Saturday, March 08, 2008

Legion of Super Heroes #2-9 Review, Plus Catching Up

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Two episodes ago, Terra-Man came back from the 41st century to kill a little boy and prevent Imperiex's creation. Superman-X had some conflicts about whether to side with him or not, but eventually did what superheroes do and saved the kid. There were a lot of shifting alliances and stuff between Superman-X, the Legion, Terra-Man and Imperiex, and Star Boy got some good screen time. Not all that great an episode, really, and nobody seemed to have the idea of persuading the kid to go for an arts degree instead of science when he grew a little; that would have worked just as well as killing him.

One episode ago, Imperiex and Validus and some troops invaded the bottle city of Kandor in Superman's now-thousand-years-old Fortress of Solitude in pursuit of... aah, I forget; something useful or other. Anyway, red-sun rules apply in Kandor, so that made it tricky for Superman and the Legion to go in and fight them. The Superman-Brainy friendship came to a crisis, as Superman found out all the things that Brainy's been hiding from him, and it was very satisfying except that it wasn't stated that Brainy originally recruited inexperienced Clark Kent precisely because he'd never met Brainiac yet, which was my pet theory. Brainy accesses Brainiac's original programming to find a way to stop Imperiex, and ends up changing the sun to yellow so that all the Kandorians can have superpowers. Imperiex and Validus turn and run. Brainy and Superman patch things up, and Brainy uses Brainiac's knowledge to a) find what's left of Krypton, orbiting around its sun, b) reassemble the planet as much as possible, and c) deshrink Kandor and restore it to the planet's surface. (Although he has to wipe Superman's memory of this so he doesn't take it back to the 21st century.) A sinister little half-smile at the end of the episode suggests that a little knowledge isn't the only thing Brainy got from the Brainiac programming. Tremendous episode, if only because they had the audacity to do some truly huge things. Spill Brainy's can of worms and restore Krypton all in the same episode? Holy beans!

This episode, Grimbor and the Scavengers (which would be an excellent name for a rock band) crash a United Planets ceremony and kidnap R.J. Brande. A bunch of Legionnaires go in pursuit (including Saturn Girl, fresh from the hospital). On the way, Brainy finds the opportunity to tell Superman-X the story of the founding of the Legion. The Legion eventually rescues Brande and finds that the guy behind the kidnapping was Doyle, the same guy who was behind Brande's assassination attempt all those years ago.


It was okay. Nice to see the Legion origin on the small screen, but let's face it: we knew how it was going to turn out, and the framing plot was kind of an afterthought.

The season arc wasn't advanced by this episode. Not that it has to be! I'm just saying.

I'm not the only one to point it out, but it's interesting that in this portrayal of the Legion's founding, the three kids decide themselves to team up and become superheroes. It's not Brande's idea at all. I wonder if one could draw a connection between that and the fact that these Legionnaires are being written for/contemporary with a Hero generation in that age bracket. I also wonder what kind of origin story the threeboot Legion is going to end up having.

The abrasive relationship Garth, Rokk and Imra have in the cartoon is quite a departure from the close friendship they've always had in, well, just about every other version of the Legion. And I can't say I prefer it. But that's not to say it's a bad idea; quite the opposite. Don't let us get too comfortable!

Is it just me, or do they keep changing the visual effects on the various superpowers? I think Lightning Lad's lightning looks different.

(Of course, they act different, too. Just what was that Saturn Girl was doing to kill all those satellites at the end? Pretty wimpy satellites if you can wreck 'em with telepathy. My four-year-old son asked me what the deal was with that and I had no answer for him.)

- R.J. Brande with a southern accent? That's gonna take some getting used to
- I like how they just had Cham be Brande's son without bothering to explain it
- Somebody please explain to me how Cosmic Boy can be so hopeless against the metal-chain-using Grimbor
- Nice to see Saturn Girl sitting up and taking nourishment

Membership Notes:

That's Ultra Boy in the group shot there at the end! But no Timber Wolf, Karate Kid or Nemesis Kid. Or, for that matter, Superman or Superman-X. Unless I missed them?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the origin episode was pretty good, even if it wasn't surprising, if for no other reason than it pointed out that quite a bit of time has past and the Legion has grown up a long way.

