Jo Nah of Rimbor, aka Ultra Boy, is one of my favorite Legionnaires, and one of my favorite all-around comic book characters. Yes, he’s a bit of a Superboy knockoff, although he is the third most powerful member of the LSH. But he’s different in that he can only call upon his Kryptonian-like powers one at a time! While not an entirely original powerset, I loved the limitation. He was powerful, yes, but he had to be smart about the application of his powers.
I also love his uniform. Shown above is the classic look (note, however, that I never liked the sleeveless uniform that later, alternate versions of Ultra Boy wore). I just like the red and various greens, along with the black accents. The boots, as you can see from all of these pictures, are shown in various ways. Sometimes they’re red, like the flaps, other times they’re green, or black (which is what I prefer). And why exactly does he have that bird-like emblem on his chest (that later became a tattoo on his left arm)? I don’t think that this was ever addressed in any way. And while I’m at it, why the championship-type belt? Is the uniform a mess? Yes, but I don’t care. I even made a t-shirt with Ultra Boy’s logo on it years ago because you can’t buy one.
How did this love affair start? With one of my early comic book purchases: Legion of Super-Heroes #275.
In this issue, Jo was suffering from amnesia and hanging out with a band of space pirates. I was intrigued by this Legionnaire even then. Within a year or two, I came across this next issue at a local comic shop (Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #239), and this story cemented my love for the character. I’ve included a few pages to show how bad ass Jo was. In the right image, look at all those Legionnaires who have come to Rimbor to apprehend Jo after he was framed for murder (with wonderful art by Jim Starlin and Joe Rubinstein).
Then Jo takes them all on, and makes his escape, even against Superboy and Mon-EL, the two most powerful Legionnaires!
Of course, he eventually gets apprehended, but this sequence just shows that he’s smart enough to hold his own against an overwhelming force.
There was another good story tying back to LSH #275 that featured Jo and the return of Superboy to the series (the classic return of Reflecto storyline). Many years later, Jo was featured prominently early on in the Five Years Later (5YL) relaunch of the series. Unfortunately, I don’t think he was as well-used as he could have been as the series went on.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the long running love affair between Jo and Tinya Wazzo, aka Phantom Girl.
When the 5YL run told us that Tinya had died, I actually felt bad for Jo. Worse yet, the storyline that ended in LSH #19 (1991) was pretty emotional, too. In it, Jo has traveled to Earth of the ancient past and started a new life with a woman that reminds him a lot of Tinya, but who turns out to be a Lord of Chaos. Dr. Fate shows up to dispatch the Chaos Lord, but Jo only knows that he’s lost another woman he loved.
Whenever the Legion is brought back, it has to include Ultra Boy and his love of and for Phantom Girl. Without them, it’s not quite the Legion to me.
Do you like Ultra Boy? Have any favorite storylines featuring him? Let me know!