Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Legionnaires: Nemesis Kid

Programming note: Next week's LSH review is going to be much later than usual, by, like, a week or so. Sorry 'bout that; unavoidable.

Nemesis Kid aka Hart Druiter of Myar, aka Churl*. Created by Jim Shooter and Sheldon Moldoff.

Legion history is full of people who join the Legion under false pretenses, to try to betray them or take them over or whatever. In general it's not worth counting them as official Legionnaires. Nemesis Kid was one such character, but it's not on that basis that I'm including him here; it's because he joined the animated-series Legion in the Karate Kid episode, and remained with the team thereafter. If he appeared in the cartoon again I missed it, but he did show up in an issue or two of LSH31C and remained a member in good standing when that series ended. Probably, if there had been a few more issues of LSH31C, the writers would have gotten around to having him betray the team in some way, but even if that had happened he had already logged enough legitimate superhero time that I'd still give him an entry here.

Nemesis Kid originally had an adaptable superpower: he had whatever superpower he needed to defeat the person he was fighting. This was formidable, but it had a big loophole: his power couldn't adapt to fighting more than one person. That's original-continuity Nemesis Kid, mind you; threeboot Nemesis Kid's powers were never described, and animated-series Nemesis Kid had the power to neutralize anyone's superpowers, which is a lot easier to parse.

Nemesis Kid was a villain. He was a longtime member of the Legion of Super-Villains, he was essentially responsible for the first death of Karate Kid, and he was executed for his crimes. Nobody misses him. For his signature moment, let's pick the one time where he really did seem like a nice guy. It's about five minutes into this clip:



(This is from the episode where Karate Kid and Nemesis Kid join the Legion. Nemesis Kid is taken on as a full-fledged member, because he's worked with the Science Police and he has real superpowers; Karate Kid is a probationary member. As such, he has to do all kinds of menial tasks around Legion HQ, such as laundry, while characters like Cosmic Boy and Nemesis Kid look sternly at him and generally lord it over him. (The racial politics of this have not escaped me. I have no idea what the writers of the show were thinking.) By the end of the episode, Karate Kid has proven himself as a Legionnaire, and Nemesis Kid offers to do his laundry.)

* not really

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24 Comments:

OpenID judedeluca said...

Yeah, that episode was another reason why a lot of people thought Cosmic Boy was a jerk in the cartoon.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Which he was. Dunno why; I guess they got some kind of mileage out of it.

8:58 PM  
OpenID judedeluca said...

Still, most of the fans of the show hated Ultra Boy more than him, because of his intrusion on the whole "nomance" between Phantom Girl and Timber Wolf.

(Oh, uh, this is Sarcasm Kid, BTW)

9:01 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

They did?

Huh.

9:06 PM  
OpenID judedeluca said...

I've written plenty of LoSH fanfiction to know this.

And there a LOT of fans who like the idea of Superman and B5 together.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

This is Superman and Brainy from the cartoon?

See, I respect anyone's right to interpret their TV the way they want or need to...

...but that was never what was going on with those two. The Superman-Brainy friendship was much more interesting than that.

11:36 PM  
OpenID judedeluca said...

If the writers had toned down how much Brainy seemed to... obsess about Superman.

Although, they only liked the CARTOON Superman and B5 together.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fine show this was.It's a shame we only got 2 seasons of it.Teen Titans lasted a whole 5 seasons.If only...*sigh*
Had the Legion show continued,it's sure that Nemesis Kid would've been made to betray the team.Terra duplicated the treachery of her comic book counterpart for the Titans show,and TV writers seldom stray all that far from the comics for such notable storylines as that.So it's something of a silver lining that, somewhere in the limbo of cancelled TV shows,Nemesis Kid was able to remain a good guy.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If the writers had toned down how much Brainy seemed to... obsess about Superman.

They couldn't. Of course Brainy had to obsess about Superman. He's Superman!

So it's something of a silver lining that, somewhere in the limbo of cancelled TV shows,Nemesis Kid was able to remain a good guy.

Even if they had done it in some notional future episode, for me, the delay was enough to make him a legit Legionnaire for a little while.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Churl"?

1:15 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

"Churl"?

