Saturday, October 27, 2007

Legion of Super Heroes #2-5 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Grimbor the Chainsman is going on a bit of a crime spree and stealing a bunch of technology. The Legion tries to apprehend him, but Chameleon Boy makes a rookie mistake and lets him get away. The Legion decides they need some new members and bring in Nemesis Kid (who has previously been working with the Science Police on nabbing Grimbor) and Karate Kid. Grimbor then rigs an encounter with the Legion (during which Cham and Karate Kid don't show themselves to best advantage) that's only intended to plant a false lead of what Grimbor's going to be doing next. The Legion falls for it, and walk right into his trap, only to be rescued by Cham and Karate Kid, who figured out the trap and showed up to save the main team. It's revealed that Grimbor's been working for Imperiex.

Review:

Very nice, very nice... Grimbor looked cool, Nemesis Kid with more-easily-explained powers, Karate Kid turned out to be the Calvin Fihzgart of the 31st century... it's all fine. But unfortunately the thing that struck me the most about this episode was the scene where they made Karate Kid do laundry. It was not the most racially sensitive thing I've ever seen. Now, I'm not accusing anyone of anything, and I know there was the other scene at the end where Nemesis Kid made nice, but... are we really sure that this scene was such a hot idea?

I'm kind of getting sick of this characterization of Cosmic Boy. Maybe it's useful in the story, but it's not what the character's like. And I don't mean it's not what he's like in the comic books--he wasn't like this in Season 1 either. On the other hand, we're seeing more of Superman's greater experience: he's now showing Legionnaires what being a superhero is all about.

By the way, just how does Superman know about Asteroid K-19? And I certainly hope that his plan for picking a potential Legionnaire out of that crowd was more nuanced than just, "Let's see if anyone here can beat me up!" The way the fight worked, though, was a nice update of Karate Kid's first appearance in the comics: Karate Kid actually beats Superman this time, but in a perfectly believable way.

Nice touches:
- "That's an interesting way to go, Superman." Is that the calmest Lightning Lad has ever been?
- It seemed obvious to me that Grimbor's thefts were of technology that was designed to counter or affect the powers of various Legionnaires. Anyone else? I wonder if that plot element is going anywhere.
- "I'm about to get a reputation for not following orders."

Membership Notes:

Karate Kid becomes a member this episode.

So does Nemesis Kid, and here we have a bit of a decision to make.

See, I haven't been counting Nemesis Kid as ever having been a Legionnaire, because in the comics, the story in which he joined is also the story in which it was revealed that he was a villain. To me, he was never a valid Legionnaire in the comics. But in this show, his first story ended without any betrayal or anything like that. In fact, he seemed like kind of a nice guy at the end there. Now, I'm sure that he's going to show his true colours and shaft the Legion eventually, but it looks like that's going to be a separate story from this one. So I think we have to call him a Legionnaire now. Congratulations, Nemesis Kid; welcome to the Legion. It's a good life. Let's hope you don't mess it up the way you did last time.

I'll put Nemesis Kid on the all-time roster list, and in the chronological roster, but as with Superman-X I reserve the right to change it in light of future episodes, depending on what happens and how.

I tried to pick faces out of the crowd during the membership-audition scene, but it's rough on a VCR. Somebody said that they saw Comet Queen? I dunno. Who was there that we haven't seen before? Similarly, there were a few interesting symbols on the display when Superman was explaining how short-staffed the Legion was: Wildfire, Ultra Boy... But I think the symbols are just there to look good and don't really mean anything. Oh well.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Comet Queen, presumably, was the female character with flames on her head standing right next to Fire Lad.

The symbols on the mini Mission Monitor Board that I picked out (using my handy TiVo) were those for Chameleon Boy, Chemical King, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Star Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Quislet, Saturn Girl, Polar Boy, Timber Wolf, Element Lad, Lightning Lad, Dream Girl, Superman, and Shrinking Violet.

I saw the ending as soon as they showed how Nemesis Kid's powers worked. However, I anticipated that it would be Karate Kid vs Nemesis Kid, of course, not Karate Kid vs Grimbor using a weapon to simulate Nemesis Kid's powers.

2:24 AM  
Anonymous Abby said...

The thing that really bugged me - aside from Cosmic Boy being almost as much of an ass as he was in the postboot sting arc when he was doing it on purpose to set President Chu up for a fall - was that the episode really seemed to feel the need to lower the bar for Karate Kid. Rather than having him prove that he could keep up with the Legionnaires at their own level, the episode had him "prove himself" by presenting him with an enemy tailored to his strengths, one who could counter the edge of everyone but him. No doubt going forward we'll see him performing at the same level as the rest of the Legion without having to have them handicapped, but it bothered me to see it happen in his debut episode.

Of course, your mileage may vary. I did get the impression from Superman's initial fight with Karate Kid that he was looking for something more than someone who could beat him up - because while he certainly had no qualms about shutting down the rest of his opponents in nothing flat, he spent most of his fight with Karate Kid evading and letting him show his stuff.

With regards to Grimbor's thefts, since you mention it, I think the items he stole were used to create the means by which he nullified the various Legionnaires' powers later in the episode, which may be as far as that plot element was intended to go. While it was certainly effective enough to justify someone else making use of it later on, the fact that we've got Nemesis Kid hanging around poised and ready for a doublecross seems to make it a little redundant as a long-term plot point.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Amy Reads said...

Hi Matt,
I must say that this was one of the first Legion episodes I really enjoyed. Mr. Reads has been DVRing them quite faithfully, and I managed to catch this one with him. But Cosmic Boy and Nemesis Kid are jerks here. Are they not in the continuity?
Ciao,
Amy

2:53 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Michael: Thanks. I was surprised that Nemesis Kid didn't betray them; I guess they're saving that for later.

Abby: I didn't get that sense at the time, but now that you mention it I can sort of see it. It's probably not too different from any spotlight episode--designed to show the character at his/her best.

Amy: Nemesis Kid is worse than a jerk in the comics; he's a traitor and killer and all kinds of things. But Cosmic Boy isn't; he's a very decent guy. Long-winded at times, but nowhere near the callous stickler he's been depicted as this season. Last season's portrayal was closer to the mark.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Abby said...

It's probably not too different from any spotlight episode--designed to show the character at his/her best.

I'm sure that you're right; I guess it bothered me mostly because, at least in my opinion, the way they chose to do it was pretty contrived, both in setup and in execution. Then again, it's a kids' show, so I can't really expect all that much grace in the writing.

10:24 AM  

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