Hero History: Gear

by

Or – “Robot ROLL CALL!

The concept of “the bright and shiny future” is the key behind the popularity of the Legion over the years, but what that future entails has changed with each decade.  What started as a bunch of squeaky-clean teens in an upturned rocket ship had to evolve with the changing times, as the kids of the Legion and the readership aged.  When the Legion was rebooted in the 1990′s, the strange future where everybody was clean-cut and had a nice stable family upbringing had finally been thrown aside, and we got to see the Legionnaires recast in roles that were more like the other heroes of the age.  In that vein came today’s entrant, a hero whose powers were oh-so-90′s, the mecha-empath, a technokinetic hero who served as a sort of Swiss army superhero for the Legion’s slicing-dicing-and-even-cutting-tin-cans-with-it hours of need.  Though his time with the team was short, he nonetheless was a change of pace for the Legion, and at least his powers (thank Rao) didn’t come from freakin’ nanites.  (Bloodshot!  I’m lookin’ at you, pally!)  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of I.Z.O.R. of Linsnar…  Gear!

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The story of Gear begins in a rather ugly place, the Blackstar Juvenile Correction Facility, an internment camp for young superhumans who use their powers in ways that Number Two would describe as “unmutual.”  Himself having been captured, Gear has acquiesed to acting as official comptroller and central processing unit for the prison and it’s more than just a little bit unscrupulous middle-managment suckups.  The day that would change Gear’s life came when serpentine Legionnaire Sensor (known pre-Crisis as Princess Projectra) was brought to Blackstar for trumped-up crimes…

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To say that Gear controls the security systems to capture Projectra would be less than honest.  He IS the security systems that capture her, without regard to whether or not she actually belongs there, or indeed has actually DONE anything.  When Projectra insists that he explain himself, Gear has the simplest reasoning of all…

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Well, that certain is the remark that I would expect from a tool…  (Also, the Linsnerians have an interesting series of deities, including their all-mother, the goddess of emo, face paint, and vinyl fetish clothing.)  In any case, Gear’s “chust follvink orders” routines has very little to do with reality, as Gear had long been troubled by the cruelty at Blackstar, and had set up a rather complex (and smartly subtle) plan to free the inmates from the whiphands of dictatorial bureaucrats.  Once we figures out how useful Sensor’s powers will be, he spills the beans to her…

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The Warden doesn’t realize the economy-sized can of whupass that he’s opened until the fully trained Legionnaire with the fangs and the creature that he, himself, has trusted with all the operating functions of the station lead the prisoners in an uprising that would make Patrick McGoohan proud.  Gear’s machinations (no pun intended) were such that he himself had to be damaged beyond a certain point before his escape plans could be set into motion, leaving him as a martyr…

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…or rather, WOULD have left him a martyr, if Sensor wasn’t close personal buddies with the latest, greatest mind of the planet Colu, known for it’s mastery of cybernetics and artificial life forms.  Brainiac 5 manages to fix Gear with ease, and even whips up a little jogging suit to show off his chiseled (literally) abs and point at his belly button from both directions.  Introduced to the Legion, Gear can’t help but try to get involved, as Ultra Boy claims that his gaming console has been tampered with…

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Gear finds that something strange IS afoot with the Playstation 1,210, but before he can do anything, he is rushed off by Brainiac 5 with his usual tactfulness.  Gear may be artificial, but he’s not at all interested in being Brainy’s personal cyber-guinea-pig.

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Almost immediately afterward, the Legion was attacked by The Blight, and several of their members lost far outside the boundaries of the universe as we know it, a Legion lost for some time.  While the team was gone (even the members left in the United Planets couldn’t get around due to the collapse of the stargate systems) R.J. Brande set about making sure that the Legion wasn’t gone for good.  And who did he grab for his first recruit?

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It should be pretty obvious the honor that was bestowed on Gear here, but for those of you in the cheap seats, I shall elaborate.  The father.  Of the frickin’ Legion.  Chose him to be the first member of a new version thereof.  Gear’s abilities are impressive enough, but when it comes to R.J.’s next big plan, he’s flat-out awe-inspring: the creation of homeworld habitats for all the LSHers.

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We don’t see the new outpost that Gear and Brande have created, except from the inside, and the Legion is quickly thrown into action against Ra’s Al Ghul’s plot to kickstart human evolution using his “Terrorforms.”  During that mission, Earth’s moon is nearly wrested from it’s orbit, and Gear has to take immediate action, breaking through the illusions of Sensor and debuting his creation… LEGION WORLD!

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Al Ghul counterattacks, and for a moment it seems like the Legion World is destroyed, but Gear’s handiwork is a little too sturdy to be taken down that easily.

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It’s nice to see somebody getting one over on Brainiac (even if it did take too of them to do it.  Gear streamlines quickly into the Legion, quickly becoming the go-to guy for technical issues, allowing Brainiac 5 to spend his time on the big thinking that he does so well.  Gear even manages to show off a somewhat dry sense of humor…

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The Legion manages (barely) to overcome the threat of the Terrorforms, only to immediately be faced with the hordes of Robotica.  On what they think is a routine fact finding mission, the Legion ends up facing down hard-light holograms of the Justice League of America, with fully accurate powers and personalities.  We already saw Shikari take down the goddamn Batman, but Gear finds himself even more mismatched, as he crosses emerald swords with Kyle Rayner, the goddamn Green Lantern.

