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#935856 - 08/12/17 05:01 PM Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards?  
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Wouldn't you like to know?
So, I am aware of the "real life" factors accounting for these - different writers, different decades, and in Jeckie's case the last minute substitution as Sensor Girl.

But from an "in universe" point of view, what do you think? did these cases smack of a double standard for you?

Star Boy accidentally kills Kenz Nuhor in self defense, and gets expelled because he could have used non-lethal force.

Projectra executes Nemesis Kid for murder under Orandan law and rejoins the Legion in secret as Sensor Girl, but gets officially voted to remain a Legionnaire even after exposure

Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl, who voted Star Boy out longer ago, use the Infinite Man against the Time Trapper, leading to what seems to be the demise of both. and Imra defends Brainy, yelling at Polar Boy for misinterpreting the Constitution!

what did you think about this? did these strengthen or weaken these characters for you? what did you think about the team dynamics and applications of the rules?

#935859 - 08/12/17 06:39 PM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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Set Offline
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Ooh, interesting!

I'd assume that 'meta' reasons are the 'real' answer here. Different times, different writers, etc.

But in looking for an 'in-story' explanation, I'd speculate that both Brainy and Imra have become a bit less idealistic, over the years.

Brainy may well have been as much computer as person, in his first years off of Colu, and easily boiled things into black and white, right or wrong, with no nuances or shades of gray or maybe situations (which coincidentally better suited the bright shiny times of the Gold and Silver Ages, where codes against killing or 'superheroes don't use guns' would be most on-theme). he could start out very binary in thought, and particularly in complex concepts like ethics or morals, that our own race has struggled with for millenia. Years of exposure may have led to an understanding that situations involving non-Coluans (and non-machines) could get a lot messier and a lot less easily boxed into clear-cut black-and-white one-size-fits-all solutions, and also, his own descent into instability may have left him feeling less willing to judge the actions of others.

Imra, as well, coming from a planet that must have *crazy* ethical standards (as compared to a non-telepathic society), must have felt quite confident in her training and ideals, when she helped draft the Legion Constitution and it's code against killing. Flash forward a few years, and she's seen people she cares about die (Garth, most notably) and become a wife and mother (and so become more familiar with the concept of having people in her life that she might kill *for*), and also rubbing her idealistic young mind up against some of the universes *worst* minds, and she might be a bit more practical, a bit more 'iron-butt,' and willing to overlook things that she would have found unacceptable as a teenager. She was the one who recommended Projectra-as-Sensor in the first place, and Sensor Girl seemed to only become a Legionnaire because Imra vouched for her, which must have come as a blow to anyone who agreed strongly with the code against killing, or who still has a more black-and-white 'the rules are the rules' standpoint (as Wildfire sometimes can, although he seems experienced enough to not blindly support rules, so much as challenge that the person defying them have a darn good reason to do so, and not just be defying the rules because it's easier that way).

Polar Boy, in particular, seems to be the most idealistic, and the most affected by the older Legionnaires willingness to treat their own rules as more like 'best practices' than 'NEVER do this!'

The Legion has a long history of ignoring a rule in one situation, but generally adhering to it. The 'no duplicate powers' rule has gotten the worst of it, with Supergirl, Superboy and Mon-El, Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass, and Chameleon's Boy and Girl (and Night Girl), all benefitting from it. The 'must have powers' rule was excepted for Karate Kid (and possibly Karate Kid 2, although we only heard about his membership retroactively, in Legion of 3 Worlds, just before he was killed off). And the 'no powers from a device' rule may have been excepted for Rond Vidar/Green Lantern, who, IIRC, was referred to as a Legionnaire in the same story (which also involved his immediate death, because, ugh...). Rond Vidar may have squeaked by on a technicality, since he's immune to his fathers mind control, and that could have been used as a justification to slide him in.

As long as the rule against killing remains a 'best practice' and not something that gets ignored because it's easier to ignore it, I'm okay with the occasional crossing of the line.

