Superman on Television

Legion of Super Heroes: Episode Reviews

Season 2 - Episode 5: "The Karate Kid"

Reviewed by: Jeffrey Bridges

1Rating - 1 (out of 5): What a complete and utter mess.

Characters are forced to do and say things they wouldn't simply to move the story forward, and don't do or say the things they should. I speak chiefly of Superman, and that is never going to sit well with me.

If it had been Kell-El it would have worked and not bothered me, but Superman doesn't do these things.

First, Cosmic Boy tells Chameleon Boy to cover the exit because it's the only way off the space station Grimbor is robbing. Seeing a hologram of Grimbor, Chameleon Boy tries to stop him, thus enabling the real Grimbor to escape. Cosmic Boy chastises Chameleon Boy for this, but frankly I side with Chameleon Boy here. He was doing what he thought was right, trying to stop Grimbor from escaping. To be angry at Chameleon Boy for that makes Cosmic Boy come off like an idiotic, controlling jerk.

It also made absolutely zero sense how Cos claimed Chameleon Boy was on the mission to give him a chance to display "leadership skills". There were only THREE people on the mission, and never once was Chameleon Boy actually in charge or calling the shots. He deferred to Cos and Superman, so how is that a leadership role? That's not even forced, it's just flat-out wrong, and it's the justification for moving Chameleon Boy to the night shift and replacing him with Nemesis Kid. There is absolutely zero justification for that.

Superman travels to what most people believe is only a rumor, asteroid K19, where a bunch of gladiators fight. How would Superman know about it, not even being a native of the 31st century? And not only that, what would possess him to want to enter combat in the arena and fight all comers just to try and find one more Legion member? There was no real motivation there, even if it did provide a chance for Karate Kid to show the audience his worth.

Superman then brings Karate Kid back and introduces him as a Legion member... and nobody accepts it and assigns him to laundry duty?! Okay, if Nemesis Kid had done that, I'd expect that response, because he's new and they don't know him very well. But this is SUPERMAN. The best there is, even by Legion standards. They went into the past just to get HIM and revere him and they don't listen to him when he says Karate Kid is worth being a Legionnaire?

I don't buy that. Not at all.

And does Superman stand up for Karate Kid? No. Nah. Why would he? He only found him and believes in him and brought him to the Legion. But they want to act like he's worthless and make him do laundry? Well, that's okay by Superman!

Not any Superman *I* know, actually. That angered me more than anything else in the episode. Superman should have told them Karate Kid deserved a fair shot and should have seen to it that he got it. But Superman did none of those things and that's just incredibly out of character.

And it only gets worse when Chameleon Boy points out how his mission replacement, Nemesis Kid, isn't exactly being of all that much help. Superman tells him that Karate Kid is making the best of the situation and training to improve, implying Chameleon Boy isn't up to snuff, and in short telling him to just stop whining.

It's so anti-Superman to me that I just don't comprehend it. Superman should be standing up for Chameleon Boy's worth, too, but instead he just goes along with the rest of the misguided Legion and it doesn't ring true.

I don't think Superman's ever been more out of character on this show than he was in this episode, which is probably why this episode has made me angrier than any other.

It also sends a dubious message to kids, I think. Hey kids, if people don't believe in you, just do what you're told and keep practicing in the mean time, and wait for some magical powerful hand from above to come and grant you what you wish... it may never happen, but keep trying anyway!

What is that? That's garbage, if you ask me. If someone doesn't believe in you, no, you don't give up. You don't accept the hand you're dealt, you send the cards back and get new ones. You find someone else who DOES believe in you, or you find a way to show them why they SHOULD believe in you.

Which, of course, is exactly what Karate Kid does. But it's not what Superman says he should do! Listen to Superman, kids, and always do what you're told without question or thought and just maybe some day you'll win the lottery!


There are other plot holes, such as why Grimbor was stealing things when he never used to. That question is even brought up by the Legion, but never addressed. Grimbor seems to have no motivation at all. Sure he says he's going to turn the captured Legion members in to Imperiex for a reward, but that came off as an aside to me, and I'll tell you why. If all Grimbor wanted was to capture the Legion, why keep stealing item after item and only on the third time, when you're not actually stealing anything, leave the clue that sets the trap?

It doesn't make sense. He'd be trying to leave clues to set the trap from the very beginning if that was his main motivation, but he doesn't do that at all. Perhaps there was a scene left on the editing room floor that explained this, but even so it resulted in another episode with another villain with no (or slim) motivation. Evil for the sake of someone to fight, and no thank you, I'd like more from a villain.

Still, that pales in comparison to the problems with Superman in this episode. If an episode can't even get Superman right and keep him in character, the rest of it has no chance.

Back to the "Legion of Super Heroes: Episode Reviews" Contents page.

Back to the main TELEVISION page.