The Day Kid Psycho Died
Characters in this story are property of DC Comics, Inc. No money is being made from this story, no infringement is intended.
To you, the name Kid Psycho is only one that comes up in Legion trivia contests. He means a little more than that to me. I'll tell you why a bit later. For right now, I want to tell you about the Kid.
The Kid's real name was Gnill Opral and he was born on Hajor. That's not a planet most Earth grubbers are concerned with. It's not around anymore. Too bad, so sad. You're brimming with tears, aren't you? Sure, you are.
His parents were named Rojj and Tryla and they were astronauts and genuine heroes. There was a radiant monster that positioned itself in orbital space around Hajor. For some reason, it enjoyed reaching out with its tentacles and snaring spacecraft. The government didn't like that and sent the two of them up in an armed spaceprobe. Rojj and Tryla Opral blasted the monster to atoms with their weaponry, leaving a big after-image that stayed in the skies of Hajor for some years. If you're in space and you see the image of a huge, transparent octopus, you know you're where Hajor used to be.
Both of the Oprals took some backwash radiation from that blast. When they came back down, in short order, Tryla got pregnant. She delivered a child, but not by natural childbirth. The kid's head was way too big. Way, way too big. As it was, she barely survived.
When they finally let her see the baby, whom they'd named Gnill, she was in tears. She thought the kid was deformed. But Rojj was there to console her, and he told her what the doctors had told him: the kid was a mutant. His power was unspecified, unmanifest at that time, but the genetics boys were for sure he'd have one, when he got older.
They learned what it was when he was about a year old, pointing at a string of matter-blocks he'd lifted into the air with his mind.
Mind over matter.
The kid could write without touching a stylus. Operate a computer without putting his hands on a control board. Fly a skimmer with both arms crossed. He was a caution, all right. And the punks who called him "Big Head" ended up running when sticks and rocks flew at them like ghosts were giving them a don't-come-back message.
Later on, he refined his power enough to where he was making force-fields out of the energy in his brain. He used it once to stop a flood with a mental dam. Other times he kept skimmers from colliding, or crooks' blasters from harming police. One of said wrongdoers, as he was being led away, made the remark, "You wouldn't'a caught us if it hadn't been for that...that psycho kid over there!"
Like it or not, he had a superhero name. The newsers all called him Kid Psycho.
So Kid Psycho he was, up to and beyond the day his home planet was destroyed.
A "loose planet" wandered into Hajor's solar system. There was nothing that anyone could do about it being on a collision course with Hajor itself. The Legion was doing something or other somewhere else, and it's not certain whether or not even Superboy, Mon-El, and Ultra Boy working together could have stopped it.
Rojj Opral was bound and determined he was going to save his boy. There was only one rocket capable of warp-drive interstellar travel on the whole planet, and it was an experimental model. Rojj had to break into the testing ground, bash his way past a couple of guards, and shove his son into the rocket. He locked him in, completed the launch sequence himself, and saw his boy shot into space.
When he looked up at the night sky and saw the planet that was getting closer and closer, Rojj probably had to grin. He'd beaten the monster.
Kid Psycho said that he saw the collision of the loose planet with Hajor. I suppose he could have. It's theoretically possible. Or he may have just imagined that he saw it. Take your choice. He did say in an interview that he knew when his parents died. He could feel it. Something in his soul went snap. That I do believe.
So Gnill Opral was the sole survivor of Hajor. Stuck in a rocket, bound for the nearest United Planets world that would take him. It turned out to be Braal. Yep, the very home of Cosmic Boy himself. After he landed there, he heard about the Legion and wondered if there'd be a place for a big-headed, force-field-projecting kid like him. So he got a grant from the planetary government, fuelled his rocket again, and took off for Earth.
Once there, he got a menial job until the next audition for the Legion of Super-Heroes.
In those days, you didn't have to go to the Legion Academy to apply. You just had to have a demonstrable natural super-power, get past the screening, and show up when they were doing interviews. Very, very few kids made it in.
