‘A Short History of The Legion of Heroes’
Taylor McDermott (History Assignment, A+)
“We will do what we must, we few, we great. We, who have the power to save the world, and who will not, cannot, stand idly by while its peoples suffer. We are servants of no nation, but the protectors of humanity. From this day forth, let those who would prey on the weak, the good, the innocent take heed and beware, for the Legion of Heroes stands against you, and we will not falter.” So said the man dubbed Captain Dawn in his now-famous speech announcing the official formation of the Legion of Heroes, an organisation which has come to embody not only the pinnacle of post-Aurora superhumanism, but also humanity as a whole.
There are few institutions that can be said to command the same level of respect and admiration as the Legion; nor many which have endured the same devastation. Officially formed on February 24th 1969, the Legion began life years earlier as an informal, essentially vigilante conglomerate of highly talented, socially-minded individuals who believed that their powers placed upon them a responsibility to better the world. Led by Captain Dawn and his wife Caitlin, the group was initially little more than a collection of like-minded acquaintances, but as word of these “Heroes” spread, their ranks quickly swelled to include some of the most powerful and legendary fighters from around the world. Initially viewed with suspicion, hostility, and outright persecution by many governments, eventually the beneficial and popular effects of the Legion’s actions, coupled with the collapse of many oppressive regimes and the Legion’s sheer unassailability, meant that the group came to be recognised and respected as an independent transnational peace-keeping force.
To examine the history of the Legion of Heroes is to examine many of the pivotal events in modern history, a testament to their involvement and impact. Building on minor cases of small-town justice, the first major act with which the Legion – and in particular its leader, the man known as “Captain Dawn”, wielder of “The Power of a Hundred Suns” – is credited was the almost single-handed resolution of the 1967 Detroit Conflicts, which had seen the city paralysed by urban violence. Undeterred by the governmental resentment this resolution (which the State Department had been striving fruitlessly towards for several years) attracted, the group moved to help stabilise the Mexican-American border before turning its attention overseas and coming to the aid of populist movements the world over. Undeniably, the Legion’s presence allowed uprisings such as the Iranian Independence Spring, the Tiananmen Square Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall (which, captured in iconic photographs, Captain Dawn himself had a hand in physically tearing down) to incur significantly less resistance and bloodshed.
In the late 1970s, as the world governments stabilised and adapted to the new needs and irrepressibility of their super-powered citizenry, the Legion’s focus shifted away from protecting and assisting peoples revolting against oppressive regimes and towards more disparate threats. As surely as the “superhero” had emerged, likewise it seemed inevitable that some would don the mantle of “supervillain” and seek to use their abilities for personal gain. It was these “villains” which the Legion now focused, and their exploits here provided the brunt of Legion stories enshrined in television, comic books and other popular culture. There would be few children in America who did not grow up watching and reading about the Legion’s triumphs over Ana “Fleshtide” Bloodbane or Viktor “The Mindtaker” Mentok; of their liberation of Broken Hill from the domination of Simon West; the 6-day battle against the Children of Silence; or Captain Dawn’s defeat of his self-proclaimed nemesis, The Brothers Darkness. In 1981 Morningstar Academy, a college for selecting and training new members, was established in Eastchester County to serve as the Legion’s base of operations, becoming not just a home, but a place where the best and brightest from around the globe could be mentored by the greatest champions of the day. In 1983 the Legion gained recognition by the United Nations as an official peace-keeping force - although a cloud was cast over this success several months later by the untimely death of Captain Dawn’s wife, Caitlin, in a car accident - embedding their reputation as humanitarian protectors, and ultimately providing the backdrop against which they were almost completely destroyed.
It is beyond the scope of this essay to recount the events of the African Devastation; nevertheless, the impact of Klaus “The Black Death” Heydrich’s massacre of the Legion before his defeat at the hands of Captain Dawn cannot be overstated. With the loss of nearly all its full members the Legion, like the world, teetered on the brink of collapse; held together only by Captain Dawn and those recruits not inducted into the Legion’s active ranks. As Captain Dawn retreated from the public eye following Heydrich’s defeat, doubts raged over the organisation’s future. However in 1995 the sealed doors of the Academy were finally re-opened and a new generation of Acolytes allowed inside. Although not (as of writing) officially reformed nor reengaged in interventionist activities, the Legion of Heroes endures; one day to remerge, empowered by a legendary legacy and, as always, the hope for a better world.
Bio: Born and raised in Newcastle, Australia, Ben is a lifelong writer currently studying his Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney. An avid fan of the weird and wonderful, he has wanted to be a writer since he was five years old (before which he wanted to be a dinosaur).