Or – “When The Girl Next Door Comes From Another Dimension…”

In our Hero Histories to date, we’ve seen martyrs and martinets, rockmen and rubber boys, 12th level geniuses and 20th century rejects, but today’s Hero History subject is one of the most relatable of the various Legionnaires throughout the years.  Her story is very familiar, a girl from a good family who leaves home and ends up bonding with a kid from the wrong side of the tracks.  Her story becomes inextricably intertwined with that of her longtime beau, encompassing one of the Legion’s longest-running and most successful romances, and the depth of love is as impressive as his super-powers in many ways.  She’s the sweetest, the calmest of Legionnaires, even at times when all seems lost, and the nature of her powers allow her a sense of serenity that most LSHers can only dream of.  In short, she’s the Legionnaire I’d be most likely to fall in love with, and, I have to say this…  her classic costume showcases one of the finest derrieres of the 31st century.  This, then, is your Hero History of Tinya Wazzo of Bgztl…  Phantom Girl!


As with many of the early Adventure Comics-era Legionnaires, Tinya’s first appearance commenced with her already a Legionnaire.  The story of her joining the team, during the Legion’s earliest days, was not told until several years later, in an issue of Superboy, but the whole affair has the casual sort of “Hey, this sure did happen, now what?” that really crystallizes the early Legion years for me.


Heh.  This kind of treatment, by the way, is why Lightning Lad didn’t become a Legionnaire until nearly two decades ofter his fellow founders did.  Note also the name of Phantom Girl’s home dimension, Bgztl.  In my mind, I pronounce that “Bugtussle,” like the home town of one Daisy “Granny Clampett” Moses.  Once onboard the team, the LSH decided that they needed to once again extend an offer of membership to a teenage Kryptonian of the past, (a long story which is bearing down upon us like a freight train) this one a young lady named Kara.


That surprise, Faithful Spoilerites, is shown in more detail here.  As for Phantom Girl, she, Triplicate Girl and Saturn Girl initially outnumbered the boys on the team.  As the Legion grew in membership, the team took on some of the members who would define the team and it’s growth for years to come.  Bouncing Boy.  Brainiac 5.  Sun Boy.  Mon-El.  But the one who matters most to the study of little MIss Wazzo is the boy from Rimbo, Jo Nah, a.k.a. Ultra Boy.  After only having been a Legionnaire for a short time, U-Boy is accused of a series of crimes, and framed for being the long-lost Rimborian criminal Rann Varal.  Phantom Girl, carrying a pretty impressive torch for the lad, is devastated.


Like many of the female characters of the time-period, Tinya is ruled by her emotions, and breaks down in tears at the thought that her fave-rave boy crush is a fraud.  UNLIKE virtually any of the female characters of the time, Phantom Girl does something about it.  She goes out looking for Jo, and encounters a strange group of aliens, evenrisking being branded as a traitor herself before the truth comes out.


Tinya’s judgement proves to be sound (even if some kid scratched her eye out with a pencil in my copy of the issue) and this appearance cements one of the strongest aspects of her character: she’s not afraid to express her emotions, unlike the stoic Saturn Girl or the brave front put up by Triplicate Girl.  Around this time, Phantom Girl also discovers one of the helpful side-effects of her strange power: as a phantom, she can slip effortlessly into the Kryptonian Phantom Zone!


“And I would have gotten away with it, if not for that medding barrel-chested schmuck in the headband!  Curses!”  Heh.  Phantom Girl’s crush on Ultra Boy turns out to be mutual, and blossoms into one of the cutest romances of the Legion’s history.  He, the roughneck from the mean streets of Rimbor, she the upper-crust rich kid from the intangible side of the tracks.  It’s like Pretty In Pink, only Jo Nah would break Blaine in half just for having a stupid name.  Their romance was so intense that they (along with Legion founders Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl) decided to up and get married!


