Friday, July 02, 2010

The Legionnaires: Misses

Kinetix, aka Zoe Saugin of Aleph. Created by Tom McCraw, Mark Waid, and Lee Moder.

Thunder, aka CeCe Beck (or Cecebeck) of Binderaan. Created by Jerry Ordway and Mike Manley.

I group these two together because, to me, they have a lot in common. They're

a) powerful female Legionnaires
b) from the reboot
c) with a lot of potential
d) that was never realized.

Try to come up with signature moments for either of these two. I was totally stumped. Thunder didn't get much time onstage at all as a Legionnaire. Kinetix was used much more, and some of the stories were okay, but as prominently featured as she may have been it didn't help to show off why her character worked. I know Kinetix has a lot of fans out there, and maybe one of them can set me straight on this, but I don't think anyone ever really managed to get the maximum out of Kinetix. I want to like both Kinetix and Thunder, but I don't have a lot to go on.

Kinetix had a well-known character trait: she was hungry for power. She was only ever going to use such power in the service of good, of course, but she still wanted it. It's the kind of thing that I can imagine someone thinking. "Why don't we come up with a superhero who wants power?" Perfectly reasonable idea. But just because you have such a character doesn't mean anything interesting is going on with her. And Kinetix in particular was always going through losing her powers (a kind of molecular control) and gaining them back and having them changed and going through this or that weird metamorphosis, and that didn't help either. And then Geoff Johns decided she was a wizard and killed her off in Legion of 3 Worlds.

Thunder was a member of the Marvel Family from even further into the future than the Legion. While with the Legion, she spent her spare moments tracking down fragments of the Rock of Eternity so she could put it back together. Then after the Blight attacked she decided she just wanted to go home.

I'd be surprised if we saw either character again in Legion comics. Not soon, anyway. It's a shame; they both deserve a chance for someone to get them right.

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Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

Never cared much for Thunder, but I totally agree with you about Kinetix, who's one of my favorite characters period.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

But think of it this way: Thunder could also be one of your favourite characters if anybody ever found a way to make her fire on all cylinders. That's my whole point.

I wonder why Kinetix commands such affection despite all the problems she's had. I don't mean that people shouldn't like her; I just wonder what they (you) see other than potential.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Put me on the Kinetix bandwagon of love! liked Kinetix so much because she appeared during the reboot days and was a totally distinctive, yet familiar character. In other words, she fit right in. And she had an original power to the Legion.

Thunder felt like an add-on who never really meshed with the group due to her similarity in power to the other heavy-hitters.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Okay, well, is there anything about Kinetix that I missed that you can point out to me? I want to like her, but nothing ever made her come alive for me. The boat left and I wasn't on the boat.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to remember that the creators working on the Legion after the reboot had intended for Kinetix to become the new Emerald Empress. I went to a panel at HeroesCon in Charlotte in 1999 and I'm pretty sure they said that was their intention, but a lot of people figured it out in advance, so they changed their plans and had Violet find the Emerald Eye. Don't quote me on that, because that was 11 years ago, but it makes sense, doesn't it? Her lust for power would lead her to the Emerald Eye and she would bond with it (or it with her) to get control of its power.

Maybe after they decided not to do that, they really didn't know what to do with her. And then the other creators that followed didn't know that to do with her either, so they royally screwed her up. I hate that they turned her into one of those Terrorform things and left her that way right up until Geoff Johns killed her off.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Aah, well. I don't think the Emerald Empress thing would have worked out all that great either.

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Kinetix so appealing? Maybe fanboys just love spunky redheads. Look at Jean Grey,ever popular alive or dead. Zoe & Jean have a lot in common;both redheads,both developed a thirst for power,both going thru weird metamorphoses. But unlike Jean,Zoe never destroyed a planet,so that's in her favor(and thank god she never found the Emerald Eye). Jean always comes back,so will Zoe someday. She still has a lot to give. And,she's a redhead.
Never saw the point of Thunder in the Legion. Maybe it was felt a blonde heavy hitter was needed to replace Andromeda. But why someone from the Legion's future? What else would she do but comment on how primitive everything seemed to her? Her signature moment should've been the day she left the Legion.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think the point of Thunder in the Legion was twofold.

First, you've got this future member of the Marvel family; what are you going to do with her if you don't put her in the Legion? She'd go to waste otherwise. (As for the even-further-future part, well, that could be managed, and was.)

Second, maybe if Thunder's in the Legion, a few Marvel family fans will pick up the comic book who wouldn't have otherwise.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I dislike Thunder for a few reasons: a)She is from the Legions' far future, which I never really care for, as the Legion is already 1,000 years ahead of the rest of us. b)She is magic-based (as all Marvels are), and I like my 31st Century with as little magic as possible (Mordru, The White Witch, and even Dragonmage being quality exceptions - magic should be rare). c)And as I've said elsewhere (DC boards), I prefer my Legion with as few Supers, Marvels, Flashes, Lanterns, or other 21st Century legacy characters as possible (though the occasional visit from the House of El is cool). She was a sweet girl, though.

Kinetix was interesting for a couple of reasons: she was romantically more aggressive than most of the other girls, which resulted in entertaining character interactions; her quest for power (the 'new Emerald Empress' plot would have been amazing - a Legionnaire gone really bad!) gave her a solid foundation; and she was introduced relatively early into the reboot, which would have affected future classic story reimaginings.

