Monday, November 2, 2015

Legion of Super Heroes S01 E02: Timber Wolf

"Timber Wolf" was written by Matt Wayne and directed by Lauren Montgomery, original airdate: September 30, 2006.

Mission Monitor Board: Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Bouncing Boy, Young Superman, Timber Wolf, with non-speaking cameos by Element Lad, Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, Triplicate Girl, Blok, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Sun Boy, Tyroc, and Shrinking Violet.

Opponents: Dr. Mar Londo

Now Timber Wolf is my jam, one of my favorite Legionnaires, and if you saw my piece on the Legion over at Biff Bam Pop! you also know he was my gateway to new Legion stories, Superboy #197 being the first is read that wasn't a reprint from days gone by. I always liked that his powers were much the same as other Legionnaires (strength, agility, endurance, fighting), but he just utilized them in a different way than say, Ultra Boy or Karate Kid. Add in that pre-Wolverine ferocity and mystery, and Timber Wolf just rocks.

For years, beyond the Adult Legion story, I had not seen any previous stories of Timber Wolf, but I knew his origin from bits and pieces in lettercols and special features in 100 Page Super Spectaculars. Here in this self-titled episode, we get an origin of the hero, though how close it is to the comics version, I can't say. I'm guessing like most of the stuff here, it's an approximation.

We open on a forestal planet, just before the show's title sequence - one of the best of the DC Comics Animated Universe with theme by Kristopher Carter - with a flurry of bats not unlike the opening of "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" A scientist, later identified as Dr. Mar Londo, is stalked by a feral wolf-like beast. We know what's going on, and who's who, but seeing how this series is all new, we Legion fans can let it slide for the moment. It is, after all, an origin episode.

After the title sequence, we drop in on young Superman and the Legion in deep space encountering a Lorthax, no not the thing from World of Warcraft, but a giant Lovecraftian tentacled blob eating spaceships. A distress call from planet Raal diverts them, and they crashland there. This accident is the result of Brainiac 5 being all Elongated Man in Bouncing Boy's face while he's trying to pilot the ship. I'm not a fan of this aspect of the animated Brainy, but I do like the animated Legion cruiser. Sadly it's not as "Star Trek" as Dave Cockrum's design, but it's pretty cool and sleek.

A note about the planet Raal. This is inexplicably not Zoon or Zuun, Timber Wolf's home planet, as one might expect. Nor is it Braal, Cosmic Boy's homeworld. I may have even misheard it pronounced as such in the last episode. I just wonder why the use of a new planet that sounds like one already in the mythos? Faulty research perhaps?

It's pretty obvious from the get-go that the feral creature stalking Raal is actually Brin Londo, the doctor's son, so most of the mystery is disarmed before it even starts. Daddy Londo is up to no good with his 'little planet of Dr. Moreau,' and the Legion has to stop him, and in the process humanize the beast that was Brin. There is the prerequisite slugfest that eats up time for no reason, but eventually Saturn Girl brings Brin back to his senses, and he joins the team with cameos by several heretofore unseen members.

So we get a split-second sneak peek at the designs used for at least eight new Legionnaires, with looks both old and new from various eras of Legion history. Timber Wolf's look comes more or less a new take on his Furball form in his Keith Giffen costume. I like it, but would have rather had a more human visage. To "honor the heroes of the past," he chooses a new name, Timber Wolf. Did anyone else get that part? I didn't.

This episode serves more or less to cement and evolve the relationships between the characters. Bouncing Boy and Brainiac 5 are bickering buddies in the Cyborg/Beast Boy vein. Lightning Lad continues his Reggie Mantle act to Superman's Archie Andrews. There's even a little schoolyard anti-flirtation between Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad. The show is evolving.

Next: Legacy!

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