When I renew my wedding vows on my 20th anniversary (oh dear lord, that’s only a few years away… Medic!) I will make all of my closest frined hold sticks with little homunculi of themselves on the end as we exit the church and/or upended spaceship, resplendent in our blue and red costumes, my bionic arm shining in the sun.  Bygones…   Anyway, The Weddings That Wrecked The Legion (catchy name, that) turned out to be nothing more than a hoax, as the team uses the four vacancies to open up their ranks to several unscrupulous types that they knew were trying to infiltrate the team anyway…


Tinya and Jo really seem like the kind of couple that have legs here, and later events prove that there’s a lot more than teenage hormones in tights going on…  There was little that could come between the twosome for years, yet Phantom Girl managed to make herself known as a heroine in her own right, not just the fourth-most powerful Legionnaire’s girlfriend.  When the chips were down, Tinya was just as likely as any of her male counterparts to wade into combat and see what kind of damage she could do.


Note also one of the earliest appearances of her ultra-mod (and much missed) 70’s “Bell Bottoms And Portholes” costume, as designed by the legendary Dave Cockrum.  Phantom Girl also began wearing her hair in ultra-mod pigtails at this time, and it’s in this costume that I was first introduced to her.  Even though her powers were of a more subtle nature (or, honestly, perhaps BECAUSE of the nature of powers made her, quite literally, untouchable) Phantom Girl showed great courage under pressure, seldom giving in to fear.


Even her ultra-protective big brother doesn’t shake Phantom Girl’s resolve to testify against the murderous assassin, and when the jackass shows himself, Phantom Girl does what any Legionnaire would in her shoes: She takes action to take the criminal out and bring him to justice.  Even staring down the barrel of a Mike Grell frap-gun, she doesn’t blink…


Bell-bottoms in the face!  FATALITY!  Fellow Legionnaires Element Lad and Sun Boy arrive to try and fish Tinya out of the fire, but quickly find that, not only does she not NEED the save, that they’re the ones in peril.  Element Lad is possessed by a Bgtzlian phantom, which forces him to act in ways against his will, including attempting to kill off states’ witness Phantom Girl himself!  Luckily, we find that he’s not the only LSHer “eclipsed” in this fashion, as Sun Boy is playing host to a passenger himself…


That should teach the solids to be arrogant about “poor little Phantom Girl.”  More impressively, P.G. isn’t just ready to face down with your garden variety street-killer…  Oh, no no no!  Allow me to introduce you to a man who bathes in the coronoas of live stars, who cracks planets with his bare hands, whose malevolent influence is partially deemed responsible for driving the impeccable mind of Brainiac 5 into the depths of madness.  His name is Pulsar Stargrave, but as far as Tinya’s concerned?  He’s just another jabroni in a toga.


Here is a villain who has held his own in combat with Tom Welling, who has faced Wildfire’s anti-energy without flinching, but does Tinya stand back and wait for her comrades to take him down?  She does not!


And such lovely karate form, too!  Phantom Girl’s resolve is really only challenged when her beloved Ultra Boy is lost in battle, a victim, it seems of the Legionnaire’s lifestyle.  With her main squeeze out of the picture, Tinya finds herself without an anchor, throwing herself back into her work, focusing on her job, protecting the innocents of the galaxy.


When Phantom Girl finds herself trapped, unable to go intangible and escape, all seems lost.  But at the last possible moment, a mysterious caped man dives through the water like a shot and pulls her free…


The man identifies himself as “Reflecto,” and says that he’s come to help the Legion out.  But, if that’s the case, how is it that he knows so much about the team?  And, moreover, why does he have some sort of fascination with Phantom Girl?


As they did when Jo was branded a traitor, Tinya’s instincts tell her that something is up.  They also tell her that “Reflecto” seems incredibly familiar, and she becomes certain that he is her long-lost Ultra Boy!  The other Legionnaires tell her that she’s wrong, and Saturn Girl assures her that her Jo is truly gone.  Phantom Girl, true to form, trusts her gut over anything that telepathy has to offer, and goes to unmask Reflecto, proving that his is really…

…Tom Welling?  What the–?


