Garth Ranzz was born the second of three children on the planet Winath. When he was fourteen years old, Garth and his brother Mekt and twin-sister Ayla, attended a party on an alien planet. Returning home, their shuttlecraft malfunctioned and they crashed on the planet Korbal. They discovered that their ship had run out of power and that its engines needed to be recharged. Garth lured a herd of Lightning Beasts towards the craft hoping to use their electrical discharges to repower the ship. The animals’ energy bursts struck the teens however and not the ship, imbuing all three of them with the ability to generate electricity. Garth, Ayla and Mekt used their powers to recharge the ship's engines and return home.
A short time later, Mekt Ranzz mysteriously disappeared into the underworld of the galaxy, and Garth set out to try to find him. He boarded a shuttle en route to the planet Earth where upon he met Rokk Krinn of Braal and Imra Ardeen of Titan. Also on the shuttle was R.J. Brande – a wealthy industrialist who claimed to be the third richest man in the galaxy. Garth and Rokk immediately bonded with one another, but Imra felt that the two of them were little more than childish boys. When the shuttle reached Earth, an assassin attempted to murder Brande, but Garth, Rokk and Imra used their respective powers to save the older man's life. Brande was so impressed with the teens' bravery, that he petitioned the United Planets to form a Legion of Super-Heroes – an ever-growing cosmic team inspired by the exploits of 20th century super-hero Superboy. Garth Ranzz became a charter member of the team using the name Lightning Boy.
On one of the Legion's earliest missions, they traveled backwards in time to the 20th century where they met legendary hero Superboy. After several more similar time excursions, Garth and the others welcomed Superboy into the ranks of the Legion of Super-Heroes. By this point, Garth had stopped using the name Lightning Boy and became known as Lightning Lad – a code name that he would maintain throughout most of his career.
Disaster struck the young Legionnaire down only a short time later. Imra Ardeen (now known as Saturn Girl) learned of the pressing threat of a villain known as Zaryan the Conqueror. She also knew a Legionnaire was fated to die in combat against Zaryan. As team leader, Saturn Girl was unwilling to allow any other Legionnaire to die, so she suspended everyone on the team, in the hopes that she would be the one to fall before Zaryan's might. Lightning Lad ignored his suspension however and fought with Zaryan. Although he succeeded in destroying the villain's ship, Zaryan managed to fire a freeze-blast that killed the young Legionnaire. Shortly thereafter, Garth's sister Ayla adopted the name Lightning Lass and took her brother's place on the team.
Mon-El, a fellow Legionnaire only recently freed from exile in the Phantom Zone, discovered a way to bring Garth back to life. The plan involved going to Lightning World and channeling the power of a massive lightning bolt into a specially designed Daxamite rod that would resurrect the fallen Legionnaire. However, such a plan would come at great cost, as whoever was holding the lightning rod at the point of impact would be killed. The Legion decided that the plan was worth the risk and they brought Garth's body to Lightning World. Rather than let a single hero volunteer to sacrifice themselves, they instead allowed fate to decide for them. Each Legionnaire present held an identical lightning rod, prepared to give their lives for Garth if need be. Saturn Girl, once again decided to sacrifice herself for the sake of Garth Ranzz. She replaced her rod with one made of Duralim, a highly conductive metal, increasing her chances of being struck down rather than another Legionnaire. Saturn Girl never had the opportunity to risk her own life however. At the last minute, Chameleon Boy's pet, Proty, morphed into the form of Saturn Girl and used her Duralim rod in the ritual. A giant bolt of lightning struck the rod, resurrecting Lightning Lad, but at the cost of Proty's life. Lightning Lad rejoined the Legion as a full-time member. Unfortunately, due to Legion bylaws which prohibited members with similar powers from being on the team together, Ayla Ranzz' spot on the roster was now forfeit. Ayla managed to stay in the Legion however, as her powers altered only a short time later.
Never a stranger to tragedy, Garth experienced his next great loss only a few short years later. Picking up a distress call from a passing cargo ship, Lightning Lad investigated the scene and came into conflict with a giant creature colloquially known as the Super-Moby Dick of Space. Fighting the mineral-eating monstrosity, Lightning Lad fired his electric bolts at the creature, but they reflected off it, transforming into a poisonous current that struck Garth in the arm. Returning to the Legion Clubhouse, Garth was forced to amputate his arm to stave off further infection. He replaced the missing limb with a cybernetic prosthetic, which greatly amplified his electrical discharge powers. Consumed with a need for revenge, Lightning Lad tracked down the Super-Moby Dick and blasted it with 100 times the amount of power normally at his disposal. The power blast reduced the creature in size, rendering it harmless.
