Thursday, September 1, 2011

Legion of Super Heroes: Lightning Storm

After a kind of long hiatus, the Legion of Super heroes reviews are back! This is another kind of average episode, saved from mediocrity by the appearance of a special guest star, whom I will discuss shortly. We open with the Legion of Super Heroes trying to defeat some kind of space squid.

Superman is captured by the thing, so of course, they call on the next best thing and send Triplicate Girl to rescue him.

 It goes about like you'd expect.

Jesus Christ, you suck.

Other reviews have been harsh on this episode, because it depicts the Legion as incompetent. I can see both sides of the debate. On one hand, the story doesn't work if the Legion is as competent as they were in, say, Fear Factory. I think there is some support for the animated Legion not being as elite as they are in the comics. Look at the expression the Emerald Empress has when she sees them in the pilot episode:

And when she says something like, "Oh, it's the Legion of Super Heroes," she uses the same  tone of voice one might use to say, "Oh, I can't believe I got dog shit on my shoe!" It's annoying,  but something you sigh and deal with.

So, the Legion is getting smacked around by the space squid when they're rescued by a bunch of other people who take care of the space squid with ease. Lightning Lad is impressed by these newcomers, who depart when the squid is dispatched, leaving the other group to clean up the mess. 

In the next scene the Legionnaires see the other team's ship parked at a diner, and they park there too for a bite to eat.

Wants to be at the table with the cool kids.
Lightning Lad wanders over to the table where the other group is sitting and strikes up a conversation. They needle him a little bit ("Aren't you a little old to be a Lightning 'Lad'?") and the camera pans to the table with the other Legionnaires, where Bouncing Boy is imitating a seal by sticking straws up his nose and balancing a hamburger on his head. 

The last, best hope of the 31st century
The other team calls themselves the Lightspeed Vanguard, and that's really is a pretty great name. It's also kind of clever, because these guys were the Legion of Super Villains in the comics, and having the same initials means they don't need to change their monogrammed sweaters.

I don't really like the character designs for the LSV, which is unusual, because I like almost every design on the show. They even make Tyroc look kind of cool. The exception was Esper, who had a cool, kind of Egyptian flavored outfit. 

They give Lightning Lad their card and tell him to be in touch if he wants to join. He takes off and the scene cuts to Legion tryouts, where an assortments of fuckups are all waiting patiently for membership. 

Lightning Lad decides that he wants nothing to do with these idiots and activates the card, which takes him to the HQ of the LSV. He encounters the members he has met previously, and one more, his brother Mekt.

I like Mekt. He's never exactly a villain. He's Lightning Lad's ne'er do well brother, always looking for the easy way and the quick score. He's got his rivalry with Garth, but deep down he wants to take care of his little brother.

The fuck-up sibling is well worn territory, but it's probably my favorite character arc in the show. When we first meet Mekt in Champions, he just wants to show up his brother. He's willing to cheat to win, but he really doesn't want set out to hurt anybody (though he's not bothered overmuch if he does) and seems rather horrified when he realizes the full magnitude of what he's done. (Not so much that he'll stick around to face up to the consequences, though.)

Superman and Timber Wolf keep an eye on him, and rescue him during his initiation. Pissed that he was rescued in front of his new buddies, Lightning Lad declares that he's quitting the LSH to join the LSV. He tags along on a mission where they rescue a disaster relief ship and is taken aback when they then demand payment. Lightning Lad is disappointed that this new team is more mercenary than they let on. The transport captain says he can't pay, so the LSV gives him a couple days to pony up.

The Vanguard returns to their HQ, and they're looking for jobs when they get a message from  the transport captain telling them that he's not going to pay, which is kind of stupid of him. I mean, I'm up to my eyeballs in debt, but it's not like I send emails to Capital One saying, "Not gonna pay you! What are you gonna do about it?! LOL!!" I just ignore my creditors and hope they forget about me. Apparently it's working out pretty well, since I've never once been attacked by supervillains. 

Anyways, the LSV attacks the transport, intending to get their fee by hook or by crook. The transport manages to get off a distress call, which summons the LSH. I thought this was pretty well handled, because they see the LSV cruiser and think, at first that they are responding to the distress call about the hijackers. 

The heroes figure things out, everyone faces off against his or her opposite number and the heroes win the day. Superman graciously welcomes Lightning Lad back into the fold, saying that as far as he's concerned, Lighting Lad never left.

I don't like it, but I think it's a weak story, rather than a bad one. It leads into Chain of Command and the Ferro Lad/Sun Eater arc, however, which is great, so I'll forgive its shortcomings.


  1. This is actually a fair enough consideration on the episode, but really, the kicker was the fact that you stood up for Mekt and listed his virtues as well as his weak points. NOBODY seems to like Mekt, so I thank you, at least, for considering over his character beyond the usual dust off and walk away.

    1. I'm actually fairly ambivalent on comic book Mekt (though I did like his Threeboot incarnation), but I do like him in the show, mostly because he gets a pretty decent arc.