Rokk as a nerdy fourteen-year-old was fun, though I would have liked more development for the origin story, more scenes of them acting as young Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys in the 30th Century. It all felt a little rushed.

There is precedent for the founders acting that way. There was always some tension between them -- maybe not so explosive, mind -- in the reboot days, and the SW6 incarnation, once they had their own series, practically depended upon Garth being a perpetual jerk to Rokk and them having tension over Imra. They got into quite a few fights, actually, over the short-lived course of that series.

Would have liked to have scene Rokk being demonstrated as a magnoball champion, as I always liked that aspect of his backstory and it gave a neat little explanation for why he had stronger magnetism than most Braalians.

Imra's powers hitting the satellites, well, I've got nothing. They seem to be suggesting she has TK, but inconsistently.

(And I really hate the phrase "healing trance" by now -- just say she was in a coma!)

Good little bit with Matter-Eater Lad.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked the episode. I was a little surprised that R.J wasn't more influential in the group's formation, but it works for me. The thing I really loved was the brief appearance of their early costumes! Any scene with Tenzil is tops in my book. R.J.'s southern accent threw me for a loop, and it makes me wonder if we'll see a very special episode where Cham recounts how R.J. adopted him.

What is the deal with Irma destroying the satellites? She's never shown any telekenetic ability in the comics, has she? Oh, well, at least she got in the episode this time.

So should Saturn Girl have TK abilities as well as her telepathy? Matthew, how do you think that would change the character?

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was this episode out of order? Duo Damsel was in her old outfit instead of her new one.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

ben: Well, they all feel rushed; the action scenes are just about the whole point of this TV show. The writers are pretty good at fitting a lot of plot and characterization into some very small spaces between the fights.

infinity: Yeah, I knew the old costumes were going to go over big. As far as Imra's teke goes... it's understandable. It's the same reason why Brainy is a morphing robot bristling with weaponry; you have to be able to kick ass in a fight in this Legion. If you can't, there's no way to use you in an episode.

anonymous: Not sure about the order. The presence of Ultra Boy and the absence of Karate Kid and Nemesis Kid does suggest some kind of discrepancy, so you could very well be right.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Bill D. said...

I think they were going for the "eccentric Texas billionaire" sort of personality for Brande, which I thought kinda worked, probably because I haven't read many stories with Brande actually in them, and that's generally how I've always "heard" him in my head when he does appear.

Seeing the younger Legionnaires in all their Silver Age glory was a kick, the Trips and Bouncy especially for some reason.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Levitz always wrote Brande with a more... Irish-American?... pattern of speech, so I guess that's what my ear's still cued for.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Aaron Kashtan said...

I really like the idea that the three founders came up with the idea for the Legion on their own, and that R.J. Brande was just their financier. It makes the Legion more independent of Brande, which, to my mind, is a good thing.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Although Brande himself is a great character. Does he have an equivalent with any other superhero groups? I can't think of one. Max Lord? FDR? Nobody really fits.

1:19 PM  
Blogger RavenScholar said...

Maybe like Charles Xavier (except nicer)? The X-Men are really Legion rip-offs anyway.

I really loved the Kando episode. Yet another example of "this show is wasted on 8-year-olds". Not that everyone can't enjoy it.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great that we finally got to see the origin in televisual form.The shifts between then and now gave a sense of Legion history without clubbing us over the head with continuity.Also great seeing Grimbor this season.One of my favorite foes.Wish we could've had Charma too,but there are kids watching.
Notable quotes:
"Charles Boogerjuice"?Smooth,Garth.
" meddling kids" Ha! You never know what will prevail thru the centuries.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I wonder how cool we would have thought it was if the TV writers had decided to give the cartoon Legion a completely different origin. (Assuming they did a decent job with the episode.) Hmm.

11:33 AM  

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