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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