Monday, May 15, 2017

Legion of Super Heroes S02 E02: The Man from the Edge of Tomorrow, Part 2

"The Man from the Edge of Tomorrow, Part 2" was written by Michael Jelenic and directed by Brandon Vietti, original airdate: September 29, 2007, review by Glenn 'Continuity Kid' Walker.

Mission Monitor Board: Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5, Triplicate Girl (now Duo Damsel), Chameleon Boy, Timber Wolf, Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy, and Superman.

Opponents: Imperiex, the Fatal Five (Tharok, the Persuader, Validus, Mano, and the Emerald Empress), the Legion of Super Villains (formerly the Light Speed Vanguard: Esper, Tyr, Hunter, Ron-Karr, Wave), Alexis Luthor, the Dominators.

Guest-stars and cameos: Superman X, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Matter-Eater Lad, Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Blok, Star Boy, Element Lad, Dream Girl, Shrinking Violet (wearing green rather than purple), and Tyroc.

In the first episode of this second season of the "Legion of Super Heroes" animated series, we met Superman X, a clone of our Superman from the 41st Century. He came back in time to seek the Legion's help in fighting a menace from his time, Imperiex, unfortunately and ultimately this only led to the villain going back in time to the Legion's present to raise hell. When we last saw our heroes, they had returned to the 31st Century only to find their headquarters and New Metropolis a burning smoking ruin in Imperiex's wake.

Finding Phantom Girl in the wreckage, the time lost Legionnaires learn that it wasn't Imperiex that caused all the destruction, it was "…all of them…" When a building falls nearby after an explosion, the Legionnaires see their teammates surrounded by a cadre of villains from the Fatal Five and Light Speed Vanguard, the latter now referred to as the Legion of Super-Villains by Brainiac 5.

In the ensuing battle, full of terrific superhero action, and surprising teamwork between the villains, there are a few notable moments. One is Matter-Eater Lad taking a few bites out of the Emerald Eye of Ekron, and another is Lightning Lad's concern over Saturn Girl. The traditional Legion romances are apparent here in the cartoon. Bouncing Boy is similarly worried over Luornu's missing self. M-E Lad is amusingly left delirious from his ingestion of the Eye, as he was in comics after eating the Miracle Machine. Other Legionnaires are also down for the count. Colossal Boy curiously did not return to normal size when he was harmed.

Taken prisoner, the Emerald Empress confesses how all the villains on prison planet Takron-Galtos had been released by Imperiex, and the Legion team sent to round them up, imprisoned in their place. The Legion regroups for an assault on Takron-Galtos to save their teammates, but first they need reinforcements. There's one more Legionnaire they can summon…

Brainy goes back in time and retrieves Superman. No longer 'young' Superman, this is an older more experienced Superman, probably aged between seasons about as much as the rest of the Legion has. He's not impressed by his future clone, referencing a teammate from the 21st Century (obviously Batman but unnamed) who also 'doesn't play well with others.' Superman X doesn't care for his ancestor either, but then again, he doesn't like anyone. The joke of someone saying "Superman," and them both answering is funny once, but gets old fairly quickly.

When Imperiex attacks Computo to gain access to all of the Legion's secrets, only Superman X and Brainiac 5 are available to fight him off, but with the help of Validus, they are beaten easily. Unfortunately Imperiex now has all the knowledge he needs to defeat the Legion, as well as control of their technology. And it's time for all of us old school Legion fans to once again say "I told you so" regarding Computo. Never a good idea, never.

When Imperiex blows up the Legion cruiser, the heroes use one of Chameleon Boy's father's ships, implying his wealth, a hint about R.J. Brande. While Superman X foolishly goes off alone against Imperiex, the Legion heads to Takron-Galtos to free their friends from the villains holed up there. The hotheaded clone returns to save the day with a Pulp Fiction quote when the Legion is defeated by the villains.

The episode ends with name changes and alliances. While Triplicate Girl, bonding even closer with Bouncing Boy chooses the name Duo Damsel for her now reduced super-powered self, and to cleanse confusion, Superman X is christened Kell-El, for no apparent reason other than not to be called Superman. We end on Imperiex forming an alliance with the Dominators, which does not bode well at all.

A few things should be noted about Imperiex. First he was not a Legion foe, and as far as I know did not face them in the comics. This monstrous big bad, who had taken over the Warworld with the power of the big bang and used that force to attempt to destroy the Earth, caused a temporary alliance between heroes and villains to fight him, and was responsible for the loss of millions of human lives. He is the by-product of the flood of earth-shattering menaces typical of such crossover events as Our Worlds at War.

Here however in the "Legion," Imperiex is a cipher, a blank slate on which the showrunners could build a new villain. In this way, he is whatever they want him to be, freeing up expectations to create something the casual viewer is not expecting, and expectation is always the foe of adaptations of source material. I have to hand it to the showrunners here, they are keeping us guessing with concepts like Imperiex and Superman X. On the former, however, I just wish his origins were not so similar to Kang the Conqueror, at least on the time travel front.

This episode was epic, but already I tired of invulnerable Imperiex and intolerable Superman X. I look forward to new adventures, without them, of this newer and older Legion.

Next: Cry Wolf!

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