Lightning Lad

+ Live Wire

Created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino

NAME + ALIASES:
Garth Ranzz of Winath

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Luc and Perla Ranzz (parents, deceased), Mekt (brother), Ayla (Lightning Lass, sister), Imra Ardeen Ranzz (Saturn Girl, wife), Graym (son), Validus (son)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958)

Live Wire

NAME + ALIASES:
Garth Ranzz of Winath

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Kirth Ranzz (father), Dalya Ranzz (mother), Ayla Ranzz (Spark, sister), Mekt Ranzz (Lightning Lord, brother), Vaz (father's twin), Lilya (mother's twin), Ryth (aunt)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes, Workforce

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Legion of Super Heores v.4 #0 (October 1994)

LIGHTNING LAD

NAME + ALIASES:
Garth Ranzz of Winath

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed parents, Ayla Ranzz (Light Lass, twin sister), Mekt Ranzz (brother)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Teen Titans/Legion Special (2004)

History

If you look in a 30th-century dictionary under "bad luck," you may just see a picture of Garth Ranzz. Few, if any Legionnaires have had to endure the kind of suffering that has characterized his career as Lightning Lad. This unlucky streak might be traced back to the spaceship accident in which Garth, his twin sister Ayla and their brother Mekt made a crash landing on the planetoid Korbal. In order to re-power the spaceship, they tried to attract the native lightning beasts toward it. But instead of recharging the ship, the beasts attacked and charged the three Winathian siblings with their lightning. The three of them survived and gained the power to discharge electricity.

The origin of the Ranzz siblings. From Superboy #172 (1971). Art by George Tuska.

When they returned home to their parents, Luc and Perla Ranzz, Mekt ran off and, according to rumors (which later proved true), became a criminal. Garth followed in the hopes of bringing him to his senses. Instead of catching up with Mekt, though, destiny intervened, and he found himself foiling an assassination attempt on tycoon R. J. Brande. Inspired by this, Brande convinced Garth and the other two youths who took part in the incident to form the Legion of Super-Heroes, as Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy. (Superboy v.1 #147)

Lightning Lad: the first Legion casualty. From Adventure Comics #304 (1963). Art by John Forte.
Lightning Lad gives his right arm for the Legion. From Adventure #332 (1965). Art by John Forte.
He's got brass. From Superboy #210 (1975). Art by Mike Grell.
The fate of Graym's twin. From Legion v.3 Annual #3 (1984). Art by Keith Giffen.

Early in his career, Garth became the first Legionnaire to die in the line of duty, while saving Saturn Girl and Earth from the Khundish fleets of Zaryan the Conqueror. He was mourned by all, especially Saturn Girl, who knew he had loved her, but did not understand the depth of his devotion. (Adventure #304) Not long afterward, the Legion were stunned when Garth walked into their clubhouse, apparently restored to life! But this was merely a masquerade put on by his sister, Ayla, who joined the Legion as Lightning Lass. (#308) It didn't take the Legion long to find a way to revive Garth for real. Sadly, this was accomplished only at the expense of another life. Several Legionnaires volunteered to hold special lightning rods to channel the lightning of Korbal into his corpse. It was Proty, Chameleon Boy's "pet" who ultimately paid the price, by secretly taking Saturn Girl's place and rigging his rod to ensure the lightning would strike him. (#312)

After this stroke of extraordinary luck, misfortune continued to dog Garth. Lightning Lad lost his arm in battle with a Dxaundii wingfish enlarged into a "Super-Moby-Dick" of space. (#332) The arm was soon grown back by Doctor Zan Orbal. (#351) Then he was hypnotized and framed for the crimes of Starfinger. (#336)

After his return from the dead, he and Saturn Girl became a couple, and later, the second Legion couple to marry. (Limited Collector's Ed. #C-55) The Legion's bylaws forbade married Legionnaires from serving, and so the newlyweds were forced to resign. This was shortlived, as they were immediately called in as reservists during the so-called Earthwar. (Superboy & the Legion #245) After the war, the Legion's rules were changed. They rejoined and Garth was elected Legion leader. (#247)

