Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Legionnaires: Tyroc

Tyroc, aka Troy Stewart of Earth (specifically, Marzal). Created by Cary Bates and Mike Grell.

And then sometimes you do everything wrong and it works anyway.

Tyroc has a name and origin born out of some ridiculously condescending racial attitudes. He's got a silly costume. He has some astonishingly poorly-thought-out superpowers (he can scream nonsense syllables and make absolutely anything happen!). He's only appeared in a handful of stories, because Legion writers (understandably!) didn't know what to do with him and figured that it'd be better to do nothing with him. By rights he should be a train wreck of a character, and more to be scorned than pitied.


If you read the stories with Tyroc in them, he actually comes across as an interesting, likable guy. There's something about his personality that works. (I'm sure that the art helps.) It wouldn't be hard to fix him at all: put him in a decent costume, hammer his powers into something that works in the comic-book medium and doesn't make him omnipotent, mop out some of the racial-separatist junk he was originally saddled with, and you're all set. You don't even have to change his name: as unfortunate as it was, it's not as bad as "Matter-Eater Lad". After all, this is a guy who has reached heights only attained by a couple of other Legionnaires:

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Blogger Murray said...

Yay, Tyroc! One of my faves! I think Tyroc's first couple of appearances paint him as a typcial "angry young man" which got tiring, but once he came back in the later Conway stories, I liked what was done with him. In particular, I liked the friendship with Shady and his dedication to his home. And I thought that Giffen and the Bierbaums did some excellent work with him when they brought him back.
I think I'd take his sonic scream and either go the Black Canary route, or change his screaming into something sound related... so he could manipulate sound and noise kinda like Stealth from L.E.G.I.O.N.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...mop out some of the racial-separatist junk he was originally saddled with...

I've always assumed that Tyroc's origin was a nod to the history of Liberia. Okay, tone-wise, it's as dated as a lot of other "relevant" stories of the day, but my only real problem with the idea was that it was an island and not a planet. The latter would have made more sense to me.

If there are all those planets largely populated by Whites (with, presumably a few POC that we just never happen to meet... *cough*) there's no reason that the reverse couldn't also be true. It doesn't even have to be a mark of deliberate separatism, or be remarked on at all.

In fact, I think there was a back-up in one of the Threeboot volumes where one planetary society was set up that way. (Their stated defining characteristic was that they had much shorter lifespans than most other humans, though.) I don't own the stories, though. So I can't look it up.

-- cleome45

12:11 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, it's not such a bad science-fiction idea, but the problem was that DC had been hemming and hawing about having a black Legionnaire for about a decade. Then when they finally did, the character (fairly or unfairly) carried the weight of everyone's expectations about how DC would handle such a character. And this is what they came up with?

Was it Richard Pryor who did the routine about how there are never any black people shown in futuristic science-fiction stories? "They're not planning on having us around."

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a fan on LJ who did a "color-corrected" Threeboot, as a nod to fans of color and how often we unthinkingly leave them out in the cold (a la' Pryor's comment). If you haven't seen it, I can dig through my bookmarks and find it.

And, yeah, the solution for one POC carrying the weight for all POC is to let go of the token business and have more than one. When was the last time any GL fans referred to Guy Gardner as "The Angry White Guy"? :p

We already know that writers are smart enough to not confuse Jacques and Troy. Somebody needs to alert the editors that it can be done.

-- cleome45

5:15 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I've seen the color-corrected thing. I'd be okay if DC did something like that, but look at how much grief Waid took for just making Star Boy black.

Let's not forget the reboot Legion, who had a) more female Legionnaires than any other version ever did (eight out of thirteen at one point: Andromeda, Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Kinetix, Leviathan, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Triad, XS), b) three black Legionnaires at once (XS, Gear, and Kid Quantum), c) a black female Legion leader (Kid Quantum again), and d) a couple of nonhumanoid Legionnaires (Sensor and Gates).

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...but look at how much grief Waid took for just making Star Boy black..."

Which is ridiculous. But marketers and editors are copping out if they want to claim that

A) that kind of carrying-on is automatically representative of every reader or potential reader out there


B) marketers and editors would never dream of doing something that some noisy fans didn't approve of, if they thought there was a valid reason for doing so.

Threeboot Star Boy (as much as I've gotten to read so far) and the DCAU version (so much as we got to see and hear him) were pretty much the same Star Boy I remembered from my first period as fan. Not a genius, but essentially a good-hearted person who wanted to do the right thing. So I couldn't figure out what anyone's problem was, particularly since the other characters you mentioned from Nineties Legion didn't make it into Threeboot at all.

With all the mania for "getting back to our Silver Age roots," it would have been nice if DC could figure out how to do it while still getting White fans to share our toys. I've seen some idiotic racist blather on Newsrama and some other big sites, but I really don't want to believe that those fans are representative of readers as a whole. Gah.

-- cleome45

2:12 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

It wouldn't be hard to fix him at all: ... hammer his powers into something that works in the comic-book medium and doesn't make him omnipotent

And the roadmap for this is already present in the DCU: look at Accomplished Perfect Physician from the Great Ten. Tyroc's powers (whistling rather than screaming) and a role built into his name.

Another easy way to make Tyroc more controllable would be to decide on the 5 to 9 abilities that his scream provides (Michael Grabois has a list with a lot of breadth to it) and limit him to those. As a background task, have his training involve finding and refining new syllable combinations that do new things. (Kind of like how Levitz used Mysa.)

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take a look at the preview of LSH #2-Tyroc's featured!Nice.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I saw it, yeah. Looking forward to seeing how Levitz ruins his life.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the retroboot has accomplished nothing else,it's made Tyroc a star player.It happened much the say you proscribed; better costume, better-defined powers, etc. Just goes to show,everybody has some good in them,even Matter-Eater Lad.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Hey, Matter-Eater Lad has already been fixed a few times. He's fine.

5:32 PM  

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