Sunday, January 18, 2009

They are Legion

This past Thursday's episode of SMALLVILLE was a valentine to fans of the fifty-year-old DC team title The Legion of Superheroes. The episode guest-starred the three founding members of the team -- Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and Cosmic Boy (yeah, I know, but it was the fifties). And although previous SMALLVILLE episodes featured watered-down versions of DC characters, this was indeed the Legion from the comics --goofy code names,flight rings, 31-Century slang ("Grife!"), references to the Legion of Substitute Heroes, and all.

By my calculation, this is actually the fourth version of the Legion to appear on TV. The Legion had guest appearances on the '90's animated Superman series and the recent Justice League animated series, as well as its own two-season animated show on the CW. But this was its first live-action adaptation.

The Legion's appearance on this show was apropos. The Legion (specifically, these three Legionnaires) first appeared in the Superboy comics series as a group of far-future teens who were inspired by Superboy's 20th-Century feats; and Superboy remained a member of the Legion for about a quarter of a century. And SMALLVILLE is the spiritual descendent of the Superboy series, although Clark Kent has never been called that. On the other hand, the Superboy who appeared in the comics with the Legion was a teenager, like them. At this point in the long-running SMALLVILLE series, Clark is in his mid-to-late 20's; and agewise is more of a Scoutmaster to the Legion kids than a peer.

Nevertheless, the appearance was a treat. I'd like to see a follow-up episode where Clark Kent heads to the future and meets the rest of the Legion. But depicting the entire Legion would probably blow an entire season's worth of the series budget.

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