Season One of The Legion of Super-Heroes…the TV Series.
And not the animated series from the mid-2000’s, I’m talking about the current, on-going, live-action TV series….
Of course (sadly?), I’m also talking about something that doesn’t exist….
Last year, as part of my Weekly Geeky Question series of blogposts, I often found myself (at the behest of My Friend Rod) coming up with plot summaries of non-existent TV shows or movies, or giving my (alternate) take on existing properties. See, for example, Green Lantern, Astro City, the Fantastic Four or Lost.
Well, I’m done with that, but it inspired one of my daughters (the one with the most overt nerd-interests) to ask me to do the same with my favorite comic series, the Legion of Super-Heroes.
I’ve talked about the Legion a lot over the years. In case you don’t know, it’s a DC Comics property which was originally a spin-off of Superboy, about a group of teen-aged superheroes from the future. It’s had a tumultuous publishing history, with a series of fits and starts, and a number of complete continuity resets. But it’s always been about these futuristic exploits, mixing in a lot of science fiction into its super-heroics, and often having an atmosphere of bright optimism about it (a little reminiscent of Star Trek, in some ways).
Part of the challenge with the series (and with the idea of adapting it into a TV show) is that it really tries to live up to the “legion” idea from its title–it’s about a lot of super-heroes, who have all got their own futuristic sounding real names, power sets, home planets, origin stories and back stories (and not to mention, multiple iterations across the series’ many reboots). But nevertheless, we are going to do our level best to reflect a lot of the richness of the show’s heritage here.
Anyway, when my daughter asked me to do this, my first thought was to use a famous arc known as “Earthwar” as my inspiration, as it covered a broad range of Legion concepts and adversaries. My thought was to use flashbacks as necessary to fill in the backstory.
But the more I thought of it, the more backstory there needed to be filled in. Finally, I decided to just set the series further back in Legion history, and use my “Earthwar”-based arc for Season 2. Since then, that’s been revised to Season 3 or maybe even Season 4 or 5.
Anyway, we’ll get there when we get there. For now, we’ll get to Season One. I’m limiting it to eight episodes, just to make it manageable.
Legion of Super-Heroes – Season One
At a futuristic hospital, an emergency team crashes through the doors with a dying patient, struggling to save his or her life. Watching helplessly from a distance is Imra Ardeen, aka Saturn Girl, a telepath from the moons of Saturn. She is injured and dirty from battle, and miserable at her helplessness to prevent the loss of her injured colleague. She is joined by Rokk Krinn, aka Cosmic Boy (a master of magnetism), who hugs her and ask her what’s happened. Imra is so upset she can barely speak…
The story flashes back to some time earlier, as the Legion of Super-Heroes, super-powered teen champions of the 30th Century, are fighting against some criminals. Along with Saturn Girl, there is Triad (a young woman who can split into three identical & independent people), Phantom Girl (a “princess”-like teen who can become immaterial), Invisible Kid (a teen genius who can become invisible), Chameleon (a humanoid alien who can change shape and appearance), Bouncing Boy (an inflatable “goof”), and Lightning Lad. Lightning Lad is Garth Ranzz, an electricity-generating hothead who is clearly attracted to Imra (and she to him), though they have not acted on this. Together the heroes beat the bad guys, and do so with style and humor, clearly enjoying themselves. After the victory, the Legionnaires (who cannot fly) are mobbed by fans. They pause to sign autographs and pose for pictures, etc, in general clearly enjoying things.
As some of her teammates take the criminals to the authorities, and others respond to the demands of the adoring public, Saturn Girl returns to Legion headquarters, where she reports into Cosmic Boy, the team leader. Cosmic Boy goes to the local Science Police headquarters to sort out the paperwork with the captured criminals, while Saturn Girl keeps an eye on their mission monitor board. While there, she gets a message from the planet Naltor, a world of precognitives. The message is from a young woman named Nura Nal, with an urgent message for the Legion…
When Cosmic Boy and the rest of the team eventually return, they find Saturn Girl checking out a report about a potential incursion by a conqueror from another dimension known as Zaryan, who intends to attack the earth. In all of this, Saturn Girl does not mention the message from Naltor.
