Monday, March 26, 2018

Legion of Super Heroes S02 E05: The Karate Kid

"The Karate Kid" was directed by Scott Jeralds and Brandon Vietti, and written by Eddit Guzelian. Original airdate: October 27, 2007. Review by Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane.

Mission Monitor Board: Chameleon Lad, Cosmic Boy, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad, Nemesis Kid, Superman, and Timber Wolf.

Cameos: Blok, Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Shrinking Violet, and Tyroc.

Opponents: Grimbor the Chainsman

Guards arrive at a delivery ship to pick up some sort of prototype device. They are confronted by Grimbor the Chainsman, who attacks and steals the device.
The Legion arrive and Superman charges. Grimbor escapes and Superman warns Cosmic Boy and Chameleon Boy that he is headed their way. Cosmic Boy tells Cham to stay by the exit as it is Grimbor's only way out. Cosmic Boy fails to stop Grimbor and Cham decides to go after him. Unfortunately, by leaving his post, Cham allows the villain to escape.

Later, a rather stern Comic Boy berates Cham but Superman defends him. Superman points out that they did not have their usual manpower because of their war with Imperious. He argues that they are over-extended and recommends, to Lightning Lad's horror, that they consider...Legion auditions!
Here we get a few additional fun cameos, including Fire Lad, Night Girl, Polar Boy, and Stone Boy. First up is Calamity Kid, who causes bad luck wherever he goes. And, well, you can understand why Lightning Lad was not looking forward to the auditions.
Next up is Nemesis Kid, who worked with the Science Police and wants in on capturing Grimbor. He explains that his power is to neutralize other's powers, and after proving himself against a skeptical Cham, he is accepted onto the team. After Nemesis Kid has briefed the team on Grimbor's recent thefts, a persistently stern Cosmic Boy also decides he should replace Cham as a primary on their next mission.
Superman takes pity on Cham and brings him on another mission. He explains that he is not done looking for recruits and they go to Asteroid K-19.  As they watch a fighting match, Superman tells Cham that if there is anyone tough enough to be in the Legion, this is where they will find them.

Nearby, a young man in a martial arts outfit is escorted out of a building despite his protests that he has trained years for this. Inside is an arena with people fighting. Superman enters the contest in disguise and defeats every opponent who challenges him.
Just when Superman seems out of challengers, the young man who was kicked out runs onstage and proclaims that he, the Karate Kid, challenges him. The referee tells Superman he does not need to accept because the boy does not even have superpowers, but Superman sees something in the boy's eyes. At first, Karate Kid struggles, but eventually gains the upper hand by pushing Superman out of the ring. This disqualifies Superman and Karate Kid is the victor. Superman removes his disguise and welcomes Karate Kid to the Legion.
They return to the Legion, but when the team find out that Karate Kid does not have super powers, they remind Superman that it is too unsafe to allow him to join. They do agree to allow him a support role on the ship, which in this case, includes doing laundry. As Karate Kid goes about his chores, Cham whines about their status with the team. Karate Kid remains positive, which frustrates Cham. He insists that for every obstacle there is a solution.
Elsewhere, Nemesis Kid briefs the team on Grimbor, but they still do not have enough information to form a plan. Superman notices Cham whining again, and shows him how Karate Kid is dealing with his setback by training. This only angers Cham more given that he has already had enough of Karate Kid's positive attitude.

That night, Cham and Karate Kid see an alert coming in about another robbery being perpetrated by Grimbor. Karate Kid wants to alert the others, but Cham convinces him that stopping the villain themselves might be the key to getting back in good graces with the Legion. Sadly, their attempt at stopping him does not go as planned. The rest of the Legion arrives, but do not do much better. The team is not happy with Cham and Karate Kid. They point out that the Kid would have been killed by an explosion had he not been saved by Cham because of his lack of powers. The Kid is told that it's time for him to go home.

Later, Cosmic Boy and Nemesis Kid explain the they discovered that Grimbor leaves behind a residue of Zenethium. Since only one mine that produces the substance, they suspect it must be his base. They also tell Cham he is suspended and cannot come along.The Legion soon arrive at the mine and spread out to find Grimbor, unaware that he is spying on them.

Back at headquarters, Cham has stopped Karate Kid from leaving, and the two realize that the residue was probably left to lead the team into a trap. Meanwhile, Grimbor has confronted Timbor Wolf and used a special gun created from the various stolen objects to remove his powers. The rest of the team arrive to help, but are also quickly taken down by the gun.
Grimbor ties the Legionairres up intending to sell them to Imperious but Cham and Karate Kid arrive. The gun quickly disables Cham, but is useless against Karate Kid. The Kid holds his own in battle, but Grimbor calls in an army of robots. Inspired by Karate Kid, Cham uses his double-jointedness to get free. He gets the gun Grimbor left behind and restores the team's powers. The Legion stops the robots, while Karate Kid goes after Grimbor. As they battle, one of Grimbor's chains gets caught in some machinery. There is a massive explosion, which seemingly kills Grimbor, but the team escapes. Back at headquarters, the Karate Kid is welcomed to the team, but Cham remains on suspension for disobeying orders. He is okay with it now though, realizing his error, and the two are even rewarded by an offer from Nemesis Kid to do their laundry.

While the story was predictable, it was still enjoyable overall. I always love when a new Legionnaire shows up, especially when it is in more than just a cameo appearance as often happens in the series. As a special treat, we get introduced not only to Karate Kid, but also Nemesis Kid. It was a nice choice given they first appeared in the same comic book issue as well, although in a drastically different story-line. This is also the most focus we get on Chameleon Boy's character since he arrived.

With the larger cast, the core team for each episode is shifting much more frequently. Here, Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Saturn Girl, and Bouncing Boy only cameo. Superman X also sits this one out, much to my relief. While I do not dislike him as strongly as when the show originally aired, I have also never really warmed to him. Cosmic Boy plays a large part again, although he remains generally unlikeable, which is one of the choices in this series I have always found disappointing.

The main thought I am left with at the end of the show is the fate of Nemesis Kid. Long time comic readers would presume he cannot be trusted, but he did seem remarkably nice to Cham and Karate Kid at the end. I expect young viewers with no knowledge of the Legion prior to this series would have no concerns about the character. The resolution to his storyline (or lack thereof) is something I will address later.

Next: Who Am I?

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