After being punched through a couple of city blocks by Mon-El, the man who LOOKS like Superboy and dresses like Reflecto turns out to have the MIND of… ULTRA BOY!  Tinya’s instincts, as usual, were on the money about her mysterious suitor.  Through a twisted series of events, the Legionnaires return to Earth circa “twenty years ago,” the stomping grounds of Mr. Welling, only to find themselves under siege by the army, as somehow Tom has been branded a traitor.  With her teammates downed, and no way out, Phantom Girl takes a gamble, using her specialized knowledge of alternate dimensions, and pushing her powers to the absolute limit!


At great physical cost, she manages to get Dawny and T.W. to Bgztl, from which they strike out into other alternate dimensions, using their tracking powers and flight speed, respectively, to track down the lost body of her love, tucked away in some pocket dimension somewhere.  With their help, she manages to get his mind separated from Superboy’s, using her resourcefulness to return her Ultra Boy to health… where she wants him.


Another thing that I find a bit atypical of the relationship between U-Boy and P-Girl is the implications that they have a fully adult relationship, including ess ee ecks, and the look on Phantom Girl’s face in that first panel is the proof of that.  They’re a real, fully interactive couple, like many you and I might know.  During the Great Darkness Saga, through the events that led up to the war with the Legion of Super-Villains, Phantom Girl served the team ably, but at the end of the battle, she was one of the Legionnaires left outside our universe when planet Orando was spirited away to another dimension.  She, as well as Ultra Boy and three others, were able to make their way into an escape bubble, but were left stranded on the other side of the universe…


Pooling their resources, the Legionnaires manage to make their way to the nearest planet, and start scouting for anyone or anything to tell them where they are, or to help them get home.  And, much to Ultra Boy’s chagrin, when it comes to infiltration, Phantom Girl is at her very best…


Tinya’s horror is genuine, still recalling the events that led to the death of Ferro Lad those many moons ago, and it is her opinion that sways the Legionnaires in favor of destroying the Sun-Eater to keep that sort of horror from happening again.  Once again, Phantom Girl is aware of, completely accepting of, and not at all ashamed of her emotions.  The Legion goes through a period of great expansion soon after, with new members coming aboard, and old members retiring, but through it all, Phantom Girl endured.  When Polar Boy issued the whole team new costumes, Phantom Girl was one of the lucky ones who DIDN’T look goofy, even if I did (and still do) miss the skintight white number with the portholes…


Once again, Phantom Girl may have a super-powered boyfriend, but she doesn’t hide behind his Ultra-skirts, choosing to make her own path.  The Legionnaires endured the events of the Magic Wars, ending that trial as strong as ever, with Phantom Girl still a member.  When we saw them next, Jo Nah was back on Rimbor, obviously in mourning for his lost Phantom Girl.  It wasn’t until some time AFTER that that we saw what happened to her, courtesy of Glorith of Balduur.


But, as with anything Glorith had every done, the seeming murder of Phantom Girl is much more (and much LESS) than it seems.  Rather than being blow to smithereens, Tinya was actually transported backwards through time, landing in the headquarters of Vril Dox II’s L.E.G.I.O.N. one thousand years in her past, replacing the mysterious Durlan mastermind who assisted Dox in creating his empire…


After some misunderstandings, Tinya manages, characteristically, to find her bearings and quickly take control of her situation.  She not only joins L.E.G.I.O.N., but becomes one of the keys to keeping Dox (the adopted son of Brainiac ((or at least the Brainiac we knew at the time))) in check.


Without her memory, Tinya (now dubbed “Phase,” because comics in the 90’s weren’t allowed to have characters whose names were interesting) stayed in the past, until the events known as Zero Hour began to rewrite history as the Legion knew it.  The main Legion team and their SW6 “clone” counterparts fought as hard as they could, but even their might couldn’t stave off the destruction of the timestream.  When the Time Trapper (or, at least A Time Trapper) was revealed to be none other than founding Legionnaire Rokk Krin, aka Cosmic Boy, he explained a great many of the mysteries of the Legion, and undid the greatest injustice of Jo Nah’s life…


In the death trhoes of their world, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy were reunited, with one another, and with the team that brought them together and defined them.  Moments later, the couple joined hands with their younger counterparts from the SW6 Legion (Tinya’s went by the gawdawful sobriquet of Apparition) in order to reunite the splintered timeframe of the 30th Century…


