Armagideon Time

DC’s late Eighties “giddy period” was marked by numerous relaunches and reboots of the fallow franchises. The trifecta of Crisis on Infinite Earths, healing Who’s Who, opisthorchiasis and Secret Origins succeeded in sparking wider (albeit ephemeral) appreciation and interest in the rich tapestry of the funnybook publisher’s syncretic fictional universe.

Capitalizing upon that fan awareness turned out to be an entirely different proposition. The lion’s share of DC’s attempts to leverage continuity-based nostalgia into sustainable sales either died a semi-slow death on the vine or tanked right out of the gate.

One of the more baffling manifestations of DC’s hubris was the decision to spin-off an obscure footnote of Legion of Super-Heroes history into its own monthly title. The footnote in question was The Wanderers, decease a superteam which first appeared in Adventure Comics #375 (December 1968), during one of Jim Shooter’s less lucid periods.

Led by Celebrand (the 30th Century’s answer to James Lipton), the Wanderers were a collection of tragically garbed and codenamed one-trick ponies which had been relegated to occasional cameo appearance status during the two decades since their debut.

That all changed in 1988, when the assemblage of back-benchers was plucked from z-lister limbo and thrown — like a handful of ape feces — into the spotlight.  As both the times and prevailing tropes had changed greatly over the previous two decades, it was decided that the Wanderers would change as well, shedding their goofy Silver Age costumes and codenames…

…in favor of even goofier proto-Chromium age ones. Goodbye, Immorto! Hello, Re-Animage! So long, Ornitho! Welcome, Aviax! Farewell, Elvo! Pleased to meet you, The Elvar. (That’s right. The Elvar. Accept no imitations.)

The “improved” Wanderers also reflected the prevailing zeitgeist in other ways.  The team members were actually bio-enhanced clones of the original Wanderers — all except Celebrand, because when they made him they broke the mold — who had been slain by some muave space gremlins.

Both the space gremlins and the resurrected Wanderers were the handiwork of Dr. Clonus (no relation), a renegade Controller (a neo-conservative offshoot of the Guardians of Oa) whose fast and loose tampering in God’s domain created a race of monsters.

Clonus’s mucking with the Wanderers’ genetics rendered the heroes unable to procreate, lest they give birth to another generation of brain-munching homunculi.  Unable to settle down or start families of their own — as 30th Century society apparently doesn’t believe in adoption or voluntary childlessness — the team resigned itself to a nomadic life of overwrought adventures and constant bickering…

…which lasted thirteen issues before DC pulled the plug.  When last seen, the vat-grown vigilantes had embarked on a interdimensional journey and made preparations to cultivate themselves a replacement Celebrand…which based on the empirical evidence of Clonus’s handiwork, would go on to become the Carson Daly of the 30th Century. 

 Blandly forgettable in the Sixties, aggressive awful in the Eighties, there are several reasons why the Wanderers deserve to be this week’s Nobody’s Favorite.  If I had to boil it down to one, though, I’d go with the churning of the gut I experience whenever I contemplate the logic behind “The Elvar.”

Related posts:

  1. Nobody’s Favorites: Stinkweed laurels
  2. Nobody Else’s Favorites: Short skirt/long jacket
  3. Nobody’s Favorites: A most desperate cry

9 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Send in the clones”

  1. Tom Hartley

    Nearly a quarter of a century later, I still have all 13 issues. What the hell is wrong with me?

  2. Kid Kyoto

    I might have mine as well, I’ll have to check.

    I remember breathlessly going to the comic shop to hunt down the first issue. ANOTHER LSH BOOK! I couldn’t wait! And then I read it…

    Well uh, Quantum Queen (the blonde with the purple bikini costume) was hot at least.

    I don’t think I even bought issue 2.

    Then in a fit of optimism I bought them from a quarter bin years later. They weren’t worth the quarters.

  3. Jacob T. Levy

    Never read any of these, and never understood the frame about the team in History of the DC Universe. Something about the team’s disappearance, narrated by Harbinger as if it were one of the great unsolved mysteries of all of time and space.

  4. PhilipF

    I read these comics when they came out (and I think I still have them, I have no idea why). Didn’t the series end with them getting kidnapped by Whitney Strieber-esque Grays? So awful.

  5. Kris "the Elvar" Stacks

    I think I bought the first three or so issues.It was…..shit. Worth it though for this installment of NF. I don’t know if it’s because I vaguely recall this comic or what, but this seems like the funniest one yet.

  6. Jim Kosmicki

    I too bought these at the time and might have kept them (they definitely haven’t been pulled out and re-read). I really wanted to like this at the time, being the continuity hound that I am and the Legion fan that I was. But beyond what you rightly point out here, the series itself just *ahem* wandered. It was pretty clear that there was no strong sense of purpose or overall storyline – by the end, IIRC, it was focusing primarily on Quantum Queen, not because she had the most interesting story but mainly because emphasizing the female in a bikini might goose sales.

    Given what he did with Negation and what he’s doing with R.E.B.E.L.S., I wonder if Tony Bedard could do something with these characters???

  7. Rob S.

    I was — and still am — a fervent fan of the LSH.

    And I dropped this book after an issue. I barely remember it, but there must have truly been *nothing* good about it for me to kick it to the curb.

  8. Nimbus

    I loved this series when it was being produced. I think I probably still have all the issues somewhere. Maybe. Admittedly, right now I can’t remember much (any?) of their stories but I thought they were cool at the time and was sad to see the series end so soon.

    In hindsight, yeah, they were goofy and the less said about “The Elvar” the better.

  9. Jeff Albertson

    Doug Moench was definitely not at the top of his game with this series. As a legion fanboy, I bought the whole series, but only read it once. It still sits in my collection, remembered mostly for the Steve Lightle covers on the last several issues.

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © Armagideon Time. All rights reserved.