Hero History: Wave

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Or – “The Path To Heroism Is Seldom Easily Traversed…”

One of the great joys of the Legion of Super-Heroes has been the vast array of heroes to choose from.  Don’t like planet-juggling mighty men?  Maybe you can find the love for Phantom Girl, or Invisible Kid.  Looking for somebody more cerebral?  Try Brainiac 5 or Chameleon Boy.  The post Five Year Gap members of the Legion were especially diverse, with members like Matter-Eater Lad and a powerless Cosmic Boy taking irreplacable roles in the team structure, and showing that you don’t have to be a combat powerhouse to contribute to the team dynamic.  This Legion also welcomed a sneak-thief, a smuggler, a private eye, and even a cub reporter to their numbers, so it’s not that strange to see them welcoming one of their former foes on board as well.  She came to the team looking for help, and ended up supporting them during one of their darkest hours.  This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Sussa Paka of Earth…  Wave!

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Wave’s story starts waaaay back in the earliest days of the Legion, a time when eating matter in all it’s forms or being a pal of Tom Welling were considered a good reason to award membership.  Sussa, in her original guise of Spider-Girl was one of the many, many kids whose lives and self-respect were shattered by rejection…

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I left Double-Header in there just because he cracks me up.  I have never actually read an origin of Sussa’s powers, though her Wikipedia entry has some theories regarding that…  As anyone who read recent issues of Action Comics could tell you, Sussa doesn’t do well with being rejected, and had hoped to use her sex appeal to flirt her way into the Legion.  Stupid Imra!  She ends up drifting into a life of crime, and hooking up with a jerk named Tarik the Mute in his bid to create a Legion of Super-Villains to fight the LSHers…

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Sussa doesn’t really do anything all that villainous in her run with this first version of the LSV, as she seems more interested in being trained and accepted than in any real love of villainy.  Most telling, when the members of the real Legion arrive and start cracking skulls, our Ms. Paka hits the road, post-haste, where her teammates stay and fight out old grudges.

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Some time later, she once again hooks up with Nemesis Kid and Radiation Roy, coming together in a new version of the Legion of Super-Villains.  Her attempts to find a place to fit in are once again obvious, with Sussa embracing a more overt sexuality and an even revealing costume, but still seemingly lacking in any real villainy.

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When the LSV attacks in force, Sussa is easily taken down, which to me begs the question of how seriously she actually took her villainous career in the first place.  Even in her repeated attempts to avenge herself on the Legion, she doesn’t seem to be malicious, more seeking respect.

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Sussa was once again drawn into the web of the LSV during their most serious and dangerous bid for power, a time when Lightning Lord, Cosmic King and Saturn Queen brought together members of ALL the various incarnations of the LSV.  These new founding fathers of the team put their heads together and decided that their real bid for immortality would come by KILLING the Legionnaires…

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During this bid, the LSV killed Karate Kid, nearly killed Lightning Lass, and stranded five other Legionnaires in a timeless limbo outside the known universe, but still didn’t quite get to the point where they achieved the power they craved or the legendary status of their opposing team.  The Legion soldiered on for years after that, until a Dominator-controlled Earthgov and the inexperienced leadership of Sun Boy combined to lead the team to disband.  Five years later, a ragtag group of former Legionnaires pulled back together when former LSHer Blok was murdered, only to stay together in the face of Earthgov harassment.  When Sussa (now working as a catburglar) stole a mysterious canister from the Science Police, she found herself being hunted by every cop on the planet.

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Before she could return the object to her boss (Starfinger, of all people) Sussa is caught up in the Dominator’s last-ditch plan to try and save their control of Earth: the detonation of worldwide fusion powerspheres and subsequent pinning of that terrorist act on their enemies.  During the evacuation of Metropolis, Sussa hooks up with Bounty of the Legion and an S.P. Chief named Circe in an attempt to save all their lives.

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This meeting proved to be fortuitous for all of them, as Sussa’s presence kept Circe from getting murdered, Bounty didn’t have to figure out what to do with Circe’s body, and Sussa managed to clean a piece of information from Bounty that she could use: the new location of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

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Trapped between Ultra Boy and Brainiac 5, even an experienced footpad like Sussa goes down hard.  She immediately begins flirting with Jo, using her wiles on him, and reveals to the Legionnaires the canister that she has stolen.  Brainiac immediately forgets the whole “breaking and entering” business, and focuses on the puzzle she has brought him.

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When you look at it from a strategy standpoint, you have to commend her on her choice.  Jo isn’t the type to spend a lot of time trying to talk her out of it, the other team members rely on his combat prowess, giving her a chance to be protected and be seen in battle at the same time, and the other Legionnaires are likely to view her proximity to Jo as a validation of her presence.  Pretty complex thinking under the surface, there.  Soon after Sussa’s arrival, though, the Legion goes into action on a mission that would have previously been unthinkable: help the Khundish empire defend themselves against Mordru!