That may have been a blessing. The Legion has always had a high casualty rate. Even if you discount Lightning Lad, who came back, and Triplicate Girl, who only got one body out of three killed, there's still a number of dead ones: Ferro Lad, Chemical King, Karate Kid among them. All of them were physically teenagers when they bought it. But the starry-eyed kids kept coming, every month, hoping they'd make it. Hoping they'd be the one to get a chance to die.
Well, Kid Psycho came, all dressed up in an olive-colored uniform that was functional, not skin-tight. He demonstrated his power by making a force-screen that even a team of Legionnaires couldn't batter their way past. The Kid looked like a certain bet to become a Legionnaire.
But it didn't happen that way.
Kid Psycho was summoned to that big meeting room with the semicircular dais on which the lucky ones sit, like judges before the accused. They gave him their verdict: rejected.
The Kid couldn't believe his ears. But the Legion wouldn't give him any explanation. They just showed him the door, and he had to go through it.
What was it? Prejudice against big-headed people? Power jealousy? He couldn't put a good reason behind it, and they didn't tell him much of anything.
So Gnill Opral, Kid Psycho, last survivor of the planet Hajor, stayed in Metropolis on Earth, got another grant from the United Planets on which (as the last living Hajorian) he could live and go to school, and bided his time for a year, until he could reapply for membership.
This time he wasn't leaving his bets uncovered. He'd since found out that he could travel through time with his power. Having studied up on the Legion, he'd learned of the existence of Superboy, one thousand years in the past. So Gnill took himself one millenium into the past, having concealed his big head under a turban, and went to the legendary town of Smallville.
There he met with Clark Kent, and, in short order, stopped live wires from igniting what was in a dynamite truck. Superboy was quite impressed, especially later when the Kid stopped a green Kryptonite meteor from hitting him. Gnill told Superboy his story, and asked him to speak up on his behalf when he reapplied to the Legion.
Superboy did just that when they went to the 30th Century together. At the end of his speech, Supes said, flat out, "You can't reject him a second time!"
Saturn Girl, who was the leader then, said, "But we must, Superboy." And before Kid Psycho's face could fall very far to the floor, she told them the truth.
The medical exam the Kid had taken when applying the first time revealed the following, and I quote:
"Psycho-force beaming forth drains large amount of energy from the brain. Each time subject uses his power, he shortens his life by about one year."
As it turns out, Hajorians are a long-lived bunch. But by all estimates, Gnill Opral wasn't going to make it to his forties if he kept blazing away with his mind power.
Why didn't the doctors' report get to him back then? The doctors thought the Legion would tell him, and the Legion thought the doctors had told him. Bureaucracy in action.
Kid Psycho heard that and finally understood why he'd gotten a cold shoulder from the Legion. He also knew that he wasn't going to be the last survivor of Hajor for too many more years. But he stood straight and told them that, even if it cost him his life, he'd be on call and ready to use his power in their behalf. Brainiac 5 said that the Kid was a real hero, and meant it.
Superboy found something even better for him, and, after talking it over with Saturn Girl, had the Kid given the status of Legion Reservist. Now, that's a bit better than the status of Legion garbage man, but not by much. Back in those days, it was mostly given to friends of Superboy because they'd done something nice, or just because Superboy asked them to be made Reservists. The ones on tap back then were Pete Ross and Jimmy Olsen. Later on, Lana Lang (as Insect Girl), Rond Vidar, Bouncing Boy, and Duo Damsel were added to the Reserve. You didn't exactly get called on for the big cases, but at least you got invitations to the weddings and the anniversary bash.
Kid Psycho stayed away, for the most part. I don't have documentation, but I probably understand why.
He made it in for only two occasions. One was the wedding of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel. Another was the 300th meeting of the Legion. He got a Survivor's Pension from the U.P. and wrote books with co-authors about Hajor. He could have made a lot more credits if he'd done advertisements as an almost-Legionnaire. But nobody could get him to agree to that.