The Legion investigates, eventually learning that Zaryan is using a planet called Grrx in a nearby system as a staging point for his attack. From there, he plans to use extra-dimensional teleportation technology to bypass the solar system’s defenses and travel directly to the earth’s moon. The Legion decides to mount their defense on the moon.
However, Saturn Girl volunteers to travel to Grrx to learn what she can about Zaryan’s forces. Cosmic Boy approves this and the team all agree it’s a good idea, except for Lightning Lad: Garth feels it’s needlessly dangerous and voices his objections. Things get so heated between him and Cosmic Boy that Cosmic Boy eventually grounds him from the mission, saying that Lightning Lad should stay at headquarters to be on monitor duty and act as backup.
The Legionnaires embark on their missions. On earth, Lightning Lad discovers the video records of Saturn Girl’s conversation with Nura Nal, who apparently had a precognitive vision that a Legionnaire would die facing Zaryan on Grrx–but she couldn’t say which one. Alarmed, Garth heads off to Grrx after Saturn Girl as quickly as he can.
Cosmic Boy’s team works hard and repels Zaryan from the moon, but the result is that Zaryan simply retreats back to Grrx, to prepare to attack again. Meanwhile, Saturn Girl stealthily arrives on Grrx, with a weapon she intends to use to defeat Zaryan in a suicide mission. Suddenly, Lightning Lad arrives, and uses his power to disrupt Zaryan’s interdimensional teleport, sending the invader back to his own dimension. However, in the catastrophic outpouring of energy that follows, Lightning Lad is critically injured.
The story returns to the “present,” in the hospital, and Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy get the tragic news that Lightning Lad has died, fulfilling Nura Nal’s prophesy. The world mourns the loss of the Legionnaire, and the team must come to grips with the real cost of their mission and lifestyle.
As everyone recovers in the days that follow, Cosmic Boy quietly confronts Saturn Girl. He has realized how she covered up the truth of the prediction from Naltor and attempted to sacrifice herself in order to save her teammates. However, he has also realized that she used her telepathic powers to influence him and his leadership decisions, leading to a situation where he allowed her to travel to Grrx alone. Imra has no choice but to confess the truth, even as she laments the fact that her love for Garth prevented her from being able to completely “control” him in the same way. Rokk is sympathetic, but tells Imra in no uncertain terms that if she ever does anything like that again, that that will be the end of her in the Legion.
The Legion is called to provide security for the opening of the Stargates–new technology developed by rich industrialist R.J. Brande which will revolutionize space travel. Nearly the entire time is called in from various off-world assignments, so that present are all the surviving members from the previous episode, as well as Ultra Boy (a “jock” type character with various vision-related powers), Sun Boy (a heat and light generator) and Shrinking Violet (a shy girl with the power to shrink).
R.J. Brande is the financier of the Legion in general, and throughout the episode there are flashbacks which tell the story of how Rokk Krinn, Imra Ardeen and Garth Ranzz all showed the courage to save his life at a critical moment, inspiring Brande to challenge them to form the Legion.
The Stargate opening is interrupted by an attack by Roxxas, the leader of a band of space pirates. During this action, R.J. Brande shares a brief moment of interaction with the Legionnaire Chameleon (whose alien nature limits his ability to communicate).
The Legion are about to set off in pursuit, but are interrupted when the United Planets (the government that they are ultimately responsible to and that earth is part of) insist on a new team member: Gim Allon, aka Colossal Boy, with the power to grow to a huge size. More than that, the United Planets decree that Colossal Boy shall now be the team leader, as Gim has experience as a Science Police officer.
