Monday, October 15, 2018

Legion of Superheroes S02 E07: Unnatural Alliances

"Unnatural Alliances" was directed by James Tucker and written by Brandon Vietti. Original Airdate: November 17, 2007. Review by Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane.

Mission Monitor Board: Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Duo Damsel, Star Boy, Superman X.

Opponents: Terra-Man and Imperiex (Sort of...)

A gang of futuristic bikers arrive at a small ranch and demand to see someone named Abel. Their leader is an updated version of the classic Superman villain, Terra-Man, looking a lot different than the old West cowboy in the comics. He is just about to shoot a kindly old woman when the Legion arrive. The groups battle, but the Legion is unable to stop Terra-Man from locating Abel, who turns out to be a small boy. Fortunately, Superman X rescues Abel and the Legion is able to trap Terra-Man and his gang by dropping a huge boulder on them.
Everyone is very confused as to why Terra-Man would be after a young child. We learn that Abel is an orphan and that the older woman who was caring for him was actually a robot. Sadly, she was destroyed during the battle, leaving Abel alone. The Legion take Abel into their protection and after they leave the planet, Terra-Man and his gang blast free.

Later, Brainiac 5 and Duo Damsel are running tests on a piece of metal that came loose from Terra-Man, and discover that it has regenerative properties. Brainiac 5 recognizes it as 41st Century technology, which means it is from the same time period as Superman X. Meanwhile Kal was sent to check on Abel.  Despite being really, really bad with children, Abel somehow seems to take a liking to our grumpy Superman clone.  Suddenly their ship comes under attack by a massive wave of Destructo-bots sent by Imperiux. He demands they turn over Abel, and of course they refuse.
Superman X gives Abel a Legion flight ring for protection and the Legion attempt to blast their way through the Destructo-Bots. Star Boy and Kal fly out to protect the ship, while Terra-Man and his gang sneak up under the ship and breach the hull.
Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, and Duo Damsel confront Terra-Man, but are unable to stop him escaping the ship with Abel. Star Boy and Superman X also fail to rescue the boy, and manage to get themselves captured.
Shockingly, it is Imperiex who comes to their rescue by taking down Terra-Man and his gang. He tries to leave with Abel but is confronted by Superman X. Imperiex explains that by saving Abel he is insuring his own future. He says that the boy is destined to grow up and invent the technology that combines living tissue and robotics, the very technology that he is made of. Superman X realizes that if something were to happen to Abel, his own world could possibly be saved from Imperiex.
Superman X also realizes that Terra-Man is on the same mission that he is, to save the future by changing the past. Imperiex offers him the chance to eliminate Abel to fulfill his mission, but his instincts are proven correct when Kal fails to take it. Later, Superman X is troubled by his failure to take the opportunity given by Imperiux but Duo Damsel reassures him that he made the right call.

They are interrupted by the arrival of Terra Man, who drops the bomb that not only is he from the same time period as Superman X, but was also created by K3NT because Kal had failed in his mission. Rather than fight, however, Superman X offers to help him track down and destroy Imperiex.
Meanwhile, Imperiex and Abel have stopped on an asteroid for the night while he sends his ship on its way, knowing it's being tracked by Terra Man.  At Abel's request, Imperiex proceeds to tell the worst bed-time story ever of his own life story, likely leaving Abel scarred for life.
Terra Man figures out Imperiex's ruse and tracks him to the asteroid. As his gang approaches, he notices that Superman X has disappeared and he knows they have been double-crossed. Superman X finds Imperiux and suggests they work together to stop Terra Man. He has come to the realization that his true purpose is to stop the innocent from his corruption, and that the innocent includes Abel.
The two allies confront Terra Man, although Imperiex is clearly taking some perverse pleasure in having Superman X assisting him. Working together, they quickly take down Terra Man for good.
Imperiex is impressed by Superman X, but notes that he cannot let Kal leave alive. He attacks but fortunately the Legion arrive and he chooses to flee over continuing the battle, knowing Abel is now safe. As the Legion take Abel to a new home, a much friendlier Kal visits and gives him a present.

This was an intriguing episode, although more so in concept than in execution. The idea of Superman X having to ally himself with Imperiex is an interesting one, and basing it on the need to save a young child provides a good opportunity to soften and humanize Kal. There are some nice moments throughout, especially for Superman X, who I have had a difficult time connecting with throughout this season.  Unfortunately, those moments do not amount to a very engaging episode overall. It is a bit of a let down after the high point of the last one, particularly since I did appreciate what they were going for.

I was initially excited to see Star Boy show up because it is always fun to see a more expanded Legion roster than we got in the first season. He was not given much to do though beyond some exposition and a nice moment or two in the battle scenes.

Overall, I certainly would not call this a bad episode but I do not think I would necessarily call it a good one. Perhaps "serviceable" would be the better description. Some nice concepts that just did not gel into a particularly memorable episode.

Next: Message in a Bottle!

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