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And there she is again!  Her stowaway status on the ship may seem confusing, but again, think about it.  If something goes wrong, where would you be safer than alongside the Legion?  Sussa’s first foray into combat turns out to be a very bad mission to pick for your first, as Mordru the Merciless takes a page from the Romero handbook and raises an army of the dead to serve as his minions…

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Sussa is injured during the battle, and she is evacuated back to the ship.  The team manages to overcome Mordru, by luck as much as design, but her plan to make Jo her boyfriend is shared by one of the Khundish superheroes…

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Upon her return to Legion HQ, Sussa finds herself thrown into the team dynamic, and quickly grows to like her new associates.  What started as an attempt to cover her own bases obvious becomes something she enjoys, to the point where she actually protects her “teammates,” even trying to keep Timber Wolf from engaging the rogue android known as BION.

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Sussa quickly becomes part of this looser incarnation of the Legion, and the same powers that Saturn Girl scorned those many years ago (though Imra’s pun was nice) turn out to be key in several Legion missions.  She even single-strandedly (ba-DUMP-bah!) saves Legion founder Cosmic Boy from a certain death…

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Sussa stands beside the Legion as they face Glorith, but during the battle, Jo Nah discovers that his beloved Tinya (aka Phantom Girl) is not dead as he had long thought, but was instead sent through time by Glorith.  Mr. Nah responds as you might expect, demanding that his partners help him find a time bubble and his love.  You can practically see the pain as Spider-Girl sees her meal-ticket heading out, but more surprising is the offer that Rokk Krinn presents her with…

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Sussa decides against joining the team, instead accompanying Jo back to his homeworld of Rimbor.  The Legion, for there part, returns home to find themselves framed, accused of treason for their actions aiding the Khund against Mordru’s zombie hit-men, and goes underground, adopting new names and costumes to try and hide their identities from the United Planets…

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Painted by the U.P. as another traitor, Sussa officially accepts Rokk’s offer of Legion membership.  The quest then begins to try and find a way to camouflage her rather…  Shall we say, distinctive powers from detection.  The solution that the team comes up with is the same one that every third teenager comes up with when they want to hide their true nature: a trip to Hot Topic for some dye!

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Of course, given that Laurel Kent (a seven foot blonde bulletproof woman) tried to disguise herself with a tarp and goggles, it’s not the worst disguise that the Legionnaires could have come up with.  The team heads for Rimbor in the hopes of finding the lost Ultra Boy, and Sussa ends up leading her new team right into a trap!

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In a stroke of characteristic luck, though, the Green Dragon gang is run by none other than Jo Nah in disguise, and he rejoins the team just in time for them to be attacked by the Heroes of Lallor, under the hypnotic control of Universo.

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The team is finally cleared of wrongdoing, and Jo continues in his quest for a time bubble.  When he asks former best pal Mon-El about it, Mon finally admits that he worked with Tinya centuries ago when they both worked for Vril Dox’s L.E.G.I.O.N.  Sussa watches as Jo’s pain finally wells up and threatens to consume him…

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…and she does the right thing.  Sussa may be losing her protector/potential suitor, but she’s finally found her own inner strength, the strength to help him find the right path.  Wave tries to hide her tears, but Ayla Ranzz sees through her facade, offering a hand of friendship.

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Wave seems poised to be accepted by the Legion, and on the verge of an impressive superhero career when the Cosmic Whooziwhatsis known as Zero Hour begins rewriting her universe.  Old Legionnaires come out of retirement, as eddies in the space-time continuum (you can tell by his couch) start to make changes in the universe.  As the Legion struggles to find a way to fight back, time flexes it’s muslces a little bit, and reminds the team who’s really in charge.

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Sussa Paka wasn’t your typical Legionnaire.  Manipulative to a fault, a thief by nature, she still managed to show the Legion’s underlying conviction that everyone has something to contribute.  One of the great disappointments to me of the loss of these stories from the “real” DCU history is the loss of Spider-Girl’s slow turn from minor villainy to true heroism.  Her Legion tenure was relatively short, even counting all the time that she was just doing a ride-along with Ultra Boy, but Wave still managed to make an impression as a Legionnaire and as a 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
Catspaw
Celeste Rockfish
Chameleon Boy
Chemical King
Colossal Boy
Computo
Dawnstar
Devlin O’Ryan
Dragonmage
Dream Girl
Duo Damsel
Element Lad
Ferro Lad
Gear
Gates
Invisible Kid
Invisible Kid II
Karate Kid
Kid Quantum
Kinetix
Kent Shakespeare
Kono
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!  Next time out, we’re going to play a little differently, with a brief look at the Legionnaires who snuck in between the panels.  We’ll be going over the brief lives and short histories of… The Five Year Gap Legionnaires!