It was during this time that Garth and Imra Ardeen grew closer together and eventually fell in love. On one mission, the two were forced to stage a faux wedding and retire from the Legion, enabling three Murran alien spies to take their place under the names Blackout Boy, Magnetic Kid and Size Lad. Garth and Imra knew of the spies’ presence and agreed to the plan in order to draw them out. Although the mission was a success, both Garth and Imra were upset that their marriage was not real.
Over time, Lightning Lad came under the thrall of Prince Evillo and forced to join his Devil's Dozen. Garth regained control of his mind, and rebelled against Evillo. One of Evillo's scientists, Dr. Zan Orbal, used his scientific wizardry to restore Lightning Lad's missing arm.
As they grew older, Garth and Imra married in earnest and gave birth to twin children. What neither of them realized at the time however, was that the galactic despot Darkseid had taken one of their twins at birth and performed experiments on him, transforming him into a mutated aberration. Darkseid then shunted the mutated child back in time five years where he became the Fatal Five member known as Validus. It was years before Garth and Imra ever learned the truth about their missing son. Their second child however, Graym Ranzz proved to be a healthy baby boy, and Garth and Imra retired from active service to raise their son.
They both returned to the Legion however and continued to fight up against threats such as the Fatal Five, Computo, and the Legion of Super-Villains. Garth's final adventure with the Legion involved the Time Trapper, the conclusion of which resulted in the destruction of the Legion of Super-Heroes timeline in an event known as Zero Hour.
The Legion of Super-Heroes, along with Lightning Lad reappear after the Infinite Crisis, during the Lightning Saga. In Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, he teams up with the two other incarnations of him, Live Wire and the other Lightning Lad to save the 30th Century from Superboy-Prime.
- Energy Absorption: Lightning Lad can absorb electrical energy into his body and rechannel it for offensive purposes. His body functions as a natural insulator, and he cannot be harmed from the effects of his own powers.
- Electrokinesis: Lightning Lad can generate and control fields of electrical energy. He can channel this energy through his hands and project it as a super-heated discharge with properties similar to that of lightning. Unlike true lightning, Mekt can manipulate these electric discharges in non-terrestrial environments such as outer space. Although the speed and voltage of his electric discharges has never been measured, it can be assumed that their affects are similar to that of a bolt of lightning. A bolt of lightning can travel at a speed of 100000 mph (160934 km/h), and can reach temperatures approaching 28000 °C (60000 °F), hot enough to fuse soil or sand into glass channels.
- Electro-Blast: When he first joined the Leigon of Super-Heroes, Garth could only produce electro-static effects by clapping his hands together, but with time and practice, he was able to hone his skill until he could fire bolts of lightning from his hands.
- Cybernetic Enhancement: (formerly) At one point in his career, Lightning Lad's arm was amputated and replaced with a robotic limb. This appendage increased the magnitude of Lightning Lad's powers 100 fold and he was able to use it against the Super-Moby Dick of Space and Prince Evillo's Devil's Dozen. Upon the restoration of his natural arm, Lightning Lad discarded the robotic prosthetic.
- This version of Garth Ranzz (Pre-Zero Hour) is no longer considered part of canon continuity. All history and corresponding appearances of Garth Ranzz (Pre-Zero Hour) were erased from continuity following the events of the 1994 limited series Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.
- Garth's last pre-Zero Hour appearance was in Legion of Super-Heroes v.4 #61
- In his first appearance, Garth went by the code-name Lightning Boy.
- Adventure Comics (Volume 1)
- Adventure Comics (Volume 2)
- Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds
- Legion Lost (Volume 1)
- Legion Lost (Volume 2)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 1)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 2)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 3)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 5)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 6)
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 7)
- Legion Worlds (Volume 1)
- Legionnaires (Volume 1)
- Superboy (Volume 1)
- Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes
- Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes
- The Legion (Volume 1)
- 382 Appearances of Garth Ranzz (Pre-Zero Hour)
- 42 Images featuring Garth Ranzz (Pre-Zero Hour)
- 4 Quotations by or about Garth Ranzz (Pre-Zero Hour)
- Character Gallery: Garth Ranzz (Pre-Zero Hour)
- Lightning Lad at dccomics.com
- Garth Ranzz at Wikipedia.org
- Lightning Lad at Supermanica
- Lightning Lad at the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe
- Lightning Lad at Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics
- Lightning Lad at Legion Clubhouse
- Lightning Lad at Scifipedia
- Lightning Lad chronology page
- Garth Ranzz article at Memory Beta, the licensed Star Trek publication Wikia.
Legion of Super-Heroes member