DCAU #259: New Kids in Town

IN THIS ONE... The Legion of Super-Heroes must protect young Clark Kent from future Brainiac.

Written by Stan Berkowitz and Rich Fogel; directed by Butch Lukic.

REVIEW: Brainiac again so soon? Scheduling aside, the provides a(nother?) final ending for the Big Bad from Krypton who apparently survives to the 30th Century then goes back in time, Terminator-style (he even uses the T-100's POV), to kill Kal-El before he can become Superman. Three Legionnaires follow - Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and... Chameleon Boy?! (sorry Garth!) - and reenact the original Legion story from Adventure Comics #247, except the whole point isn't to haze Superboy and make him cry. It's better for it.

The other improvement is to give it a character-based reason for it to happen. Though Clark is brainwashed into forgetting these events at the end, its effects on his moral fiber remain. When we catch up with teen Clark at Smallville High, he has yet to grow his acute sense of responsibility and is acting like Peter Parker post-spider bite but pre-death of Uncle Ben, with Kenny Braverman as a stand-in for Flash Thompson (which he always was). He doesn't know his own strength, but really should know better than to use it on other people. Between Lana's chiding and the Legion's strong example (which is a mirror of the example he would eventually give them as Superman), he learns a valuable lesson and seems to have new purpose in the coda. Oh, and he's given the glasses he would eventually use as a disguise, a cute timey-wimey bit.

The episode is full of bold action, each Legionnaire showing their usefulness and Brainiac causing all sorts of destruction. Even Ma and Pa Kent come out of the house with shotguns. The violence level is high, but entertaining. There's that sequence where Clark is attacked by a tractor/thresher, his beating Brainiac up with his own arm (Arm-Fall-Off Lad reference?), and Brainiac's terrifying death, falling into the sun as his skin bubbles away. Great stuff! And as a celebration of Superman history, it's squee-rific too - the panning shot of the larger Legion and Chameleon Boy's fannish "Up up and away!" are highlights.

IN THE COMICS: When Superboy met the Legion originally, there was no mission other that trolling the poor Teen of Steel before asking him to join the team. Lightning Lad was one of the three (along with Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl) who went back in time instead of Chameleon Boy. He's still seen in the flashback(forward?) along with other Legionnaires Brainiac 5 (with mullet), Light(ning) Lass, Bouncing Boy, Triplicate Girl (in Triad outfit), Andromeda, Kid Quantum, Dream Girl, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy. It appears to be a combination of the traditional Legion and the Reboot version. Cosmic Boy has darker skin than he usually does. The Legion flight rings have a fiery glow that was never seen in the comics. Clark's high school nemesis, Kenny Braverman, was introduced after Zero Hour and became the villain Conduit. The heart attack Pa claims Clark almost gave him could be a reference to how Pa died in Pre-Crisis continuity. The thrown tractor is a visual reference to Action Comics #1.

Saturn Girl is played by Melissa Joan Hart AKA TV's Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Chameleon Boy is voiced by Beverly Hills 90210's Jason Priestley. And that's Chad Lowe (Life Goes On, Rob Lowe's younger brother) as Cosmic Boy. For Kenny Braverman, they have Scott Menvill who would go on to voice Robin on the Teen Titans cartoon.

- Solid fun, and especially great for Legion fans like your humble reviewer.


snell said...

Not to be that guy, but Pa (& Ma) died of a rare tropical disease pre-Crisis. It was post-Crisis that Brainiac blew up Pa's barn & caused him to have a heart attack...

Siskoid said...

Am I thinking of the movie?

snell said...

Yesm the Reeve one. Glenn Ford died of a heart attack...

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Since I've been reading through the Legion of Super-bloggers archive (ever since you linked to it for the Legion of Super-pets post), I was very interested to see how you'd review this one.

I'd certainly have liked to see more of the Legion- but approaching it this way, rather than trying to throw in the kitchen sink, resulted in a stronger story. And Ma and Pa coming out with shotguns was probably m favorite part.


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