Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Legionnaires: Dream Girl

Let's see if we can get back into the swing of these articles.

Dream Girl, aka Nura Nal of Naltor, aka Dreamer, Nura Schnappin. Created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte.

Dream Girl has the power of precognition. She originally joined the Legion in a story where she had foreseen a bunch of Legionnaires dying, and made herself obnoxious through some guardhouse-lawyering and had them all removed from duty. When that all got resolved, she resigned from the Legion, saying she had only become a Legionnaire as part of a trick so she had to go. But I never really got why. She had the powers, didn't she? She saved them all, sorta, didn't she? It's not like she was evil. She totally could have stayed on.

Anyway she rejoined later. For most of the '60s and '70s Dreamy was a pretty useless Legionnaire and got put into the fainting-damsel role a whole lot of times. This was a mistake, of course; subsequent Legion writers found lots of ways for her to be an awesome character. The first of these was Paul Levitz, who put her in a backup story in LSHv2 #285 in which she had to go back to her home planet of Naltor to solve a problem there. (This was her signature moment. I'd totally post a scan from that story except my scanner has decided not to cooperate with me in any way. Sorry.) She displayed some impressive fighting skills, strong willpower, and a talent for improvisation, and not coincidentally was voted in by the readers as Legion leader months later. She turned out to be one of the best leaders the Legion ever had.

Dreamy's personality is extremely flirtatious and sexy. She is exaggeratedly beautiful in appearance and plays that up as much as she can. This is probably one reason why the early Legion writers failed to take full advantage of her character; they figured she already had a role in the story and that role was "hot girl". But she's actually pretty great in a lot of ways more interesting than that.

It's really unfair how many advantages the Legion has, as a superhero group. They've got a rich and devoted sponsor in R.J. Brande, and they've got powerful characters like Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 who handle a lot of inconvenient details for them. Dream Girl is another such unfair advantage: she gives the Legion a lot of important and timely information that makes them even more effective than they otherwise would be. This often goes unrecognized.

I've mostly been talking about original-Legion Dreamy here. Her alternate-universe variants are also interesting without being radically different. In the reboot universe, Dreamer started out as something of an airhead before becoming hardened by the pressures of war. Threeboot Dream Girl was more down-to-earth than original Dreamy, but often distracted by her nonstandard perception of the flow of time. And animated Dreamy was, as I recall, some kind of ex-charlatan whom the rest of the Legion didn't entirely trust. But, you know, it always worked. This is the beauty of the Legion: you can have characters like this who don't have enough to them to sustain their own comic book, but in the context of the Legion they can be developed enough over the years that they're more interesting than a lot of characters who do have their own titles. 31st-century hothouse.

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Blogger Azathoth100 said...

Early writers always seemed to be conflicted when it came to Dreamy. Her power was always unpredictable. She often seemed to get incomplete or misleading visions. The writers also often couldn't decide if her dreams could be changed or if they had to come true as she saw them. Like many characters in the Legion her fate and strength lay with if the writer liked her or not (as opposed to say Mon El or Cosmic Boy who stayed pretty constant, or at least it felt that way). I always liked Dreamy, and found her a good back-up character along with her boy toy Star Lad (Someone who many Legion fans seem to disdain). I did love her time as leader, especially during the Great Darkness Saga. She also became a pretty capable fighter later in her career. Part of me always kind of hoped they would link her powers with the Endless. Just seemed a natural fit.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, it is a very plot-device kind of superpower.

I think Johns and Meltzer did tie her power in with the Dreaming in the Lightning Saga. But I didn't like that. Just because you _can_ tie things together doesn't mean you have to or should. Besides, the Endless are very mystical and meta, and Naltor is "the scientific world". It's a clash in tone for me.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Azathoth100 said...

But the fact that her power is dreaming precognition is kind of mystic and meta, her world being scientific always was a contrast to those abilities. I'm not saying I want any of the Endless to ever show up in a Legion book, but much like how all speedsters are connected in some form by the speedforce it just ties things together as a whole universe. I just like seeing little things like that that allow the Legion a connection to the rest of the Dc universe. It's also why I enjoyed when occasionally they would have someone like Pulsar Stargrave turn out to be the original Braniac. Dc has a myriad list of immortal beings and I always felt that in some ways they should be represented in the 30th century. Maybe not as full appearances but a mention or memorial. Heck, one of the greatest Legions stories comes from tying mainstream DC into the future by having Darkseid rise again.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I guess we have different preferences, then; I don't like the speed force either.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Arion said...

For some reason, I've always been a fan of Dream Girl. I remember one of the first stories I read about her was a backup written by Levitz and illustrated by the great Gary Leach (the art was fantastic!). By the way, I just updated my blog with a post about the Legion:

I would love to hear from you in the comments section..!

6:33 PM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Always loved Dream Girl. Remembering the initial reactions of the male Legionnaires to her, I'm wondering if she wasn't the first post-Comics Code heroine who was expressly coded as "hot."

My favorite Dream Girl moment, however, has to be from the Baxter Run, where she decided to run for Legion leader, and the others point out that if she's doing that, then she's probably foreseen that she'll win.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Sorry for the delay in responding. Arion, nice article as always. Dylan: the thing about that moment is that it cuts both ways. She could have foreseen herself running and losing! She'd still have to go through with it, right?

10:47 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Never considered it that way!

Precognition is right below time travel on the list of "things that make my head hurt."

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alternate title for Dreamy:Dame Ex Machina.Whenever the plot needed to go in a certain direction,she would conveniently get a vision which moved the plot that way.
Have to wonder--if Dream Girl wasn't hot,would she have been offered Legion membership?

9:53 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

True on both counts, but you could say the same about most superheroes.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous stile86 said...

Thanks for pointing out the story in #285. I had forgotten that one. It reminded me very much of Nura's role just a few issues later in #288 where she uses her wits and her focused will through the flight ring to outsmart a sorceress powerful enough to take down Mon-El. The rest of the team on the planet ten come to the rescue but they couldn't have done it without her first. Later in the same issue Levitz shows her complaining about the state of the amenities on Orando. It fits right into her character without diminishing in the slightest her strength and leadership.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Blackshear said...

Great article on Nura. Dream Girl and Shadow Lass are my favorite members of the team. I think she originally had so many character traits (she is intelligent, a scientist, a diva) that were never really explored properly until the 80's. In fact she seemed much more resourceful and interesting in her initial late 60's appearances than she ever did in the 1970's. Princess Projectra had this same issue. Typically the hottest girl on the team is not the smartest or the best fighter and Dreamy was and that made her unique to me. As someone noted above I loved when she would use her flight ring to levitate other objects or side step mystical bonds.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. Yeah, I remember thinking when I was really young that Dreamy and Jeckie had the weakest powers, but what did I know? Now when I consider them, I rate Dream Girl as certainly formidable, and Projectra as, well, breathtakingly powerful.

5:57 PM  

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