Thursday, December 1, 2011

Legion of Super Heroes: The Karate Kid

Finally got off my butt and wrote another Legion of Super Heroes episode review 

This is another one that I liked. I think either this one or Chained Lightning represent the strongest of the Season Two episodes. We open with the Gimp from Pulp Fiction robbing a space ship.

Insert your own sarcastic comment!

1.) Bring out the Gimp!
2.) Where's a ball gag when you need one?
3.) I can't believe I bitched about Imperiex's character design.

He's actually Grimbor the Chainsman, who is really a Legion villain, something that I didn't know until right now. Gimpbor endangers some civilians, so Superman radios ahead and tells Cam and Cosmic Boy that he's headed in their direction. Cosmic Boy tells Cam that his only job is to guard the sole exit.

Cosmic Boy chases after Gimpbor,  triggers the world's thickest tripwire and gets caught by the old Scooby Doo Net On the Floor Trick,

"I would have gotten away with it if not for you meddling gimps!"

and Cam falls for the "There's a hologram of me and when you're punching that, I'm going to lackadaisically open the door and slowly make my escape."

This was a nicely animated scene. I like how Cam's voice deepens as he transforms, and the expression of puzzlement on his monster face when he realizes that he's been tricked.

Nowhere to run now, buddy...except maybe to that exit.

Credits and we return to the action with Cosmic Boy chewing out Cam for disobeying orders and letting Grimbor get away. Superman sticks up for him, and the Legionnaires observe that they're undermanned. They decide to hold a recruitment drive, to Lightning Lad's annoyance.

Nemesis Kid joins their ranks. I like his look, it's a nice updating of his comics costume.

You will note that absence of the ridiculous collar. It took us until the 31st Century, but we finally cast off the shackles of Jim Lee's collar fetish.
His power is tweaked too. Here it's the ability to nullify superpowers, rather than acquire them in response to a threat. He's a science police officer who has been pursuing Grimbor. He shows off his powers and they welcome him to the Legion.

Cosmic Boy decides to replaced Cam with Nemesis Kid. Cam bitches about it, but it doesn't strike me as unreasonable. Cam is making easily avoidable mistakes, fucking up constantly and disobeying orders in the field, while Nemesis Kid has specific experience opposing Grimbor. Of course you're going to want to Nemesis Kid in that role.

In order to pick up Cam, Superman takes him to an underground fighting tournament, which is always how my parents cheered me up when I was feeling down. (And it seems a little out of character for Superman knows of an underground fighting tournament, but I assume he either learned about it in the course of his Legion duties or from his time playing Mortal Kombat vs DC.) It's being held on Asteroid K-19, presumably the Widowmaker.

The scene begins with Karate Kid being ejected for not having super powers and then there's a quick montage of weird aliens fighting each other. Superman steps into the ring and smacks the shit out of all comers and then Karate Kid returns and challenges him. The announcer tells him that he doesn't have to fight KArate Kid, because he doesn't even have any powers, but Superman just looks at him and says quietly, "Then it should be a quick fight."

That's a Superman moment right there. It's not up there with my favorite scene from All-Star Superman, but it gets him right. The belief that no one should be dismissed, that everyone should be given a chance to prove themselves.

That's a motion blur, not some kind of weird claw.  Also, I see your Flight Ring and I see your bright red boots, Superman. What kind of disguise is that?

"I know kung fu."
So he spars with the Karate Kid for a while, and he's Superman while Karate Kid is just this guy who works out a lot, so it goes about like you'd expect, with Superman dodging effortlessly at super speeds. Karate Kid wins by a ring out, then Superman floats up, removes the disguise that probably wasn't fooling anyone, and welcomes Karate Kid to the Legion.

Back on board the cruiser, Superman introduces him to the rest of the team. Timber Wolf asks what his powers are, and Karate Kid answers that he doesn't have any.

Lightning Lad answers, "No powers, huh? That's an interesting way to go, Superman." Heh. This line always makes me chuckle. The delivery really makes it work here.

In replay Superman answers that everyone else was born with or given their powers, but Karate Kid's were earned through hard work and tireless training.

Cosmic Boy replies to that with, "Inspiring, but this isn't the 'Legion of guys who try really hard'." and Lightning Lad expands to that, answering,that they don't allow members without powers because it's unsafe for them to be put in the field. Cosmic Boy agrees and says the best they can do is find him a support role.

Next scene is the Kid and Cam walking down the hallway, with the Kid pushing a 31st century laundry cart. I do like the episode, but an Asian super hero who is trained in the martial arts, speaks in epigrams and has to do the laundry verges on the insensitive.

The Kid says that he remembered that there is a solution to every problem, and Cam asks him if he got that from the motivational poster in the break room. Heh.

We transition to a briefing, where they watch some footage of Grimbor stealing a bunch of junk. He's stolen a cell disruptor and a thingie that disrupts electrical fields, so presumably he's collecting stuff to nullify the powers of the better known Legion members.

Cam gets night shift, and an alert goes off. He and Karate Kid see that Grimbor has been located, so they go back and try to catch him, but he beats them all up with his bolos and traps and gets away. One of them is booby trapped and Karate Kid is almost caught in the explosion, surviving only because Cam transforms to shield him.

Cosmic Boy: Tell me, Nemesis Kid, what have we learned today?
Nemesis Kid:  Let's see, that Cam lacks the judgement necessary for leadership roles, and Karate Kid doesn't have the super powers needed to keep himself safe.

They're kind of being dicks about it, but this is a legitimate complaint. Maybe I've got a different perspective as a parent, but I can get huffy too when I tell my daughter the same thing five times and she still isn't listening, (and she isn't even fighting super villains), so I think it's understandable that they're coming off a little short with Cam.

Back on the cruiser, he's on probation and Karate Kid is off the team. The rest of the Legionnaires found a clue in the form of a handprint on Nemesis Kid's shirt, so they go to the only place where the dust that composed the print can be found.

Cam and the Kid figure out that this must be a trap, because Grimbor didn't steal anything on his last outing. (Though I think that's a little weak, because he was outnumbered four to one when he ran, and I think it's just as likely that he was fleeing to steal another day while he still could.)

But the Legion walks into his "trap", which is pretty much just blasting them with his power draining gun at close range. I don't know why it required all these Rube Goldberg machinations, but that's super heroes for you.  He captures them, Cam and Karate Kid rescue them,

"Back on the Chain Gang"
and Grimbor seemingly dies through misadventure like a Disney villain. At the end of the episode, we see Karate Kid's swearing in, which is always something that I enjoy.

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