The Legion of Super Heroes Animated Series: Episode #5: “Champions”

All right, it is time to do another liveblog of the latest episode of the Legion of Super Heroes animated series. This week’s episode is Episode # 5 and is entitled “Champions” and evidently centers on Lightning Lad competing against his greatest rival in the Galactic Games. Sounds interesting. Let’s hit it.

The show begins with various aliens competing in the Galactic Games coming live from Olympus 12. We see Lightning Lad getting ready to compete in a race. We see the Diplomatic skybox. The announcers mention peace talks with the Khunds that didn’t go so well. They joke that they don’t start a war.

The announcers then introduce the favorite for the race. It is none other than Mekt Ranzz. (You might know him better as Lightning Lord!) Lightning Lad is despondent. He didn’t know that his brother was going to be competing in the race. And cue that snappy theme song.

Lightning Lad asks Mekt why he is here. Lightning Lad says that this race has always been his specialty. Lightning Lad asks Mekt why he always has to upstage him. Mekt says that Lighting Lad isn’t the best in the galaxy. Lighting Lad responds that he is going to crush his brother. Both go off to their vehicles to get ready for the race.

Superman and Phantom Girl then fly off to the Diplomatic skybox. Phantom Girl is not really thrilled to go sit with her mother. We see then see Phantom Girl’s mom who is the President of the U.P. Superman plays the nervous country boy claiming that he has never met a President before. When Phantom Girl’s mom leaves, P.G. mocks Superman’s “aw shucks” meeting with her mother.

The race starts and we see Lightning Lad and Mekt immediately start “swapping paint” as the NASCAR aficionados would say. Lightning Lad manages to win the first leg and Mekt comes in second place.

We cut back to Phantom Girl and Superman sitting with Phantom Girl’s mother. The President tells them that the two of them make a cute couple. Phantom Girl is mortified. Superman responds that they are just friends. Phantom Girl then grabs Superman and tells her mom that they are going to get a snack. Superman tells P.G. that her mom means well. Phantom Girl complains that her mom doesn’t have a clue.

Superman’s x-ray vision suddenly spies a bomb hidden inside the bottom of the Diplomatic skybox. Superman rips open the hull and pulls out the bomb. Superman flies it into space and throws the bomb far away. The bomb then explodes. This bomb can create a tiny bit of dark matter that can suck up half a planet. Superman just barely manages to outrace the vortex from the bomb. Phantom Girl then meets up with Superman and tells him that someone must be trying to kill her mom.

Phantom Girl and Superman then proceed to search the crowd at the Galactic Games for anything suspicious. Superman’s x-ray vision reveals that the pinwheel vender is a holo-disguise. It is actually Tharok. Tharok makes a run for it and Superman chases him. Superman confronts Tharok and Tharok throws his pinwheels at Superman and they stick to his face. Superman blasts them off with his heat vision. Unfortunately, Tharok has escaped. Superman tells Phantom Girl that Emerald_Empress must be cloaking Tharok.

The second leg of the race appears to be like freestyle ski jumping on a surf board. Phantom Girl and Superman tell Lightning Lad about the Fatal_Five trying to blow up the Diplomats. They tell Lighting Lad that they can handle everything and for him to go ahead and compete in the event since he has trained all year for it. Mekt then shows up and he and Lightning Lad proceed to play alpha male by trading insults and threats.

We shift to the surfing/jumping event. Lighting Lad pulls of his freestyle jump with plenty of cool tricks. Mekt then pushes another contestant into the landing area which causes Lighting Lad to totally screw up his landing. This causes the judges to take points from Lightning Lad’s score.

We see Superman searching the crows for the Fatal Five. Superman spies Mano. Mano directs a large ship to crash into the Diplomatic skybox. Superman manages to stop it from hitting the skybox.

Phantom Girl then discovers that one of the U.P. guards is really The_Persuader in disguise. The Persuader and Phantom Girl brawl and P.G. starts to kicks some butt and takes down the Persuader.

We then see Superman brawling with Validus. (Be careful, Supes, that is Lightning Lad’s son!) Validus squashes Superman and then runs off.

We shift back to the competition where we are entering the final event which is a 500 meter dash across the lava canyon complete with obstacles on the race course. (Hey! We have a Tenzil Kem aka Matter_Eater_Lad sighting!) Kem is one of the athletes in the event. Kem is taken down by one of the large metal orb shaped obstacles on the course. We then see Kem proceed to begin to eat his way out from under the metal obstacle.

Lighting Lad is in the lead with Mekt right behind him. Lightning Lad saves his brother from being blasted by a laser. Mekt then jumps up and takes the lead. Mekt then activates a bomb which causes part of the course to give way. Lighting Lad avoids it, but stops to save another contestant from falling to his death in the lava. This enables Mekt to cross the finish line and to win the event. Mekt gets the gold medal. Lighting Lad gets the silver medal. Mekt rubs it in on Lighting Lad.

We cut to the award ceremony with all the winners of the various events. One of the winners mentioned by the announcers is Jo Nah of Rimbor! Ultra_Boy, baby! During the medal ceremony, Mekt takes out a small device and pushes a button. Lighting Lad asks him what it is. Mekt says he has no idea. That he is just paying back a favor. Mekt pushes the button and a laser blasts out of it and it takes down the shield that was covering the awards ceremony stage. Suddenly, the Fatal Five appear on the scene now that the shield is down.

The Legionnaires square off against the Fatal Five. The Emerald Empress tells the Fatal Five to grab the President. Emerald Empress grabs the President and then comments that they could not have done this without help from the inside. The Empress then tanks Mekt for his help. Lightning Lad yells at Mekt for letting the Fatal Five in the dome. Mekt says “My bad.” Lighting Lad asks if that is all Mekt has to say for himself. Mekt then says “Good luck, little brother” and then runs off.

