Monday, December 26, 2016

Legion of Super Heroes S01 E13: Sundown, Part 2

"Sundown, Part 2" was written by Rob Hoegee and directed by Ben Jones, original airdate: May 5, 2007, review by Glenn 'Continuity Kid' Walker.

Mission Monitor Board: Brainiac 5, Triplicate Girl, Lightning Lad, Timber Wolf, Saturn Girl, Bouncing Boy, Cosmic Boy, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Star Boy, Ferro Lad, Colossal Boy, Blok, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Tyroc, and young Superman.

Opponents: The Sun Eater, The Controller(s), The Fatal Five (Tharok, Validus, Mano, Emerald Empress, Mano), the Scavengers.

Guest-stars and cameos: Alexis Luthor, Jo Nah (Ultra Boy), the Legion of Substitute Heroes (Stone Boy, Fire Lad, Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Porcupine Pete, Infectious Lass).

This episode continues the animated adaptation of one of the greatest and most tragic stories in Legion history, the sacrifice of Ferro Lad to save everyone from the Sun-Eater. Nowadays people see superheroes die (and come back) with regular frequency. Hell, over at Marvel Comics in just the last few months, they've offed War Machine, the Hulk, and Iron Man, with similar plans for Captain America (again) in their Civil War II. Back in the day however, this did not happen on a regular revolving door basis. There were only a handful - Bucky, Menthor, the Comet, Wonder Man, and poor Ferro Lad. These days no one seems to stay dead though, because comics. Although, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lightning Lad, one of the first comics resurrections as well… The Legion had a lot of firsts, even bad ones.

In the first part of this comics adaptation for the animated series, the Legion were led to a forgotten armory where weapons from before 'the Great Crisis' (presumably this one) were stored. One such weapon had been activated, the Sun-Eater, created by the Controllers, and it eats the native red sun of that system, despite the Legion's best attempts to stop it. As the episode ends, the Sun-Eater had changed its course, and is heading toward Earth, da da da dum, cue credits.

As the Legion tries to get themselves together after their defeat last episode, new leader Bouncing Boy has a rather unorthodox plan. They need help, and they need more power, to stop the Sun-Eater. His plan? Recruit the Fatal Five, their greatest enemies. So Superman, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, and Saturn Girl sneak into Takron-Galtos to break them out. As they pass through the prison, we see Alexis Luthor and she sticks her tongue out at Superman as he passes. Wouldn't her intellect be useful against the Sun-Eater, and perhaps, with Superman as incentive, might she be a bit more trustworthy than the Fatal Five?

The alliance between the Fatal Five and the Legion is an uneasy one, built on the word of both teams (not a good sign, more like a coin toss), and really what stake do these villains have in saving the Earth? Maybe Alexis would have been a better choice. Regardless, the two teams split up gathering resources per Bouncing Boy's orders, and we even get a brief cameo of the Scavengers - also from Alexis' episode - is there an unfollowed plot point here? There's also a nice touch where Phantom Girl has to retrieve a stabilizer coil from Rimbor, and pick up Jo Nah, who's coming to help. That should give them ample time to get to know each other better.

While everyone else gathers components for the solar transducer missile, which should make the Sun-Eater devour itself, Bouncing Boy has a special mission for Superman - because he can't get near the Sun-Eater as it's still powered by a red sun. His mission is to find the Controller responsible for this threat and stop him. Brainy and Bouncing Boy spout some nonsense about Controllers being elusive to the law, that they can be stopped, but not arrested. Wait, what? Destroying solar systems is not a convictable offense?? Where's the Matt Murdock of the 31st Century when you need him?

This is basically a wild goose chase for Superman, to protect him from what may happen. Brainy doesn't expect him to find anything, but neither, unsettlingly, does he expect the Sun-Eater to be defeated. He sends with Superman a device that will send him home to the 21st Century should they fail. Wow, nothing says confidence like an escape route, right? Anyway, Superman looks in the system that was destroyed by the Sun-Eater last episode, even gets out of his ship to look, and with infrared vision (this must be the pre-Crisis Superman) he finds the Controller. One question though - shouldn't this whole area still be affected with red solar radiation? Or did the Sun-Eater clear all that out so Superman's powers would work?

While the Legion, and the Fatal Five, prepare for the Sun-Eater as it enters our solar system, Superman goes to confront the Controller. The villain offers an interesting philosophy: while his fellow Controllers worship order, he is a creature of chaos, and chooses to destroy the United Planets, and in the aftermath, there will be perfection. Interestingly he mentions that Superman's kind have always been troublesome. One wonders if he means Kryptonians or superheroes. As if to prove himself an agent of chaos, the Controller dons armor and enters into physical combat with Superman.

Meanwhile,  the Legion and its forces make a last stand against the Sun-Eater, with Bouncing Boy coordinating wonderfully. Many Legionnaires - like Star Boy, Sun Boy, Colossal Boy, Blok, Matter-Eater Lad, and Cosmic Boy - get little spotlights as they fight back, even though some are less than others. Timber Wolf for instance provides Uber service. Bouncing Boy even has a contingency plan in case the Fatal Five double cross them. Toldja you should've gotten Alexis. Superman is no slouch either, knowing he can't hurt the Controller, he starts to destroy his ship. Still, it can't stop the Sun-Eater.

And neither can the Legion's solar transducer missile. Launched into the Sun-Eater, it doesn't detonate. While the rest of the Legion tries to figure out what to do, Ferro Lad irons up and flies into the core of the Sun-Eater to trigger the detonator. As he completes the circuit, Ferro Lad says, "Long live the Legion." and destroys the Sun-Eater. Anyone, even those who never liked this cartoon, who didn't have a tear in their eye at that moment, just aren't Legion fans.

As always, Superman gets the last word, both in sending the Controller back where he came from, and eulogizing Ferro Lad (although wouldn't Cosmic Boy have been a better choice?). A statue is built in Ferro Lad's honor, and for some reason, it's goodbye for Superman. He's going back to the 21st Century, and a new job in Metropolis. Still, somehow, I bet he'll be back.

This was a good episode, even though I would have traded the Superman solo stuff for more focus on the Legionnaires. That's the sacrifice though in this animated series. It may be called "Legion of Super Heroes" (and I wish they'd put the hyphen in there), but the fact is there's a big Superman symbol in the TV logo, so we know what it's really about. All in all, it was a good season, with lots of introductory stuff, but a fun attitude. Some of the fun will be going away next season when it gets a bit darker and edgier, but we'll get there when we get there. I liked this, and I know a lot of folks did not, but it's definitely better than no Legion animated series at all.

Next: Season two! New Legionnaires! Superman X! Imperiex!

No comments:

Post a Comment