PG Cooper: Superman: The Animated Series: A Retrospective, Volume Three

Posted: July 14, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Retrospectives

37- Warrior Queen

Written by Hilary Bader. Directed by Curt Geda.

Maxima is the queen of an alien planet, who is seeking a mate. She decides on Superman and forces him back to her planet. But once they get there, Maxima is overthrown. I really dislike this episode. For one, the animation is pretty weak. Also, Maxima is a really annoying character. There’s also some really lame comedy. It’s just a boring episode that never really gets going. Oh, and at the end, a certain character gets off innocent even though she’s just as guilty as the villain in the episode. The only thing I like is Lobo’s brief appearance at the end.

38-39- Apokolips…Now! Parts I and II

Written by Rich Fogel and Bruce Timm. Directed by Dan Riba.

Darkseid makes his play to take over Earth. This episode is pretty awesome. It’s easily the best Superman episode since “World’s Finest”. The first part is mostly setup. It’s got some cool action, introduces the character Orion, and also introduces the story behind Darkseid, Apokolips, and the New Gods. It’s Part II though that really starts to kick ass. You’ve got Superman, Turpin, and the cops taking on various threats from Apokolips. It feels like you’re watching Earth vs. hell, and it’s pretty dark. Also, Superman gets his ass handed to home throughout. He really gets some pain dished his way. Darkseid himself comes off like an immense threat, even Luthor seems intimidated by him. The ending, where the New Gods bail Earth out, could be viewed as a deus ex machina, but I liked it. Also, Darkseid killing off Turpin was a nice touch. Now I was never the biggest fan of Turpin, but it’s still a ballsy move to kill off a character like that. The funeral scene was also quite good. Now there is some weak animation, and Part II is certainly better than Part I, but it doesn’t ruin what is overall a very good two-parter.

40-41- Little Girl Lost Parts I and II

Written by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Evan Dorkin, and Sarah Dyer. Directed by Curt Geda.

Superman goes searching the remains of Krypton and finds Kara, the only survivor of sister planet Argo, cryogenically frozen. She brings her to Earth and she becomes Supergirl. She ends up investigating intergang and stumbles across attackers from Apokoplis, leading to a confrontation with Darkseid. So Supergirl is introduced, and she’s a pretty likable character. Her costume design is a bit weak, but that’s okay. The episode has some cool action, and gains points for having some interesting turns. Granny Goodness, one of Darkseid’s followers, is a pretty interesting character. She’s funny yet scary, it makes for a good combination. Also, casting Ed Asner in that role was brilliant casting. Where the episode falls is in having the villains make a million puns. Also, for this episode to come right after “Apokolips…Now!” and feature Darkseid, it feels like it should have been darker. Still, this is a solid episode that I can’t criticize too much.

42- Where There’s Smoke

Written by Hilary J. Bader. Directed by Dan Riba.

A supervillain with pyrokinesis named Volcana emerges. After some digging, Superman discovers she was abused by the government. This episode is okay. Volcana makes for a good threat for Superman and she has a serviceable back story. The action scenes between her and Supes are also pretty good. I have two main problems with the episode. One is the corrupt government story feels silly here. I know it’s a cartoon and I shouldn’t be expecting brilliant political satire, but it’s still really goofy, and when Justice League Unlimited came around, they handled the corrupt government storyline much better. I also don’t like how Volcana is free by episode’s end. She’s still guilty of crimes. Whatever, this is still a fun episode for what it is.

43- Knight Time

Written by Robert Goodman. Directed by Curt Geda.

Woohoo! Another Batman crossover. Hell yes! Batman has been missing in Gotham, so Superman dresses up like Batman to help Robin out and find out where Bruce is. It’s a pretty cool concept, and I like watching Superman do his impressions of Batman. There’s also some cool action scenes. I especially like a scene where Superman, dressed up as Batman, fights Bane and it’s pretty awesome. The ending, with Brainiac turning up as the villain was pretty clever. Though I do have some problems. For one, I don’t like Riddler’s inclusion. Honestly, they should have left him alone after “Riddler’s Reform”. I also would have liked to see more interaction between Batman and Superman, but this is still a good episode. It’s no “World’s Finest”, but it is a lot of fun.

