The Amazers turn on their handlers, and the team part as, if not friends, at least respectful competitors.  It is several months before we see the team again, this time after Mordru the Merciless has broken free of his bonds and threatened not just Earth, but the entire United Planets…

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Monstress, Atom’X, and Kid Quantum are dispatched to assist the Legion (note the post-reboot appearance of Atmos the armpitless wonder, as well) against the dark lord, and Monstress shows absolutely no fear, even in the face of what seems like limitless, phenomenal cosmic power.

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The team manages to remove Mordru’s threat status (by encasing him in a an airless vault, always Mordy’s weakness) and Monstress quickly gets over her initial bad feelings about the LSH, making the decision that she wants to JOIN the premier team in the galaxy, a decision that does not go without it’s detractors…

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The Mordru battle is a turning point for the Legion, in more ways than one, as their draft is revoked, and the team is allowed to choose their members.  Monstress, due to a combination of charm, influence, and being the proverbial 600-pound gorilla, is offered Legion status, and all the perks that come with it, including a wardrobe session with the Athramites, alien creatures who handled the Legion’s costuming needs.  But even the tireless efforts of the tiny clotheshorses have trouble keeping up with the shopping skills of Ms. Pypont-Le Parc…

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Monstress quickly shows her new teammates that she’s much, much more than a bruiser, showing great sensitivity and understanding to her compatriots, and offering motherly advice and hugs.  When Shrinking Violet (recently possessed by the Emerald Eye of Ekron) seems to have a case of the “Mondays,” Monstress quickly steps in to help boost her spirits…

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Monstress finds herself taking on the big sister/confidante role with many of her teammates, but especially with her fellow Xanthuan and former Amazer partner Star Boy…  Gifted with powers he can’t really control, Star Boy tries to cover his insecurity with bluster, only to find that Candi still knows how to help with his swelled head…

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With that, a third former Amazer joins the LSH.  As with any large group, the team starts forming smaller sub-groupings within it, and the three Xanthuans (sharing their common heritage and home planet) naturally gravitate towards one another.  But Monstress is stunned to find that the Xanthuan ruling elite have a few ideas about her happy new home with the Legion…

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Monstress is called home, alongside her partners, but Xanthu’s political problems are quickly shown to be the result of the Dark Circle, a strange cult-like group with aspirations towards universal domination.  The Legionnaires manage to put down the Circle (which turns out to be led by none other than Brainiac 5’s mother, the heretofore unseen Brainiac 4) and Monstress returns to her rightful place in the Legion.  Star Boy’s erratic power problems continue, however, but he finds that they only leave him or act up in time of stress.  Seeing an opportunity to help as only a 7-foot woman with yard-wide fists can, Monstress steps up to the plate…

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This discussion foreshadows a couple of things for Monstress, the more important of which is the beginning of her friendship with Jan Arrah, Element Lad.  Jan’s strange crystalline state is a result of the battle with Mordru, which has also caused his mind to wander in strange directions, and his musings on skin color and pigments may be important in a bit.  After the Dark Circle mess, the Legionnaires are given some down-time, and Monstress responds by doing what she loves most:  shopping!

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Note the “ripped purple pants” ensemble in the upper left.  Heh.  The resemblance to the Hulk means nothing to the denizens of 31st Century Metropolis, but the resemblance to something else does bother them.  It seems that with her distinctive beetle brow and thick physique, Candi reminds some people of the alien aggressors known as the Khunds, a comparison which she does NOT appreciate at all!

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The changes in her pigmentation continue, and the various hues of Monstress continue to change until she ends up a deep orangey color.  Oblivious to the fact that she looks much better (and much less like certain heroes of old in another universe) as a ‘fall’ than she did as a ‘spring,’ Monstress decides to have a…  quiet discussion with Element Lad…

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When life gives you lemons, torture your alien haberdashers, I suppose.  Monstress quickly adapts to her new coloration, and seems to enjoy it, but happiness in the Legion is often short-lived.  When a young man named Dragonmage (a short story which we’ll be getting to in short order, I suspect) accidentally draws upon elemental forces, four beings find their lives changed, including Brika, a young girl from Dryad (home of Blok, greatest of the rock-bodied Legionnaires.)  The elemental forces are defeated by the Legion, and Brika realizes that her time is over, turning to Monstress and Element Lad for comfort during the last moments of her life…

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Monstress and Element Lad’s friendship is a complex and strange thing, taking on a life of it’s own.  When the Legion takes a well-earned vacation on Summer World, Jan and Candi take a few moments together to just enjoy each other’s presence, even slipping into what feel very much like courtship rituals.