With one last cry of “Long Live The Legion,” the 30th Century as we knew it faded to white, and time reset itself.  Once again, a man named R.J. Brande was the victim of a murder attempt, and once again that assassination was foiled by a young telepath from Titan, a lightning-caster from the backwater planet Winath, and a champion magnoball player from Braal.  Once again, the United Planets sanctioned them to operate as a team, but things were a little bit different for the team, including the way that a young woman from Bgztl entered their lives…


Tinya’s mother, Winema Wazzo is a very important face in this new United Planets, and in order to keep her mom from worrying, Tinya phases through the big blue symbol of the new combine, noticing a strange mass of wires inside.  Saturn Girl picks up Tinya’s stray thoughts, and recognizes the wiring for the bomb that it is, allowing Cosmic Boy and Lightning Livewire to take care of the SECOND attmpt on the life of R.J. Brande.  This time, there’s more than one assassin, and the heroes are overwhelmed.  Enter Tinya!


With the assistance of Brande’s personal secretary, a spunky Cargggite named Lu, the killers are rounded up before dawn, even before they put their boots on, took a face from the ancient gallery or WALKED ON DOOOOWN THE HALL!!!  Owing to their strong showing, both of the young ladies are, as before, welcomed aboard the newly christened super-team to end all super-teams…


Yeccch.  Apparition.  Forgive me for being stubborn, but much as I did with Valor and Umbra, I’m just gonna pretend that name never happened.  Phantom Girl and the ever-expanding Legion made a quick name for themselves, and spawned a few imitators, including the Amazers of Xanthu, and the Work Force, in the employ of Brande’s rival Leland McCauley IV.  When a prison riot goes bad, the Work Force and the Legion are both called in, and Phantom Girl comes face to face with her destiny…


The teams manage to coexist long enough to find that this mysterious “Ultra Boy” is really being duped in the hopes of earning some money, and that McCauley is more concerned with his security contracts than with saving lives.  Live Wire (known pre-Crisis as Lightning Lad) stalks away from his contract in anger, and Tinya whirls on the rest of the team with a message that’s really only for one man.


Her message is recieved, loud and clear, and Ultra Boy wrests his own future away from the Work Force, joining the Legion and his girl.  After a few ‘Romeo and Juliet’ false starts, Jo and Tinya do start to make a go of things as a couple, and are part of the team when renegade Daxamite supremacists manage to gain super-powers and sweep across the U.P. in a perverse form of ethnic cleansing… using heat vision.  Ultra Boy manages to survive combat with them, but when Phantom Girl races to make sure he’s all right, one of the Daxamites sweeps his killing beams across them both…


Apparition becomes the third golden statue in the Legion’s hall of fallen heroes, and Ultra Boy tries to soldier on without his girl.  The Legionnaire finds himself suffering from sudden bouts of weakness, with cramping and horrible pain, but each one coupled with a feeling that Jo eloquently describes as “Tinya-ness.”  He wakes up after another spell, feeling her presence stronger than ever, and proceeds to enter her old LSH quarters…


Jo is shocked to find Winema in her daughter’s old room, and that the old-money daughter of Bgztl doesn’t care much for his rough-and-tumble ways, blaming him for the death of her daughter (even though Phantom Girl was in the Legion long before he was…)  Their argument becomes heated, and in the midst of it all, Ultra Boy is felled by another wave of pain, as if something were trying to separate itself from his body… something very dear to him and to Winema both.


Now intangible permanently, and nearly invisible as well, our Girl is truly a Phantom.  She and Ultra Boy joine the Legionnaires in their battle with Shrinking Violet, possessed by the Emerald Eye of Ekron, wearing the (worse than Apparition) nom de guerre of “Emerald Vi.”  Violet panicks during the battle, and attempts to use her power to turn back time to a point where she was winning the battle, but instead strands half the Legion in the distant past, 1000 years ago if your from the future of our past circa 1996…  Man, even *I* don’t understand that sentence.  Anyway, it’s the modern DCU, for 12 year old values of modern.  Once there, Tinya gets involved with not only a spirit medium, but with none other than Boston Brand himself, the legendary Deadman.  Through a convoluted series of events, Tinya is given a Lifestone, a red gem that allows her to solidify once again, much to her (and Ultra Boy’s) joy.