44- New Kids In Town

Written by Stan Berkowitz and Rich Fogel. Directed by Butch Lukic.

Starting in the late 30th century, Brainiac goes back to Smallville when Clark was still a teenager, to kill him before he can become Superman. The heroes from the 30th century, the Legion of Superheroes, go back to protect Clark. This is a pretty cool episode. It’s got a lot of references to some 70’s and 80’s films. The plot is essentially the same as The Terminator for example. The Legion are a pretty fun group, but what I really like about the episode is seeing a young Clark Kent again. I like young Clark Kent, and it’s fun to see him before he’s Superman. I also like seeing Clark and Brainiac go at it, with Clark not even realizing the significance of it. Also, Ma and Pa with the shotguns was hilarious. Overall, this is a very fun episode.

45- Obsession

Written by Andrew Donkin and Ron Fogelman. Directed by Dan Riba.

One of my favourite villains in this show was Toyman. I’m a bit disappointed it took so long to get another Toyman episode, but I do enjoy the result. Basically Toyman is trying to kidnap a model named Darcy. At the end, we discover Darcy is actually a robot Toyman created. Oddly enough, that “twist” I just gave away is actually really easy to predict. I would have liked a more interesting twist, but this episode does have some good stuff. The action is pretty cool. It’s rare that you can say the fight between Superman and the robot Kangaroo was awesome, but that’s exactly the case here. Overall though, while I do enjoy this episode. It’s pretty basic and not one that really sticks with me.

46- Little Big Head Man

Written by Paul Dini and Robert Goodman. Directed by Shin-Ichi Tsuji.

Mxyzptlk and Bizarro team up to take down Superman. I can sum this one up pretty quickly. The stuff with Mxy is fun, the stuff with Bizarro isn’t. This episode doesn’t do much though. Apart from adding a bit more to the world of the fifth dimension, the rest is pretty boring. Bizarro is a character who I’ve never liked. I admit, it’s impressive that Daly voices both Superman and Bizarro, but quite frankly, I’m sick of this character.

47- Absolute Power

Written by Hilary J. Bader and Alan Burnett. Directed by Butch Lukic.

Superman visits a planet where he finds Jax-Ur and Mala are the rulers. I’m pretty disappointed in these characters. When I think of how awesome the Kryptonian criminals were in Superman II, it’s hard not to be a little letdown with how these two turned out. This episode itself is fairly decent. The setup is fine, the action good, and some of the designs pretty impressive. I can’t really call it bad, I just don’t really care.

48- In Brightest Day

Written by Hilary J. Bader. Directed by Butch Lukic.

A Green Lantern lands on Earth and dies. His ring seeks out a new Lantern, Daily Planet worker Kyle Rayner. Meanwhile, Sinestro comes to Earth to destroy the ring. The idea of the episode is cool, but the execution leaves something to be desired. For one, this is the first time we meet Rayner and the Lanterns, so the episode needs to develop Rayner, explain the Green Lanterns, explain Sinestro, and deliver a satisfying episode. Oh, and fit Superman in there. The end result is a product that feels rushed. I also should mention I feel Sinestro got overly simplified. Still, I don’t hate this episode. There’s some fun action and it’s different, so I’ll cut it a break.

49- Superman’s Pal

Written by Robert Goodman. Directed by Kazumi Fukushima.

