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Literature / Legion of Nothing

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The cover of "The Legion of Nothing: Rebirth"
The Legion Of Nothing is a Web Serial Novel (and also a book) about the Grand Lake Heroes League of Grand Lake, Michigan, a team of teenagers with superpowers. It is written by author Jim Zoetewey.

They are the children and grandchildren of the members of the original Grand Lake Heroes League, a group of former World War II soldiers who were part of an elite unit of superpowered soldiers. They came home after the war and continued to use their powers to combat organized crime and other villains, powered and otherwise in the 1950's.

The lead character, and the one through whom the story is told is Nick Klein. His grandfather was the Gadgeteer Genius known as The Rocket. Among his inventions, a suit of Powered Armor equipped with numerous weapons and a rocket pack (not unlike Iron Man). Nick isn't really sure he wants to take up the superhero mantle, but a group of his friends decide to revive the League, and Nick in turn dons his grandfather's armor.

Both parts a Super Hero and Coming of Age story, Fans of the series have noticed its sense of humor and use of pacing. Cliffhanger endings are common due its serial nature.

Provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Chris Cannon, Kayla Ketchem and Martin Magnus, it wouldn't be a superhero story without this one.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Larry likes this, of the Animal Alias variety. He wears Powered Armour and normally goes by the name Rhino, as his armour's strong and durable, but also goes undercover in green jumping armour... as Frog!
    • Also Night Wolf and Night Cat
  • Back Story: Considering that main characters are the descendants of a famous Superhero group and that many of them have assumed their forebears' identities and abilities (and it some cases their enemies), this is a given.
  • Badass Crew: Every super team seems to qualify for this.
    • There is a team of superhero assassins called The Executioner, which managed to murder several superheroes and their families. Evil? For sure. Badass? Most definitely.
    • Subverted with Three, a trio of teenaged supers in California. The group themselves are pretty badass in a fight, but their nominal leader, Alex aka Paladin, seems to excel at getting them in trouble. In particular, one ill-advised prank almost gets them and several other people killed. Brooke (Alex's girlfriend) and Nick stepping up is what keeps them from being obituaries.
  • Badass Bookworm: Nick is a stereotypical nerd in classic Peter Parker-style. However his smarts are the basis of some his best ass-kicking.
  • Badass Normal: Nick is capable of beating up the big guys even when he's not wearing the Rocket Suit. He Knows Kung Fu, after all.
    • Remarkably, most of the super-villains in the story are un-powered folks who use cunning and technology to give the supers hell. One team, the Executioner(s), succeeded in murdering several supers and their families before the Legion took them down. Or did they??
      • They took down the Executioner for real at the end of Book 3
  • Badass Unintentional: Brooke, aka The Portal. A teenage superhero and the girlfriend of Alex, and, a member of 'Three'. On the surface, she talks and acts like The Ditz. When her boyfriend's dumbass prank and even dumber-ass counterattack get himself, her, Nick, and Jenny captured; it is she who steps up to the plate. For starters, while everyone else gets stunned with paralysis rays, she fakes it, just so that she can get a drop on the bad guys. And then she helps Nick come up with the plan to not only escape but to beat up the bad guys on the way out.
  • Battle Couple: Rocket and Night Cat, at least until she tells him that he should give her some space.
  • Beware the Superman: A common theme, as although vigilantism isn't legal, it's generally accepted by mainstream humanity providing that supers police their own kind.
  • Bold Inflation: Red Lightning's "I will stop you in the name of TRUTH and JUSTICE".
  • Breather Episode: Breather is pushing it since there are steaks in the arc, but "Three" is mostly about Nick taking a break from everything happening at home to go play with his friends in L.A. during spring break.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": The Rocket, and Big C, amongst others.
  • Brown Note: The Rocket's sonic weapons are capable of producing this, and have one at least one memorable occasion.
  • Building Swing: Although the Rocket can fly, he says he has two grappling hooks "in case I ever need to do the Spider-Man thing".
  • Cape Busters: In Three, The Rocket goes up against Syndicate L, a non-superpowered organisation with capebusting potential, and a Humongous Mecha (which being the Rocket, he can't resist trying to get his hands on).
  • The Captain: Subverted. The Legion has no set Command Roster yet. They're trying out a rotating command schedule for now.
    • In one serial, Nick kind of jumps out to the lead in helping another group of supers when a prank goes wrong.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Rocket is very similar to Iron Man, just more likable.
  • Car Fu: Two distinct types. The first is characters wondering where heroes learn offensive driving. The second is the regularity with which cars are flung around as weapons.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sean first appeared in Lighting Strikes Twice as someone Vaughn owed money to only to appear later in Bullies and Counselors as Haley's ex.
  • City of Adventure: A lot of things seem to happen in Grand Lake, but this is hand-waved as being due to the high concentration of supers in the area, which in turn may be partly due to a sinister breeding program started by Red Lightning.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: The League are legacy characters, after all. Captain Commando's sword is an example of this, too.
  • Code Name: Hero names are a big deal, there's even a register to ensure that no two heroes get the same name, which causes problems in King Of Storms.