This rankles the team and especially Cosmic Boy, the team’s actual leader, but still he agrees. Colossal Boy assigns a team including himself, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Invisible Kid, Sun Boy, and Phantom Girl to pursue Roxxas. This chase takes the team across the galaxy, and ultimately to Trom, a planet inhabited only by a few thousand citizens who all have the ability to transmute elements at will. Roxxas forces some of them to create a deadly substance which can be used to power a devastating explosive weapon.
A moment of indecision by the overconfident Colossal Boy allows Roxxas to escape capture and to use the weapon against the Trommites themselves, wiping out the whole population.
However, Invisible Kid and Phantom Girl manage to rescue and save one young boy–Jan Arrah, the son of the planet’s leader. With his help, and under Cosmic Boy’s renewed leadership, the team is able to stop Roxxas and prevent him from doing further damage.
Meanwhile, the Stargate network is opened successfully.
Jan Arrah begins to recover from the trauma of losing his entire world, and Cosmic Boy offers him membership in the Legion. Jan says he will consider it. Meanwhile, Colossal Boy is full of guilt about what happened, but Saturn Girl encourages him to stay with the team.
A mission arises on Planet Xanthu, a colony world in the United Planets, in which strange creatures are appearing on different parts of the planet and attacking settlements. Cosmic Boy assigns a team to investigate, led by Ultra Boy (Jo Nah) and including Phantom Girl (Tinya Wazzo) and Bouncing Boy (Chuck Taine). On the journey, Jo connects with Tinya–the two are from very different backgrounds, with Jo being a rough former gang member living on the streets, and Tinya being the daughter of a diplomat who is used to high society. They are clearly attracted to one another.
In the course of their conversation, we learn that Ultra Boy got his powers when he was swallowed whole by a bizarre creature in space. Since then, he has been imbued with an “ultra energy” that he can direct toward different abilities with his eyes (eg. “Penetra-Vision” or “Flash Vision”, allowing him to see through things or shoot beams of energy).
Xanthu itself is guarded by a champion called Star Boy, aka Thom Kallor, a youth whose power far exceeds the Legion itself. Star Boy’s resents the Legion’s presence and he and Ultra Boy clash over how to deal with things. The tension is even greater when Star Boy openly flirts with Phantom Girl.
In the course of the investigation, Ultra Boy realizes that there is a connection between the creatures that are appearing and the beast that once swallowed him. They eventually determine that all the creatures are the result of experiments that have been done for years by a Xanthu scientist named Mardon King, who has been operating secretly from a remote island.
In the course of battling him and his creatures, it is also revealed that the radiation from his activities are also what gave Star Boy his powers. At a critical moment, King is able to reverse the process, and Star Boy loses his powers permanently, and is badly injured. However, Bouncing Boy is able to step in at the last second and rescue him, saving his life.
The Legion seems unable to defeat King’s creatures, but from what they have learned about the origin of his powers, and with Tinya’s encouragement, Ultra Boy discovers he can channel his “ultra-energy” to other abilities beyond ones related to his eyes. He finds he is able to give himself enhanced strength, flight, and invulnerability–though only one ability at a time. With this, he is able to surprise and defeat Mardon King.
Invisible Kid introduces the Legion to a new piece of technology: rings that enable the wearer to fly.
Everyone congratulates him on his technical wizardry, but he declines credit, saying it instead belongs to “Brainiac”–a mysterious Legionnaire whom most of the team has never met because he spends all his time locked away in a lab. Many of the team consider Brainiac 5 a practical joke that Cosmic Boy and Invisible Kid are playing on them, and don’t believe he really exists.
When prisoners on the newly established prison world of Takron-Galtos take over a Science Police weapons armory and take numerous officers prisoner, the Legion must find a way to intervene and save the hostages. Invisible Kid, Chameleon, Shrinking Violet and Triad form an “espionage squad” that infiltrates and diffuses the situation. Invisible Kid leads the team, but Chameleon is the hero of the day when his powers prove instrumental to stopping the villains. Science Police Officer Lt. Kimball Zendak, previously suspicious of the Legion, becomes more accepting of them as a result.
