Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Horror Of...Halloween Night, Legion of Super Heroes - Fear Factory

You wake up on a weekend morning...or noonish, you need some Count Chocula and other vital nourishment, but then what do you watch to start up the day's Horror Marathon? You could go off the deep end with The Re-Animator or Hellraiser. But what about that ancient and forgotten ritual of the morning toons?

How about some superheroic fun and fright? And what fun it would be to find it in a future time, when you could rely on a legion of friends to back you up. It's time to take flight.

Legion of Super Heroes - "Fear Factory"

This series follows the adventures of the Legion of Super Heroes, a team of super powered teens from around the galaxy. They've come together to defend the 31st century, and the United Planets, from all manner of threats and danger.

Based on Earth in New Metropolis, the Legion has drawn a large and varied roster over it's decades and incarnations. The roster tends to span the galaxy, but for this show they usually try to limit it with certain regular characters. The first season saw the roster consisting of 9 members.

For this episode:

Lightning Lad comes from Winath and has the power to generate and fire lightening. He's brash at times, and often acts as team leader.

Saturn Girl is from the moon of Titan and has telepathic (and, in the show, telekinetic) abilities. She calm and cool, always scanning for trouble.

Brainiac 5 is from Colu, and is a descendant of Brainiac. He is working to understand and embrace humanity. His body is cybernetic, able to interface with technology and modulate his body as needed in emergencies and combat. He is usually called Brainy by his teammates.

Bouncing Boy is a human who can move between normal and ball shape, will having the property of being quite rubbery. Hence, he is quite good at bouncing and flying into battle. He's a more grounded and sarcastic legionnaire.

Lastly, we have Clark Kent, who takes the name Superman. In the show he is still young and trying to work out his powers. When he learns of his future he takes the name Superman and joins the Legion on adventures, trying to master being a hero.

Luckily this is a season one episode, so I don't have to explain a second Superman being on the team. We'll see if I look at any season 2 episodes down the road.

The show opens with the team heading across a sector of space in a Legion Cruiser. They fly into a dangerous storm and are making their way slowly through it.

At the heart of the storm they find what looks to be a ancient space station, adrift. It seems to be an empty relic, but Saturn Girl can sense voices aboard it, many voices.

They decide to check the station out, to see if people are trapped aboard it. Or if it is a ghost station. Bouncing Boy doesn't like the look of this, relating it to horror movies he watches that never end well.

They enter the ship, passing though a scanner, and are met by a creepy servant name Boris. He says the master is expected them. He hopes to have them for dinner, which could be read two way.

And now we get into the overriding horror movie vibe of the story. Travelers lost in a storm, find shelter in a creepy old abode. They meet the creepy butler and...In fact I think I've covered this scenario more than once already this Halloween.

The team are okay with what they see, but Bouncing Boy is not liking any of this. The whole place is distinctly Gothic.

Passing though a gallery of paintings, you can see images of an array of aliens all contorted. Boris says that the Master is something of a collector.

"And in the next gallery, he has his original sad clown series."

They are taken to a dining room, where food is brought out to them just as they sit down. It is all surprising well matched to their taste, right down to Ma Kent's chicken soup

You'll notice while Brainiac 5 (Brainy) and Superman discuss how Boris knew what they'd like, Lightning Lad has his face buried in his soup.

Bouncing Boy isn't having as much fun. Boris whispers to him that he should flee while he can.

And then his soup is a little off.

"No...I said EGG DROP soup!"
Boris then reminds Bouncing Boy that he's doomed.

Bouncing Boy doesn't say anything as he is scared, and it must be so strange that everything going on is out of a horror movie.

They then meet the master of the station. Professor Planarus. He explains the station is a rest stop for people to come and rest at during the storms outside. It is called Quavermass 12.

He tells them that the stations docking rig was just damaged in the storm, so the team will need to stay overnight, until the docking rig is repaired.

They are each shown a room they can rest in, except Bouncing Boy. He's told that his room is at the end of the hall. Boris tells him it's a room where no one could hear his screams.

 The room is dark with creepy overtones, right down to an old fashion phone ringing in the corner.

Getting creeped out, Bouncing Boy is surprised by a stranger. But it turns out to be a cat named Whiskers.

But the cats scampers out of the room when the lights flicker. Bouncing Boy goes off to find the cat.

