Monday, March 11, 2019

Legion of Superheroes S02 E09: In the Beginning

"In the Beginning" was directed by James Tucker and was written by Steven Melching.

Original airdate: March 8, 2008. Review by Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane.

Mission Monitor Board: Brainiac 5,  Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Superman X. Cameos by Blok, Bouncing Boy, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Elemental Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, and Tyroc.

Opponent: Roderick Doyle

R.J. Brande and Cosmic Boy attend a ceremony with some of the Legion to accept an award from the United Federation of Planets. Back at headquarters, Lighting Lad is at the infirmary trying to help Matter Eater Lad recover from injuries by encouraging him to eat something. He is relieved when his friend not only takes a bit of his food but also the spoon.
The ceremony comes under attack by Grimbor and a small army. Saturn Girl is at the infirmary recovering with Matter Eater Lad but senses the attack. She and Lighting Lad go to help their teammates, but even with their assistance, the Legion is unable to prevent Brande from being taken.
While the team searches for Brande, Cosmic Boy is surprised to see Saturn Girl recovered so soon. Lightning Lad says that she has been out of her coma for a week and that Cosmic Boy may have noticed if he ever bothered to visit her instead of spending his time accepting awards. An argument starts but Superman X of all people jumps in to break it up.

Later, Superman X asks Brainiac 5 and Chameleon Boy if Rokk and Garth are always like that. Brainiac 5 explains that Superman X would understand their relationship if he knew where their strong, albeit unusual, bond comes from. The episode then flashes back to a very young Rokk Krinn and Garth Ranzz traveling in the steerage section of a large cruiser. After meeting, the two decide to go to the upscale part of the ship to see the richest person in the galaxy who is supposedly aboard.
Once there, they meet a young Imra Ardeen and do a lousy job of trying to impress her with terrible accents and even worse fake names (Charles Buggerjuice?). Even without using her powers she figures out that they are from steerage thanks to the ticket in Lightning Lad's pocket and Cosmic Boy's filthy boots. When it comes up that she is a telepath, the guys show off their own natural abilities. R.J. Brande's arrival interrupts their conversation, and everyone gathers to hear him speak. Imra senses the presence of several assassins and the young trio move to protect Brande. Our heroes rescues a very thankful Brande, and in gratitude, his assistant Roderick offers them lollipops.
Garth feels like their job is done, but Rokk is still troubled. When the ship finally lands on Earth, they find themselves standing before the Superman museum.
Feeling inspired by the legend of Superman, they agree they have a responsibility to protect Brande. Using their powers as a team, they discover the person behind the attack on Brande is his assistant, Roderick Doyle. They track down Brande just in time to save him but fail to stop Doyle from escaping.

Brande is so thankful to his rescuers that he embraces their dream of becoming super-heroes and decides to put all of his funds towards creating the new Legion of Super-Heroes. He also arranges to have them sworn in as honorary members of the Science Police on all member worlds.
Back in the present, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy are arguing when Saturn Girl suddenly gets a telepathic sense of Brande. The team tracks him down and is confronted by Roderick Doyle,  who has been plotting against Brande in the guise of a Senator.
Grimbor and his forces attack the Legion but it does not go well. Doyle tries to flee but is stopped by Cosmic Boy. He tries to kill himself and the Legion by using surrounding satellites to create a black hole.
Most of the Legion is still preoccupied with fighting Doyle's soldiers so it is up to the three founders to stop the formation of the black hole. With their abilities, they quickly destroy the satellites and end the danger.
Doyle, Grimbor, and their army are taken into custody and we get a nice moment of Brande telling his son Cham how proud he is of him. Cosmic Boy apologizes for snapping at Lightning Lad earlier and for not visiting Saturn Girl in the hospital. Saturn Girl assures him that they understand that he was doing his job representing the Legion. Superman X is confused to see them suddenly so close again, but Brainiac 5 assures him it will probably only last until tomorrow.

The show ends with a very touching scene of an early version of the team taking the Legion oath together, followed by a group shot of almost the entire current team in front of their headquarters.
This was fun! A very nice origin episode showcasing the first meeting of the founders, which stayed true in large part to the team's original comics origin. Superman is there as an inspiration and the shots of the Superman museum are especially touching thanks to the classic comic art on display. Brande plays his traditional role as financier and his relationship to Chameleon Boy gets an explicit mention at the end of the episode.

The cartoon keeps its characterization of Cosmic Boy as being a bit difficult to deal with, which I have always found a bit off-putting in this series. They also revert to having Lightning Lad be as argumentative and immature as he was in the beginning. It's acceptable though, as it reminds me of how grown siblings meeting up as adults reverting in many ways to the dynamic they had as children. Imra gets to shine in the action scenes, but it's the two guys who get the more personal focus. The Legion as an adopted family really seems to be the message here, and what Brainiac 5 is trying to convey about their relationship when he is speaking to Superman X. Putting aside the romantic feelings between Garth and Imra, the dynamic between the original founders, particularly Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad, resembles that of siblings.

This episode was just a nice tribute all around to the team and its history. If anyone reading this has never seen an episode of the cartoon, I recommend checking this one out as it does not require a viewer to know much about past episodes or the ongoing storyline of the season.

Next: Trials


  1. I love the idea that Garth, who was frequently shown to be something of a glory hound in the past, would rather spend time visiting his friends in the hospital instead of going to an awards ceremony.

    And he has good bedside manner!

  2. Young Phantom Girl looked weird!