Garth served with distinction as a leader, but eventually succumbed to the pressure when Saturn Girl was lost on a mission in space. (Legion v.2 #287) He resigned the post and came down with an electrical brain disease. (#290) After his recovery, he and Imra announced her pregnancy with twins. (#307) When she gave birth, one of the boys was secretly stolen by the Legin's nemesis, Darkseid, and turned into the creature called Validus. (Legion v.2 Annual #3)

The Legion's three founding members resigned from the team — Garth and Imra in order to spend more time raising their other son, Graym. (Legion v.3 #12)

NOTES: Lightning Lad's real name was first revealed in Adventure #350 (1966). A text feature in in Adventure #354 (1967) story identified their homeworld as Amarta, rather than Winath.

Jim Shooter on Lightning Lad: One of the reasons for his sister's retiring personality. He is a showman, a proud, powerful exemplary hero. A confident, dominant man, man enough for the likes of Imra Ironass Ardeen. Certainly his revival from death has affected him. Doubtless he feels now that he has a great role to play—a mission. He is good. He knows it—he strives for it and will not be denied his place in the heroic limelight. —Interlac (1976)

Tom & Mary Bierbaum on Lightning Lad: The original Garth was a charismatic bad boy who nobody was quite able or willing to straighten out. He finally found real valor in himself when he sacrificed his life for Imra. When the team tried to resurrect him, they instead gave him Proty's personality, which was the heroic, dedicated and slightly unbalanced Garth we knew during most of the Legion's run. —Interlac (2000)

Legion 1.5 (v.4)

Live Wire card (#13). From DC Master cards, 1994. Art by Juda Tverski.

In the history that unfolded after the first Crisis (no longer valid), several shocking things were revealed about Garth Ranzz…

He fathered a pair of twins, but had one, unknown to him, stolen by Darkseid and turned into the creature Validus.

Finally, in 2985, the three founding members resigned their positions in the Legion, Garth and Imra doing so to spend more time raising their son Graym. Even this wasn't peaceful, as he was kidnaped from his cradle by the Time Trapper and Garth was subjected to cruel psychological games in order to get him back. Then Darkseid revealed Validus's nature to them, and changed him back to a normal child (since renamed Garridan) -- or so the Ranzzes thought. They didn't find out the full truth until the Validus Plague ravaged Winath in 2990, greatly disfiguring Garth's arm and leg and requiring Garridan to be confined on the medical planet Quarantine.

Even with all this, Garth somehow manages to keep a good outlook on life. He runs a large plantation on Winath, with the help of Imra and the rehabilitated Mekt, and has recently fathered a pair of daughters, Dacey and Dorritt, who appear to have inherited their mother's telepathic abilities. Although he is unable to be active in the current Legion, he helps out when he's able to and otherwise just enjoys life—smiling, as is the Winathian way.

Garth's duplicate in the SW6 Legion took the name Live Wire. had Garth's original personality. This is because when the Time Trapper created the Legion duplicates, he took Garth from an earlier time period than the rest. Although he was romantic with Saturn Girl, they were not married. In fact, the two of them drifted apart. Live Wire was one of few Legionnaires to notice when the "crisis in time" took hold. He, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy traveled to the past to investigate their origins and wound up fighting alongside the 20th century's heroes during that "Zero Hour." They returned to the 30th century believing they had stopped the menace, but soon learned that they must remerge with their older counterparts in order to repair the time stream. In true heroic fashion, Live Wire joined hands with his older counterpart, his best friends (both versions) and bid their reality farewell.

Legion 2: Earth-247

The Garth Ranzz of Universe-247 goes by the name Live Wire. That universe was destroyed in the Infinite Crisis, but he remains active with that team, wandering the multiverse…

Garth Ranzz grew up on Winath, where almost everybody was born with a twin. Most Winathians find their twin to be their best friend, but Garth, whose twin was a sister rather than a brother, found himself looking up to his older brother Mekt instead.

Thus, when the three siblings went out joyriding in their parents' spaceship, had to make an emergency landing on Korbal, and got blasted by lightning beasts only to wake up months later, Garth's first concern was not for himself or his still-comatose sister, but for Mekt, who had woken up earlier and run away. He ran off to look for Mekt, hearing terrible rumors about his brother's activities, and, not wishing to believe that his brother was willingly engaged in criminal activity, concluded that the lightning powers with which he and his siblings were imbued were responsible for warping his mind, and would eventually do the same to him and his twin sister Ayla when they reached Mekt's age.

