Sunday, May 06, 2007

Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes #1-13 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

The Legion regroups for one last shot against the Sun-Eater. They bust the Fatal Five out of jail to help build the machine (I think they called it a Plot Device) they need to blow the Sun-Eater up. While the Legionnaires and Fatal Five are working like crazy, Bouncing Boy and Brainy send Superman to find the Controller who's directing the Sun-Eater. The Legion gets the Device built and start to deploy it, and that goes as planned; the Fatal Five try to doublecross the Legion partway through the process but the Legionnaires are ready for them and teleport them back to Takron-Galtos. But when they go to detonate the Device, it malfunctions and doesn't go off. Ferro Lad, to atone for his missed shot in the previous episode, goes in himself and detonates it by hand, sacrificing his life. Meanwhile, Superman beats the Controller and smashes up all his stuff, but allows him to teleport away. Superman presides over the memorial to Ferro Lad, and then says goodbye and returns to the present-day.

Review:

Very strong episode, good wrap-up to the season. But…

...I hope they don't bring Ferro Lad back. I mean, I know that death is a pretty heavy thing to put in a kids show like this, but it always seems like such a copout to me when characters come back to life.

There’s not much character stuff in this episode, but we do get another entry in the continuing saga of Brainy’s Engineered Friendship With Superman. Brainy provides Superman with a time-travel escape hatch to the present-day, just in case the Sun-Eater chows down on Sol. On the one hand, that’s a considerate thing for one friend to do for another; on the other hand, Brainy’s being a responsible chronal scientist: no telling what might happen to history if Superman doesn’t make it back from the 31st century.

Ferro Lad is kind of a cipher. I mean, he’s a character who had always been created to die, so they never spent much time developing his personality. But still. In this episode, we hardly even see him before he decides to run the ball to the goal line himself. And he’s the key character of the episode!

Except he’s not, really; the key character of every episode is really Superman. Superman is our protagonist, for several reasons: he’s one of our contemporaries, he’s the best-known character, and he’s the inspiration for the Legion in the first place.

I wasn’t really crazy about the scene where the Controller is beating Superman up, until they see Ferro Lad give his life to stop the Sun-Eater on the video screen, and the Controller taunts Superman about it, which gives Superman the strength to beat the Controller, because Now It’s Personal. But there’s another way to look at it.

The story of this first season of Legion of Super Heroes (which I’ve been calling Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes, under the impression that that’s what the name was going to be) has been Clark Kent learning how to be a superhero. He’s already qualified for the job by his powers, of course, and by his innate strength of character. The only things he lacked were experience and perspective, and in this episode, Ferro Lad gave him his final lesson. Now that he really understands what’s at stake for superheroes, what may be demanded of him, and what it means for that price to be paid, he can, for the first time, be Superman, and now that he’s Superman, the Controller has no chance at all.

(Typically, Superman lets him get away at the end. Why? I mean, okay, I know Brainy said he couldn’t arrest him, but there must be some options other than sending him home to brood and plot.

Why’s he called a Controller, anyway? With this pro-chaos philosophy of his, you’d think he would have renounced the title and started calling himself an Uncontroller, or something.)

Notes: we see Alexis for a second when the Legion walks past her cell on Takron-Galtos.

- Nice little touch, when the Legion busts the Fatal Five out of their cells and the Emerald Empress is reunited with the Eye, and she cuddles it for a second. Awwwww.

- The onscreen countdown until the Device detonated was shown in Interlac. Attention to detail!

Membership Notes:

Ferro Lad dies this episode, although there is a suggestion that he may get better. Superman goes back to the present-day, but retains his flight ring and membership. And Jo Nah is there wearing an Ultra Boy costume, but doesn't join. We see Shrinking Violet (and this show seems to agree with the Waid-and-Kitson Legion that the best way to introduce Shrinking Violet is by putting a couple of long ears on her and pulling her out of a hat at a key moment) and Dream Girl in the flesh, but Dreamy doesn't actually do anything.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's no surprise that Death of Ferro Lad was adapted as the season finale.It's the Legion's signature story,their Dark Phoenix Saga or Galactus Trilogy.
Man,this was a good show.Just the idea of a Legion TV show was straight from the"wildest dreams"category.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Would you say it's the signature story? It's a candidate. I would have a hard time picking just one.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By signature story,I meant that it was probably the most famous one.Even those who know little of the Legion may know of this story.As to being the single best Legion story ever,there are others just as good(though none better).At the very least,it has senority over most of the other candidates.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

By now, Great Darkness is probably at least as famous. Probably have to put the death of Lightning Lad in there too. But it's a good choice.

1:21 PM  

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