Monday, January 4, 2016

Legion of Super Heroes S01 E04: Phantoms

"Phantoms" was written by Rob Hoegee and directed by Tim Maltby, original airdate: November 4, 2006.

Mission Monitor Board: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl, young Superman, Timber Wolf

Opponents: Drax, his two pets 'Comet' and 'Cupid,' the Phantom Zone villains

When you hear an episode of "Legion of Super Heroes" is called "Phantoms," it can pretty much only be two things (with a 5% chance of ghosts of course), it's either focusing on Phantom Girl or the Phantom Zone. In this case, it's the latter, and later, a little of both. This is the fourth episode of the series, and the third Superman-centric episode. It's getting real old real quick, folks, but I have a feeling change is in the air. Just wait.

We open on Clark, in his civvies, blue sweater this time, back at the Superman Museum. Whether he's there for inspiration, motivation, or just confidence building, it certainly can't be healthy dwelling on the future and what one has to live up to. On a completely obtuse note, the blue sweater, as opposed to a red one, kept making me think of "Galactica 1980," and how time travel had changed the color of their uniforms... I wonder...

As the Museum closes, Clark notices a piece of equipment he'd never seen before. Much like with Alexis Luthor and Timber Wolf, we as viewers and readers know right away what it is, but Clark doesn't. It's a Phantom Zone projector, and by touching it, his Kryptonian DNA activates it. A portal opens, and out hops some guy named Drax and two monstrous puppies with vertical mouths, who resemble Bizarro's pet Krypto from "Superman The Animated Series."

Who is Drax? Voiced by actor and voiceover artist Greg Ellis with proper British tones, he looks like a Goth version of Superman himself. He certainly isn't the 'destructive' Marvel character of the same name, but he doesn't seem to have any DC counterpart either. Visually he's more Witch Boy in a Red Lantern costume than General Zod, yet the Z on his chest is telling. Much like Alexis Luthor, we're not told anything implicitly, but it's strongly implied that Drax is either the clone or the son of Zod.

Eventually the story turns to Drax tearing up New Metropolis, and the Legion intercepts. Battle ensues in which Saturn Girl is still displaying as yet unseen powers, in this case, she's projecting illusions like fellow Legionnaire from the comics, Princess Projectra/Sensor Girl. I think it's kinda cool that it's Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl, at four episodes in, who have become the most accomplished combatants in a fight. Girl power, y'all.

Speaking of Phantom Girl, there's something up with the Science Police, and it might have something to do with her. It's been implied more than once that the Science Police dislike the Legion, in fact, in this episode, Phantom Girl notes, "they hate us." One has to wonder if it has anything to do with Phantom Girl's mother being President of the United Planets as she was post-Zero Hour. Phantom Girl also demonstrates new abilities in being able to make objects and persons other than herself immaterial.

In the course of the fight against Drax, the Legion is sent to the Phantom Zone. There they are set upon by the Phantom Zone villains, criminals imprisoned there for centuries by the Science Council of Krypton, or since then, by Superman. Among them are Doomsday, the Silver Age General Zod, quite possibly Quex-Ul, Kru-El, and Az-Rel, as well as almost a dozen at least unidentifiable foes. Notably, there is no sign of Mon-El.

Among the Science Police Notes for this episode are a couple of firsts. We see kryptonite for the first time and find that Brainiac 5 has it locked up. That's real Batman thinking, having kryptonite just in case Superman goes rogue, and in a way, it's also the closest this animated Brainy has been to acting like his comics counterpart. There's also the first mention of Computo, the artificial intelligence Brainy built that turned on him and Legion, eventually killing one of Triplicate Girl's selves.

Next: Champions!

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