His search for Mekt was temporarily derailed when, on the way to follow up a lead on Earth, he and two other youths saved the life of R. J. Brande. Brande convinced the three teenagers to form the Legion of Super-Heroes to act as a living embodiment of the newly-formed United Planets, and Garth, using the code-name Live Wire was happy to work alongside Imra Ardeen, the very attractive Titanian he met on the shuttle flight to Earth. His Legion career ended after only a few missions, though, when his home planet, which considered him a runaway, sent Ayla to represent them instead of consenting to let Garth do it.

Disappointed by the turn of events but optimistic that he still might be able to find Mekt, Garth joined the Workforce, Leland McCauley's corporate security team. He worked with them for a while, but eventually became frustrated at McCauley's shady business deals, micromanagement and lack of information about Mekt. He quit the Workforce and was about to embark on his search when the White Triangle Daxamites attacked Earth and he was temporarily re-instated into the Legion to revive Imra and help defeat them. Despite Cosmic Boy's wishes to the contrary, U. P. President Jeannie Chu insisted that he be once again removed from the team, and he left to finally search for Mekt in earnest.

When he found him, he received a nasty shock. Gone was the big brother he once idolized, replaced by a ruthless criminal who called himself Lightning Lord... who was out to kill anyone or anything else with lightning powers so that he could be unique, a rebellion against his twin-centered upbringing on Winath. Garth finally saw Mekt for the sociopath he was, and, with Ayla's help, defeated him... but not before Garth lost his right arm in the battle. Garth has since returned home and is recovering from his wound in the presence of his family, with which he has finally reunited. His lost arm has been replaced by a mechanical prosthesis, which is useful as an arm but is not able to project lightning like the rest of his body.

Shortly after these events, Cosmic Boy, who had begun having doubts about the president, secretly asked Garth to assemble a secret Legion rescue squad, to consist of himself, Valor, Andromeda, Ultra Boy and Jan Arrah. This squad would be called upon in case the president was, in fact, working against the Legion and the Legion became endangered due to this. When the Legion fought the Fatal Five, the rescue squad, along with Legionnaire XS, recently returned from being lost in time, went into action and saved the Legion from the villains. With President Chu no longer imposing restrictions on the Legion's membership, Live Wire rejoined as a full member. He still has other problems, though... including the frailty of his artificial limb against his lightning-emitting body, but in the wake of the disappearance of seven Legionnaires, he has opted to keep his powers rather than give them up in exchange for a permanent new arm. In recognition of his self-sacrificing nature and seniority, Live Wire was named acting Legion leader, a position he was uncomfortable with and happy to hand over to Invisible Kid once a formal election was held.

Once the other Legionnaires returned from the twentieth century, Garth, at Ayla's urging, began to actively develop his low-key love for Saturn Girl. When Ayla killed herself trying to regain her lightning powers, it was Garth who managed to restore her life and her lightning powers... at great risk to himself.

Following the Dark Circle incident, Saturn Girl, as leader of the Legion, assigned Garth to the team occupying the Legion Outpost, which he had taken as a personal rejection. However, a wealth of opportunity for visiting soon opened up and seeing Saturn Girl more frequently reassured Garth that she loves him as much as before, and the two of them even agreed to eventually marry.

Following the Blight's attack on Earth, Live Wire became one of ten Legionnaires who disappeared into a rift in space. Although Saturn Girl was with him, she acted distant, having assumed the burdens of leadership upon herself and exerting her powers to keep the other Legionnaires in a healthy frame of mind. Having the most agricultural experience of any of the Legionnaires, he took upon himself the task of assembling a self-sustaining garden aboard the remains of the Legion Outpost so they could survive the trip home, however long it would take. When Saturn Girl lost the trust of the others due to her mental manipulations of the others, Live Wire assumed leadership. When the team was confronted by Element Lad, who had become the genocidal Progenitor, he plotted the strategy that kept Earth's galaxy safe from him, despite the fact that Element Lad had restored his arm, and arranged the fight during which Element Lad became merged with the Omniphagos. When the merged creature was on the verge of following the Legion through a space warp back to Earth, Live Wire left the Legion's ship to overload the creature's brain with electricity, killing it... and himself.

