Or – “They Also Serve Those Who Only Stand And Wait Get Retconned After Twelve Issues…”
It’s a sad truth of the Legion of Super-Heroes that many readers consider them (in the words of my pal Otter Disaster) “an inside joke that I don’t get.” That confusion is understandable, given my own questions on whether Vol. 4 Laurel Gand and Rebooted Andromeda should be considered the same character, or whether Alchemist and Element Lad should be treated as one, sharing as they do little more than a real name in common. So, it’s nice to be able to take a character and give a straightforward explanation, without changing realities, wiped out figures, or reconstituted post-Crisis elements… Today’s entrant started as a crush for a fellow Legionnaire, and ended up becoming an emblem of how the team overcomes prejudices, heals old grudges and can even make a better hero. This, then, is your Major Spoilers Hero History of Giselle Smith of Triton… Gazelle!
Our first glimpse of the hero who would become known as Gazelle came when a Legion team reported to her home, (a terraformed moon of Neptune) a noted vacation site for the rich of the United Planets. The natives of Triton are blue-skinned, vaguely lizardy, but Giselle has a few differences from the general populace…
An outcast among her people, Giselle finds herself regularly in trouble, but as we soon find out, when you examine her history of fights and conflict, it would seem that there’s a lot of blame to go around…
“Come see scenic Triton… Where being different will earn you a punch in the florgin’ head.” The people of Triton have a (rather annoying) obscenity-laden patois dialect that kind of makes you want to set them all on fire, notwithstanding these kids’ need to beat down a relative innocent just because she SKIS BETTER. Giselle makes a good show of it, managing to keep a six to one fight from being entirely one-sided…
Luckily for Giselle, though, the Legion of Super-Heroes doesn’t look kindly on beat downs and gang fighting, and one particular Legionnaire has taken a slight fancy to her. Invisible Kid leaps into action and quickly uses HIS powers to scatter the gang of toughs with authority.
Before we can deal with the fallout of this situation, though, the arrival of alien invaders called “Alien Destroyers” (which sounds remarkably like a filk-rock KISS cover band you might hear at a comics convention) forces the Tritonians (Tritoners? Tritonettes? Tritons? Mulch?) underground. Giselle, being considered a genetic accident, is left by her own people to freeze to death in the snow…
As the LSH fights against the Alien Destroyers, (“DETROIT ROCK CITTTAAAAAAY!”) they are surprised to find themselves joined by an additional body, whose combat skills and finesse impress even the normally unflappable Timber Wolf. It’s clear that her genetic enhancements make her a formidable superhuman.
The Legionnaires do everything in their power to stop the Alien Destroyers (“Let’s Rock And Roll All Night and Party Every DAY!”) from harming innocents, but it becomes quite clear that Giselle is in this for the joy of beating things down rather than any sense of the greater good. Seems that being abused and alienated for 18 years hasn’t really given her a lot of sympathy for the Tritonian populace…
The threat is eventually stopped, and the LSHers are impressed by the performance of the new girl, but their admiration is most definitely NOT mutual. Turns out that the United Planets is high on the list of things that Giselle has little to no use for…
Where sweetness and light failed, though, grim and gritty actually makes some headway, as Timber Wolf steps in and manages to make a connection where Saturn Girl could not (and even HE recognizes that Giselle’s moves and attitude seem somewhat familiar to anyone familiar with his own style…)
Soon after the menace is thwarted, though, a still-smitten Invisible Kid checks up on Giselle and finds that she seems to have gone missing. Though reports have her once again stuck in Juvenile Detention, there’s no sign of the pink-lizard girl anywhere. I.K. heads back to Triton, to speak with Giselle’s parents. As you’d expect from an icy moon, it’s not a warm welcome…
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (not Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, though) are of the opinion that their daughter has been hauled away again, for fighting with the other kids right before the Alien Destroyers (“CHRISTINE!!! SIXTEEEN!!!”) attacked, but Lyle has uncovered a paper trail (or at least a computer file trail) indicating that something much more sinister has happened…
The letter from the U.P. should have probably been a dead giveaway. Giselle hasn’t been kidnapped, but she HAS been conscripted, brought into the fold by a new group, the United Planets Young Heroes, designed to be a more easily controllable counterpart to the Legion itself!
One thing that any regular reader of our Hero Histories can tell you, though, is that not EVERYONE is cut out to be a Legionniare, and that just sticking a group of costumed goons together does not a Legion of Super-Heroes make. Just ask Polar Boy…) The UPYH (pronounced, presumably, “Up Yo–” Y’know what? Nevermind.) are dispatched to deal with unrest on a remote planet, and things go pretty much as you expect they would, sending untested teenagers into a battle zone.
Still, of all the “heroes” present, Giselle makes the best showing, not only managing to defend herself, but breaking free and taking ground in the sewers beneath the city. When the Legion is dispatched to Velmar V to pick up the slack, they, too, are forced to go underground, where they find and exhausted and depleted Gazelle.