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The yellow lady is Amelia Crugg, one of the aforementioned Khunds, and an associate of Leland McCauley, the brains behind the WorkForce, and a driving force of the Afilliated Planets.  The little girl is Lori Morning, who spent some time with the Legion after being thrown through time by Chronos…  Y’know what, that’s another long story.  Suffice to say that Lori, like so many others of the team, thinks of Monstress as a (very) big sister figure, again showing the big heart inside her plus-sized frame.  As the team relaxes on the beach that evening, Monstress (in what I have to say is a rather sexy bikini) and Element Lad finally finish their courting ritual…

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“…I find you pleasantly eccentric as well,” says Jan, kissing her on the hand.  It’s a cute, romantic little moment, and only my foreknowledge of coming events creates a chill down my spine at the sight of it.  The team’s next mission leads Monstress, and several of her teammates into battle with artificial life-forms that reference something ominous called “Robotica.”  Thanks mostly to Candi’s hammering fists, the four Legionnaires make short work of the robots, but find something even more shocking on their way home…

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The entire system of Stargates, the transportation portals that keep the United Planets… well, united, has gone offline.  The foursome spend nearly a month in conventional transit, trying to find their way home, only to find that their teammates have been consumed by something called “The Blight,” a very Cyberman/Borg sort of infection, that thankfully, our heroes are able to cure their pals of.  But the damage caused by the Blight doesn’t go away that quickly, and the Legion is forced to abandon their orbital outpost when a Stargate feeds back onto itself, and threatens to destroy the whole planet.  As usual, Monstress thinks first of her teammates, regardless of her own safety…

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Pinned in the wreckage of the Legion Outpost, Monstress is among the Legionnaires thrown outside time and space by the collapsing Stargate systems.  These “Lost Legionnaires” are soon discovered by an alien race called The Kwai, one of whom, a girl named Shikari, bonds quickly with the Legionnaires, but especially with the warm-hearted Monstress…

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In this strange other-universe, Shikari explains to the team, an alien force called the Progenitor leads his armies to conquer and command all the beings in the galaxy, forcing those deemed worthy into slavery, and brutally wiping out any “variants” whose genetics are considered sub-par…  Given her deep reservoirs of empathy, Monstress is understandably angered.

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Monstress refuses to budge, insisting that the Legion MUST SAVE the creatures from “deletion,” and Chameleon finally asks why.  Monstress finally comes clean with her origins, explaining not only who she is, and where she comes from, but why she tries to hard to make sure that everyone gets the emotional support they need…

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Monstress and company leap into action, fighting the drones of the Progenitor in an attempt to free their prisoners before they are “cleansed” by the Progeny.  Monstress uses every ounce of her strength, every bit of her durability, but…  the Legionnaires are already too late.

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Monstress manages to stand on her principles, when every fiber of her being says that these creatures must die, that the Progeny, and their twisted master need to have their guts ripped out and used for violin strings.  Even after the mission, Monstress is tortured by the thought of innocent lives lost, her world turned upside-down…

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Monstress and the Legionnaires find that their actions have attracted the specific attention of the Progeny, and find themselves repeatedly attacked.  Even with her back against the wall, faced with an opponent of Mon-El caliber, Monstress tries to understand her foes, to use her brains and emotions before she uses her fists…

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But even the fullest cup of good intentions has it’s bottom, and life on the run, in a strange part of the universe, hunted by creatures who want to kill her sours even Monstress’ sweetness.  Add to that the generally venomous tone of fellow Legionnaire Umbra, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Monstress and Umbra try to be understanding, but characteristically, it’s the volatile “Shadow Lass” who strikes out, first with words, and then with powers.  She soon finds that to be a mistake…

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The team once again crosses paths with the Progeny, but when they’re taken into the Progenitor’s presence, they’re stunned to find that another of their number has survived as well.  Monstress is literally in tears to see her old friend Element Lad, but even had she been seeing clear, her forgiving nature might have missed the undercurrents of menace in his eyes.

