Sunday, March 30, 2008

Legion of Super Heroes #2-12 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

While Imperiex prepares for a big attack, Brainiac 5 is trying to overcome the Brainiac 1 programming he invoked earlier in the series. It wants him to embrace power and make the universe nice and orderly. It turns out that Imperiex's attack is intended to push Brainy over this edge so that Brainy will become his ally, and it succeeds: Brainy joins with the Legion in fighting off Imperiex, but later, he fights his way free of the Legion (fatally injuring Superman) himself and joins Imperiex. Imperiex calls up the Legion to share this good news with them, but it turns out that he was a bit premature: Brainy kills Imperiex and Validus and heads for Colu to begin the process of conquering the universe his way. To be continued!


Well, the core of this episode is more... personal and psychological than that of the first season's finale, isn't it? And for some reason I'm always dubious about that. See, for any ongoing character such as you get in superhero comics, there are external stories and internal stories--that is, there are stories in which the conflict is with some external force, and there are stories in which the conflict is internal and involves the protagonist's own identity and nature in some way. I have always preferred external stories. I don't mind one every now and then, but too many in a row will tick me off.

It's also an odd way to end a series. I'm sure that when the writers mapped out the season they didn't know it would be the last, so what can you do, but I'd like the Legion's final villain to be someone other than my favourite superhero. Speaking of which, Imperiex was disposed of rather unceremoniously, wasn't he? Guy made the classic Bonehead mistake (see my review of S&LSH #28 for more on this notion): he released forces he could not control. Never release forces you can't control!

I guess we're not going to get any more on the whole Karate Kid/Nemesis Kid thing. Imagine that, Nemesis Kid ends up not betraying anybody. Oh well; the LSH31C comic still gets to take a shot at him.

While watching this episode, the obvious thing to think was that this was all part of a ploy by Brainy to fake Imperiex out, or something... but his fight with Superman sort of put an end to that notion. That was brutal, and I'm glad my son didn't happen to see this episode. This cartoon never shocked me in that way before. Superman ripping off Brainy's arms and legs? Not cool.

But I'm looking at what next episode is faced with resolving... Brainiac 5 is trying to conquer the universe, has the power to obliterate anyone or everyone around, and has killed Superman. For us to get our happy ending, we need Superman to be alive, Brainy to be redeemed, and, preferably, somehow, history to be intact to the extent that they can save Luornu's third body from Superman-X's future (forgot about her, huh?). And there aren't a lot of ways to get that done. I think Brainy's gone too far, and while there's always a way to bring Superman back if you want one, we already seem to be on a different time-track from the one that took us to the 41st century that we already saw. (I think.)

And there's another problem. Superman can't be dead.

By which I don't mean, the show would never go so far as to kill him. And I don't mean, Brainiac 5 doesn't have enough juice to kill him. I mean, if Superman dies in the future, that changes history, and the Legion's 31st century never happens. And if anybody knows that, it's Brainiac 5. So even if they were enemies, he'd never try to kill Superman; it couldn't possibly do anything other than interfere with his plans. And I don't know where that leaves us. Maybe this whole thing, including Superman's fake death, and faked footage from Imperiex's ship, is all a Mission Impossible-style put-on to decoy Nemesis Kid--?

I do suspect that time travel is going to be part of the Legion's solution to all this, though. Someone will have to go back and stop somebody from doing something, and Brainy won't turn evil, and they'll have to cope with Imperiex some other way, and the Time Bubble's glove compartment will pop open and Triplicate Girl-White will jump out. You heard it here first.

A good episode, and I'm certainly looking forward to the conclusion... but, like the rest of this season, not quite as good as I was hoping for.

Membership Notes:

The crowd scenes in this episodes were a treasure trove, as a trio of previously unseen Legion characters turn up: Chemical King, Dawnstar and XS, as well as more familiar faces-in-the-crowd Ultra Boy, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Polar Boy, Night Girl, and the current Subs team. (Many thanks to all the sharp-eyed posters at Legion World.) Since the Subs are there, there's no way to be sure who's a Legionnaire and who isn't, but hey: they made it to TV just under the wire.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was one hell of a big crowd when they were all gathered together. Including subs, there were 32 people present at least during Cosmic Boy's speech. 28 all were in one shot. The last 4 were either off-shot or blocked by Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, but you see them in the following shots.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah... I'm starting to wonder, though, if for some Legion fans (I don't mean you) scenes like that have become more important than the actual story. If plot and characterization take a backseat to the checklisting of trivia.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto on that thought... At the beginning of the series they said we'd see Invisible Kid and Dawnstar. I thought "Dawnstar and Invisible Kid in a a story? Great!". Instead when we FINALLY get to them they are just... "There". Disappointing.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Baal said...