That was the way it was up until the time of the White Event.
Everybody knows what it is by now, backwash from the Great Crisis in the late 20th Century. It was a wave of anti-matter that cut across time, and its presence was documented in caveman times, in the days when white men were settling the American frontier, in 1985, in 2590, and, finally, in our time.
All we knew is that a big wave of white energy was coming down and eating up just about everything in its path.
Kid Psycho was in England on a lecture tour. Brainiac 5 immediately got to him and asked him to help out with evacuation procedures there. The Kid was a good soldier. He agreed.
It wasn't an easy job. Everybody was having a good old-style panic. The streets were clogged with people trying to get out of the way of the white stuff. The ones who couldn't seemed to sizzle, like hot fat on a heating surface, and then they weren't there. At least, that's the testimony of the ones who saw it and survived.
The Kid was trying to get as many as he could directed to an underground shelter. We didn't know if that would do any good or not, but it was darned well better than getting whited out up above. But some of us couldn't run quite fast enough. Maybe we were too scared to. All we could do was turn back and look at this wall of white coming towards us like a tidal wave. As Lot's wife could tell you, that's never a smart idea.
One of those persons, a 13-year-old kid, was doing just that. Stark raving scared, stark raving paralyzed, right there on the flatpath. He couldn't have moved if you'd shoved a bangcracker down his drawers and lit it. No way at all.
Then there was this something between him and the white it that shimmered in a way not like what was coming for them. It was like a big, oblong curtain, and it held back the white. Not all of it, but enough.
And, a second after that, there was this hand clamped onto his wrist, and someone on the other end of it yelling, "Come on! Come on!"
The 13-year-old looked, and it was this big-headed kid in a green suit and turban.
Didn't have the foggiest idea of who the guy was. Didn't go to many lectures at the time.
All he knew was that the guy had saved him, and he was damned grateful about it.
Kid Psycho got that kid pointed in the right direction to get to the underground, and some others took him from there. He looked back at the Kid, asked him, "Hey! Aren't you coming, too?"
The Kid turned to him and smiled, the way the 13-year-old just knew Superboy or Mon-El smiled whenever they'd done something heroic. "Not yet," he said. "There's still a lot of people out here."
That was when we heard a big cracking sound.
The white stuff had eaten away most of a building across the street. It came down like a felled tree and struck the side wall of the bank Kid Psycho was standing beside. The debris came down faster than any of us could react.
The Kid might have used his power, might have saved his own life, or what was left of it, if he'd had the time.
But a big chunk of building rock came down, hit him on the head, and knocked him out just as a lot more of it was burying him up to his shoulders.
The 13-year-old saw all of that, screaming for somebody to help the Kid, even as others were dragging him down to the gravity lift to get to the underground. He saw something more, too.
He saw the wave of white coming up to what was left of the building the bank had struck, and eating every bit of it up, like acid dissolving anything it contacts.
He saw the Kid, unmoving, sort of sizzle as he lay there.
That was all he could see before he was dragged into the lift with about 50 others and shunted down into the shelter.
That was how Kid Psycho died.
Yeah. The one nobody can remember. The one who never fought Mordru, or the Time-Trapper, or the Fatal Five, or the Khunds. If they list him among the Legion dead in the articles, it's mostly just as a footnote.
But he isn't a footnote to me.
I've got my life to thank him for. I've also got a wife, a daughter, and a son who are pretty grateful to him for doing what he did. If he hadn't, two of them wouldn't be alive today. Neither would I.
Whoever calls him that is going to get more than an argument from me, friend. I may be older now, but I can still smack a bloke around for that kind of insult.
He's Kid Psycho. A member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The greatest Legionnaire of them all, is what I call him.
Don't forget that.
Don't ever forget that.
And don't ever forget him.