Of course, there ARE some unanswered questions raised by that day.  Did the pin have an owner?  Why would she have a Lifestone from 30th Century Bgztl?  And wouldn’t she miss it?  The answers are, in no particular order, “yes,” “yes,” and “That would be telling…”  But I’ll give you a HINT…


Hello!  In these, the days before Tom Welling punches, continuity implants and retcons were given actual explanations, and one that most people didn’t consider was the fact that Tinya was sent to the past, and returned to the future, but PHASE NEVER DISAPPEARED FROM L.E.G.I.O.N!  The FUTURE of the DCU was rewritten, but it’s past was already past, and in those heady post-Crisis days, giant reboots still weren’t the norm.  So, exactly who IS Phase?  That answer came to light when it was revealed that Winema Wazzo wasn’t as “old-money” as she wanted us all to think, having met up with and fallen prey to a Carggite con artist named Luonel, who left her knocked up with a child who was half Cargggite and half Bgztl.  Luonel managed to spirit two of the babies away, and one of THEM was sent back in time to join the L.E.G.I.O.N.  Of course, when Phase and Phantom Girl met, and both touched the lifestone, things got… pyrotechnical.


Facing down the menace of Computo, the two halves of herself finally came to terms with life and bonded back together, returning her to full corporeality at last.  When Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy’s planned wedding (I’ll get there, I promise) goes bad, Jo and Tinya realize that they have an official, and they have a planned wedding…


Of course, they probably lack identification, and a blood test would reveal antibodies and ultra-energy and dimension shifting plague germs and stuff, but why quibble?  It’s a lovely moment, and it’s good to see them finally getting to follow through on their planned nuptuals (the pre-Crisis version of which were blown out of the water when Glorith faked her death some years before 1000 years after this.)  Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy were among the Legionnaires who didn’t really change all that much, once again settling into their comfortable interactions, and basically seeming very compatible.  Marriage did them worlds of good, even allowing them to make fourth-wall breaking tonsorial jokes that only I love…


I really miss the pigtails.  When an alien race called The Blight attack Earth, basically Borg and/or Cybermanning up the joint, Phantom Girl was one of four Legionnaires left unscathed.  Her return helped to free Ultra Boy from the Blight, but the team almost immediately was thrust into saving the worlds from the menace of the imploding stargate technology.  The Legion Outpost was destroyed in this battle, and half of it, including Ultra Boy, were thrust outside of our universe, and stuck somewhere in East Heck, with no way to get home.  Ultra Boy starts to freak out a bit, thinking that he’ll never see his girl again, and is ready to physically assult his teammates, when, true to form, Tinya makes the last-second save.


Aww…  That’s sweet!  It’s good to see them reunited like that…  Of course, it’s bull$#!+.  But it’s sweet.  Turns out that this isn’t Tinya at ALL (for the answers on what it IS, join us in a few short weeks for Saturn Girl, a long story that’s getting longer as we speak) and that the real Tinya is back on Rimbor, stuck there after the Stargates collapsed.  She’s also in a…  delicate situation of her own.


Nearly full-term pregnant, Tinya proves my theory that she was getting a little ultra-somepin-sompin (but, hey, they ARE married) and has allied herself with the man called Timber Wolf, a Rimborian gangleader who reminds nearly everyone eerily of her lost man.  Still, even giving birth doesn’t keep Phantom Girl out of action for long…


Timber Wolf, Phantom Girl, and the newborn immediate board a slow shuttle back to the U.P. and Earth when they hear that the lost Legionnaires have been found, including Ultra Boy, but their ship is disabled by the attack of a creature called Robotica from somewhere in the vicinity of Xanthu…


One of the things I like about Phantom Girl in this situation, even as the massively pregnant mother, she never let herself become the victim.  And when it became obvious that Timber Wolf was crushing on her ridiculously, she handled it in a relatively straightforward manner.  She even coped when she found a note from her husband to Saturn Girl, referencing events that took place in the Lost universe…  Bowed but not broken, Tinya survives the Robotican assault to finally be reunited with her U-Boy.