Meanwhile, Bouncing Boy visits the injured Star Boy in the hospital, expressing sympathy from the Legion for what has happened to him. He offers Star Boy an opportunity to join the Legion, should he ever regain his powers. Afterwards, a visit from Xanthu officials informs the dejected Star Boy that the government is looking at other super-powered officials to take his place as the world’s “champion.”
Concurrent to all this, Imra Ardeen (Saturn Girl) is at Lightning Lad’s memorial, mourning his loss, when she is called by Cosmic Boy and sent on a mission. She travels with Sun Boy and Colossal Boy to some nearby space lanes where there are rumors of ships being threatened by some sort of strange monster. They go to a dark planetoid where such a ship has crashed, and find themselves menaced by a huge, spider-like creature that calls itself “Tangleweb”.
Just as they are about to be killed, bolts of lightning suddenly lance out from night and strike Tangleweb, sending him away fleeing. Imra can only see a distant silhouette of a person–apparently the source of the lightning. “Garth?” she asks, in shock.
Imra pursues the mysterious figure, but they disappear too quickly to be identified.
Cosmic Boy sends Ultra Boy and Invisible Kid as reinforcements to join Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy and Sun Boy in attempting to find and defeat Tangleweb. Saturn Girl herself is more concerned with figuring out who assisted them with lightning on their first encounter. She eventually discovers that this is Ayla Ranzz, Garth’s twin sister who has decided she wants to join the Legion to honor her brother. In flashbacks, we see how Garth and Ayla, along with their reckless older brother Mekt, crashed onto the planet Kembal and were all given powers when they were attacked by local lightning monsters there. Since then, Mekt has disappeared and is suspected of being involved in criminal activities. Imra recalls that looking for Mekt was in fact why Garth was coming to earth on the day that they met.
Meanwhile, Invisible Kid (“the brain”) and Ultra Boy (“the jock”) clash on how to handle Tangleweb, and Colossal Boy proves his leadership skills by getting the team to work together. They discover that Tangleweb is actually one of the earlier and more intelligent results of Mardon King’s experiments. Tangleweb is now attacking local ships to find food (people!). Eventually, thanks to effective use of all four heroes’ powers, Tangleweb is defeated.
Meanwhile, back on earth, Cosmic Boy finds himself embroiled in a political crisis, when the United Planets, led by representative Vidar, demands tighter oversight of the Legion’s activities. Cosmic Boy’s frustration grows and he privately complains to R.J. Brande that he seems to spend all his time just administrating things, rather than actually being a super-hero. R.J. Brande however, is distracted by some sabotage at some of his industrial facilities. Cosmic Boy realizes that the sabotage is part of a plot to ruin Brande and eventually kill him, which is being perpetrated by his disgruntled cousin Doyle. Indeed, Doyle is the one who was also behind the assassination plot that caused the Legion to be formed in the first place. Cosmic Boy is able to position the remaining Legionnaires on earth at various Brande facilities, anticipating Doyle’s moves and capturing him.
Cosmic Boy and R.J. Brande are both surprised when Doyle is killed in police custody.
Imra brings Ayla Ranzz to earth, where she applies to join the Legion. She joins as a replacement for her brother, and calls herself Lightning Lass. At the same time, Jan Arrah approaches the team and asks to be considered for membership as well. He joins as Element Lad. The new members begin to undergo some basic Legion training.
Investigating Doyle’s death, Cosmic Boy discovers that he had connections to the planet Dominus, where a species called the Dominion live. The Dominion have been at odds with earth and the United Planets for many years. Cosmic Boy is warned by United Planets council member Vidar to leave the matter alone. Cosmic Boy realizes that Vidar seems to be at the heart of the trouble the United Planets government has been giving the Legion, and becomes suspicious of him. He assigns an “Espionage Squad” of Invisible Kid, Chameleon and Saturn Girl to ferret out the truth.