  • Color Character: Red Lightning, Blue Streak.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Isaac Lim, although whether he is a genuine good guy is yet to be seen...
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: The superhero team Protection Force.
    • Larry was one too, but over the years as he established his business he got rid of all but one of them. Even then, he's still better known for his beer than actual hero work.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Nick was bequeathed 11 million dollars 'earmarked for "fighting evil"'
  • Dating Catwoman: The original Rocket married Ghostwoman, a Nazi super he met while fighting for the Allies in WWII.
  • Destructive Savior: Both Rockets seem to break a lot of windows every time they use their sonic weapons.
  • Drama Bomb: The author Jim Zoetewey is really good at taking sudden turns from light comedy to Darker and Edgier in the space of a few paragraphs.
  • Dramatic Irony: Used regularly to great effect.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Nick mostly used the League HQ, complete with ridiculous security measures to watch DVDs and play Guitar Hero before the League was reformed.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Martin Magnus
  • Enforced Cold War: The original Rocket and Man-Machine knew each others identities, but agreed to keep their conflict on streets and away from their families.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Sean keeps taking credit for the League's work. Between his attitude and his Magnetoesque powers, he has the makings of either an awesome Arch-Nemesis or an Anti-Hero.
  • First-Person Smartass: Nick's POV, with its snarky little comments and light tone, really makes Legion Of Nothing stand out.
  • Flashback: 1953 shows how the Heroes League reformed after the war, and introduces the original Rocket's Archnemesis Man-Machine.
  • The Good Captain: Captain Commando
  • Grandfather Clause: A literal grandfather clause (possibly an example of the author reading TV tropes) results in the League being part of the FBI's National Hero Program.
  • Handicapped Badass: The Rocketsuit unsurprisingly gets banged up a lot in battles, leaving it with less than full capability. The standout example is the Alternate Universe chapter, "The Omnishpere" (by guest author Robert Rodgers, based on Jim Zoetewey's original characters) where Nick fights the supervillian War. By the time the battle climaxes, the Rocket has no jetpack or flight capability and completely loses function in one arm.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Ghostwoman started out as a Nazi spy.
  • Heroic Build: Most of the heroes around, except Nick.
    • Although even he has one temporarily while under the effects of Alex's power. He tells his girlfriend to enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Hero Insurance: "I hope this building's insurance covers rampaging giants".
  • Honorary True Companion: Rachel, who would be a True Companions if she wasn't away at college.
  • Hot-Blooded: Captain Commando is more then happy to fight the most dangerous supervillains.
  • I Believe I Can Fly: The League is split about half and half between those that can fly and those that can't, but no two flyers use the same method.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Nick isn't so sure about being a hero, but events keep forcing him to take up the Rocket Suit.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Cassie took treatments to be "cured of being normal".
  • Jet Pack: Newer models can apparently carry enough fuel for 3 hours flight. It's best not to look at the Physics in some of the devices.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Most Kids seem to inherit their parents powers, but how their parents got them is mostly left to imagination. We'll have to wait and see how this one plays out.
    • We later learn that most genetic powers are a result of the Abominators tampering with humanity's evolution.
  • Laser Blade: Captain Commando's sword isn't a lightsaber, but it might as well be.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Aka Cassie AKA Captain Commando II
  • Legacy Character: Most of the Grand Lake Heroes League are the descendants of the original League (Rocket, Captain Commando, Night Wolf), including those whose predecessor's names are still in use (Night Cat, Accelerando).
    • Don't forget Rachel, Nick's older sister, as Ghost.
  • Magic Versus Science: A literal case occurs when the Storm King (whose powers seem to stem from electromagnetic manipulation of the weather) and the King of Storms (an ancient avatar and weather magician) fight it out in King of Storms.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Syndicate L fields these in an attempt to keep up with the various super-powered factions.
  • The Medic: Alex/Paladin is this on Three.
  • Mirror Universe: One serial written by guest author Robert Rodgers based on the original characters created by Jim Zoetewey titled "The Omnisphere" deals with these, and even features an evil version of the heroes.
  • Only Sane Man: Nick, the main character, is usually the one who comes up with the most sensible plans to fighting villains.
  • Outdated Outfit: The Rocket Suit is described as being 'Art Deco', an art style that was outdated by the 40's, when the Rocket came into existence. That's ok, though, because the Rocket has made it Classic.
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: Cassie Kowalski aka Captain Commando was cloned from her father the original Captain Commando, incorporating alien DNA as well as DNA from an as yet unidentified human.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Most of the parents have no idea that their children are heroes, because of the Mentalist's block.
  • Personality Powers: Storm King is broody and unpredictable, Accelerando is always in a rush and Captain Commando is irrepressible.
    • This is also inverted with Nick and Alex in Three. Nick's Powered Armor causes a lot of damage but he worries about hurting people, even the ones he's fighting. On the other hand Alex has the power to heal others but doesn't think about the consequences of his actions.
