Saturday, February 10, 2007

Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes #1-8 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

The Legion is rescued in battle with a space monster by a group of superpowered people called Light Speed Vanguard. Lightning Lad is impressed by them and decides to join their team, as the LSV is older and seemingly more professional than the Legion. But he soon finds that their motives aren't as heroic as he hoped, and it comes to a fight between the LSV and the Legion. The Legion wins and captures all of the LSV except Mekt, now calling himself Lightning Lord, who escapes.


The most obvious ongoing plotline of this series so far has been the Superman/Brainiac 5 friendship, and certainly it's what I've taken the most notice of. Just as good, though, is the character of Lightning Lad. From the beginning it's been obvious that he's a guy who can be a bit of a jerk. But, also from the beginning, he's also been a guy who has never compromised his heroism. He's treated Superman and Timber Wolf well ever since they've joined the team, he chose saving lives over winning the Galactic Games without hesitation or resentment, and he stood up to Light Speed Vanguard when they didn't act like heroes. It's important to understand: he's not like a Dan Fielding or Reggie Mantle who needs to be shamed into doing the right thing. He's not an antihero or a reluctant hero. He's the real thing... but he happens to have an unpleasant side to his personality. His portrayal is one of the best things about the show.

So that was one of the engines driving this episode. The other one is spotting all the cameo appearances--between the Legionnaires, the LSV and the Legion tryouts, over a dozen established Legion characters made their series debut in this episode. A third payoff was the hints at a closer relationship between Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, and between Bouncing Boy and Triplicate Girl. I wonder how much weight they'll put on that in a show aimed at little kids.

The character of Tyr never really appealed to me before, but I liked him in this episode. After Lightning Lad, he was the second most interesting character in the show. I think most of the credit for this should go to the voice actor.

'Light Speed Vanguard' is a cooler name than 'Legion of Super-Villains'.

"They're at the diner!" Were we supposed to know there was a diner?

Timber Wolf got a couple of decent lines in this episode. "What's Kansas?"

This episode also gave us another example of the Legion coming across as incompetent. These kids really do mess things up often. Now, that's not how I like to see the Legion, but it's okay, it's a valid storytelling choice. I'm not complaining. I'm just surprised. See, the premise of the series is supposed to be that Superman is in the 31st century to learn how to be a superhero. What I took from this is that Superman would learn the ropes about being a superhero, the basic how-to, while in turn he would teach the Legion about what being a hero means, which is something that Superman just knows. But Superman couldn't possibly learn anything from the Legion who was fighting the space squid in the first scene, or the Legion who crashed the spaceship on Rahl in the Timber Wolf episode, or... So I'm not sure I get what they're up to.

Membership Notes:

Lots and lots of familiar faces show up in this episode. Colossal Boy's part of the initial fight against the space monster, and Ayla appears in a flashback to the famous scene with the Ranzz siblings and the Lightning Beasts of Korbal. And of course Light Speed Vanguard featured onetime Legionnaire Wave, aka Spider Girl (in addition to longtime Legion villains Lightning Lord, Ron-Karr, Esper (aka... who is it supposed to be, Saturn Queen?), Tyr, and Hunter). But the real treasure trove was the Legion tryouts scene, which gave us Antennae Lad, Double-Header, Infectious Lass, Porcupine Pete, Chlorophyll Kid, Stone Boy, Color Kid, Polar Boy, Night Girl, Fire Lad, Invisible Kid, Matter-Eater Lad and someone who could either be Quake Kid or Quantum Kid, maybe (did I miss any?). There were also a couple of new ones (nobody special; just typical tryout fodder) like Breath Boy and some kid who jumps around like a kangaroo. No actual roster changes, though... yet.

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Blogger Michael said...

No, Esper is Esper Lass. She was a member of the Legion of Super-Rejects and then joined up with the LSV during the story arc that had Karate Kid's death. She's another telepath from Titan.

You missed Polecat and The Mess. Aside from the ones we all recognized, I think everyone else was created for that scene. We'll probably see some more next week.

2:09 AM  
Blogger Johnny B said...

I don't remember any "Quake Kid" in my admittedly less-than-thorough LSH knowledge...I thought perhaps that character was a little visual pun using the old Quaker Oats cereal character Quake!

8:03 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

For Quake Kid I was thinking about Seiss, in the threeboot. Aren't they calling him Quake Kid or Quake Lad or something? I thought maybe he had had some precedent.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Bill D. said...

That quick, nonverbal exchange between Chlorophyl Kid and Infectious Lass made me laugh out loud.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Ooh... I missed that. I'll have to go back and watch it again.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Prince Projectur said...

As I recall, Ron-Karr's power in the comics was just to flatten himself, which made him one of the Legion's lamer enemies. I wish they had used a Durlan for a shape changer, but at least Ron got a better power.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be so hard on the Legion's ineptitude this episode.We've all had days where we just couldn't get it together.
The one thing this show was missing was Tyr's talking gun.Such an outre touch,a villain conversing with his weapon.Kids would've loved that.Otherwise,Tyr was well-characterized,as was Lighting Lad.
I think it was the Bierbaums who came up with Lighting Lad's jerky persona,or at least accentuated it.I wasn't much of a fan of their writing,but let's give them credit for a few good ideas.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Now that you mention it, the talking gun would have been cool.

The Bierbaums, and Giffen, did introduce the brash and hotheaded persona for Lightning Lad (and tied it into the Proty revelation in a way that I thoroughly admire), but the personality that Lightning Lad has here is not quite the same thing. It's more sardonic. I like it too, and I don't think the writers ever took it too far.

8:20 PM  

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