Born on the planet Trom, and like everyone on his homeworld, Element Lad uses mental energy to alter atomic structure, and thus can transmute one element into any other by means of â€œmental radiation.â€ Element Ladâ€™s real name is Jan Arrah. Element Lad becomes a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes after the residents of his planet are killed by space pirates (Adv No. 307, Apr 1963: "The Secret Power of the Mystery Super-Hero!").
When Metropolis television station WMET-TV inaugurates its new â€œOur American Heroesâ€ series with a program honoring Superman, â€œour greatest American hero,â€ Element Lad is among the Legion representatives who journey to the twentieth century to appear on the show and thus help pay tribute to the Man of Steel (Act No. 309, Feb 1964: â€œThe Superman Super-Spectacular!â€) (TGSB).
Element Lad appears on June 13, 1963 in order to use his super powers to turn an ordinary steel table into a silver pedestal. This pedestal is for Superman's collection of six silver figurines which are presented to him by Jimmy Olsen as a gift for Superman's Silver Anniversary of arriving in Metropolis and becoming its and the Earth's greatest champion (SPJO No. 70, Jul 1963: "The Secret of Silver Kryptonite!"). (See: Silver Kryptonite)
An alternate version of Element Lad is encountered by Superboy when the Boy of Steel is hurled to a different reality after an alien sun goes nova. Upon his arrival in the parallel (and mis-spelled) "Smallvile", Superboy meets the counterparts of five members of the Legion of Super-Heroes: Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Ultra Boy, and Element Lad - who in this universe are evil. During this encounter, the five delinquents attempt to expose Superboy's secret identity as Clark Kent. Superboy, after realizing what they are up to and that he is in fact on a parallel Earth, is able to contact his counterpart, who has been away on a mission. The two Superboys assist each other in thwarting the criminals' efforts and, after apprehending them, return the villainous Legionnaires to their own time (SB No. 117, Dec 1964: "Superboy and the 5 Legion Traitors").