And that results in him stumbling into one horror movie after another

Bouncing Boy finally finds the cat in long metallic corridor. And he realizes his horrible mistake.

"Stupid humans. You always go back for the cat."


Saturn Girl hears his screams in her mind and rallies the rest of the team to find and help him.

When they do find him, he is in a panic, and being pulled into a portal.

They fail to reach him in time, and he is gone. And then the room disappears to.

Realizing they are under attack, they try to find Bouncing Boy and their hosts. No one can be scanned or sensed.

Then walls appear around them, as stairs emerge.

Going down, they find the paintings again. And among them, one of Bouncing Boy.

It seems to be a painting, but with all the evidence amassing, these paintings and this station are something very unsettling.

As they continue to search, the room around them changes again. This time it becomes Lightning Lad's childhood bedroom. The team realize that this must mean that Lightning Lad is being targeted. They surround him, but he's confused about what in his childhood could be used against him.

Superman scans and sees that their ship is docked near to where they are. He melts a hole in the hull to get out, but the hull quickly regenerates. He tries to fly up to punch his way out, but he's knocked back. Brainy and Saturn Girl are also struck down.

"Hey Garthy! Don't you want a balloon?"
While the rest are busy, Lightning Lad hears a voice. Captain Howdy. An imaginary "friend" who would hide under his bed, and scare him during storms.

As Lightning Lad curls into a ball, something explodes out of the clown monsters head. An even bigger monster.


Terrified, Lightning Lad is sucked into another portal.

Brainy now has enough information to make some conclusions. The station is targeting them by drawing on each of their fears. Then when they become terrified, they are taken away.

Superman feels the need to assure the two remaining Legionnaires that he will protect them.

But you can already see Brainy is formulating the way to win this fight.

Passing through the next door, Superman and Brainiac 5 are temporarily isolated.

And Saturn Girl is strapped into a massive insane roller coaster. And you bet this is something that freaks her out.

She rockets off, and Superman races to get to her.

And as she screams, the portal opens before her.

But Superman pulls her away. As he flies away she slides out of his grip, presumably partially dematerializing.

And Saturn Girl is gone.

Superman is despondent as to why he couldn't save her. Brainy explains that she, as they all do, had to face her fears.

They have to face and best their fears, then the machine will have no power over them. Before they enter the next room Brainiac 5 gives Superman something, "in case something happens to him". He doesn't explain it. He tells Superman that he can't save everyone.

In the next room Brainiac 5 is attacked by his fears. Coluans come to take him away, and remove his individuality.

They attack and he spars with them. He knows it is all fake, and uses the fight to reveal the central computer core.

And he uses the opening to access the computer, and upload into it.

It costs Brainy his physical form, as he cannot exit the system now. But he explains to Superman that the only way to free everyone trapped in the paintings will be to destroy the chips inside the computer. But that will destroy Brainiac 5.

Superman is aghast, but agrees to Brainy's plan.

When the Professor and Boris avatars appear to scare him, he resolves himself.

He flies at the computer and punches through. As he goes, Brainy appears to lead him to the chips.

Superman begins crushing the first chip when Ma Kent appears beside Superman. She condemns him for allowing Brainiac 5 to die. When he walks away, she demands he stop immediately.

Focusing, he plows through the chips.

The computer powers off after this. And outside the raging torrent finally ends.

And the paintings release all of the prisoners.

Superman appears, despondent at the fate of Brainiac 5.

The other Legionnaires are just annoyed that they don't know where Brainy's backup disc is. (Brainy always makes back ups when he thinks he'll need to connect to a strange system. It's basic security common sense) Once Superman sees what they mean, he realizes he has it.

Aboard their ship, they contact the United Planets to get all the former prisoners home. And then they start downloading Brainiac 5's backup files.

"I don't know. It keeps asking me if I want to update, but it won't let me click

Afterward, Brainy thanks Superman, but Superman is ticked that he didn't know that Brainy had given him his backup files.

Brainy explains that Superman needed to face and beat his fear of losing someone he cared for. Only then could he defeat the station. It all was built into Brainy's strategy to win the day.

An important lesson for Superman to learn and a fun adventure in a haunted house for us all to watch during Halloween.

And seeing as you now have the rest of the day to yourself, you can start to forget Captain Howdy exists. Win. Win.

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