There have been times, 'though, when it seems to have been utterly abandoned. In his last run, IIRC, Levitz has the Legion blasting Dominator ships to bits, and the one that Cham *randomly* infiltrates has a crew on board. Even if Levitz had bothered to say, 'Oh, yeah, these ships are all remotely piloted, nobody died here,' he's then contradicted by a scene of Cham just picking one randomly, and that one happening to be crewed, which suggests that they *all* were crewed, and that Sun Boy, Polar Boy, etc, just blasted dozens, possibly hundreds, of Dominators to chunky salsa. That run was plagued by some uncharacteristic misfires, so it's entirely possible that Levitz thought he'd mentioned that the ships were drones, and that Cham had identified the crewed command ship before infiltrating it, but it's also possible that Levitz himself had come to see the code against killing as old-fashioned and was stealthily trying to get us used to the idea of a Legion that kills (if so, boo!).


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#935862 - 08/12/17 08:46 PM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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What an interesting topic!

Set did a thorough job of dissecting the possible psychological, cultural, and maturity issues involved. I agree with everything he wrote. The Legion, like any organization, creates a set of rules to follow, but the rules turn out to be cumbersome in both good and bad ways. They have to be bent and occasionally discarded. Technicalities arise (such as Ultra Boy's pentra-vision being what sets him apart from the fact that he has every other power Superboy and Mon-El have plus a serious limitation), and the team has to decide what is more beneficial: a "cold" adherence to the rules or the value of allowing Superboy and Supergirl to serve on the team.

One Legion-related killing hasn't been mentioned so far: During Levitz Mk II, Invisible Kid II accidentally teleported himself and a Khund into open space. Jacques' polymer suit activated, saving him. The Khund wasn't so lucky. Clearly, it was an accident, and the Legion made little of it. But my how things had changed from Star Boy's expulsion for acting in self-defense. I like to think the Legion learned its lesson from that experience; as with Jeckie, Thom was allowed to rejoin within a matter of months.

It has been pointed out that Projectra was not an active Legionnaire when she executed Nemesis Kid--she and Val had switched over to Reserve status some time before. But this is yet another technicality. I think the Legion simply learned not to oust a valued and experienced teammate who did not commit premeditated murder. The original Legion commandment to not kill read like the Ten Commandments version: It was broad and vague enough to be open to interpretation or to be followed in black and white. The latter would obviously prove untenable since any Legionnaire who stepped up on a bug could be brought up on charges. (I've seen more recent translations of the Bible which render "Thou shalt not kill" to "Do not commit murder.")

I'm not sure what to make of Brainy and Imra's plot to kill the Time Trapper and Imra's criticism of Brek for misinterpreting the Legion Constitution. I'll have to re-read those issues.



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#935866 - 08/13/17 01:37 AM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: He Who Wanders]  
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A lot of interesting points! The Legion and the Legionnaires certainly changed as an organization - though Brainy and Imra, for me, are interesting topics here. On one hand, it could be natural change; on another, it could be hypocrisy.

I missed Jacques' accidental killing! A combination of self-defense and accidental death, I know I agreed with the decision not to prosecute him. And it is certainly even less "premeditated" or "conscious" than the STar Boy incident was.

Originally Posted by He Who Wanders

I'm not sure what to make of Brainy and Imra plot to kill the Time Trapper and Imra's criticism of Pol for misinterpreting the Legion Constitution. I'll have to re-read those issues.



I don't have the issue handy, but I remember Polar Boy reading the relevant lines against killing from the Constitution. Imra then angrily yells at him - "Don't quote the Constitution to me, Brek! I helped write it!" Which smacked of hypocrisy to me, because I distinctly remember her voting Star Boy out AND recommending Sensor Girl back in. In the comics, she never explained to my satisfaction why the Infinite Man case was different from Kenz Nuhor or Nemesis Kid.

#935870 - 08/13/17 05:44 AM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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Dave Hackett Online content
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I thought it was pretty clear that the Conpirators had all lost perspective in their grief over Superboy, and I don't think that stopped once the Time Trapper was gone. After all, they had to justify their actions to themselves as well as others for their transgressions. All four of them went there explicitly to kill the Time Trapper, so they had already morally side-stepped the Constituion. I think Imra knew Brek was right, but admitting that also would have acquiesced that she was wrong, and I think the event was too fresh for her to deal with that realisation.

#935872 - 08/13/17 06:20 AM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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Set Offline
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The Time Trapper situation is interesting, in that it's the death of Jaxon Rugarth that is called into question, more than the stated intent of killing the Time Trapper. The Time Trapper, indeed, seems more like a force of nature, or a role assumed by different individuals, at different times, and I sometimes wonder if 'killing' the Time Trapper would be considered the same as 'killing' someone like Mordru or Sarya. (Ditto Omega, who seemed more like an embodiment of destruction, than a living organism or 'person.')

