Saturday, March 08, 2008
A Saturday evening post about a Saturday morning cartoon
After finally getting a taste of the new animated version of The Legion of Super-Heroes via their Johnny DC comic with the ridiculously long title a few weeks back, I picked up a DVD containing the first four episodes of the first season of the cartoon from the library.
I’m not much of a Legion fan, and find that the whole concept tends to get on my nerves, mostly because of all the reboots and time-traveling nonsense that makes the cast of thousands hard for even my superhero trivia focused brain to process (I know some of you have explained that they’re actually a lot less complicated than they look, so maybe I’ve just never had sufficient motivation to conquer that particular corner of the DC Universe).
Anyway, I can honestly say that the experience of watching those few episodes of the cartoon was the most excited I’d ever been about the Legion. I really liked the character designs, and the way in which the uniforms visually echoed one another while never seeming too realistic (like Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s current incarnation of the team) or too dated (the original LOSH) or too Hollywood futuristic (the current Action Comics version of the team). And The Fatal Five looked great; a lot more scary than goofy, which is how they usually look in the comics.
The animation and design on a whole looked like a compromise between that of Teen Titans show, which I loved, and JLU, which I also loved. And they sure did pack the backgrounds with lots of little in-jokes. One episode I saw had the JLU version of Skeets, one of those crazy crystal orb guys with tentacles and Mohawks from the Green Lantern Corps, and a woman from whatever Tomar Re’s race is called walking a giant egg in a hovering baby carriage.
I do have some questions though, for any Legion experts in the reading audience.
—This Brainiac 5 was a shape-changing robot with telescoping limbs. Is there any precedent for this in the comics, beyond the Superman villain with the same name sometimes being a robot? I thought the Legionnaire Brainy was just a green-skinned alien who also happened to be an arrogant prick no one really liked?
—Bouncing Boy turns into an actual giant bouncing ball here. In the comics, I assumed he was just a fat boy that bounces—is his ability to turn into a ball that bounces unique to the show? And wasn’t he always a sub rather than a member of the team in the comics?
—Has there ever been any explanation for why they keep names like –Lad, -Lass, -Boy and –Girl? (And lad? Did they just revere the hell out of Aqualad or what?) I know that seemed appropriate in the ‘60s, when all teenagers in DC comics looked like they were 35, but it really seems dated now, and the Legion stories are all set a thousand years from now, so “dated” is something you would think they’d try to avoid. Especially since they seem to keep trying to reinvent the team every few years.
I think the normal teenage impulse would be to use a more adult name, kinda like when Superboy debuted in “Reign of the Supermen,” he demanded to be called “Superman” rather than “Superboy.”
Particular to the show, it seems odd that teenage Superman goes by Superman, while everyone else goes by a juvenile name, although I understand that likely has more to do with the legal problems of the name “Superboy” than anything else.
—Was there ever a Luthor descendent in the Legion comics, or did the cartoon create theirs out of whole cloth?
—All I’ve seen of season two is the opening sequence, in which everyone looks grungier—longer hair, more facial hair. Is it sometime after the first season? Also, why are there two Supermans all of a sudden?
—How do you guys rate the cartoon? Is it acceptable in terms of a Legion adaptation, or is it seen as a complete travesty?