It never occurred to me that they might use time travel to get out of Superman's death. Even before that bit came up in the episode I assumed we were watching a dream sequence of some sort.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

anonymous: Oh well. It's always nice to see the boys and girls anyway. We just have to remember that that's not the object of the exercise.

Baal: They'd have to have a lot of nerve to try to get away with a dream sequence at this stage.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would've been perfect if there were more episodes inbetween. Firstly because, even though they were building up to Brainy going evil from the first episode, I still felt that too much was thrown on me all at once. Secondly, because if you have too many Brainy intensive episodes in such a small space, it starts becoming the Brainiac 5 show (which isn't fair to Phantom Girl and others who were central characters in season one and then join the group of background people who don't speak (or just plain disappear) in two)

10:07 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't like this whole business of a thirteen-episode season in the first place. Thirteen episodes? What is that?

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always wished these series would never be less then 15 eps a season... 20 would be ideal. There is so much more per season they could to plan everything out more carefully if they allowed more eps. Still, can't be as bad as some shows, that only have 8 eps per season.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, what is this, the BBC?

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh so you know what the BBC are like then? Yep. No reward for that correct guess. They also produce shows were 3 or 4 eps per season is enough to them. But then again, those shows would be better if they were never made at all...

4:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

For some shows, yeah, but I think we could have found a use for more than twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers.

8:52 PM  
Blogger RavenScholar said...

I really, really liked this epsiode and the next one. I like the "personal and psychological" part of it.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Fawlty Towers?Maybe,maybe not.
Had Cleese & Booth been less concerned about quality and more crass,we might've gotten episodes where Basil is searching for buried treasure in the hotel.Or we could've gotten celebrity guests.The Monty Python troupe pays a visit.Think of it:Basil Fawlty meets John Cleese!Or maybe not.
Let's just be satisfied with the dozen perfect episodes we have.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's kind of glass-half-empty, though, don't you think? It's perfectly plausible that they could have done some more without compromising quality. Dead issue now, of course.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not glass-half-empty,more appreciating what we already have.According to Cleese,the BBC were keen to get another season out of them,so he and Booth got together but could not come up with enough story ideas,so they decided to stop it there.Good for them.The temptation to milk a once-great show past its expiration date is often too strong,as has happened with The Simpsons in the past few years.

4:11 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Didn't know that; thanks.

Still, one of the philosophical pillars behind Legion Abstract is more is better, which is why I said what I said in the first place. Of course, that's just a short form of all other things being equal, more is better, and if, as you say, all other things are not equal, then I have no dispute.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But how can you have a story with humans,or any sentient beings,that isn't personal and psychological?It's said "character is story". Simplistic,but not wrong.External forces act on a character,they react,and that drives the story on.The best stories should blend the external and the internal.
Always felt Brainiac 5's lineage should have caused more tension between he and Superboy than it usually did.I confess to enjoying their battle,but then I didn't have a child watching with me.And Brainy going mad happened in the comics back in the day,so it's more Legion history for writers to draw on.
As for Imperiex,of course he's done in by his own scheme.You're not a villain if you don't meet the overconfidence and hubris requirements.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

But how can you have a story with humans,or any sentient beings,that isn't personal and psychological?

That's not exactly what I was talking about, though. I'm talking about the main conflict in the story. If you've got

a) the personal and psychological aspect to the story that you mention, that should appear in any story that has characters in it,

b) a conflict against some entity who is, in some sense, an aspect of the protagonist's identity, and

c) a lot more stories like this lined up behind it,

then to me it's a lot of navel-gazing. It gets tiresome. What I like is when the aspects of a character's self are pitted against an opponent who's got a whole other thing going on, because then the conflict becomes more interesting and unpredictable. You get implications you never would have gotten from the character just fighting himself.

And, again, I'm not saying that internal stories are bad or that we shouldn't have them. Once in a while is fine.

As for Imperiex,of course he's done in by his own scheme.You're not a villain if you don't meet the overconfidence and hubris requirements.

Well, that's one recipe.

8:57 AM  

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