Jan Arrah and Tom Corbet were both spawned from tragedy, which led to triumph then more tragedy. Such was the shifting natures of these mens' lives, and that of the powers they possessed. Jan was a native of the planet Trom, wherein all natives possesses the ability to transmute objects. Tom was a member of the Foreign Legion, a member of a military unit. The pirate Roxxon decimated Jan's world, leaving him the sole survivor, an eventuality shared by that of Tom who saw all his allied die of dehydration. However, Corbet drank water from a strange oasis, which imbued chemicals within his system allowing him to discharge neonic blasts of energy and fly, an elemental ability as that Arrah possessed although more limited in nature.
These men eventually reached civilization, whereby Jan applied for the Legion of Super-Heroes as "Mystery Lad", while Tom struck out on a heroic career of his own as "Neon the Unknown. Eventually, Jan adopted his Element Lad alias while Neon as a member of the newly formed Freedom Fighters became known himself to his allies.
Element Lad's tenure with the Legion is long and distinguished, as he eventually assumes the mantle of leader for their organization, working closely with the 30th century Science Police of Earth-One. Neon's membership with his team is considerably shorter, as he and his fellow Fighters journey to Axis dominated Earth-X to assist the inhabitants there, and perishes in his first case alongside his new-found friends.