Friday, December 30, 2011

Legion of Super Heroes: Unnatural Alliances

The Legion series had a short run, and while there are no episodes that I'd call outright bad, there are some that are pretty weak, and this is one of them.

A better word might be unnecessary.

It's unnecessary because never once did I ask myself "Where did Imperiex come from?" Most of my questions were along the lines of, "When are we getting rid of him?"

We open on a space farm where a yappy space dog detects the arrival of evil space cowboys.

"What's that Lassie? Timmy fell down a space well?"

The head evil space cowboy (called Terra-Man, more on him later) is looking for someone named Abel, but his caretaker plays dumb.

The Legion, in the form of Superman-X, Bouncing Boy, Duo Damsel

I like her new look for this season. Also, that robot looks very dapper in its bowler.

and Star Boy, shows up, and inform him that the only thing he's going to find here is trouble "with a capital L."

I don't care if you've been sitting on the sidelines for this season, Bouncing Boy. I still love you!

Terra-Man traps Superman-X in a wad of bubblegum,

Kell-El hoped the the remake of Rocky would revitalize his film career.

then goes off to kill Abel, who turns out to be a little kid, telling him  "Sorry, boy, life's not fair. Or in your case, particularly long." I chuckled at that.

The Legion rescues the boy and buries Terra-Man and his crew in a pile of rubble, perhaps chuckling to themselves that "No one could have survived that!"

Terra-man blasts himself out of the rubble as soon as they turn their back. Which brings me to my next complaint. Terra-Man - Jesus.  The Legion does actually have some pretty decent villains, guys. There's no need to transplant a Robot Jonah Hex into the setting. Look at the comics based on the show.  They did a great job with the established villains, even if, near the end of the run it seemed like Tharok was responsible for every crime in the galaxy. (However, they always made great use of Starfinger! Arm-Fall-Off-Boy for the win!)

On board the ship, Duo Damsel sends Superman to talk to the kid.

Superman-X: That's a nice doll you got there.
Abel: It's an action figure. I made it myself.
Superman-X: You're like seven. I doubt you could even make toast.
Abel: I built him because I was lonely. He's my only friend.
Superman-X: You ever think that's because you still play with dolls?

Please Kell, stop eating that puppy. You're making me cry.

That is kind of funny, because Superman-X is a giant space asshole. But I also think it's something of a missed opportunity. I think his humanization could have been a compelling storyline if they just stuck with one variety of asshattery. Is he a militarized asshole Superman from the future? That's what they seem to be establishing early on, but then, in this episode alone, we get the milquetoast ordered around by Duo Damsel (fucking Duo Damsel, man. Wrap your head around that for a minute) and a straight up jerk who takes cheap shots at a seven-year-old, neither of which is consistent with the earlier characterization.

We get some cool scenes from Star Boy, who is pretty much nobody's favorite Legionnaire. But his powers are nicely animated and used in an interesting fashion and he's also voiced by someone with the great name of Bumper Robinson.

Star Boy doing something cool. Almost certainly the only picture of its kind on the entire Internet.

I was watching this episode with my daughter and when she saw Imperiex turn up with his army of Destructobots, she sneered as only a five-year-old can and said, "The only thing they destruct is themselves." Oh, snap! So, Imperiex shows up and demands the boy.  The Legion refuses. Imperiex attacks. Destructobots board the ship and the Legion fights them. Then Terra-Man boards the ship and the Legion fights him. Somewhere the faint strains of Yakety Sax can be heard.

Terra-Man overpowers the Legionnaires on board and grabs the kid. He goes to zip away, but Imperiex shows up, carves up Terra-Man and grabs the kid, revealing that Able would go on to develop the technology that would make Imperiex's cyborg body possible. He quips, "Now that I've met my maker, it's time for you to meet yours," blasts X and takes off. They fight a couple Destructobots before returning to the Legion cruiser.

X is having a crisis of faith, but Duo Damsel gives him a pep talk and when he sees that Terra-Man has regenerated, he zips out to talk to him. As much as I hate the character, I do love his design and that capelike speed blur.

 T-Man reveals that he was a backup plan in case X failed. They team up (or do they?), disable the cruiser together and take off to find Imperiex and Abel.

Imperiex is camping out roasting s'mores with Able.

"Mmmm...s'more please!"

He recounts his origin story, which sucks as much as he does. Cut back to T-Man and X, who have located Imperiex. They land on the planetoid where they've taken refuge, and Terra-Man sends his goons out to flanking positions. He rises to give the order, and X is visible right behind him, but his men fail to strike and in the next wide shot, moments later, X is nowhere to be seen. Terra-Man uses his telescopic vision to check out his guys and sees that they've been reduced to sparking, headless corpses, in what was a really well done little scene.

Roland the headless Thompson robot.

Surprise! Superman-X just needed someone to find Abel and Imperiex! X and Impy team up to destroy Terra-Man. Impy then turns on X, but the Legions shows up and fights back. He teleports away, declaring that the timeline has been preserved.

Terra-Man...just doesn't make any sense. He's kind of presented as a bounty hunter, but even a little reflection shows how ridiculous that is. Were he successful, what would he do to collect his fee, travel forward to the future he invalidated? How was K3NT going to pay him anyway? Bitcoins?

Not that we think he could ever do it, because he has a kindergartener at his mercy three times over the course of the episode and still fails to kill him. And I'm not sure why he opted to grab the kid, tie him to his space bike and fly through legions of people who want to protect him, rather than executing him on the spot.

And since he's such a buffoon, he diminishes both Imperiex, who was supposed to his this existential threat, and Superman-X, who was proclaimed a "beast" by Ron-Karr in the second part of the season two opener. (However, Ron-Karr's judgement has always been suspect.) They have to team up to beat that guy? Seriously? What kind of fuck-ups are they?

Further, doesn't the Legion have a huge trump card now? They can just keep doing what they're doing, and if looks like they're going to lose to Imperiex, can't they just say, "Hey, that thing you were going to invent that brings about Imperiex? Don't invent it" and give their Big Bad a retroactive abortion?

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