How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.
Today, we examine Element Lad’s odd relationship with Shvaughn Erin…
Ever since 1964’s Adventure Comics #326 (written by Jerry Siegel) had Element Lad say he was “out of his element” when it comes to girls, fans have speculated that Element Lad was gay.
The idea was picked up and developed by fans of the Legion, and it became a common topic for discussion at the Legion fan magazine, Interlac (which began life as LEAPA, LEgion Amateur Press Association).
In the second issue of the fanzine, there was a piece of fan fiction involving Element Lad’s homosexuality, and in the third issue, longtime Legion writer Jim Shooter gave his thoughts about different members of the Legion and for Element Lad, Shooter mentioned that he had always assumed that he was gay, partially for the aforementioned line from Adventure Comics #326, partially because he did not seem all that interested in repopulating his race (Element Lad was the lone survivor of a planet) and yes, partially because of the outfit Dave Cockrum gave him, where he had a giant arrow on his chest….
However, later writer Paul Levitz introduced a female love interest for Element Lad, the Science Officer Shvaughn Erin.
Well, Keith Giffen and longtime Interlac members Tom and Mary Bierbaum (who became the scripters for Giffen on Giffen’s “Five Years Later” Legion of Super-Heroes) did not agree with that idea, and in 1992’s Legion of Super-Heroes #32, they revealed that Shvaughn Erin was actually SEAN Erin, and he had taken a drug that changes you into a woman, as he was under the impression that Element Lad was heterosexual.
Element Lad pretty plainly said that such a ruse was an unnecessary one…
So, through a pretty convoluted plot, the end result that Legion fans had been expecting for decades was finally the case!
This particular change went out the window with the end of this run of Legion. When she has appeared since this time, Shvaughn has been a woman.
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