There's also those Servants of Darkness. Regardless of how they came into being, or whether or not various cultures might consider them abominations (as Talokkians would likely consider a degenerate clone of Lydea Mallor being used as a servant of Darkseid), they seemed to be 'people,' capable of speech, reasoning, etc. And yet nobody batted an eye at the notion of Element Lad and Timber Wolf teaming up to destroy the Superman-clone.

Various iterations of the Legion have addressed such matters in different ways. Clones of dead Legionnaires that exploded 24 hours after being created seemed to be 'not-people' in the very, very old days, as were androids with thoughts and feelings (like Karth An). The Reboot era explored the notion of prejudice against mechanical life, both on Colu specifically, and in the wider United Planets, with the Robotican situation.

There's some rich fodder for stories to mine here, if a future Legion writer wanted to explore it. What constitutes life in a universe full of sentient machines, energy creatures, bio-machinery (such as Dominator ships, which are alive, but not considered 'people'), clones, etc., etc.


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#935922 - 08/13/17 08:31 PM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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This is a fascinating discussion.

What if the in-story reason is more sinister? What if Brainy and Imra are not as altruistic as we expect?
Note that the Conspirators are all really smart (Luornu has been an Espionage squad member forever - increasing her cunning). Could it be that the Conspirators have been colluding in running the Legion for awhile? Polar Boy - being an outsider - didn't know these "rules" existed and he comes up on them as the leader.


As for the killing, Set makes a pretty compelling case for changing values

#935932 - 08/14/17 01:47 AM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Dave Hackett]  
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I remember a scene where Magnetic Kid and Tellus question Imra and Brainy on suspicious activity. Imra basically tells them to mind their own business, and Tellus and Pol are shocked. Tellus even says, that is a very un-Legion-like answer. Tellus tells Lu of his suspicions, Lu pretends to take them seriously - but of course, she is a conspirator too.

Originally Posted by Dave Hackett
I thought it was pretty clear that the Conpirators had all lost perspective in their grief over Superboy, and I don't think that stopped once the Time Trapper was gone. After all, they had to justify their actions to themselves as well as others for their transgressions. All four of them went there explicitly to kill the Time Trapper, so they had already morally side-stepped the Constituion. I think Imra knew Brek was right, but admitting that also would have acquiesced that she was wrong, and I think the event was too fresh for her to deal with that realisation.


You are probably right, Dave. I was expecting more from Imra though (perhaps even more from her than I was expecting from Brainy!), and I found her even more self-righteous than Brainy was. Brainy at least resigned, but I feel that Imra tried too hard to defend herself.

Element Lad, on the other hand, had a more balanced perspective IMO. He gave Brainy a guilty vote because of how much he values life, but he still acknowledged Brainy's importance to the team.

Funnily enough, there was a story where Jan tried to murder Roxxas, and immediately collapsed in guilt after pulling the trigger. Chemical King saved him by making the gun useless, but didn't say anything so Jan would feel the guilt firsthand. Might be what drove him to uphold the sanctity of life so.

#935947 - 08/14/17 07:00 AM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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Dave Hackett Online content
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The Jan/Roxxas thing reminds me of one of my favourite passages from the Nitpicker's Guide to Deep Space Nine. They are recounting the episode where Worf's disgraced brother shows up and asks Worf to end his life so he doesn't have to live with this dishonour. Worf takes it all very seriously and stabs him. Odo bursts in and calls for medical attention, then says to Worf: "For your sake, I hope he lives!". The book makes the point that apparently in the future ATTEMPTED murder is somehow not a crime anymore. wink

#936574 - 08/26/17 03:08 PM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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Did Polar Boy kill those guards who were torturing him in "Superman and the Legion?"


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#936597 - 08/27/17 02:32 AM Re: Legionnaires Who Killed: Double Standards? [Re: Invisible Brainiac]  
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I just looked at the scene again. He froze them, but often when people are frozen in comics it implies that they can be successfully and safely revived. Brek also talks about how he honed his power control. I'd err on the side of 'no'.

Last edited by Invisible Brainiac; 08/27/17 02:33 AM.

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