Laurel Kent of Earth was a young woman who happened to be the 30th century direct descendant of Superman. She first introduced herself to a teenage Superboy, then a prominent member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, as 'Elna' (an anagram of "Lane," the surname of Superman's wife Lois Lane). Superboy was initially quite attracted to her, until he discovered to his chagrin that they were related. Laurel had inherited her ancestor's superhuman invulnerability and applied for Legion membership, but was rejected on the grounds that Legionnaires Mon-El and Ultra Boy had the same ability and she had no other powers.
Laurel Kent was created in 1976 by writer Jim Shooter and artist Mike Grell for a Legion story called "Future Shock for Superboy." She was the first direct descendant of Superman to appear in DC's 30th century universe.
Though denied full Legion membership, Laurel was admitted to the Legion Academy training program, where she met and befriended other Legion hopefuls. The Legionnaire Dawnstar became her roommate and closest friend during this time, and Laurel had romantic relationships with male Academy members and even Legionnaires such as Sun Boy. Laurel underwent extensive combat training in the Academy and learned to be a capable fighter. Like other Academy members, Laurel was given a Legion Flight Ring so that she could fly and communicate with her teammates. Most of her Legion appearances were as an Academy member, and she only saw occasional action.
Major Story Arcs
Laurel became the focal character in the Legion story arc "Who Shot Laurel Kent?" Laurel was shot by a would-be assassin using a Kryptonite bullet as part of a plot to assassinate the descendants of the members of the iconic 20th-century super-team, the Justice League of America, of which Superman was a member. The plot turned out to be orchestrated by an old enemy of the JLA, Professor Ivo, who was immortal and still alive during the 30th century. Though the pain caused by the wound was a completely new experience to Laurel, whose power had never allowed her to be injured before, she managed to survive the attack and Ivo was thwarted by the Legion.
The Manhunter Impostor
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths and during the Millennium crossover story arc, Laurel's Legionnaire friends began noticing that Laurel was behaving strangely. When they investigated, Laurel turned against the Legion and attacked them, demonstrating powers she did not normally have, including super-strength and energy projection. Her appearance also changed, with her skin becoming metallic and her eyes robotic. This "Laurel" then claimed that she was a Manhunter android from the 20th century who had survived for a thousand years and was playing the role of Superman's descendant, and that the woman they knew as Laurel Kent never existed. Her programming eventually sent her fleeing to a hidden Manhunter base in the Himalayas, where she self-destructed. Despite the Manhunter's claims, it has recently been revealed that the real Laurel Kent was alive during this story arc, and she had merely been kidnapped and held captive by the android impostor.
31st Century Reappearance
In Superman/Batman #80, Laurel Kent appeared in the future where she was once again using the name Elna and had become the Superwoman of the 31st century. She was shown working beside the 31st century Superman ( Kent Shakespeare), Batman ( Brane Taylor), and Robin ( Tom Wayne) as they fought Epoch, the Lord of Time. It was revealed that Laurel's Manhunter impostor had kidnapped and replaced the real Laurel Kent years ago, but after the Manhunter was destroyed, Laurel was eventually discovered and freed.
Powers and Abilities
The only super-power Laurel had inherited from her Kryptonian 20th-century ancestor was that of invulnerability -- which she demonstrated by absorbing a full-strength energy blast from the Legionnaire Wildfire without suffering even the slightest injury. Because of her invulnerability, she had little need for clothing and favored skimpy outfits (essentially black bikinis, sometimes accessorized with a Superman-like red cape) that reflected this fact. Her only vulnerability was to Kryptonite, due to her Kryptonian heritage. Laurel was given extensive combat training by the Legion Academy, where she learned to take full advantage of her invulnerability as a fighter. Because her body was indestructible, Laurel could hit much harder than a normal human despite lacking her ancestor's super-strength. She could also operate in extreme combat conditions and dangerous environments that few others could enter.
As a member of the Legion Academy, Laurel Kent possesses a Legion Flight Ring. The ring gives its wearer the ability to fly, the speed and range of which is determined by the wearer's willpower. It also acts as a long-range communicator (enabling constant vocal contact with other Legionnaires, even across vast distances of space), a signal device, and a navigational compass, all powered by a micro-computer built inside the ring.
Five Years Later and Earth-247
For further details: Andromeda
After the devastation caused by the Magic Wars, original Legion continuity jumped ahead five years and was altered to reflect the removal of Superboy from their history. The Kryptonian Clark Kent (Superboy) was replaced by the Daxamite Lar Gand (Valor) as the greatest hero of the 20th Century and the inspiration for the Legion, and a virtual doppelganger of Laurel Kent named Laurel Gand was introduced. Laurel Gand was the 30th-century descendant of Lar Gand, just as Laurel Kent was the 30th-century descendant of Clark Kent. Unlike Laurel Kent, Laurel Gand inherited all of her ancestor's Superman-like powers (not just invulnerability) and was made a full member of the Legion. Laurel Gand also had blonde hair rather than black, making her more like Supergirl in appearance (which was intentional, since Supergirl also did not exist in this continuity and Gand was meant replace her). Original Legion continuity ended with Zero Hour and a rebooted continuity began (now known as Earth-247). Laurel Gand reappeared in reboot continuity, where she took the superhero name of Andromeda. However, she did not appear in the second Legion reboot (Earth-Prime) or the current "retroboot" Legion continuity, once again set on New Earth.
A new Laurel Kent appeared on a parallel Earth shown in a recent Superman/Batman story arc. On this Earth (now identified as Earth-11), the genders of all of the DC universe characters were reversed. Superman was instead Superwoman, and in an obvious reference to the original 30th-century Legion character, her name was Laurel Kent. She even resembled the original Laurel Kent in appearance, though her costume was far more modest (almost identical to Superman's). This Laurel Kent was a separate and distinct character from other characters with the name Superwoman. Earth-11 was seemingly destroyed in Superman/Batman #25, though the fate of the Laurel Kent Superwoman is unknown.