Saturday, April 28, 2007

Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes #1-12 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

First, there's a training simulation in which new leader Bouncing Boy tries to coordinate a battle with the Fatal Five. It doesn't go well, and Bouncing Boy has doubts about his ability to lead the Legion.

Then the mission starts: a priority distress call from a moon of Cheyenne Delta (or that's what it sounds like, anyway). That's where there's a weapons cache left over from the Great Crisis, and one of the weapons has just woken up and is roaming the facility, trying to break out. The star Cheyenne Prime is a red sun, so Brainiac 5 provides Superman with a battlesuit that mostly shields him from its effects. The Legion searches the facility and findsthe weapon; at this point it's just a floating metal sphere with a few screens and ports on it. But it blasts its way past the Legion, shrugs off all their attacks, and makes it into space. Brainy recognizes it as a Sun-Eater.

The Legion chases it down and attacks again; now it's a big cloud of fiery gas with the metal sphere at its core. The Legion's efforts fall short again, partly because the Legion cruiser breaks down at a key moment. The Sun-Eater heads for Cheyenne Prime, and the Legion regroups to fix the spaceship. While Superman is working on the repairs, he's attacked by an invisible robot; presumably, the robot was doing some sabotage. Brainy decides that the robot was sent by a Controller, one of the enigmatic race who built the Sun-Eater in the first place.

The Legionnaires head off the Sun-Eater before it reaches Cheyenne Prime, and unleash their final attack; this one's much better conceived and coordinated. It almost works, except that Ferro Lad misses his target when he takes the key shot. The Sun-Eater eats Cheyenne Prime, sweeps away the Legion, and heads for Earth. To be continued.


Best episode yet, and that's saying something (especially considering it didn't have an ending). The cast of the series seems to have been expanded in the last few episodes, and the tone has become more serious; both of those things contribute to the impression that this is an important episode.

A few notes first: they've changed the animation effects a little bit; Phantom Girl and Triplicate Girl now have some kind of black field effect that accompanies their powers. And at one point during the final fight scene, the animation skipped a bit. Don't know if that was because of the animation or the broadcast.

The only characterization in this episode was Bouncing Boy's struggle with leadership. He lacks self-confidence. He gets more used to it as the episode goes along, though, and the Legion's strategy gets accordingly more sophisticated. Their final plan to stop the Sun-Eater was actually pretty smart, and not only that, it used many of the Legionnaires' powers appropriately. I'm almost convinced that you can't fight a Sun-Eater effectively without Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Sun Boy or Phantom Girl.

Here's an example of how this show gets its storytelling done. Now, most of the scenes are action scenes: the simulated battle against the Fatal Five, the facedown with the guard robots, the weapons cache search, chasing the Sun-Eater, Superman's scuffle with the saboteur robot and the last stand around Cheyenne Prime. But there's still a story connecting them all, and the least important scene for the plot is actually doing the most work of all of them: the Fatal Five wargame. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who isn't familiar with Legion history, but that scene does a lot of important things: it portrays Bouncing Boy's insecurity, it gives us some exposure to the Legion cruiser's weapons and vulnerabilities (both of which come into play in this episode), introduces some key Legionnaires and their powers to new viewers, reminds us who the Fatal Five are and how powerful they are, and gets us used to the sight of Legionnaires dying. That's efficient.

This is a TV show that has taken to heart the advice of Austin the Mystery Lifeguard: "You've got to have all the rad moves if you want to surf Tiki Beach."

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Blogger Michael said...

Next week in the preview: the entire Legion, the Fatal Five, and the Subs. Ultra Boy makes an appearance in costume, too. I hear we even get to finally see Dream Girl and Shrinking Violet in action.

A little heavy-handed analogy between the Sun-Eater and the atomic bombs - the Sun-Eater was used twice as a weapon before, and it was supposed to be so terrible that nobody wanted to use it or have it used on them. Its creators couldn't undo it once it was created, so it was locked away tightly.

3:06 AM  
Blogger Bill D. said...

I gotta admit, I got a little nervous when they were first going after the Sun-Eater and said, "Ferro Lad, are you ready?" I know it's a kid show and all, and that they just introduced him, but still, history and all that.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, Ferro Lad is totally gonna die. If you look closely you can see a tag already tied to his toe. In fact, Lightning Lad may accompany him (temporarily).

8:22 PM  

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