  • Police Are Useless: And they know it, they just wait for the heroes to show up.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At one point, Accelerando throws a car that the Rocket is clinging on to the back of. The League needs to work on its teamwork a little.
  • Posthumous Character: Most of the original league.
  • President Evil: The Mayor, although like all the villains, an understandable character with real motives, more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist than anything else.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Used by various speedsters with varying levels of effectiveness.
  • Refusal of the Call: Nick started out no wanting to become the Rocket and felt pressured by his late grandfather. Ironically, after the war his grandfather also tried to refuse the call, and focus on being a husband and a father.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Mostly averted, as the author describes most powers pretty accurately before they become useful, but Accelerando's catching a skin-eating acid bomb without harm due to her necessary super-strength still came as a surprise.
    • Arguably, most of Accelerando's powerset are these with respect to her super speed. She has the strength to push herself that rapidly, reflexes fast enough to react at that speed, and is tough just to survive the punishment her body undergoes to run that fast.
      • Although how 'required' they are is up for debate, since Justice Fist's Jody has at least as much speed as Accelerando while lacking the secondary powers.
  • Rogues Gallery: We're slowly learning about the original Rocket's recurring foes, just as the new Rocket develops his own.
  • The Ruins I Caused: A massive battle took place at the mansion of Red Lightning, aka Giles Hardwick, a former Heroes League member turned arch-villain. Nick's grandad, the original Rocket, Joe Van Der Sloot, defeated him but only after the mansion was completely destroyed. In the present, the current Heroes League, including Hardwick's grandson, Vaughn visit the ruins and comment on how fresh the damage looks.
  • Secret Identity: All the League have secret identities, but some are better at hiding them than others. This is a point of friction with the many detractors of vigilante justice in the story.
  • Secret-Keeper: Kayla discovers the identities of the Rocket, Storm King and Captain Commando, which gives the League a nice opportunity to consider the morals of using a psychic block like the original League used and come up with a new solution of their own that isn't so morally dubious.
  • Serious Business: Superheroes are serious business, with their own radio, TV and historians, but it's justified considering what they can do.
  • Sidekick Graduations Stick: Both Mindstryke and The Rhino were sidekicks to the original Rocket and The Mentalist before assuming their superhero identities.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: The best way to describe the relationship between Nick and Guardian other than Headbutting Heroes. Nick and the team made a bad impression on Guardian when they first met and he chewed them out for being irresponsible teenagers. This in turn made a bad impression on Nick, who from that point on explicitly says Guardian is his least favorite hero, can barely hold a conversation with him, and tends to avoid people who associate with him.
  • The Smart Guy: Nick, Gadgeteer Genius and all-round geek.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Who would have thought a guy named 'Cannon' would become the big-gun-wielding Man Machine?
  • Superheroes Don't Wear Capes: In fact, Nick is surprised when he comes across one who does.
  • Super Hero Speciation: There's Night Wolf and Night Cat, rarely do they both appear at the same time.
  • Superhero Trophy Shelf: As well as awards, the League HQ contains relics from villains, numerous versions of the Rocket Suit and the other assorted plot points not yet defined.
  • Super Serum: Variously called 'Power Elixer', the 'Drink of the Gods' and 'Super Juice', apparently it is no longer addictive and dangerous, but who knows what to believe. Either way, it's turning into a very major plot point.
  • Super Team: Tons of them. The Grand Lake Heroes League isn't even the only one in Michigan.
    • Others include Three, The Elementals and The Defenders.
  • Supervillain Lair: Ranging from the secret area in Man Machine's garage to the sprawling underground deathtrapped palace of Red Lightning.
  • Taught by Experience: The New Heroes League lives by the trope.
  • Technical Pacifist: Nick doesn't like hurting people (an interesting perspective for someone who once 'just punched them until they stopped'), and is always concerned that he's killed those he defeats. Expect real problems when this eventually does happen, despite his belief that he could do it if required.
  • Tempting Fate: Both Cassie and Alex target Syndicate L because they don't allow super-powered members. While including the Rocket in their own plans.
  • True Companions: The New Heroes League grew up together. May also apply to the original team seeing how Rocket get mad when someone shot Night Wolf in 1953
  • Utility Belt: Captain Commando and the Rocket both have well stocked belts, and they both need them, too.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Man Machine was famous for these. It wasn't until after Nick defeated him that anyone but Nick's grandfather even knew who he was.
  • We Can Rule Together: Nick's first conversation with Martin Magnus had part of this in it.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Super?: Superheroes can take out "normals", even well-armed ones. This leads to the normals fighting back in ever-escalating fashion.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The League gets a chewing out over all their mistakes in The Beginning, the hero giving the lecture even sends them to his website.
    • Nick and Chris give Sean one when he goes overboard helping them stop Jack Maniac by repeatedly slamming him against the floor, that his Powered Armor started to come off.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: There's a great section in The Beginning where the Rocket feels bad about hitting a girl, even though she was firing an AK-47 at him at the time.

Superpowers exhibited: