We have a mystery on our hands. This mystery surrounds one of the founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes: Lightning Lad.
For those of you not familiar with the Legion of Super-Heroes, Lighting Lad is the Legion’s favorite Ginger-American. Garth Ranzz has been a proud Ginger-America since 1958. His fiery hair has represented his fiery personality.
Now, when we first started getting teaser pictures about Ryan Sook’s new designs for Brian Bendis’ Legionnaires, we got one for Garth. In this character sketch, Sook draws Lightning Lad in his customary Ginger-American form.
We also got a teaser picture of Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Wildfire, and Timber Wolf arriving in front of Superman and Superboy. In this picture, Garth is also in his regular Ginger-American form.
Later on, we got another teaser picture. This picture is of Superboy being offered a Legion flight ring. In this picture, we see Garth cheering the newest member of the Legion. Again, Garth is drawn in his customary look.
But, everything got bizarre when Brian Bendis went on the Late Night with Seth Meyers and unveiled a new group shot of the Legion of Super-Heroes. In it we see Lightning Lad. But, it is not the Garth Ranzz that we have come to know and love since 1958. This immediately made me wonder what in the world happened between Sook’s Lightning Lad character sketch and the two teaser pictures being released and Bendis unveiling this group shot on TV?
This mystery deepens with the release of the cover to Legion of Super-Heroes #1. On the cover, we see a black Lightning Lad rather than Garth in his customary Ginger-American form that we had seen in the two prior teaser pics and in Sook’s character sketch for Lightning Lad.
So, the question is what is going on? Are there two Lightning Lads? Does Garth appear during Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium and then get killed off and replaced with this new black Lightning Lad in Legion of Super-Heroes #1? Or, did DC’s editorial demand that Lightning Lad be racially retconned at the very last minute for some unknown reason?
At this point, I have not seen this discrepancy with Lighting Lad’s design discussed anywhere on the Internet. At this point, all we can do is wait and wonder. To be sure, it would be absolutely bizarre to have an artist do a character sketch for a new design for Lightning Lad and release it to the public and then release two more teaser pictures with that character in it and then have that character suddenly racially retconned. At any rate, I guess we will find out more as we head toward Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium!
UPDATE: Well, it appears we have our answer concerning the mytery surrounding Bendis’ Lightning Lad. DC dropped some preview pages from Superman #14 that is set to deliver the debut of the newly rebooted Legion of Super-Heroes on August 28, 2019. As you can see in the double page splash shot of the Legion’s entrance that Lightning Lad has been racially retconned. Here is the new double page splash shot.
Now, here is the image we were given a month ago when new about Bendis’ new Legion of Super-Heroes first broke.
So, now we have our answer. Garth was supposed to be in his regular Ginger-American form. Clearly, both Bendis and Sook were operating under that assumption. However, someone at DC’s editorial staff must have felt that Lightning Lad had to be racially retconned. Which, is weird considering that DC could have easily just told Bendis to add one of the Legion’s black members like Tyroc, Invisible Kid II, Computo II, X-S, or Kid Quantum to the roster. That would have made for more sense than this bizarre last second racial retcon to Garth’s character. DC really screwed up. It would have been far more logical for DC to order Bendis to use the already established black Legionnaires that Bendis had ignored and purposely left off his roster. This would have made for more sense than this weird last second racial retcon. However, someone at DC clearly disagrees with me. At any rate, the mystery has now offically been solved!
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