Thursday, August 11, 2011

Legion of Super Heroes: Brain Drain

Welcome back to my Legion of Super Heroes reviews

I didn't really enjoy this episode all that much, which is probably why it took me so long to get the review written. It's probably my least favorite of the first season episodes. (Though the second season is so bad that it makes this particular story look like The Great Darkness Saga by way of contrast.)

Brainiac 5 is acting strangely and when questioned about it, he tells his fellow Legionnaires that every ten years Coluans undergo the Alignment, where their memories are uploaded and shared. But since he disconnected himself from the hive mind, he doesn't know what the effects will be. So he's building a containment chamber for himself because he'll be incoherent during the process. 

I like the expression he's making here. Lily insists that Brainy is a girl, and looking at images like this, I can certainly see why.

So the Alignment begins and we get a montage of all his wackiness, and the antics are nicely synchronized with Adam Wylie's voice work. After the Alignment is over, however, Brainy has not stopped being crazy. A little input from COMPUTO (who still has not murdered Triplicate Girl, much to my chagrin) tells them that they need to find some Zuunium to fix him before he deteriorates irreparably. 

Lily and I are reading the Legion comics at bed time, and Lily has softened her position on Triplicate Girl (after the issue where she has a date with Bouncing Boy, which was very cute), and Timber Wolf draws the remainder of her ire. To talk about Timber Wolf for a bit, there are some Legion members that will always be the core of any conception of the team. The three founders, of course, and Brainiac 5 and Chameleon Boy and Superman or an analogue like Mon-El, but everybody is negotiable.  Triplicate Girl and Bouncing Boy make sense. Their powers are really well suited for animation. I don't think Timber Wolf is any more iconic a legionnaire than, say, Element Lad, yet here he is, front and center yet again.

(And to digress for a moment, I think the Legion, with its large cast of characters, would be really well-suited to Suikoden-type video game.)

There are no shortage of funny bits in the episode. My two favorites are  Timber Wolf: "Brainy, how do you feel?" Brainiac 5: "I feel like dancing!" and Brainiac 5 suddenly yelling "I've decided I don't trust machines."Brainy's expression was funny, walking into the wall. "Ow, ow, ow."

"Ow, ow, ow."

Also it was nice to see Saturn Girl and and Lightning Lad working together. They have a very nice dynamic, as you might expect, and they get my other favorite line from the episode, when going to take Brainy through the transmatter gate:

Lightning Lad: "Think of all the delicious Zuunium over there." 
Saturn Girl: "He's not going to eat it. Did you pay attention at all?"

Unfortunately, after that, the episode goes into a bit of the decline. The gate malfunctions and Brainy's head is separated from his body. Appallingly, no one thinks to make a reference to Hamlet while it's bouncing around. Superman and Timber wolf babysit the head while it makes cryptic and zany comments and Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad try to reign in the headless body. They fight off a bunch of thugs and some mining robots, and, oh, since it's under a red sun, Superman doesn't have any powers.

The animators only felt like drawing six legs on the spider robots. They're still cool, though.

Timber Wolf, Hufflepuff to the last, plugs away assiduously on the mission. Superman is getting his unpowered ass kicked until he finds a suit of power armor.  Meh. Power armor is normally pretty cool, but not a good fit for Superman.

Come get some

Brainy decides that being a spider robot is cool, so he just sprouts some legs and becomes one too. Again, the animation was really top notch here. 

Brainy gets cured, and all is right with the world. Later on, Superman's like, "I wonder why I lost my powers," and Brainy's like "Oh, red sun." Superman gets understandably annoyed that Brainy knew this and didn't tell him, but Brainy sticks to his guns, saying these are things Superman will have to learn on his own in their proper time and place.

I'm not sure that I agree with Brainiac's argument, that being in the dark about all these bizarre weaknesses is part of the process of self-discovery, because by the time he figures them out, he's not going to do anything about it. It reminds me of something Bill Bryson wrote about bear attacks once: "Bears very rarely attack humans. But here's the absolutely salient point. Sometimes they do, and once is all it takes."  When he encounters Kryptonite for the first time, is Superman going to say "Whoops, that green rock seems to be sapping my powers. Excuse me, would you? I think I'll just dash on home and put on my lead suit."

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