Monday, February 27, 2017

Justice League Unlimited S03 E10: Far From Home

"Far From Home" was written by Paul Dini based on a story by Dwayne McDuffie, and directed by Dan Riba, original airdate: April 15, 2006, review by Glenn 'Continuity Kid' Walker.

Mission Monitor Board: Brainiac 5, Bouncing Boy, Ultra Boy, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf, Chameleon Boy, Shadow Lass, and Supergirl.

Opponents: Tharok, Mano, Validus, the Persuader, and the Emerald Empress, teamed as the Fatal Five, simulations of Blockbuster, Atomic Skull, Doctor Cyber, and Queen Bee.

Guest-stars and cameos: Green Arrow, John Stewart Green Lantern, Superman, Steel.



This second animated appearance by the Legion of Super-Heroes has a similar vibe to the first one in that it feels like a back door pilot, although showrunners of the time deny this. This was Supergirl's last appearance in the DCAU, leaving much suspicion that a spin-off series, aping the comic then on stands, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, was in the works. The animated series that did happen with the Legion did in fact emerge in the next year, but with a more cartoony bent, and a young Superman, rather than Supergirl, or even Superboy. I must say though, that if the anticipated series did manifest with Supergirl, it would have been awesome.

"Justice League Unlimited" represented an expansion of the two seasons of "Justice League" that came before it, and especially here in its third season the series alternated between a continuing conflict with the Secret Society, and telling tales of minor characters in the cast and obscure concepts not yet animated. Among the latter were Viking Prince, Hawkman, Warlord, Spy Smasher, Deadman, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, and the Legion of Super-Heroes. The tenth episode of that last season was "Far From Home" and featured the Legion.

We open in the future, a dark Metropolis with the Legion's original rocket-shaped headquarters on the skyline. Brianiac 5 and Bouncing Boy walk down a corridor decorated by giant bronze statues of assumed Legionnaires. Among them, the Nolan brothers, or maybe the founders; it's hard to tell. These two are on the run, and in hiding, as all of their teammates have been captured. Brainy is checking out a time bubble, thinking time travel is their way out, noting that this is the time three members of the Justice League came to the future… but only two went back. Cue credits.

The animation in the DCAU was a bit more realistic in these days before the more cartoony Legion series. Bouncing Boy is quite fat, almost unhealthy, and you can see they even animated a slowness to his step. Except for his collar, it's pretty much the same costume as the comics. Brainiac 5 is a bit pale, more a light blue-green than lime-green, and his costume more purple and black. I dislike his collar as well. His voice, supplied by Matt Czuchry of "Gilmore Girls" and "The Good Wife," is suitably robotic yet organic, displaying little emotion – a good choice for the character.

Post credits, we're in the present and Justice Leaguers Superman, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern (John Stewart) are giving Supergirl a workout via combat simulation. Here we get some cool cameos of villains without them actually being there, like Queen Bee, Doctor Cyber (a sorely underused Wonder Woman foe), the Atomic Skull, and the original Blockbuster. This is how she's celebrating her twenty-first birthday. Green Arrow is giving Superman a hard time for not being more of a family member to her. The series at this point was using Green Arrow and Supergirl quite a bit, and the two had become close, Arrow being more of a father figure in some cases than Supes. As the simulation finishes, a time sphere appears and teleports Supergirl, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern away.

Reappearing in the 31st Century, as Brainiac 5 introduces himself Supergirl lunges at him and attacks. She knows he's a Brainiac, and that's all she needs to hit. Green Arrow pulls her back though, before she gets through his force field. After proper introductions, Stewart expresses his dislike of time travel, and stops Bouncing Boy cold before he tells him who his daughter is. John has not fared well with time travel and time paradoxes in this series. In explaining who the Legion is, we see a wiiiidescreen shot of the team, and save Phantom Girl and Saturn Girl (in their pseudo-Silver Age outfits), and Blok, they seem to be in Dave Cockrum era costumes.

Supergirl tells her JLA buddies that Brainiac 5 is "seriously cute" and they discuss whether they should trust the two Legionnaires. Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy have a chat of their own. They know that Supergirl disappears from the day they swiped her, leading them to assume that she's going to die. Chuck thinks they should tell her, but Brainy disagrees. The talk doesn't get much further as the heroes are attacked by a green glow.

The Emerald Empress and the Persuader appear first, decked out in their Silver Age costumes like the rest of the Fatal Five as well. Validus seems to have lost his nose, though. In a nod to what happened with Universo in the comics, the Empress expresses surprise at seeing a Green Lantern in this part of the galaxy. The fight goes down quickly, neither side really fairing all that well, but both displaying their worthiness. I was especially impressed by Brainiac 5 showing off his combat skills to Supergirl. Their chemistry grows, but I thought the 'copping a feel' remark was a bit much. Bouncing Boy was good too, but I didn't like that he didn't blow up to use his power, making him seem more like just an athletic fat guy.

As the villains escape with Green Lantern and Bouncing Boy under their control, we enter silly territory. Green Arrow insists that Brainiac 5 is in love with Supergirl. They really are rushing this thing, the writers I mean, not Green Arrow or the pushy Supergirl. This is one of the few places where this episode fails hard. Yes, we Legion fans know they should be together, but it doesn't happen in eleven minutes, sorry.

After far too much puppy love in overdrive, Brainiac 5 is able to track the Fatal Five to the capital of the United Planets, something they've tried to destroy before. With a Green Lantern and the rest of the Legion under the Empress' mind control, they can probably succeed this time. This is the first time we really get a good look at the Legion, and it's in combat with Supergirl, on the mission she's destined not to return from.

Ironically, while Supergirl struggles against the Legion, Brainiac 5 and Green Arrow take on the Fatal Five alone. Weirdly, they actually seem to be stopping the Five while Supergirl gets battered by the Legion. I'm sorry, but the math on this one just doesn't make sense. Nevertheless, we get the scene where everyone but the viewers think Supergirl is dead, but isn't. As we all figured out twenty minutes ago – she doesn't die, she stays. The Legionnaires show up just in time to stop the Five for good.

Although, did anyone else find it weird when Supergirl put her fist through Validus, and he was a robot? Somebody has some explaining to do… Either way, Kara has found a new home in the 31st Century and all that's left to do is tell Superman the name of this boy she's met…

Yeah, it was a thrill to see the Legion animated in DCAU style, along with the Fatal Five, but it was not without flaw. I wish that Supergirl and Superman had actually gotten closure. It feels like Supes got away without having to be that big brother she needed. The bits with Supergirl and Brainiac 5 flirting and falling in love so quickly bring the episode down quite a bit as I mentioned. Other than that, and Chameleon Boy's plain Jane costume, this was quite a bit of fun, especially seeing all the Dave Cockrum costumes animated. Not great, but not bad. Seeing a series in this style would have been well worth while.

Next: Legion of Super-Heroes Season Two starts!

2 comments:

  1. This episode definitely would have benefited from the original Justice League 2-part format. It does seem rushed, but overall I did enjoy it a lot. There is no "bad" episode of JLU.

    Chris

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  2. This was the animation that "The Legion of Super-Heroes" cartoon should have been or that used in the " New Kids in Town " episode of Superman The Animated Series.

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