META: Three Metaphors for Superhero Teams

Adrian J. McClure mrfantastic7 at
Wed May 2 09:46:05 PDT 2012

On May 2, 11:31 am, Tom Russell <joltc... at> wrote:
> When I first started writing superhero fiction, I didn't know what I
> was doing (which anyone who was unfortunate enough to read that
> fiction can easily attest).

Well, half the fun of writing is learning what you're doing as you're
writing. Watching that process is what made Teenfactor so interesting
to me when I recently reread the whole seires. Although whoo boy there
were some painful stretches.

> If a superhero story doesn't, in some way, concern itself with people,
> and doesn't believe in the inherent value of the human endeavor, for
> me it's not really a superhero story.

Something that anyone working in the genre should have mounted on a
plaque on their wall.

That's a really interesting taxonomy of superhero teams. But where
does the LNH fit on it? Most subgroups seem to fit the mold of team as
clique/friends, with a few (like Dvandom Force) as professionals. I
can't really think of any that fit the family dynamic. Teenfactor
started out as a clique playing the role of professionals, which would
have been an interesting tension to explore if you'd been aware of it,
and towards the end seemed to be becoming more of a family, when it
was mainly about Terrence, Carolyn, Electra and their close friends.
(Well Electra didn't have any friends.)

But I don't think any of these really fit the LNH as a whole. They're
too large to be a family or a social clique, but too loosely organized
to be a group of professionals. I think the LNH, like the Legion of
Super-Heroes itself, fits a different paradigm: the superhero team as
a fandom. A large group of like-minded people who join together in a
loosely organized group for a common interest, which forms all kinds
of complicated and contradictory social dynamics. Eventually in the
LNH's case it gets large enough that it starts to split into smaller
groups, but they're still linked and the wider group still exists to
bring vastly disparate people and contexts together. That's why fandom
responded so strongly to the LSH, why it was so beloved of hardcore
comics fans as opposed to casual readers, and why people in the early
days of RAC gravitated toward it for their alter egos. (That and the
potential for wonderfully ridiculous names.)

More information about the racc mailing list