The Legionnaires quickly assess the situation, and decide to help the young girl, even at their own peril. Chameleon (who is awesomely creepy in his Threeboot incarnation) saves the day with a quickness…
The beatdown from the Alien Destroyers (“Beth, I Hear You Callin…”) left her down but not out, and Giselle comes to just in time to realize who it was that saved her butt. When the Science Police arrive, she uncharacteristically chooses to do the Legionnaires a favor and mislead the jack-booted (rocket-booted?) thugs from their trail.
This first mission turns out to be par for the course for the UPYH, and the team quickly goes south and breaks up. (Given that one of their field team members was “Fruit Lad,” with the power to ripen fruit, I’ll have to feign surprise.) Gazelle, though, doesn’t roll off the end of the pier, instead showing up at Legion Try-Outs! (The team was looking for additional strength to deal with the oncoming threat of more Alien Destroyers ((“I Got The Cure You’re Thinking Of!”)) whose incursions were becoming more and more problematic.)
Gazelle’s earlier resemblance to Timber Wolf is even more pronounced in this new costume, right down to the animal head totem chest symbol. And her moves have only gotten more impressive with the experience she got in running from the various sites where Fruit Lad and her other teammates were brutally beaten…
I really wish Lightning Lad hadn’t forced Brin to stand down here… I could have dealt with a couple of panels of Wolf on Gazelle ultra-violence, especially given that the next applicant got to beat on Ultra Boy and lose her top, and all. When the votes are tallied, the applicants (plus the returning Sun Boy, who had been on leave as the leader of Terror Firma) await the teams results.
Gazelle is voted in (thought Timber Wolf apparently didn’t like the idea of competition) but those who remember her disdain for the Legion and the United Planets in her first appearances on Triton don’t get why she would try and join the team. Saturn Girl finally gives voice to the question of why someone who hates the U.P. would join not ONE, but TWO U.P. sponsored super-teams.
This is a pretty touching moment, revealing Gazelle’s wish to be a normal Tritonian, and revealing the depths of her alienation from her people. It makes me sad that her tenure as a Legionnaire is so short. Immediately after her swearing in ceremony, Gazelle is called up on for her first mission: Infiltrate the Alien Destroyer (“GOD GAVE ROCK ‘N ROLL TO YA!!!”) home planet and turn the tide. The catch? The A.D. home planet only exists in information space, as a series of encoded digital impulses. Luckily, Brainiac 5 has the team covered…
The specially chosen strike team (plus the missing Invisible Kid) will be themselves digitized and beamed into the infostream of the Alien Destroyers (“RIP, RIP, RIP AND DESTROY!”) to stop the battle from within while the rest of the Legion fights the oncoming menace of the creatures enhanced physical bodies.
Invisible Kid talks Brainiac 5 into changing his avatar to be more heroic and attractive, the better to woo Gazelle within the infostream. She is overjoyed to finally meet the Legionnaire who saved her months before on Triton, but the battle quickly goes against the super-future teens, and all seems lost. Brainiac 5 realizes that Invisible Kid’s moment of pride has given them the in necessary to win the war, with a few minor tweaks…
Since Lyle’s avatar represents a “hack,” of sorts, it gives Brainiac the edge that he needs to hack the ENTIRE Alien Destroyer (“You Pull The Trigger Of My LOVE GUUUUN!”) network. Gazelle, unfortunately, is a bit more focused on the fact that he faked his identity to try and manipulate her…
The invaders quickly realize that they are behind the proverbial 8-ball, and cease hostilities, recognizing Brainiac 5 as having the power to destroy them all. Luckily for Invisible Kid’s spleen, Gazelle’s joy at not having been eaten alive by aliens overcomes her natural urge to disembowel those who betray her…
Turns out that while they were in the infostream fighting against digital monsters, the REAL monsters kinda of… y’know, ate them. Brainiac 5 quickly clones new bodies for their minds (including a new one for his deceased girlfriend Dream Girl, which is, y’know… kinda ewww) and Gazelle and her teammates return to action. This mission is the last one that we see for the revamped ‘Threeboot’ LSH, and when they reappear later during the events of Legion of 3 Worlds, Gazelle is not among their number, for reasons unknown. Though her tenure was short, Gazelle’s journey was a compelling one, from outcast to reluctant superhuman to hero and Legionnaire. Overcoming her own prejudgements and predilictions, Gazelle came to understand that the Legion of Super-Heroes (ANY Legion of Super-Heroes) is a place where outcasts can make a difference, where each and every person can make a contribution, where anyone who is willing to stand up and face injustice will be recognized as a hero, and as a Legionnaire.
**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:
Invisible Kid II
Karate Kid II
Legion of Super-Pets
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! And as for next time? I have a few ideas about where Hero Histories are going, but anyone will tell you that you have to understand where you’ve been before you can truly contemplate where you’re going. As a wise man once said: Watch the skies.