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Gear surmises that, if the computer core of Robotica has the ability to create replicas of the JLA, that perhaps it will go the distance, and make sure that the heroes act heroic, and true to form, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman will not attack a downed foe.  While the rest of the team fights with their fists, Gear manages to tap into the computer and fight with his impressive neural net…

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The Legionnaires take full advantage of the ability to speak with the mind of Warworld, finding out the basics of the attack, and looking for the upper hand…

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The team overcomes Robotica (which turns out to be Brainiac’s old creation Computo in a new guise) and tries to settle down to a normal life.  Normal, of course, being a subjective term, as they are immediately hit by menace after menace, even facing the last scion of the Fourth World himself.  When the Legion needs intel on Darkseid, Gear manages to crack the JLA’s ancient files, the information in which has been hidden for thousands of years, and do it in record time.

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The Legionnaires manage to defeat Darkseid, thanks to the interaction of TWO different sons of Krypton (Kal El and Kon El) and Kon joins their team soon after.  After another mission for the away team, Gear teams up with the artist known in another universe as Bouncing Boy to take care of the most dangerous mission of all: cleanup.

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In the hopes of shortening their torture (and I’ve cleaned the restrooms in a comic book store, I totally feel Chuck’s pain) Gear and Mr. Taine release a strange biological organism from Brainiac 5′s lab, only to find that the creature is quicker than they thought.  Chuck panicks, just a bit, at the thought of having endangered civilization to speed up his mopping time, and the duo sets out to find the blob again.

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Gear finds himself in a new role, as the perfect straight man to Bouncing Boy’s Lou Costello.  “I heard your cousin runs a Moopsball team…”  Heh.  The terrible twosome head to Kon-El’s room, and convince the erstwhile Kryptonian that this creature is, in fact, HIS fault, and that he needs to use his tactile telekinesis to pull everyone’s tasty organic fat out of the proverbial fire.

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I love how Gear completely misses the point of “subtle,”here.  The Linsnerian Legionnaire, along with the kid who drinks scientific experiments out of negligence and the kid who was cloned from the world’s most popular slash fiction subjects, finally catch up to the nanocreature, and (thanks to Kon’s 20th century microbial load) kill it in the shell…

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The Legion tries, once again, to return to normal, only to find that Singularity (a creature from the Second Galaxy who beat the Lost Legionnaires around the firmament months ago) has returned, in command of an interstellar ethnic cleansing squad called the Credo.  ALL the Legionnaires leap into action to take down the Credo, and Gear uses his techno-ogranic powers to destroy their fighter drones.

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More and more throughout his tenure, Gear finds himself on monitor duty, the central command post for the Legionnaires in the field, coordinating their battles and providing the intelligence they need, like a post-modern Oracle with a fauxhawk…

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Gear and his Legion eventually found themselves dealing with an interdimensional crisis of epic proportions, when the Fatal Five finally managed to crack the barriers between dimensions (the Persuader just cut through them with his axe) and teamed up with… um… themselves to become the Fatal Five HUNDRED.  Thanks to the involvement of the 20th Century Teen Titans, the team was able to battle them off, but they were still massively outnumbered, forcing most of the team to fight while Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid and Gear serached for a way to reverse the universe-shattering effects.

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Gear’s fears turn out to be correct, but he still goes along with the team in their desperate plan.  They manage to find a way to reverse the effects, but only ONE of the teams is going to be able to get home to their own reality…  Kon-El makes the decision to send his Titan pals home, and the Legionnaires do what Legionnaires do: fight on when all hope is lost.

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Gear pushes the button, and the Fatal Five Hundred (or, honestly, 495 of ‘em) start disappearing from our space-time continuum.  Unfortunately, after the Titans get sent home (or at least within a dozen or so years of home) the LSH, including Gear, are stuck in the timestream.  Shikari is separated from her friends, but the rest of the Legion simply grabs each other and holds on tight.  Gear and his entire team disappear from Shikari’s vision, as Mon-El reminds her of the truth of being a Legionnaire…

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Gear and his team DID eventually make it home, or someplace like it (Earth 247, if memory serves) but that story remains mostly untold.  Suffice to say that in his short tenure, Gear made an impression as a fun-loving hero, someone who could joke with his friends and partners, but when the chips fell, was all business.  His powers made him instrumental in bringing the Legion back from the edge of disaster more than once, and the courage that he showed throughout his career made him more than worthy of the title of Legionnaire.  Initially claiming that he was nothing but a tool, not reponsible for his actions, Gear made the step to thinking being, and made the right choices, using his abilities to help others and to support the Legion every way he could, even though it often meant working in a support role, with no chance for personal glory or credit…  And that is the act of a true hero.

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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
Magno
Matter-Eater Lad
Mon-El
Monstress
Phantom Girl
Princess Projectra
Quislet
Sensor Girl
Shadow Lass
Shikari
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!  In our next outing, it’s back to the Five Year Gap, for some emerald pyrotechnics from the kid name Xao…  Join us for the brief Legion career of Dragonmage!