The Legionnaires brawl with the Fatal Five. Emerald Empress’ Emerald Eye binds Superman. Superman is unable to break free and his heat vision doesn’t work on the Eye. Suddenly, Ultra Boy is in action. He uses his super strength to punch the Eye far away. Then Ultra Boy uses his ice breath to freeze Emerald Eye. Phantom Girl tells Ultra Boy that he is good. Ultra Boy then turns invulnerable and brawls with Mano. Phantom Girl then comments that he is also cute.

We see the Persuader taking down Lightning Lad. Suddenly, Tenzil Kem appears and proceeds to eat Persuader’s axe. Lighting Lad then gets up and takes out Persuader. We then see Validus swatting Superman away like a fly. Ultra Boy then appears and uses his super speed to stun Validus and then Superman punches out Validus and the big purple guy lands on Emerald Empress taking her out as well. The fight is over. The Legion wins.

We then cut to Lighting Lad confronting his brother, Mekt. Mekt then offers Lightning Lad the gold medal. Lightning Lad tells him to keep his stolen medal so it will remind him of what a jerk he is. Mekt chuckles to himself and says he will see his brother again.

We shift to a medal ceremony where the President is thanking the Legion for their efforts in saving her life. She gives a medal to every Legionnaire except Phantom Girl. The President tells P.G. that it would be bad politics to hang a medal on her daughter. The President then begins to embarrass Phantom Girl by asking about her dating life and how some of the other male Legionnaires look cute. The President then suggests that a more colorful outfit might help P.G. get a date. End of episode.

This was a great episode and probably my favorite one so far for two big reasons: Ultra Boy and Matter Eater Lad. I love both characters and it was great to see the two of them appear in this episode. Seeing Matter Eater Lad chomp away at Persuader’s axe was classic! And of course, watching Ultra Boy save Superman not just once, but twice was awesome. Ultra Boy is a great character and I hope that he appears again at some point.

Of course, it was great to see Mekt in this episode. Who doesn’t love them a little Lighting Lord? This animated version of Mekt is a bit different. He is still a jerk, but he isn’t a super villain…yet. I have a feeling that good ol’ Mekt is going to appear in a later episode and will have gained his lightning powers. Hopefully, Mekt will bring with him the rest of the Legion of Super Villains so we can have one entertaining fight between them and the Legionnaires. I’d love to see the designs that the animators of this series would give the Legion of Super Villains.

I think it is clearly only a matter of time before Lighting Lord and his buddies make an appearance. This episode merely laid the foundation for it. Viewers unfamiliar with the Legion have now been introduced to Mekt and understand his relationship with Garth and also know what a jerk Mekt truly is. Now, the animators can introduce Lighting Lord at a later date and build off this episode.

Phantom Girl was great in this episode. I absolutely love her character. She is much more interesting and has more personality in this animated series than she has ever had in the comic book. The scenes between P.G. and her mom were great. And of course, I liked that P.G. was immediately interested in Jo Nah who has been her long time boyfriend over in the comic book. (Just ignore the current version where Jo is with Shadow Lass. P.G. has liked Ultra Boy ever since Adventure Comics #316 back in 1964. I’ll take 40 years of history of those two characters together over the current 2 year version that DC wants me to believe. Thanks.) Oh look at that, I took a shot at the comic book while reviewing the animated series. I apologize. At any rate, it was great to see the animators show that there is an automatic connection between Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy.

What has really impressed me about this animated series has been the creative team’s knowledge and appreciation for the Legion’s history. In fact, it seems the animated series creative team seems to have more respect for the Legion’s history than the comic book creative team. (Damn it, I took another shot at the comic. Sorry. Sometime I can’t help myself.) The creative team using Tenzil Kem is a perfect example of this. Good old Matter Eater Lad is a classic Legion character that has pretty much been ignored in modern Legion history.

Another excellent example of the creative team knowing the Legion history and having fun with long time Legion fans who are watching this cartoon would be when the announcers mentioned the negotiations with the Khunds not going so well and then joking that they hope it doesn’t start a war. This was a playful reference to the Earthwar storyline that ran from Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes #241-245 and in my opinion is the second greatest Legion story arc ever. I’ll reserve the number one spot for the Great Darkness Saga. This reference to the war with the Khunds was a nice little throw away line for long time Legion fans that certainly will go unnoticed by the kiddies that this series is targeting.

All in all Episode #5 was another great episode. The creative team is doing an excellent job and I thought that “Champions” was a fun story. You had plenty of action and adventure for the young viewers and several nice references in the story for the older long time Legion fans. This Legion of Super Hero Animated Series continues to impress me with each and every episode. It is rare that I find a cartoon superior to its comic book counterpart, but that is certainly the case in this situation.

2 Comments

  1. Few things have done my heart as good as seeing Tenzil pop up on the show, and that was even before he chomped through the Atomic Axe. Seeing Jo in action was incredibly cool too, but nothing compared to seeing my man Tenzil kicking butt. Too bad he didn’t get any lines.

  2. If you TiVoBlog the episode intead of liveblog, you get to see some of the hidden stuff that’s only there for a second or two. There was a lot of interlac use in this episode. In one short scene, after the first race, the leader board listed “Jo Nah”, “Tenzil Kem”, and “Drake Burroughs” as competitors. A sign in the stadium later read “Bat Man Lives”. Although why they named M-E Lad as “Camden Mismullion” I have no idea.

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