Or – “An Old Tradition With A Brand New Face.  Well, Actually… NO Face.”

The Legion of Super-Heroes has, through the years, defied the archetypes of superhumans, redefining powers that we’d already seen in new ways.  During the early 60’s, when Sue Storm was a preening airhead with an astronaut’s wife’s haircut, Saturn Girl was leading the team.  In the 1970’s, the Legion pioneered a number of concepts ahead of their time, with the bodiless energy being known as Wildfire, and the strange and obscure powers of Tyroc and Chemical King presaging weird nebulous characters like Jack Hawksmoor and…  well, everyone written by Grant Morrison, really.  So, when a winged woman with the ability to exist in space and whose powers included the ability to seek out and find her target across interstellar distances showed up, the Legion was once again ahead of the curve.  Years later, during the rebooted Legion, this concept was remixed (with a little alternate dimension thrown in) giving us one of the most unusual and intriguing characters of the Legion’s second run.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of the Kwai known as the Lone Star of the Lost Galaxy…  Shikari!


To begin the story of Shikari, we have to return to one of the darkest moments in Legion history.  An alien race called The Blight had destroyed the Stargate technology that made travel between the various worlds of the United Planets possible (at least without spending months on a slow boat to Rimbor) and the Legion had been forced to act.  Brainiac 5 came up with a desperate plan to save Earth from a collapsing Stargate, using the shields that surrounded their Legion Outpost, along with help from the various energy casters he worked with to save the planet.  Unfortunately, it also ripped the station in two, and only half the team made it back home.  What happened to the REST of the Legion?  For that story, we have to travel halfway across the universe and find a group of nomads known only as the Kwai, as they investgate a strange space anomaly…


Shikari and her fellow Kwai track the strange vibes across space, and her less-courageous friends split back to Kwai territory.  Not so Shikari, who is fascinated by the alien artifact that they find there, looking remarkably like an upended rocketship, trailing debris across space.


Confronted with something so weird, most beings would turn and run the other way, but ‘Kari finds herself fascinated, flying closer, and realizing that the strange conveyence is actually a ship, and (since they’ve never seen anything kill a cat on this side of the galaxy) enters the ship and pokes around.  Her investigations trigger a message from the great beyond, from someone you and I know, but who seems like a freakish alien thing to Shikari…


Shikari has accidentally fallen upon the the remnants of the Legion Outpost, lost in time and space, thrown across dimensions.  By triggering the message from Element Lad (the only Legionnaire conscious when the team was displaced) also triggers another early warning system, freeing the Legionnaires from the Trommite sarcophogi.  Which is a good thing, it turns out, as Shikari isn’t the ONLY thing that has discovered the remains of the Outpost, as the mysterious and murderous Progeny arrive with less-than-pleasant motives.


Without realizing it, Shikari manages to lead the Progeny right into the hands of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who handily and quickly take them out.  Unlike most Kwai, Shikari has reservoirs of curiosity, intellect, and most of all, courage.  Faced with the Legion, she doesn’t run, instead befriending the weirdos from another planet.  When the team needs to get their bearings, Shikari obliges, showing them the way things go here, and exactly what the Progeny are up to…


After battling the Progeny again, the LSH needs to find a place to regroup, and ‘Kari decides to lead them to her “briefhome,” the ship on which the nomadic Kwai travel in search of a place to call their own.  She acts as a bridge between the heroes and her people, even convincing the Kwai to help the Legion…


Unlike her people, who prepared to run when faced with conflict, Shikari wants to fight, and stands alongside the Legion as they face the Progeny.  Shikari bonds with the members of the team, even sharing with them the reason why she’s so different from her people…


The Kwai don’t have any problem letting her risk her life to defend them, however, and alongside the Legion they continue battling Progeny, and even the threat of Singularity, a being as powerful as Mon-El himself.  While Brainiac 5 barricades himself away, trying to find his bearings and a way to catapult himself and his friends home, Shikari serves as the teams compass, keeping them out of trouble (or at least as close to out of trouble as Legionnaires ever really get) thanks to her inherent tracking powers and infallible sense of direction.


Once again, the team faces unforeseen dangers, as an attempt to sends them home frees the Omniphagos, a creature that destroys everything in its path.  Faced with yet another attempt on her life, Shikari surprises her Legion compatriots by armoring up…


Heh.  “Kick-nass.”  Soon afterwards, the group finally meets the mysterious Progenitor, head of the Progeny, and are ALL shaken to the core at his identity.  The Legionnaires are horrified to find that the mass-murdering @($*@head is one of their own, a long-past-mad Element Lad.  Shikari finds her own brand of horror in finding out that the Progenitor created all the life in her portion of the galaxy, including her own Kwai race, and that he’s been wiping out the “variants” because he created them!  As the team tries to come to grips with their friend having gone wacky in the wicky-woo, Shikari realizes that she’s just, literally, met her maker…


Live Wire’s plan works, though not without collateral damage, as both he and Monstress become casualties of the team’s plan to get home (and keep Omniphagos and the Progenitor from following them.)  Shikari agrees to use her powers to get the team through a spacial rift and home, but when she arrives, they all find that Earth ain’t what is used to be.


The Legion is suspicous of this maneuver, and when the U.P. ramrod Mr. Venge starts to show his true colors, they realize this is amiss.  Venge and his cohorts have prepared to have Shikari vivisected, the better to figure out how she led the Legion ship home, so they can reverse engineer her powers for interstellar travel.  Luckily for Shikari, the LSH takes care of its own.


