Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Smallville Legends: Kara And The Chronicles Of Krypton

An 18hour work shift kept me away from all stores yesterday so I haven't purchased or seen any of Superman/Batman:Apocalypse. I am guessing that the review for that movie will be up by the weekend.

I figured that one way to pass the time until then would be to look at Supergirl's last animated appearance. Back in season 7 of Smallville, when the Supergirl character was introduced to the show, the WB made Smallville Legends: Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton.

6 3-minute episodes were made and I believe available via mobile phones.

The animation is pretty lackluster, a sort of 2 dimensional choppy style of cartoon. It is clear that the model for Kara  in these episodes is Laura Vandervoort.

And as this story was an adjunct to Smallville's mythos, a lot of what transpires is new territory for me. The story takes place on Krypton.

In this version of Krypton's history, the planet is buried in a civil war. General Zod's troops are bombing cities indiscriminately and have taken over a number of mines on the planet which houses the materials necessary for weapons and ammunition.

There is some concern from the ruling council that this mining is leading to Krypton's planetary instability. Jor-El has already detected the internal rumblings of the planet's core.

Zor-El, in the last remaining mine controlled by the acting government, pleads with the council to continue drilling. The only way to thwart Zod is with the power the mine provides.

Almost immediately you get the sense that Zor-El is an oily character. But Kara loves him, telling him she is heading off to school with her father's assistant Augo.

As she is about the enter the school, Augo luckily calls to her, delaying her entry. Good thing to as the school is demolished by a terrorist bomb. Do you see Kara being flung away from the carnage in the top right corner.
This sort of reminded me of the whole 'crystal death' Supergirl. Remember how in that arc Supergirl gunned down her classmates. Anyways, it seems that personal loss and tragedy is one of the recurring themes in Supergirl's history regardless of which incarnation we are talking about.

Relatively unharmed, Kara realizes that Zod's men are responsible for the high school disaster. If Zod is bombing that close to home, he must be going after Zor-El and the mine. She races to her father to warn him.

She then stumbles across a horrible truth. Zor-El is actually working with Zod. That means that Zor-El is responsible for blowing up the school, killing Kara's friends and nearly killing her.

Shocked, Kara confronts Zor-El. Much like in the Joe Kelly arc in the comic, Zor is mentally disturbed here. He actually could care little for either Zod or the council. He is manipulating both sides to achieve his goals. And Kara plays a part in that. Zor-El was never worried about Kara because Augo is his loyal acolyte and was charged with keeping Kara safe.

And what are Zor-El's goals?

Well Zor-El is something of a religious fanatic. He feels that The Book of Rao's prophecies are coming to pass. The last prophecy talks of the destruction of the planet and the emergence of a God-like hero who will lead the people of another planet. Now we know that prophecy is about Superman. But Zor-El thinks it is talking about him. He has created a drill missile which will head to the planet's core and detonate the planet. And then Zor and Kara will step through a portal, head to Earth, and rule that planet as Rao's hero.

One thing that I did like about this is Kara's morals and strength. She is disgusted by her father's actions and scared by his zealousness. She tries to escape. Unfortunately, she doesn't get far and is taken away from the mine by Augo.

In another section of the mine, Kara uses some guile tricking Augo into thinking she has changed her mind and accepted her role in Zor's schemes. Augo tells her that Zor-El knew she would come around to his way of thinking. Then Augo confesses his love for Kara.

Pressing her advantage, Kara pushes Augo into a mine elevator and sends him away.

While this isn't ground-breaking material, I did like that Zor-El completely underestimated Kara's resolve, thinking she would simply fall in line. I love that she is a pretty strong character here, doing what she needs to do to try to save people.

With only a few moments to spare before Zor-El arrives, Kara contacts Lara and warns her about Zor-El's plans. Knowing there is no time to stop the missile, Lara vows to save Kal-El.

In the meantime, Jor-El has contacted Zor-El. Zod has been captured. Zor-El is under investigation. The power to the mine is turned off. The teleporters away from Krypton have been deactivated.

Always prepared, Zor-El overrides the mine shutdown and fires the drill missile. In Smallville mythology, Zor-El is responsible for Krypton's destruction!! Without the teleporters, he'll need to rocket to Earth instead.

He then confronts Kara, demanding that she come with him. Angry at her father, she pushes him away. He stumbles into one of the crystal control boards and impales himself on a rather large shard. Suddenly, Zor-El is dying. With little time, he mindwipes Kara and takes her away.

Lara gets Jor-El and the two place baby Kal in his rocket and send him to Earth.

The confused Kara doesn't quite understand what is happening. Zor-El, doing his best to mask his pain and covering his wound, tells Kara that she needs to go to Earth to protect Kal. She is rocketed away.

Zor-El seems surprisingly calm for his plans to have been thwarted. But he holds onto the prophecy that he will be resurrected as a God. And, in fact, on Smallville, that comes to pass.

The series ends with the two rockets heading away from the exploding Krypton.

While this is a sort of Elseworld's version of the destruction of Krypton, it was nice to see Kara portrayed as a very strong ethical character who acts with conviction. We saw glimpses of that strength in Laura Vandervoort's performance. The Smallville Supergirl is pretty pro-active and pretty confident in her opinions (when she isn't amnestic and in Luthor's thrall of course).

The animation here is pretty lacking making it sometimes difficult to watch.

I watched these off of the Smallville Season 7 DVD collection, but in looking right now they are all available on YouTube.

Overall grade: C-


Gene said...

If you thought the animation here was bad, you should see the Green Arrow "animated" shorts from the sixth season. It made Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton look like Fantasia.

BTW, this review was a great way for us to anticipate Kara's return to Smallville in a few weeks. She actually answered a few questions about it here:

valerie21601 said...

the url is cut off. Could you repost the link?

Michelle said...

I enjoyed your description of the story better than watching the shorts themselves :) I could only get through the first chapter, actually. May give it another try after reading this.

TalOs said...

I actually never minded the used art style to do these shorts and actually thought it was a REALLY good retelling of Kara's official origin backstory come TV's Smallville shows own continuity.