Monday, September 26, 2016

Legion of Super Heroes S01 E010: Child's Play

"Child's Play" was written by Marty Isenberg and directed by Ben Jones, original airdate: February 24, 2007.

Mission Monitor Board: Brainiac 5, Triplicate Girl, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, and young Superman.

Opponents: Zyx, Comet and Cupid, and the Zarokian bureaucracy.

Guest-stars and cameos: Winema Wazzo, President of the United Planets.

Remember all those classic "Star Trek" episodes with children who had infinite power? You know, the templates for Q? Well, the show-runners at the animated "Legion of Super Heroes" have taken that concept a step further by introducing a super-powered kid who doesn't want to be a member, not that the Legion wants him, so he becomes a super-villain instead. Shades of Gene Roddenberry, what can the Legion do against a magical foe with the maturity and patience of a spoiled brat? We'll find out after the break with my thoughts on "Child's Play."

We open on Brainiac 5 and his crush young Superman having a coffee and the latter marveling at the 31st Century when suddenly the muffins and the coffee shop itself come to life, followed by it raining cats and dogs. At the heart of it is Zyx, a child-like being with fantastic power wearing what looks like the helmet of old school Justice League villain Brainstorm. And despite his headgear, he has a Bat-Mite vibe and face, and Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers and outfit. Fifth dimensional origin maybe? This can only be trouble.

When Zyx is confronted by the two Legionnaires, Zyx's hijinks continue as Brainy insists that there's no such thing as magic. Has the Legion not encountered Zerox, the Sorcerers' World, yet? And is Dream Girl not yet a member? Her symbol is seen at least twice in the show intro. Her sister and future Legionnaire the White Witch would certainly have something to say about there being no such thing as magic.

Superman decides to bring Zyx back to Legion headquarters where they can keep an eye on him and keep him from wreaking more magical havoc in Metropolis. He has a good time pranking the Legionnaires, and I particularly laughed when he made Saturn Girl's already outrageously big earrings so much bigger they dragged her to the ground. Phantom Girl calls her mom, President of the United Planets, and asks her about a sorcerers' world she'd heard of. She calls it Zarok, or at least that's how the closed-captions spell it, rather than Zerox. Perhaps the powers-that-be did not want to evoke the copyright lawyers at Xerox by saying it out loud. Mom says the inhabitants are backwards and dangerous, and that they severed ties with the UP centuries ago.

Zyx meanwhile is bored and itching for fun. So he releases Comet and Cupid, Drax's two pets from "Phantoms," and then plays along, helping the Legion corral them… until he lets it slip that he actually set them free. When the heroes object and put their foot down, Zyx goes on the rampage, deciding super-villainy is better than super-heroics. I love that when he goes into bad guy mode, his costume is green and purple, the standard Stan Lee Silver Age villain colors.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed in the Legion here. Why wouldn't they have tried to recruit him first, rather than treat him as a threat or a pest? Is it because of how he looks? He's no more or less human looking than Brainiac 5 or Timber Wolf, right? Why not? He could be a serious asset to the team with a bit of restraint, training, and maturity. I lay the blame for him going bad squarely at the Legion's feet.

While Zyx is turning Lightning Lad into a rat, over-multiplying Triplicate Girl, melting and splatting Bouncing Boy, showing Superman yet another of his weaknesses for the first time (magic), and stomping kaiju-like through New Metropolis - Phantom Girl makes a break for it in one of the Legion cruisers to the planet Zarok. She finds that it's a mission her mother also once attempted in her younger days and failed. Perhaps that's one way she can prove herself to her mom, by succeeding where she couldn't.

Phantom Girl finds however that Zarok is a planet of both indignant silliness and insane bureaucracy seemingly designed by Monty Python. All the paperwork and rules are what keep the Zarokians from running rampant with their super powers… in the words of Phantom Girl herself, no wonder Zyx wanted to escape. And that's when the Sorcerers' Council decides her presence is a declaration of war from the United Planets.

Meanwhile the Legion distracts Zyx by challenging him to a one-on-one with young Superman. Magic being a weakness makes it rough on the young Man of Steel, but he hangs in there, even when Zyx goes full on Human Torch or animates a statue to fight him. While Zyx does battle with Superman and concentrating on that, the rest of the Legion attack, wearing him down by dividing his focus.

Phantom Girl beats the bureaucracy of Zarok by surrendering to them. Their leader, who looks an awful lot like Victor Buono as King Tut from the old "Batman" TV series, accepts and returns her to Earth where he takes custody of Zyx and sets everything back to where it was. The only problem with Phantom Girl's surrender sadly is that it defeats any respect her mom may have had for her in solving this dilemma. I didn't like that. Not like I liked Bouncing Boy attacking Zyx with an amplified raspberry at least.

Not a bad episode, but not the best. I really would have dug possibly some reference to the Fifth Dimension at least, rather than the tenuous Zarok/Zerox connection. And again, I am reviewing these in the order in which they aired, but this episode should in fact be the seventh episode in actual production order, thus the return of scenes of young Superman still getting used to the 31st Century and still learning about his powers, or in this case, his weaknesses.

Next: Chain of Command!


  1. I love the Legion of Super-Heroes and always wanted to see them in a cartoon series but this wasn't it !

    I guess I'm too tied to the Curt Swan , Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell Legion and this just didn't do it for me.

    I had hoped it would have been the Legion depicted in Superman the adventure series "New Kids on the Block" episode or the JLU episode with Supergirl .

    Both were very good and a huge step above this Legion series.

    Maybe next time ! ):

  2. Thank you for this. I love this episode!

  3. I loved this series and I wish WB would release the second season!