Yeah, see, in the famous story where Nemesis Kid kills Karate Kid and Projectra executes him, she calls him "churl," which, if you don't know the word, is exactly the sort of thing a queen would call a peasant as she's about to snap his neck. The joke is that there was a number of Legion readers (including one of these gents) who didn't know the word and thought she was calling him by his first name.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the TV toonsmiths portrayed Cosmic Boy as a jerk was probably cos Cos was portrayed as a jerk in the comics at the time, and had been for years.Both threeboot and reboot eras wrote him as a Machiavelian schemer who had no qualms using his teammates to spy on each other and keeping them in the dark about his plans.
This didn't sit well with some fans,who formed the Cosmic Boy Death Club(or whatever it was called)and called for his head. Not the sign of a character at the peak of popularity.Maybe DC has that in mind when they depict retroboot Cos as something of a mope,splitting up with Night Girl, having Brainy snark on him and replying with a meek "Sorry",and moaning about the burdens of leadership.His brainwashing by Saturn Girl also makes him a bit of a dupe.I'm glad to lose Cos-the-creep,but this is an overreaction.
Perhaps the upcoming nextboot will give us a more confident,less dickish Cos.There's a way to do it which doesn't involve elaborate explanations concerning the after-effects of Irma's mindwipe.If DC wants a better Cos in the pages of LSH #1,just write him better. Simple enough.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It's possible, but I see this

The reason the TV toonsmiths portrayed Cosmic Boy as a jerk was probably cos Cos was portrayed as a jerk in the comics at the time, and had been for years.Both threeboot and reboot eras wrote him as a Machiavelian schemer who had no qualms using his teammates to spy on each other and keeping them in the dark about his plans.

as a vast overstatement.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Yup. Like Matthew says, I totally thought Nemesis Kid's name was Churl. To be fair, I think I was 12 at the time...

7:39 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I was about that age too, when I read it, give or take some years, but I already knew the word. Couldn't tell you where I ran across it; probably some fantasy novel or other.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cartoon NK has a simpler power set and seemingly more complex motivations than any of the comic book takes, so far as I know. It's actually something that the cartoons got right.

In my own "head canon," I like him better as somebody who's not a traitor but just kind of obnoxious. It seems like the folks who made the cartoons very much meant for him to "code" in the viewer's mind as lower class. He's a climber. He wants to get ahead and doesn't care if that makes somebody else hate him. So he feels no metaphoric kinship at the outset with KK, who'se also lower class. Everyone is a potential competitor for the spotlight. But it's nothing personal for NK. "It's just business."

Just my interpretation, of course.

You see this all the time IRL obvioussly, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the climber has no scruples at all. Only that their main goal is more important to them, usually, than scruples. Sometimes they need somebody else to remind them, gently or not so gently, that their priorities are messed up.

-- cleome45

9:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I agree: that's more interesting than a traitor.

Oh well.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typos. Gah. :o

Too much vodka.

-- cleome45

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK,Cos wasn't a jerk all the time.It's human nature to remember the one time someone was a jerk more than all the times of non-jerkiness.
Since the LSH is getting revamped, DC should take the opportunity to remake Cosmic Boy into someone that people like TV writers won't think of primarily as a jerk.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't think he was a jerk at all. Although I can see how occasionally the other Legionnaires might have thought he was. Like in the mid-reboot Legion where the President was messing with them.

10:23 PM  
Blogger ms_xeno said...

...OK,Cos wasn't a jerk all the time...

No. He's kind of an obnoxious Boy Scout at times, which can be grating.

Getting back to the cartoon ep that Matthew was talking about, it's always kind of in the back of my head that Cosmic Boy personally brought Ferro Lad to join the team the season before. (I haven't read the original FL stories, so I don't know how consistent that is with the original version.) But Ferro Lad didn't hang around long. He was killed in action, despite having powers. When you watch Cos be all grating/jerky with KK in that ep, it throws things into a somewhat different light.

-- cleome45

6:33 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

No. He's kind of an obnoxious Boy Scout at times, which can be grating.

Do you mean in the cartoon? Because I never got that from the comics.

I think my favourite Cosmic Boy was the "poisonously bitter" one from the threeboot.

And I hadn't made that connection between Ferro Lad and Karate Kid before; that's pretty good. I might have to rewatch those episodes with that in mind.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Jim Davis said...

I might have to rewatch those episodes with that in mind.

Are the season 2 episodes even available for those of us who didn't record them when broadcast?

5:47 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Officially no. But direct your attention to the body of the article you're commenting on for an alternative plan.

5:54 PM  

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