Friday, July 06, 2007

The Legionnaires: Quislet

Quislet, aka
of Teall. Created by Paul Levitz and Steve Lightle.

Quislet is one of the more unusual Legionnaires we've seen. He's basically a little point of energy from another dimension, and he stole an exploratory... vehicle... from his people and used it to come to Earth and join the Legion. His power is that he can jump out of this little white spaceship (LWS) of his and into an inanimate object, which he could then shape and control however he wanted. Only two problems: once he left the inanimate object, it'd fall apart and collapse, and he couldn't survive in the Legion's reality for long outside his spaceship. He was a Legionnaire for a few dozen issues of the Baxter series of the mid-'80s.

Quislet was a thrillseeker and explorer. The other Legionnaires often thought he didn't take things seriously enough, but this was just a reflection of his radically alien nature; Quislet's relationship with reality was radically different from that of anybody else, and therefore his perspective was also radically different.

At one point Quislet had trained Wildfire to knit his anti-energy together into humanoid form without using one of his container suits. Wildfire never quite perfected this, though, and eventually went back to the container suits. Wildfire once accompanied Quislet back to Teall, where they wanted to punish him for stealing the LWS by taking away his individuality. They got away that time, but a happy ending wasn't in the cards for Quislet: in a later storyline, he tried to 'possess' the Emerald Eye. It didn't work, and the Emerald Empress responded by destroying the LWS. To save his life, Quislet returned forever to Teall, where one must imagine the authorities there extinguished his self. His last words to the Legion before he left were "Never stop having fun."

I liked Quislet; he was a lot of fun. But I have to admit that he wasn't a great character:
1. He was basically invulnerable to everything, which means you can't really worry about him that much. And the one or two things he is vulnerable to, he's so vulnerable to them that you can't use them in a story without getting rid of Quislet altogether.
2. He was just a little point of energy. How can a reader identify with a point of energy? How can a writer really get inside his head? I mean, we as readers and writers can pull off some startling feats of imagination. We can identify, or make sympathetic, people from the past, present and future, aliens, animals, good and evil characters... but I think Quislet might have been too different for us to really make that leap.
3. He didn't have a face, so the artist couldn't convey his emotions to us through his expressions. The only ways to get Quislet to convey emotion were through his word balloons (full of his twisted alien syntax) or the shapes he made of other objects (which is, at best, indirect).

So he was a cool idea, but was limited in so many ways from a storytelling point of view that there really wasn't much that you could do with him. Quislet hasn't appeared in either reboot or threeboot continuity, and I kind of miss him, but I understand.

Oddly enough, I'm going to choose LSH5 #15 as his signature moment, because not only does he get to do something useful, and make wisecracks (both of which he was always pretty good at), but his alien nature lets him deliver some metatextual commentary on what's going on. It's an excellent use for Quislet, something DC might want to keep in mind if they ever want to bring him back again.

(The story is a campfire tale being told by one legionnaire to a bunch of other legionnaires. It’s about Sensor Girl, the White Witch, Blok and Quislet showing up to save the Flash as he sacrifices his life in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8. Sensor Girl directs traffic, Quislet disrupts the Anti-Monitor’s machines...

...the White Witch causes a reaction between the anti-matter and matter in the core of the device, and Blok smashes up what’s left. The four Legionnaires then leave as quickly as they came, but not before the White Witch casts a protection spell over Barry Allen…)

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