Once freed from her captivity, Shikari and the Legion come to terms with the horrible truth: the United Planets have turned against them, and sealed off their secrets behind an impenetrable force field.  The Legionnaires unleash their powers at full force against the field, to no avail…  Even the hammering fists of MON-EL can’t penetrate it.  Of course, nobody expects The Spanish Inquisition the powers of the bug-girl from another dimension!


The Legionnaires troubles weren’t over when they figured out who was behind the plot to undermine the U.P. (hint: rhymes with M’as Bal Dhul) as they immediately had to deal with the threat of Robotica and it’s mobile Warworld.  The Legionnaires find themselves faced with perfect reproductions of the Justice League of America, fighting heroes as powerful and as clever as themselves.  Shikari’s opponent says more than a little bit about her, as well…


Ya know that silly bit about Batman being able to beat anybody if he’s prepared blah blah blah fishcakes?  Well, asks yourself this:  ya ever try to prepare for a faceless gray-skinned gypsy with diaphanous wings and a tendency to curse hilariously in Interlac?  Well, neither has the computer simulation of Thomas Wayne’s baby boy.


I want you to think for a moment about how many people have ever manage to bloody the Batman like that.  Hush?  Nope.  The Riddler?  Doubtful…  The Joker?  Maybe, but does he have seafoam green hair?  Wait, he does.  Crap.  Bygones!  In any case, it’s telling of her abilities that she is able to hold her own against the caped crusader.  With the corrupt U.P. government overturned, the Legion sets about the task of returning things to a semblance of normal, and the first act they attempt is returning their membership to full strength after the collapse of the Stargate system left the team scattered across the galaxy.


Heh.  As much as I complain about the constant fake cursewords in the current incarnation of the Legion, having Shikari use them was pretty sprocking funny.  The team manages to locate Shikari’s people, and convince them to act as living navigators for the system of Threshold gates, giving her people a home at last, thanks to Shikari.   But, their happiness was short-lives, as this period of LSH history, perhaps more than any other, is an era of great change and upheaval for the team, so much so that as soon as one menace is taken down, the team ends up facing another giant clusterschmozz jockeying to fill it’s space.  Shikari’s uniqueness, even amongst her peers, is once again underscored when the rogue telepath Universo takes over the minds of nearly the entire United Planets in a bid for power…  Nearly being the operative word, by the way.


Shikari and her Legion overcome Universo (thanks to the work of Saturn Girl, a looooong story that I’m terrified is just around the corner) as well as facing the threats of Darkseid, and the Fatal Five.  But, when the Persuader uses his Atomic Axe to cut through dimensions and bring alternate versions of his teammates over, the newly minted Fatal Five Hundred threatens to destroy even the Legion.  Teaming with the Teen Titans of 20th Century Earth (thanks to new Legion member Kon Welling) the Legion keeps the F5 from taking over the world.  Unfortunately, though, their mucking with time, space, and dimension serves to somehow cut the Legion free of the timestream, sending them careening through the chronal vortex…


Shikari and her Legion throw themselves into time to preserve the world of the 20th Century, holding tight to one another, but Shikari ends up being separated from her partners in the process…


I always feel so bad for Kid Quantum II, as she seems to have a perma-wedgie in her every appearance.  As her Legion is dragged away from her, Shikari’s powers don’t fail her.  Even though she’s crushed by the loss of her friends, she is drawn unerringly home, back to Metropolis of the 30th Century.  ‘Course, since she and her pals have left the timestream in a state that I can only describe as “busticated,” the 30th century she FINDS and the 30th century she KNOWS aren’t quite the same.


Shikari lands in the future as seen in the current Legion of Super-Heroes series, making her the only Legionnaire (as of this writing, mind you) to have crossed over from one future Legion reality to another.  Of course, what happened to our Kwai heroine at this point has gone untold, but we can probably extrapolate.  Having found a world that wasn’t hers, Shikari must have found a way back into the space-time continuum (I hear Eddie’s in there, and he has a lovely sofa) and used her unerring sense of direction to find the Legion she knew and loved.  The reason I know this, of course, comes from this moment in the epic Infinite Crisis series…


 A stranger in a strange land, Shikari nevertheless managed to endear herself to me and to her Legion comrades, with a combination of wits, guts, and the occasional moment of cursing like a sailor.  Unusual even among the Rebooted Legion (whose members included a teleporting bug, an intangible woman with three bodies, a shrinking girl who eventually got green hair and also grew big, identical twins who shoot electricity, and a guy whose head breaks open when he uses his powers) Shikari was nonetheless collected enough to face the legendary Batman in combat.  Her tenure was, again, not one of the longest in Legion history, but arguably no Legionnaire defined their era more, as she was the reason the Lost Legion wasn’t Lost, the reason the United Planets were reunited, and (along with XS and Gates) one of the best reasons to love the second incarnation of the LSH.


**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
Phantom Girl
Princess Projectra
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…  He’s the Legionnaire who I didn’t even know WAS a Legionnaire for several issues.  We untwists the cable and wires that lead to the rebooted Legion’s mechanopath, the man(nikin) known as…  GEAR!

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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  1. Esther
    August 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm — Reply

    Oooo. Insult to injury. “I see your path” translation: Psht! you’re so predictable. :)

  2. August 11, 2008 at 1:37 am — Reply

    So this character was the “Dawnstar” of the reboot? I wonder if their two histories should have been combined.

  3. August 11, 2008 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    There were some superficial similarities between Shikari and Dawnstar, but they were essentially different characters in many important ways. Plus, Abnett and Lanning always denied that Shikari was just the reboot Dawnstar.

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