Saturn Girl attempts to probe Vidar’s mind but finds herself resisted, and in fact Vidar is nearly able to hypnotize her into a coma. It turns out that Vidar has an enhanced ability to bend people’s mental perceptions, and has used it to advance his political career and to turn the UP government against the Legion. Vidar is also an an agent for the Dominion, and using his powers he captures the Espionage Squad and turns them against the rest of the Legion. Knowing he is exposed, he moves to the final stage of his plan, which involves breaking into Legion headquarters and seeking out one particular room: the laboratory of Brainiac 5.
Brainiac 5 is Querl Dox, a super-intelligent youth from the planet Colu, who is in fact a real Legion member even though most of the team don’t even believe he’s real. He spends almost all his time in his lab, eschewing company and working on his projects. Assisted by an artificial intelligence called Computo, he works on one invention after another. Also present with him is the teen genius Rond Vidar, the son of the villainous Vidar, who happens to be immune to his hypnosis, and is appalled at what his father is doing.
Vidar takes over more and more of the Legionnaires, and soon only Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 remain.
Rond Vidar escapes, while the two Legionnaires desperately attempt to hold off their teammates without hurting them, but are quickly being overwhelmed. Vidar, calling himself Universo, reveals he has been working to undermine the Legion with the United Planets and also to try to murder R.J. Brande. All of this has been in service to acquiring one particular invention of Brainiac 5’s, which is still at the testing stage. Cosmic Boy has no idea what it is, except that it resembles a large, clear bubble.
Universo is on the verge of winning when Lightning Lass and Element Lad show up, having been brought back by Rond Vidar. Neither of them had been at the Legion headquarters when Universo’s attack took place, allowing them to take him by surprise. Together, they are able to help Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 defeat the hypnotized Legionnarries (who aren’t operating at peak efficiency) as well as Universo.
After the crisis is averted, Cosmic Boy and the others ask Brainiac 5 about the invention that Universo was attempting to steal. The device is actually a working time machine!
With their problems with the United Planets solved, or at least put on hold, the Legion embarks on their most ambitious plan yet–to use Brainiac 5’s “Time Bubble” to travel to the past and find Superboy, the greatest teenage hero in history, and to ask him to join their team in the future. Brainiac 5 stays behind to monitor the equipment as Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Triad travel to the past to introduce themselves to Superboy.
They do, and though he is astonished and initially suspicious about them, Superboy agrees to accompany them back to the future, something he cannot do under his own power, but only in the Time Bubble. The ride is rocky, but ultimately they land successfully. Superboy is honored by the rest of the team, and begins is taken on a tour of the future.
Superboy is inducted formally into the Legion, and assists them on some local missions. Suddenly, however, things begin to go a little crazy, as various menaces to earth start appearing, seemingly randomly. These include some the previously destroyed monsters of Mardon King, and flashes of even more devastating threats from an alien race called the Khunds, and salso ome sort of monstrous fiery cloud that threatens the sun. Each of these problems vanishes just as quickly as they appeared, however, and eventually Brainiac 5 realizes that the issue is time itself. Somehow, their journey to the past has caused an instability to be created, although Brainiac is at a loss to understand how.
Investigating, he discovers readings of some sort of temporal anomaly in the timestream. He takes a team of Superboy and Cosmic Boy with him to try to understand it, including. Traveling through the timestream void in the Time Bubble, they find it. As soon as they attempt to scan it, suddenly the anomalous energy coalesces into a shrouded humanoid creature, who emits a screeching roar and then bursts out of the timestream…
Meanwhile, back in normal reality, the Legion continues to try to curb the threats that continue to appear randomly. At one point, Saturn Girl is stunned by an attack of dinosaurs and is about to be killed, when she is suddenly saved by a hero wielding lightning. She is shocked to see it is Garth Ranzz–Lightning Lad–apparently returned to life.
