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Legion of Superheroes Cartoon
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © 2008

Format: TV
By:   Brandon Vietti (director) and J.M. DeMatteis (writer)
Genre:   Superhero cartoon
Review Date:   April 25, 2008
RevSF Rating:   7/10 (What Is This?)

When I was 8, I would have gone crazy for this cartoon. I like it now. But when I was 8, if there had been a cartoon with 3 dozen superheroes, I would not have been able to handle it.

But then, if 8-year-old me time-traveled to today, where superhero movies come out every week and TV shows are on shiny little frisbees, that would blow my mind, too. But comic books that cost a zillion bucks would rein me in.

DC Comics' Legion of Superheroes has been around since the 1950s, so it's neat for it to be on TV, strictly for the years it's put in. I want them to be on Smallville. Get three or four hip young actors and have them smack some sense into Clark and you're done.

"We came back in time to tell you that Chloe is awesome and you are stupid."

One of the Legion cartoon writers is J.M. DeMatteis, a veteran comics writer who had a long run on the Legion comics. Getting the writer of the source material to write the adaptation? That's crazy.

The character designs are not exactly top notch. Timber Wolf has a flat head. Lightning Lad goes from stringbean to musclehead in between seasons. Superboy has a shapely hourglass figure. All the male characters have gigantic Adam's apples. I can't not look at them.

Like every other DC cartoon, its makers know their stuff. Good and bad guys from Legion trivia are all over the show. The Legion comic book had its own future alphabet, Interlac, which was decoded in the letters column. The Legion cartoon contains Easter eggs in scenes with messages in Interlac. That is hardcore.

Superboy is the star, but the individual heroes are the best part of the comic and the cartoon. Almost every comic-book Legionnaire is in the crowd scenes somewhere, including Tyroc, whose power is he screams really loud, and Matter-Eater Lad, who can eat anything. In every fight scene, you can spot the heroes by their one power. If you're me, you freak out a little bit. Or a lot, if it's Matter Eater Lad.

Legion is 1,000 years in the future of the DC Universe, but they never did stories like that. Not counting Superboy, there has been the occasional time travel or team up, but the book has never been about the futures of modern-day DC heroes.

The cartoon, though, does it several times. Superboy references Batman once. My favorite episode has Kandor, a classic bit of Superman arcana, the Krypton city shrunk to the size of a milk jug by Superman villain Brainiac. His descendant is Legionnaire Brainiac 5, but he's a good guy. In the series finale, naturally he is taken over by great- great- great-grandpa.

There are two tiny 4-episode DVD sets at this writing. DC Comics nerds should watch Legion anyway, or turn in your badge.

Anyone else can like it, too, and here's why. It has space battles with armies of superheroes fighting robots and spaceships. That's some good geek.

RevolutionSF senior editor Joe Crowe wishes he could scream really loud.

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