Once the lost Legionnaires returned home Garth's sister Ayla was devastated by his death. When given the opportunity, she accompanied the Legion on a mission to the Second Galaxy and collected some crystals from the site of his death. (#4-5) When she returned home, she placed these crystals at the memorial for Element Lad on Trom. In doing so, Ayla was unwittingly returned her brother to life. These Tromium crystals joined others already placed there, which contained Element Lad's memories and essence. Garth's life force had survived inside the crystals as well, and the combination of the two allowed Garth to reassert itself. He fashioned a new Tromium body for himself using Jan's transumtational abilities. (#25)

Garth's resurrection happened on a fateful day. As it happened, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl has spent most of it presiding over the Legion's new "Foundation Day." The two of them decided to make a visit to Element Lad's memorial on Trom, and found Garth instead! (#25)

Even though the entire Legion was embroiled with dealing with Darkseid, Garth was encouraged to remain on the sidelines. Imra (indeed, many Legionnaires) found it very difficult to distinguish Garth from the face of the Progenitor. But it was Garth, along with other sidelined Legionnaires, who proved instrumental in defeating Darkseid. (#30)

Live Wire took one more important step towards restoring the others' faith—he took responsibility for the Progenitor's actions. When a group of Legionnaires were captured by the Credo in the Second Galaxy, Garth offered himself up in exchange for the Legionnaires' freedom. (#32) This battle culminated in the Credo's leader, the Singularity, threatening to kill everyone—including his followers. Garth stopped the Singularity cold using his new elemental powers, and even Credo members were forced to acknowlede that essentially, "the Progetintor" had saved them. (#33)

No solution has been proposed to restore Garth to his former self. He and Imra have begun to grow closer once again.

In his absence, Garth's brother Mekt was placed in his parents' custody, and he did his best to reform. Mekt was even forced to admit that he greatly admired his brother but he also enjoyed a new closeness with Ayla. (#25) It remains to be seen how Mekt reacted to his brother's bizarre return to life.

Legion 3: Earth-Prime

Requires editing...

Garth Ranzz was involved with the founding of the Legion. It has yet to be disclosed how he gained his powers. His sister is Light Lass and he is romantically involved with Saturn Girl. Garth is rash and impetuous as displayed by his signing of a pact making the Legion an official arm of the U.P.

Ambassador Ardeen leads the U.P. delegates to officially sanction the Legion as an arm of the U.P. — equal and independent from the Science Police. Lightning Lad refuses at first then changes his mind — without consulting the members. (#14)

Supergirl, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad clash with Evolvo-Lad (Sev Tcheru) in the Gobi Rainforest. (#35)

Inside Evolvo-Lad's compound, Supergirl finds a version of Brainiac 5's Chronexus, and views the 21st century. Evolvo-Lad was working with Brainy to lure Supergirl there; they've modified the machine to be able to send her home. In her absence, Lightning Lad becomes leader. (#36)

Lightning Lad is overwhelmed by leadership duties and sends various members on inappropriate missions. He learns that they are to review seven "pre-approved candidates." Karate Kid injures himself saving Triplicate Girl from aliens; (#38)

Lightning Lad is forced to discipline both Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf for the incident on Triton. Lightning Lad decides to stay on as leader. Invisible Kid visits Giselle's parents. NOTE: Projectra's full name is stated as Vilamena Morgana Daergina Annaxandra Projectra Velorya Vauxhall. (#40)

Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl call it quits. (#46)

Other Versions

Lightning Lad was a prominent member in TV's Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon.

+ Powers

Live Wire has the ability to generate and channel electrical energy. This power was received from an outside source, the lightning beasts of Korbal.

Now that he inhabits the Tromium crystal form of Element Lad, he can also manipulate this mineral. Unlike Element Lad's powers, which could alter all matter, Live Wire can only create and manipulate Tromium. Tromium has numerous properties. It has been used to sheath others to achieve suspended animation or protection. It was also used by Element Lad to store encoded information.

Appearances + References

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