Just like her counterpart pre-Crisis, the rebooted Tinya Wazzo managed to keep her course clear, no matter which way the cosmic wind blew.  Soon after these events, the 30th Century was once again rebooted, and Tinya and Jo were set adrift in the timestream, then stuck on Earth-247 during the Infinite Crisis.  The 31st Century changed again, and a different Legion of Super-Heroes arose to protect the United Planets.  But, as before, something remained the same in all worlds…


…and one of those is the adorability of one miss Tinya Wazzo.  The Threeboot version of Tinya once again returns the bell-bottoms and portholes to the costume (’bout time!) and adds a subtle new twist to her powers.  As a Bgztlian mutant, Tinya phases ack and forth between the worlds, existing in both at once, though not always in even amounts, as Karate Kid finds out the heartbreaking way…


As bad as that is for Val, it’s doubly worse for Tinya, who finds herself alienating both Jarel and Karate Kid in the same breath.  Turns out that twice the universe can also mean twice as many ways to lose friends and irritate people.  This version of Phantom Girl also returns an old power to her arsenal, as she is the only Legionnaire who can see Mon-El in the Phantom Zone.  When Saturn Girl realizes what’s going on, Tinya agrees to help her with a dangerous proposition, turning over her eyes to help a fellow (potential) Legionnaire…


In any universe, in any 30th century, Phantom Girl remains a well-rounded character, a strong woman and an admirable hero.  Often shown in tears (when Invisible Kid died, when Wildfire first sacrificed himself, when Ultra Boy was presumed dead) she is nonetheless no (you should excuse the term) shrinking violet.  Refusing to stop being a hero because she’s an emotional woman, yet refusing to stop being an emotional woman because she’s a hero, Phantom Girl balances real human feelings with her heroic urges.  She never stopped being the nice girl from the dimension next door, never stopped loving the people she loved, and never made excuses for herself.  Indeed, for a woman whose power was turning intangible, she proved herself to be the most rock-solid of all Legionnaires.


**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:

Bouncing Boy
Brainiac 5
Chameleon Boy
Chemical King
Colossal Boy
Dream Girl
Duo Damsel
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Invisible Kid
Invisible Kid II
Karate Kid
Kid Quantum
Kent Shakespeare
Lightning Lass
Magnetic Kid
Matter-Eater Lad
Sensor Girl
Shadow Lass
Shrinking Violet
Star Boy
Sun Boy
Timber Wolf
Triplicate Girl
Ultra Boy
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!  Next time around, we flash forward to Legion 2.0, as we take a look at the OTHER other magnetic Legionnaire.  Join us for the quick rise and debilitating fall of the man known as… Magno!

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.

Previous post

Comic Class Reading List

Next post

Above the Line Crew Shaping Up for Flash Gordon


  1. Slappy
    August 8, 2008 at 1:39 am — Reply

    Thank you very much for such a fine job. PG has been a long standing favorite of mine and your history has done her justice (even if the apparition era didn’t). Keep up the good work, and I look foreward to the Long Cosmic Boy History and the quaint little history of Tom Welling.

  2. Sanlear
    August 8, 2008 at 7:07 am — Reply

    That was a fun stroll down memory lane (I vividly remember reading as a kid the issue where she first meets “Reflecto”).

  3. 1000GreenSun
    August 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    Yay! PG- my FAVORITE legionnaire, EVA! Great job! I’m a hardcore TW/PG…I can’t believe PG was paired up with…UB…bleh! Totally frickin’ fantastic job!

  4. Ivory Bill Woodpecker
    October 28, 2008 at 4:26 am — Reply

    When reboot Tinya was [more or less] killed, I hoped they would make her the future version of the Spectre.

  5. raymond
    November 21, 2012 at 4:12 am — Reply

    Dang. That was an amazing trip. Lots of info here. Thanks for collecting this and retelling it.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section