Superman on Television

Legion of Super Heroes: Episode Reviews

Season 2 - Episode 13: "Dark Victory - Part 2"

Reviewed by: Jeffrey Bridges

3Rating - 3 (out of 5): This was kind of a mess. If I were rating it on story alone, it would be a 2. But the sentiment behind a lot of the nonsense was right, especially in the case of Superman, so that brought it up a point for me.

The Thanagar appearance was nice to see, as was the very brief memorial line for Superman, but it went downhill from there.

Kel feeling like he has no purpose was great, but his suddenly having a mind-link or connection with Superman because he was cloned with him was a horrible deus ex. There was never any previous established connection between clone and original, it was simply a way they could have the Legion know Superman was still alive... without them actually having any way to know that.

The entire subplot about Superman's "death" was made extraneous and pointless by their choice to have him not actually be dead, but in self-imposed suspended animation so he didn't die from the Kryptonite. Or rather, that was fine, but the solution to "fix" him... they just instantly think of a blood transfusion from Kel, who is immune to Kryptonite? Dubious science aside, why didn't they do that in the first place, before Superman "died"? It's not like it was difficult for them to think of doing or incredibly risky or Kel refused or... any number of reasons that would have made that work.

It's just another deus ex on top of the first deus ex, and what kills me most about that is they didn't need to do EITHER of them. Superman was shot INTO A YELLOW SUN. He didn't need Kel to rescue him, didn't need a transfusion. The sun alone, at that close proximity, would have been enough to craft a believable reason for him to be cured. Instead we get two deus exes that lead into still more... it's a slippery slope. Once you use one, it leads to more problems and more of them follow until your story is almost nothing but, which is exactly what this episode devolved into at the end.

Superman and Kel have to both be projected into Brainy's mind, since they're weak from deus ex #2. So they go and are pretty easily defeated and their... projected minds are being digitized? Even though that doesn't make sense, it's simply used to have their projected forms (which are defeated and imprisoned or digitized or... something) project their OWN projected forms (one red and one blue, so even though the entire idea is ludicrous and senseless, there's a nice nod to the Superman Red/Blue stories in the comics) and combine into a stronger Superman... who only is able to "win" by saying things the normal Superman would have said anyway.

...if he had a reason to say them, anyway.

See, Superman saying Brainy was a hero? Fine, yes, good. Saying he was "my hero!" Well that just makes no sense. What had Brainy ever done for Superman to see him as his own personal hero? Or if that was Kel talking... well the same question applies. It doesn't make any sense, even if the sentiment behind it (that Superman saved Brainy with his belief in his goodness) was right on target.

Brainy punching Brainiac through the head was another "wow" moment for me, but it was ruined by Brainy turning into a "real live boy" shortly thereafter. Of all the things in this episode that didn't make sense, that ranks right at the top.

How can a robot, a completely artificial being, suddenly turn into flesh and blood?

The sentiment behind it was great, of course... as the Brainiac 5 of the comics is a flesh and blood person, and Brainy's reward for finally believing in himself and his own humanity being that be becomes a living humanoid. But there has to be a REASON that happens, and there's not. It just... is.

And now that Imperiex is defeated and a portal to the future opened up, the other Triplicate Girl is back and fine and just pops out of the portal and all is well.

And what was with Brainiac reforming? I mean, that's all well and good, but his line... "evil never dies, it just evolves". But Brainiac doesn't think he's evil! He thinks he's doing the right thing. They just wanted a "cool line to go out on", despite it not making any character sense.

A lot of this episode just fell flat, sadly... kind of like the series as a whole. Why set up Imperiex as the main villain for an entire season, only to have him easily defeated and replaced by a REAL villain (you know, one with motivation) in the last episode?

The biggest problem this show faced, though, was in never deciding what it wanted to be. At times it felt geared toward a much younger crowd, and then you get episodes like this where Brainy kills Imperiex, Superman "dies" and Brainy punches right through Brainiac's head.

Much like the story, the tone had no cohesion and I think it cost the show its run. They clearly weren't expecting it to end as they leave things with Brainiac 5 and the original Brainiac on a cliffhanger, but end it has. I think nobody ever knew what to expect from this show... sometimes you'd get great stuff on par with modern superhero classics like Justice League, and other times you'd get ridiculous nonsense on par with Super Friends. The audience didn't know what they were going to get and so they probably stopped watching.

That's sadly probably for the best, as this show, in the state it was in, wasn't really sufficiently serving any of the audience it tried to attract. In trying to appeal to too wide of a base, they ended up alienating them all in some form or other. And they left all kinds of dangling story threads... the Fatal Five, Alexis Luthor... hell, Alexis on her own should have been the main villain of an entire season, and the same goes for Brainiac 5 and his internal battle with his predecessor.

Still, you could condense both seasons into a run of 6 or 8 fairly strong episodes that are certainly worth watching.

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