I'd choose to bring back Kinetix before Thunder (if either). I'd actually prefer Dragonmage, while the White (Black) Witch is taking a powder.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Dragonmage. There's another guy they never cashed in on.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i heard Kinetix was apparently meant to be the new Emerald Empress..thats what the whole hungry for power thing was leading up to. But the writer changed it at the last minute and put Shrinking Vi in her place, dont know if its true.I never liked Kinetix..all that naked ambition for power, a very unwelcome quality in a legionnaire.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, I don't know. I don't see too much potential in the Emerald Empress idea, but I think that Kinetix's personality, with the desire for power, was potentially fertile ground. And, after all, Kinetix certainly wasn't evil.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Bill D. said...

Kinetix is probably my favorite Reboot Legionnaire (in the running with XS and Gates), and definitely one of my favorites overall from any Legion era. Besides the whole cute and spunky redhead thing that Anon. points out (like (I'm gonna deny that?), I think she's a fascinating character for the very reason you mention... that hunger for power of hers. That sort of motivation is often the province of villainy, but her heroic intentions add an interesting wrinkle into the formula. Even moreso considering that they managed to mostly sidestep the whole "Legionnaire gone bad" storyline that may have seemed inevitable with her (besides, Vi made a much more interesting choice to be paired with the Emerald Eye!).

I'm annoyed that Johns felt the need to use her as cannon fodder, but I take some relief in the fact that her death seems very reversible. Mordu ate Zoe, Mysa ate Mordru... seems like Mysa could reconstitute her easily enough if the writers were of such a mind (Paging Mr. Levitz!). And maybe she could even come back without having to be a Terrorform anymore.

As for Thunder, I'm a Marvel Family fan, I certainly like her well-enough, and I was glad to see her used beyond the Legends of the Dead Earth annual that introduced her, but she never felt like a good fit for the Legion.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, I think we're all expecting Kinetix back eventually. The interesting thing is that there was a hint in FC:L3W that Leviathan might also be accessible in such a transaction.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

The interesting thing is that there was a hint in FC:L3W that Leviathan might also be accessible in such a transaction.

I remember getting that impression, too. Though I can't imagine why they would bring him back. I mean, I guess they could use his return as a way to check in on the lost Legionnaires, and do some kind of JLA/JSA team-up...

As for Thunder... I wanted to like her. I *love* the Marvel Family... but I never warmed to Thunder. She just seemed to show up, and then faded into the background before running away.

Kinetix, on the other hand, was definitely a fave. I think for me, it was the potential that was as interesting as anything else. I'd agree that alot of potential was wasted with her... but at the same time, she added a spice to the Legion that was missing at the time. When she joined up, most of the Legionnaires (and especially the ladies) were sweet little things. There was very little variation in personality. And then along came Zoe and she brought a vampy energy to the team that Dreamy used to provide.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

most of the Legionnaires (and especially the ladies) were sweet little things

Oh, the guys too.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

Absolutely. With the exception of Jo and Garth, there was little to differentiate the characters be they male or female. Yeah, Brainy and Lyle were the smart ones, and Coz and nearly everyone else were the serious ones. And Violet was the shy one. Despite all that, most of the Legionnaires were generally portrayed as just nice kids. Which is why, when Kinetix came along, her personality type was a breath of fresh air.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It's a matter of degree. I mean, Kinetix was just a nice kid too. But when all the characters were so similar (and I think this was done on purpose!) any subtle difference will provide at least some differentiation.

This discussion makes me nostalgic for the great characterization of the threeboot.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with the idea that the reboot Legion all had the same(nice)personality.There were different sides to them,and they weren't all nice.Cos may have been serious and steadfast,but he was also devious and manipulative,as shown by his actions in the President Chu sting.Even his own teammates weren't safe from his double dealing.Kinetix,too; sweet'n sassy,but also with a greed for power.Even nice kids have hidden depths.The personalities of the Archie Legion may not have been as..theatrically delineated as your average Chris Claremont comic,but subtlety has a place in superhero comics.
I too enjoyed the threeboot characterizations.Just wish they gave more space to Legionnaires who weren't Brainy or Cos.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, they weren't identical. If you're looking for differences, you can find them. But there was a, how shall I put it, there was a unity to their characterizations. I think this may have been an effort to recapture some perceived Silver Age quality.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zoe is my favorite Legionnaire PERIOD. but I do agree with you, her potential was never realized. Even as a fan, I can't really point out a signature moment. Sure, she was heroic, altruistic, powerful AND useful, but there weren't any battles were she really saved the day.

In fact, her best story was probably her origin in LSH Annual 6. It showed that her power lust was for two reasons:

a) self-improvement (to become perfected)
b) to help other people

That was what made me fall in love with her character.

I think they also missed a big opportunity with Legionnaires 42. That was the issue where Kinetix regained her powers and first confronted Mysa.

The big hero here was her MOTHER! I was hoping Zoe would do something that would show Mysa that she deserved her power. I dunno, make a passionate speech or something. Instead, she got her powers back because of a debt Mysa owed her mother...

12:25 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm not convinced she's gone forever; maybe Levitz or someone will figure out what to do with her. That'd be good.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That'd be great, actually.

Anyway, I've been thinking, and there are two issues which stand out as Zoe's greatest moments. I don't know if they're great enough to be signature moments though...

LSH Annual 6: Zoe saving her mom's life. Pages 4-5 of her story show her learning and casting the spell. Most telling is the panel where her mom's healed - Zoe's hugging her, but she's also staring at the artifact that she used for the spell, with a big smile on her face.

LSH 113: Spark and Violet enter Zoe's mind and find out she was enthralled by the Anomaly. Zoe convinces them (and herself) to ignore the power and come back to reality. This was probably the first time that Zoe really got over her power lust.

Thunder's greatest hits were probably in LSH 110 and 118. These were the two times she really made a difference in battle.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'll check those out, thanks.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks too, for all these great write-ups! Always a pleasure to read an entry by you.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Entirely my pleasure.

1:12 PM  

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