Superheroes often need a support staff of some kind. That can be the unknowing supporting character that hangs out with the hero during the hero’s out-of-costume periods, but sometimes that character knows the hero’s secret identity and helps out as something like tech support or a person able to provide the occasional necessary cover story. Sometimes these characters, like Alfred Pennyworth, can take on a life of their own, and may even get their own side stories here and there. And once in a while, that supporting character goes from support staff to hero in his or her own right.
And then there’s L-Ron.
L-Ron was among the many robots serving galactic overlord/tradesman Manga Khan. He first appeared during the more humorous period in Justice League history. And if you think his name seems a bit familiar, it should. For reasons unknown, aside from maybe making the reader chuckle, all of Manga Khan’s robots were named after various famous science fiction writers. L-Ron was just the best known of them because he joined the Justice League.
See, L-Ron didn’t join the League voluntarily. Despite the series being mostly played as a workplace sitcom, this was still the freakin’ Justice League, and they had to deal with the really Big Bads. One such Big Bad was longtime League foe Despero. Returning to Earth as a three-eyed hunk of muscle, the League barely beat the guy, and only then when the Martian Manhunter gave the intergalactic dictator a special Martian gift, a telepathic illusion so powerful that no Martian can give it out more than once by creating an impression so realistic that the recipient would be led to believe he or she had received his or her heart’s desire. Despero, of course, saw himself killing the Justice League and then destroying the Earth. That put Despero into a weird coma, and the League needed to do something with him, so they offered him to Manga Khan. And Khan, being a tradesman, had to trade something in return.
So, he gave the League L-Ron.
Now, L-Ron wasn’t too pleased by this situation at first, but he soon found a spot for himself as something along the lines of a personal assistant to League financier Max Lord. And, since the book was meant to be funny back in those days, he had a habit of heaping titles on everyone he addressed, often full of made-up words. And, to add to the fun “L-Ron” started answering fans in the letters column, heaping similar praise on readers as he did on the characters in the book.
And then Despero came back, and since J’onn J’onnz couldn’t use the telepathic trick a second time, that would mean somehow beating Despero the old-fashioned way. That wasn’t really working, but when L-Ron spotted Despero wearing one of Manga Khan’s control collars, he knew what to do. That meant getting League fix-it guy Kilowog to build a device from L-Ron’s own parts (some of which were, surprisingly, organic), and once activated…L-Ron’s mind took over Despero’s body. He went back to Manga Khan, but his usual subservience was gone since, you know, he had a body that could fight the entire Justice League and win.
Oh, and yes, Despero did temporarily take over L-Ron’s abandoned body. That body was finally destroyed by a duck hunter.
So, L-Ron was a hero now, right? Sure. He even came back in Despero’s body and joined the Justice League Task Force.
That even means George Perez drew the L-Ron Despero taking out the original version of Despero in the background for JLA/Avengers final issue big brawl.
Now, Despero is a major League foe, so he did come back while L-Ron presumably maintained control of his original body. But then there was the (probably) out-of-continuity Formerly Known as the Justice League mini-series, during which he returned in his original body, and since then, he mostly pops up when someone needs a robot for something.
Though he did appear in an episode of the animated Young Justice as Despero’s sidekick.
I’d say it looks like he can’t get away from that three-eyed monster. I think we all know that feeling.