In April of 1992, during a discussion on the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.comics.misc, one poster declared himself "Spelling Boy". Another suggested that they form a Legion of Net.Heroes (in imitation of DC's Legion of Super-Heroes), and others piled in, making up silly superhero names for themselves. Eventually, one declared himself as the villainous "Doctor Killfile", leading into the first true LNH story, the Cosmic Plot Device Caper.
Thus began a tradition of silliness and No Fourth Wall that continues up to the present day. When the Legion outgrew rec.arts.comics (and spinoff rec.arts.comics.misc), they moved to alt.comics.lnh, and later, their permanent home, rec.arts.comics.creative (which also hosts other Web Original Shared Universes such as Academy of Superheroes, referred to as "imprints"). With thousands of stories, hundreds of series, and dozens of authors in the archive, it touches (and, usually, parodies) every aspect of the Super Hero genre.
The Legion is headquartered in the city of Net.ropolis, in no particular state, in the Loonited (or possibly Useneted) States of Ame.rec.a, on the Loonivearth. Well-known members include Cheesecake-Eater Lad, Ultimate Ninja, Sister State-The-Obvious, Multi-Tasking Man, Limp-Asparagus Lad, and Adamant-Authority-on-Everything.
rec.arts.comics.creative can be reached through Google Groups here, with a nice graphical interface (but no posting capability) at Wil's Ego, or through your local Usenet provider. The LNH Archive is here, and the LNH Wiki is here. As well, there's a Tumblr that regularly reposts older stories with commentary and added graphics here.
This universe contains examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Personification: As many as are in the comics it parodies.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The end of Constellation.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: The Multiversal Office, which fought the LNH in the Bad Forms storyline, is a particularly nasty example.
- Author Avatars: Most of the early LNH members were "Writer Characters" loosely based on their creators' net personae.
- Captain Obvious: Sister State-The-Obvious. Obviously.
- Continuity Snarl: Parodied with Convoluted Origin Man.
- Crossover: With the other superhero parody shared universe, Superguy, in Dvandom Force's Grand Tour storyline. Constellation, which Dvandom Force spun out of, was itself a spinoff of Dave Van Domelen's RPG campaign, which eventually was used as background for ASH.
- Crisis Crossover: A whole bunch, including Retcon Hour, The Flame Wars and its sequels, and most recently the Infinite Leadership Crisis and its sequel Beige Midnight.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: Since the LNH was created right in the middle of this, it contains many, many parodies.
- For Want of a Nail: Retcon Midnight, where Pliable Lad is removed from history. The results are not good, to say the least.
- Fun with Acronyms: Quite a few, including the A.A.A., Authority on Absurd Acronyms, a Cosmic Entity who can be bargained with through the use of acronyms.
- Full-Frontal Assault: This is Nudist Man's modus operandi, and one of the reasons the LNH isn't an actual comic.
- Idiot Plot: Legion of Net.Heroes Vol. 2 #25, "Idiot Plot", was written in response to a challenge to write a good story with one of these.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Old Shame: Many LNH writers have work from early in their career they'd rather people forgot, such as Tom Russell's Teenfactor.
- Naked People Are Funny: Nudist Man, of course.
- Ninja: The leader of the LNH is the Ultimate Ninja. He's exactly what he sounds like."I moved my internal organs aside to avoid the bullet.""You can do that?!""Of course! Am I not ninja?"
- There are a couple of others too, including Ultimate Ninja's niece Nina and UN wannabe Ultimate Mercenary. One of Multiple Personality Lass's personalities is also a ninja.
- Mind Hive: Multiple Personality Lass of Teenfactor
- Mood Whiplash: LNH stories can veer between being goofy parody, epic drama, and both simultaneously at the drop of a hat. Beige Midnight does this within individual paragraphs.
- No Fourth Wall: Not only are most characters aware of the Writers, this is built right into the cosmology; the Looniverse needs Drama to survive, while the Writers naturally produce excess Drama, thus creating a symbiotic relationship.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: Always-Powerful-On-His-Own-But-Gets-His-Ass-Kicked-In-Crowd-Scenes Boy.
- Red Shirt: Cannon Fodder, whose power is to come back from the dead.
- Series Franchise: There's the original LNH and THREE different Ultimate Universe versions: LNHY (with more blasphemous/tasteless and Surreal Humor), LNHX (a loosely Marvel Cinematic Universe-inspired, more centralized version) and the currently in-development LNH 20. As if one version wasn't confusing enough..
- Something Person: The vast majority of LNHers have these kinds of names, playing off their ubiquity in the Legion of Super-Heroes.
- Third-Person Person: Obscure Trivia Lad
- Trenchcoat Brigade: The Vertigo-inspired spinoff Net.Trenchcoat Brigade.
- Under New Management: The Infinite Leadership Crisis. Ultimate Ninja has to quit due to stress, and whenever a new successor is chosen they vanish at midnight. Just about every other Legionnaire (as well as the receptionists and members of both the LNHQ's resident species of birds) gets a turn leading the team.
- Walking Techbane: Glitch Girl's power.
- West Coast Team: LNH Europe, and to a lesser extent, various "spinoff" teams like Dvandom Force.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Net.ropolis doesn't actually have a fixed position; it floats from state to state.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The modus operandi of supervillain Acton Lord, who grants "absolute power" to heroes just to see how long it takes them to become "absolutely corrupt."
- Unobtanium: Variations of this in the Looniverse include Strongstuffium and Plotdevicium.