The group of teenage Legionnaires often referred to as the SW6 Batch contained a roster of heroes from the innocent, early days of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The line-up comes from the Adventure Comics era, before Ferro Lad sacrificed his life to defeat the Sun-Eater. However, the setting that this team arrived in was anything but innocent. With Earthgov infiltrated by Dominators, the Earth reeling from the destruction wrought by the Dominators' Triple Strike program, and an active revolutionary movement on the march, the SW6 Batch were an unusually bright spot in a dark world.
The name "SW6 Batch" derives from the "Batch SW6" code-name given to the group by the Dominators. The group emerged from pods underneath Weisinger Plaza, so it is presumed that the W in the name stands for their location (South Weisinger 6?). It is the most commonly used shorthand name for this group of characters.
The (re-)introduction of a teenaged version of the Legion of Super-Heroes during the "Glorithverse" era went through many drafts and incarnations, and the purpose of the team changed multiple times during its duration.
"Legion of Super-Heroes: The Beginning"
The writers of the Legion of Super-Heroes comic proposed a series based on the early years of the Legion of Super-Heroes, a series that would presumably follow the new, post-Mordruverse timeline. The concept went as far as getting its own entry in the Who's Who series, complete with (retroactively) new costumes designed by Chris Sprouse that would later be used by the SW6 Batch characters.
The pods that the "Batch SW6" emerged from were part of a Dominator experiment. Their weapon B.I.O.N. duplicated powers of the heroes, so the Dominators had access to the heroes in some form. Because some faults of the duplicated Legionnaires were "corrected," generic manipulation, or cloning, by the Dominators became a probable scenario. For example, during the time period in which the Legionnaires were likely duplicated, Lightning Lad was missing an arm. However, the SW6 Batch version had both arms.
Dark Circle involvement?
In Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #21, the adult Valor discovers data in a Dark Circle computer implying that the Circle created clones of Legionnaires. The Dark Circle planned to replace the real Legionnaires with the clones during a failed invasion of Earth. Valor cannot uncover more information, and he wonders if there is a clone Legion. If there is, are he and the Legionnaires he knows the originals or the clones? This story is never really followed up on, but the "which ones are the clones" question continued.
Giffen's "hat trick"
According to creator Keith Giffen, the younger Legionnaires were the real Legionnaires. Around Adventure Comics #348, the Dominators cloned the Legion. Therefore, the Legion from the past 20 years of published comics were actually clones. At some point, the adults' secret programming would be enabled and both teams would battle each other. A number of both younger and older Legionnaires would die, and the creators would choose the names of the doomed Legionnaires out of a hat (thus the nickname for this story idea of "hat trick"). This storyline never came to pass, and Giffen left the book. For more information, see this this Legion Omnicom blog post.
The final answer
In Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #53, an entity that is later revealed to be the Time Trapper reveals information about the SW6 Batch to Glorith: The heroes are temporal duplicates of the Legion, stored underground near the Time Institute. The Time Trapper planned to use the team as an army to defeat Glorith. The SW6 Batch were presumably first discovered by the Dominators and awakened accidentally by the explosion of the Metropolis fusion powerspheres.
The original members were approximate copies of members circa 2977. When the team became "The Legionnaires," the adult Reep Daggle joined as Chameleon, Danielle Foccart joined as Computo, April Dumaka joined as Catspaw, and Xao Jin joined as Dragonmage. Later, Kid Quantum joined the team. During the timeline changes running up through "End of an Era", Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl, and Star Boy briefly became retroactive members.
For a complete list of members, see here.
- The SW6 Batch first appeared off-panel in Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #20, as what turns out to be Lightning Lad accidentally blasts Devlin O'Ryan with energy. These shadowed figures say that they can't afford to be seen. Later in the issue, the Dominators discover that their "Batch SW6" has escaped from pods underneath Weisinger Plaza in the wake of the detonation of the Metropolis fusion powerspheres.
- Once they are revealed as young Legionnaires, the SW6 Batch joins forces first with Devlin O'Ryan and then with the anti-Earthgov underground. The team plays a key role in liberating the Earth. However, in one battle the SW6 versions of Chameleon Boy, Princess Projectra, and Karate Kid die. (The liberation storyline is also known as the "Terra Mosaic".)
- In the wake of the destruction of Earth (in Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #38), the SW6 Batch renames itself "The Legionnaires," gains new members, and makes its headquarters on New Earth. Some members update their codenames.
- The Legionnaires fight a re-formed Fatal Five, which includes new members Mordecai and a new Emerald Empress (Cera Kesh), who was previously rejected by the Legion. (Legionnaires #1 - Legionnaires #6)
- Brainiac 5 almost resigns from the Legion to return to Colu, but he changes his mind. (Legionnaires #8)
- The Legion rescues Kid Quantum, who has now internalized the time stasis powers that he once only possessed with the help of a belt. (Legionnaires #9 through Legionnaires #11)
- Cosmic Boy is nearly killed accidentally by a blast from Live Wire (Garth), but Cosmic Boy recovers. Other members investigate a new Kid Psycho in the Acapulco Dome. (Legionnaires #9 through Legionnaires #15)
- Matter-Eater Lad and Kono/Preboot#Five Years Later infiltrate food-stealing Sklarian pirates. (Legionnaires #12 through Legionnaires #14)
- The Legionnaires investigate xenophobic unrest in the Paris Dome on New Earth. Grimbor the Chainsman is involved. (Legionnaires #12 through Legionnaires #14)
- Time fluctuations are caused by the events of Zero Hour, the machinations of the Time Trapper, and an alliance between Mordru and Glorith. Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl, and Star Boy retroactively become members of the team. Some Legionnaires travel back in time to try to determine why timelines are changing, and the SW6 Valor takes the place of his younger self in the 20th century. (The End of an Era storyline runs through the Valor, Legionnaires, and Legion of Super-Heroes titles and ends with Legion of Super-Heroes' v4 #61.)