Imra is shocked to see Lightning Lad, and he is just as confused, not understanding how he got there, or what is happening. Saturn Girl, Lightning Lass and the rest of the Legion assume he is some sort of anomaly, like the monsters they are fighting, but an examination of Garth’s memorial reveals that his body is missing. And Saturn Girl’s telepathy shows that certainly Garth believes he is who he appears to be.
Suddenly, the strange humanoid creature from the timestream breaks into reality. It appears to slowly grow in awareness of its surroundings, and demonstrates incredible power whenever it is threatened. The Legion realize they are completely outclassed by its ability to control the flow of time anywhere around it. Eventually, it speaks, just briefly, and takes the name that the Legion have started to referring to it by: the Time Trapper.
The Time Trapper moves to a place in upper atmosphere of earth, and completely shuts off the earth from contact with the rest of the galaxy. With its seeming mastery over time, it exerts itself for some purpose which causes chaos on the earth, thanks to the continuing presence of the same time-lost menaces the Legion had been fighting before.
The Legion realize that Brainiac 5 and his team have not returned from the timestream, and so Invisible Kid enlists to the assistance of Rond Vidar (Universo’s son) to help retrieve them.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Legion continue to try to control the effects of the Time Trapper’s manipulations. Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad go to space to speak with the Time Trapper himself. Saturn Girl is able to get through to it telepathically, and learns that the Time Trapper is the living embodiment of entropy. It normally lives at the End of Time, where it is supreme ruler, but found itself defeated and imprisoned in the timestream by a menace more powerful than itself.
It lay there comatose until it was woken by the Legion’s recent journey through time. Since then, it’s been attempting to break back into reality, which is what’s caused all the temporal madness. Now, its plan is to rupture the time stream and absorb first the earth, and then the galaxy, in an effort to regain its full power and to strike back at the enemy who imprisoned him. It sees the Legion as a mere pest getting in its way, and freezes both Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad in a frozen block of time in an impressive show of force.
Superboy flies out of the Time Bubble and attempts to push it back into normal space from the outside.
The process nearly destroys him, and as he is close to death, he has a confused vision of another young man, caught in some sort of ghost-dimension, urging him not to give up. Superboy recognizes him, and whispers, “Mon…?” before he passes out.
Thanks to his actions, though Invisible Kid and Rond Vidar are able to use the ruptures in time to draw Superboy and the Time Bubble back to reality, saving the lost Legionnaires. Superboy recovers.
Though frozen, Saturn Girl is able to communicate to her team telepathically, and the entire Legion rallies and attacks the Time Trapper en masse. It easily pushes them back. But thanks especially to Superboy’s awesome strength, the Legion is able to persevere and keep trying, gradually weakening the Time Trapper. The Time Trapper’s frustration grows and it prepares to unleash an even greater show of force…when it suddenly sees something through time that makes it stop.
The Time Trapper releases Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and ceases its efforts to open up a planet-sized rift in time. It collapses to his knees. Led by Cosmic Boy, the Legion approach it, and the Time Trapper reveals that it has seen through time: no matter how powerful it becomes, the Time Trapper will never have the power to defeat its enemy. Indeed, nobody does…except for the Legion.
Yes, it continues, in the future, the Legion will have the power and the courage to face Mordru himself, and prevent his ascendancy to absolute mastery over the universe. Only the Legion.
The Time Trapper leaves, retreating to the End of Time to ponder this truth. Superboy bids farewell to the Legion for now, as he wants to return to his own century, though he says he’s up for another visit sometime in the future. Before he goes, he confides in a secret to Brainiac 5, about the figure he glimpsed before….
After Superboy is gone, the Legion gathers to consider the future. Lightning Lad’s return to life is a mystery that they need to solve, and there is much work to be done to help the earth recover from the Time Trapper’s attacks, not to mention figuring out who Mordru is. But the team is optimistic and hopeful about the future.
Onto Season Two (mabye?)
Long live the Legion!