Monday, September 24, 2007

Legion of Super-Heroes #2-1 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Obviously, much time has passed since Season 1 (Lightning Lad and Brainiac 5, at least, look a lot older), and Superman still hasn't returned to the future. Tidbit that I think will pay off later: Brainy mentions 'the Dominator threat'.

Suddenly a time warp opens out, and some guy who looks kinda like Superman but not really steps out and recruits Lightning Lad, Timber Wolf, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl and Brainiac 5 to come to the 41st century and help him fight a galactic conqueror named Imperiex. The 41st century is kind of a hole, and they definitely need the Legion's help. Superman-X and the Legionnaires fight off one squad of Imperiex's robots, and Brainy comes up with a plan for how to take out Imperiex when he and his army attacks the resistance base.

This works, kind of, but Imperiex recovers and steals Superman-X's time machine. He immediately takes off for the 31st century, stranding the Legionnaires. Then the Crisis-on-Infinite-Earths-like red antimatter bubbles start appearing, eating up this future that won't exist now that Imperiex is back changing the past. Our heroes make an emergency assault on Imperiex's cruiser, which is the only power source handy that can produce a time warp to bring the Legionnaires home and try to stop Imperiex back in the 31st. One of Triplicate Girl's bodies is killed during the raid, but the Legion does make it home, with Superman-X, only to find that Legion HQ has been thoroughly trashed.

To be continued!

Review:

Why another Superman? I just don't get why this is something that they want to do. I mean, I know that the real Superman is going to show up at some point, but I don't get what they want Superman-X around for. I don't get why this is something they want to explore. We've had the naive inexperienced Superman, now... a pragmatic warrior Superman? Perhaps it will become clearer later.

Imperiex has, of course, some history in DC Comics as a major space tyrant kind of villain. I've never read any of those comics, but my understanding was that the show creators wanted someone who was a sufficiently non-prominent character that they could do whatever they wanted with him. I wonder what he thinks he's going to do back in the 31st century without his armies to help him out? Guy didn't even bring a towel with him.

The quality of animation on this show has definitely not suffered. Everything looks great. Not just Superman-X's new energy and Crystal-Kid-like powers, but also the subtle things--check out Brainy's eyes as he's focusing them to analyze something far away in one scene.

When Superman-X and Brainy take Imperiex out, his robots all stop fighting and retreat. Why? Why would you build your robots that way? Doesn't make sense.

Interestingly, this is the second recent appearance of the 41st century in Legion lore, the first being Cosmic Boy's recruitment by the Knights Tempus in the main comic book. Yet I don't recall that ever coming up before. Curious.

But the main thing here is another chapter in the Superman/Brainy friendship. First, it's clear from the first scene just how important Superman is to Brainy; that's been hinted at before but never this strongly. Second, Superman-X hints at some dark things to come in Brainy's future. Third, both of these things are interfering with Brainy and Superman-X working together. I don't have any thoughts yet on how this is playing out, but it continues to be one of the key knots of idea at the heart of this series.

It all adds up to quite an intriguing and energetic season premiere. It's all very well done, but I'm unsure about the overall direction. Some of these new developments seem a little too extreme and proactive and totally in my face. We'll see.

Nice touches:
- K3NT
- Timber Wolf, voice of reason
- "Can I suggest something that involves less scowling?"
- the cool Cylon voice on Imperiex's troops when they say, "Long live Imperiex"
- the new visual effect for Luornu's power; similar to how they were rendering Phantom Girl's power toward the end of last season

Membership Notes:

Chameleon Boy's a member now, for one thing. Superman-X joins the cast but hasn't become a Legionnaire (yet). I presume Triplicate Girl is going to become Duo Damsel?

Promo images, the opening sequence, and the cast of this episode suggest that Bouncing Boy, Phantom Girl and especially Saturn Girl are going to play a reduced role this season. This sort of goes along with that thing I read, I assume on the Legion Omnicom, about how a focus group of eight-year-old boys advised the show's creators that there were too many female characters. To which I say, shove it, eight-year-old boys; Saturn Girl's awesome.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

The focus group story wasn't from me, as far as I can remember.

Other interesting areas: Superman coming back in time to recruit the Legion is a direct role reversal from Adventure 247 as well as the season 1 premiere. And the titles are similar too: "Man from Tomorrow" in season 1, "Man from the Edge of Tomorrow" in season 2.

I don't know why they needed an extra Superman either. They get to turn this one from a weapon into a hero, but they already did the hero bit (even though it apparently happened between episodes 1.01 and 1.02).

And in the credits, the actress is credited with the role of "Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel". I'll tell you that this one totally caught me off guard, I was expecting Computo to be responsible.

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Mark Dykeman said...

One thing I don't understand, based on your description: I thought that Brainiac 5 was a robot or android or otherwise mechanical. If so, why would he show signs of ageing?

5:46 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Other interesting areas: Superman coming back in time to recruit the Legion is a direct role reversal from Adventure 247 as well as the season 1 premiere.

Generally I like to point out the things that nobody mentions because they're supposed to go without saying, but that's one of the ones that failed to ping my sensors as something that could usefully be pointed out.

She's Duo Damsel already? Thanks, that means I wasn't jumping the gun in the Chronological Roster.

Mark: excellent point. But clearly Coluans do go through some kind of maturing process, however inorganic it may be; if ever someone looked like a little kid it was season-1-Brainy, and Coluans don't all look like that. So I don't know why it should be like that, but apparently that's the way they want it.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The information about the focus group can be found here. Thanks to the alert Televison Without Pity posters for finding it.

1:33 PM  
Blogger snell said...

In the comic, coming up with a Superman clone might have made sense, as a way to avoid the constant time paradox/Clark Kent having too much knowledge of the fututre problem. But those issues are of virtually no concern in the cartoon, as we aren't simultaneously seeing the 21st adventures of Superboy *ahem* Superman. So I don't 100% get it either, except as an artificial way to ratchet up tension in the group. (Aside: given the history of Superman clones, can we expect this one degenerate into a Bizarro??)

The second problem is, why does someone always seem to decide that Superman isn't quite powerful enough, so let's give him lot's more powers? Guys, this is SUPERMAN we're talking about. He doesn't need laser hand blades and crystal-forming vision and immunity to kryptonite. Between this and Superman II, we're getting dangerously close to making Kal-El into AMazo or something...

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Nessor Sille said...

Wait a minute...while Saturn Girl is barely there in the credits, Chuck and Tinya both got extreme close-ups. Did they show different versions of the credits?

6:05 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Snell: But you have to admit that the powers looked cool.

One thing Tucker, or someone, said, was that Superman-X was partially inspired by Mon-El. I have to say that I don't see a resemblance.

Sille: No, that's what I saw too. I just happen to believe, based on all the promotional stuff I saw that didn't feature them, that Bouncing Boy and Phantom Girl are going to be shoved a bit to the back burner this year.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Nessor Sille said...

Wasn't there a report that Phantom Girl was getting a "focus on" episode? I seem to recall one. :)

6:41 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Hadn't heard that. But then I'm not really in the loop, so you can't go by that.

8:36 PM  

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