Monday, September 25, 2006

Legion of Superheroes

When Cartoon Network cancelled Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans, it left a big void in my life where awesome cartoons based on comic books should be. When I heard that they were making an animated series based on Legion of Superheroes, another one of DC's classic superteams (debuting back in the 50s), I hoped to Odin himself that it would be able to comfort my grieving. It debuted the morning of Saturday, September 23rd on the new hybrid network CW, and I did something I haven't done in years: Made sure I didn't miss a Saturday morning cartoon. I can say from that return to childhood tradition that the latest superhero confection has a lot of promise.
For the unititated, the Legion of Superheroes is a teenage superteam from the 31st century, which is known for having almost 100 members over it's history(I've counted). Each member of the Legion is usually a one-trick pony in the powers department (and in the case of many of them, a pony who's one-trick is downrigh bizarre, as in the case of cartoon core cast member Bouncing Boy). Now, the 31st century is a futuristic society where humans and aliens from all sorts of planets live peacefully. However, it wouldn't be a very exciting superhero show if the people actually lived peacefully, would it? So they're threatened by supervillains on a regular basis.
In the first episode, a particular group of villains(the Fatal Five, a regular in the comics that will likely be their most frequent adversaries on the show) causes 3 Legionnaires to go back in time and recruit the hero all people in the future idolize...Superman. They end up in Supes' teen years, when he still lives in Smallville with Ma & Pa Kent and is just getting used to his alien powers(I still haven't figured out whether travelling to this time period was intentional or not). After they meet and talk to him for a spell, he is convinced to come to the future with them. He gets there, meets the rest of the crew and has a semi-rivalry with field leader Lightning Lad, leading him to temporarily 'quit' the group. After finding a museum dedicated to his adult self, he becomes inspired, dons the blue-and-red and comes to the rescue of the team. He decides to stay in the future (because his buddies can drop him off at the exact moment he left, so no worried parents), everyone is happy, hurray.
The first episode does the origin thing pretty well. We get a good idea of how the stories and character interactions will work out in the future (Superman/Superboy will struggle to learn his powers and will have a continuing friendly rivalry with Lightning Lad), and an introduction to most of the recurring cast (including Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, the aformentioned Bouncing Boy, Triplicate Girl and Phantom Girl, who's wide, unblinking eyes scare the crap out of me.) The first episode probably won't be very indicative of the overall quality of the show, as more time might be needed to truly develop the characters and writing to it's peak (this is expected, as both Justice League and Teen Titans improved as time passed.) Even so, I already see some endearing and entertaining qualities in it that I am sure will not be squandered (unless the show suffers a premature death by not garnering the viewship of those damn kids).
Hardcore Legion fans might be dissapointed that certain important characters are not featured as prominantly as they should (namely Cosmic Boy, who will be appearing later on, voiced by Wil 'Wesley Crusher/Gordie from Stand By Me/cool blog guy' Wheaton), but I think it has the spirit of the comic well embedded in it. Because it's a Saturday morning cartoon, I'm not really expecting it to reach JLU levels of amazing (although expecting JLU levels of amazing from most things in life might be asking for too much), I will keep watching to see what kind of awesome the show eventually becomes (hopefully). I'm very optimistic about the future of this show set in the future (I'm so lame).

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