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Jan explains the horrible truth of their current positioning…  They’ve been lost for millions of years, subjectively speaking, and only he was awake for it, years of solitude, slowly driving him around the bend, loneliness twisting his urge to help others into the purging “protection” provided by his Progeny.  Jan gives the team their leave, as the horrified Legionnaires try to come to grips with what they’ve seen, what their friend has become.  As always, Monstress wants to believe the best in everyone, even someone they’ve seen proving himself repeatedly to be a mass-murdering $*@&head.

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Monstress cannot bring herself to believe the truth, that Jan is gone, and only the murderous Progenitor remains, so much so that even when he confronts them again, explaining his paln to go back to United Planets space, she wants to believe that things can be like they were before, that the friend she loved is still inside him…

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The Progenitor explains this his mission is as it has always been.  Enslave planets.  Destroy civilizations.  Eliminate any and all species that he deems inferior…  Monstress is appalled, and once again tries to appeal to the better instincts of her friend, but if they still exist, they’re buried so deeply that only the madness, only the Progenitor remains.

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Monstress’ death serves as the distraction that her teammates need, and the Legionnaires manage to both escape the nebulous hell-dimension, and keep the insane Progenitor from making it through after them, (though the price is a bit high, as we’ll go over in just a few weeks.)  Throughout her tenure, Monstress showed herself to be a sturdy of heart as she was of limb, as likely to offer a hug and a kind word as she was to slug it out alongside Mon-El and Ultra Boy.  Though she might not have been the demure girl she used to be, Monstress managed to bring a real sense of humanity (Xanthunity?) to the Archie Legion, offering advice, buying shoes, or fighting for her lives, and even when she knew that things would never be the same, she still tried to save her friend from his own madness.  Her death, though horrifying, came exactly as her Legion career would have made you think it would: fighting the good fight, trying to help a soul in need…  and her sacrifice is one that any hero could be proud of.

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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
Duo Damsel
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Gates
Invisible Kid
Invisible Kid II
Karate Kid
Kid Quantum
Kinetix
Kent Shakespeare
Lightning Lass
Magnetic Kid
Matter-Eater Lad
Mon-El
Quislet
Sensor Girl
Shadow Lass
Shrinking Violet
Star Boy
Supergirl
Sun Boy
Tellus
Thunder
Timber Wolf
Triplicate Girl
Tyroc
Ultra Boy
The White Witch
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 around, we examine one of the hardest Legionnaires to pin down, the team’s first recruit (well, alongside a young lady named Lu.)  We hop the 5:15 train to Bgtzl as we check out the life and times of… Phantom Girl!  (And this time, I MEAN it.)

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. July 28, 2008 at 1:23 am — Reply

    (wince) Aspersions? Those are attacks on someone’s character. Did you mean “ambitions”?

  2. Katzedecimal
    July 28, 2008 at 5:49 pm — Reply

    Ugh. As Kinetix was to Phoenix, so Monstress was to She-Hulk. They managed to make Kinetix moderately interesting, but they really should have left Monstress as a one-shot Marvel parody – her Judith Krantz novel knock-off personality just irritated me. Why they replaced the much more interesting and complex Andromeda with Monstress, I’ll never understand. ..Yeah, okay, so I don’t like her. Next! ;)

  3. July 28, 2008 at 7:57 pm — Reply

    I actually meant aspirations… but sometimes I multi-task at 11 p.m. :) Thanks for the catch.

  4. Bob S.
    July 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    Weird Legion Lost 11 and 12 are the only two Legions missing from my collection prior to ’87. Glad to see someone else have trouble finding those issues.

  5. Scar
    July 29, 2008 at 4:44 pm — Reply

    Did you say her death was collected in a trade?
    What one? I may have to start hunting Ebay………………

  6. July 29, 2008 at 11:04 pm — Reply

    I had thought it was….

    But, apparently, I am wrong.

    Which may actually explain why I could never get the trade ordered through our distributor, come to think of it…

  7. Scar
    July 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    Damn. I was really hoping you were right.
    Guess I can add this to my ever growing list of ‘Trades that should be’.
    Any idea who to write to at DC to express interest?

  8. michael
    December 21, 2011 at 9:04 am — Reply

    I think Monstress is damn awesome after reading this. I had some random Leigon comic she was in and the continuity for that franchise is impenetrable

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