Vol. 64 No. 2 (2016)

Aliens Are Just Like Us: Personal Names in The Legion of Super-Heroes

Published 2016-04-02


Names created for alien comic-book characters in the 1960s provide an insight into cultural naming norms of the time; personal names had to be structurally familiar, so that readers could relate to them, yet different enough to seem other-worldly and/or futuristic. This analysis focuses on the personal names of The Legion of Super-Heroes, a team of super-powered teenagers from the thirty-first century. Their invented names conform sharply to English-speaking US American norms in terms of gender marking through syllable count and phonetic choice. The names of the future are very much like those of mid-twentieth-century American comic-book readers.


  1. Bernstein, Robert (writer), and George Papp (artist). 1961. “Superboy’s Big Brother!” Superboy, Vol. 1 No. 89. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  2. Binder, Otto (writer), and Al Plastino (artist). 1958. “The Legion of Super-Heroes.” Adventure Comics Vol. 1 No. 247. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  3. Bryson, Jae. 2008. “The Racial Politics of the Legion of Super-Heroes.” In Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes. Ed. Timothy Callahan, 315–330. Edwardsville, IL: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization.
  4. Cadigan, Glen. 2003. “Jim Shooter, Part 1.” In The Legion Companion, 50–60. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing.
  5. Cameron, Deborah. 2015. “Girls Called Jack and Boys Named Sue.” Language: A Feminist Guide (blog), <https://debuk.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/girls-called-jack-and-boys-named-sue/> (Accessed October 29, 2015).
  6. Cutler, A., J. M. McQueen, and K. Robinson. 1990. “Elizabeth and John: Sound Patterns of Men’s and Women’s Names.” Journal of Linguistics 26(2): 471–482.
  7. Ellison, Harlan. 1990. “Did Your Mother Throw Yours Out?” In The Harlan Ellison Hornbook, 349–367. New York, NY: Penzler Books.
  8. Gelbwasser, Michael. 1997. “Cool Characters Entice Kids: Jewish Superheroes Work Wonders in American Comics.” J. The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, January 7. <http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/4816/cool-characters-entice-kids-jewish-superheroes-work-wonders-in-american-com/> (Accessed October 29, 2015)
  9. Hamilton, Edmond. 1947. “The Star Kings.” Amazing Stories 21(9): 8–43.
  10. Hamilton, Edmond, and Al Plastino. 1965. “Meet the Legionnaires: Brainiac 5.” Adventure Comics, Vol. 1 No. 335. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  11. Kane, Bob, and Tom Andrae. 1989. Batman & Me. Forestville, CA: Eclipse Books.
  12. Kelley, Mark. 2009. “The Golden Age of Comic Books: Representations of American Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War.” Maria Dittman Library Research Competition: Student Award Winners, <http://works.bepress.com/mark_kelley/1> (Accessed October 29, 2015).
  13. Krueger, J. R. 1966. “Names and Nomenclatures in Science-Fiction.” Names 14(4): 203–214.
  14. Maslon, Laurence, and Michael Kantor. 2013. Superheroes! Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture. New York, NY: Crown Archetype.
  15. Moore, Stuart (writer), Gus Storms, and Mark Farmer (artists). 2015. “My Home in the Sky.” Convergence: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Vol. 1 No. 1. New York, NY: DC Comics.
  16. QuranicNames.com. 2015. “Tasmia,” <http://quranicnames.com/tasmia/> (Accessed December 10, 2015).
  17. Rhoades, Shirrel. 2008. A Complete History of American Comic Books. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
  18. Rockler, Naomi R. 2002. “Race, Whiteness, ‘Lightness,’ and Relevance: African American and European American Interpretations of Jumpstart and The Boondocks.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 19(4): 398–418.
  19. Siegel, Jerry (writer), and John Forte (artist). 1963. “Secret of the Mystery Legionnaire!” Adventure Comics, Vol. 1 No. 305. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  20. Siegel, Jerry (writer), John Forte, and Al Plastino (artists). 1962. “The Face Behind the Lead Mask!” Adventure Comics, Vol. 1 No. 300. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  21. Siegel, Jerry (writer), and Jim Mooney (artist). 1960. “The Three Super Heroes.” Action Comics, Vol. 1 No. 267. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  22. Siegel, Jerry (writer), and Joe Shuster (artist). 1938. “Superman, Champion of the Oppressed.” Action Comics, Vol. 1 No. 1. New York, NY: National Periodical Publications (DC Comics).
  23. Singer, Mark. 2002. “‘Black Skins’ and White Masks: Comic Books and the Secret of Race.” African American Review 36(1): 107–120.
  24. Türk Dil Kurumu [Turkish Language Association]. 2015. Personal Names Dictionary. “Ayla,” <http://www.tdk.gov.tr/index.php?option=com_kisiadlari&arama=anlami&uid=1083&guid=TDK.GTS.565f47ce86f3d2.40037531> (Accessed December 10, 2015).
  25. Zorbaugh, Harvey. 1944. “The Comics — There They Stand!” The Journal of Educational Sociology 18(4): 196–203.