Welcome to “Superman’s Pal”, an episode where the world mistakes Jimmy for Superman’s best friend. This episode can be seen as Superman’s answer to “The Man Who Killed Batman”. But where that episode was awesome, this episode….isn’t. I’ve never been a big fan of Jimmy, but I never hated him. But when you have to spend an entire episode with him, he gets kind of grating. It’s just a really lame and boring episode. Also, Metallo comes in as the villain at the end, and it’s just sad. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I dug Metallo in “The Way of All Flesh”, but he became less interesting in every subsequent appearance, with this episode being the bottom of the barrel. Also, why the hell would Metallo, a man made of metal, set up his base of operations right next to a giant magnet? Stupid episode.

50- A Fish Story

Written by Hilary J. Bader and Rich Fogel. Directed by Shin-Ichi Tsuji.

An Aquaman episode. This episode suffers from the exact same problem “In Brightest Day” does. Trying to do way too much. It has to reveal a villain’s scheme, as well as this new hero, their character, and their motivations. It’s too much for one episode. I don’t feel like I really got to know Aquaman, in fact he seems rather bland and boring. Oddly enough, Aquaman would appear in Justice League, but he’d be completely different and a lot cooler. Also, while I’m happy to see Luther again, I don’t get his scheme here. Why exactly is he so obsessed with testing his bombs? And what’s with the random ******* who attacks Aquaman? Weak episode.

51- Unity

Written by Paul Dini and Rich Fogel. Directed by Shin-Ichi Tsuji.

An alien entity comes to Smallville and posses all the townspeople. This is a weird, weird episode. It’s also pretty creepy. The sight of the townspeople with these weird alien tentacles shooting out of their mouths is really unnerving. The alien creature itself is also pretty creepy. I like seeing Supergirl do more, and the action scenes here are fun. Overall, I don’t have much to say about this episode. It’s not great, but I do enjoy it.

52- The Demon Reborn

Written by Rich Fogel. Directed by Dan Riba.

Ra’s Al Ghul wants to absorb Superman’s powers, leading to another crossover with Batman. As much as I love seeing Batman, I do feel this episode is a bit of a let down. The idea of Batman and Superman having to team up to take down Ra’s Al Ghul could have made for one hell of a crossover. Instead, we’re given this average episode which feels rushed. The animation isn’t up to par and you can tell not as much effort was put into this as “World’s Finest”, or even “Knight Time”. I wish they had made this a two-parter because they could have done so much more. That said, this isn’t a bad episode. On the whole, I like it, but there’s just so much wasted potential.

53-54- Legacy Parts I and II

Written by Paul Dini and Rich Fogel. Directed by Curt Geda and Dan Riba.

Darkseid brainwashes Superman and sets him loose on Earth. What an awesome, awesome note to end the show on. Superman going rogue was a real ballsy move. It’s the type of angle you’d only see in a “what if?” story, but here it happens for real. The way it’s done is really twisted and interesting too, with Superman believing he’s the adopted son of Darkseid. I also love the scenes where Superman is locked up in government facility for treason. The great thing is, it’s hard to blame them. Superman was a massive threat. That’s what’s so cool about this episode. It asks the interesting question of if someone should have as much power as Superman. The stakes are pretty high here too. Both Superman and Supergirl come very close to death, and Darkseid’s plans involve massive devastation to Earth. This scene also shows Superman pushed to his limits. He makes threats, sucker punches Luthor, and is generally really hostile. This is even more apparent when he returns to Apokolips and just kicks everyone’s ass. I’m not kidding, he’s taking names at the end of the episode, and actually kills some parademons. The final fight with Darkseid is awesome. There’s no fancy choreography or staging. It’s just two guys who hate each other wailing into one and other. I also love how after Superman wins, the people of Apokolips choose to help Darkseid back to help. They’re so broken they won’t fight for freedom. The ending to the episode is a bitter-sweet one. Superman defeats Darkseid, but the people of Earth no longer trust him. Great ending.

Strongest Episodes (One Per Disc): Apokolips…Now!, New Kids in Town, and Legacy

Weakest Episodes (One Per Disc): Warrior Queen, Absolute Power, and Superman’s Pal

Closing Thoughts: On the whole, Superman was a good show. But it doesn’t even come close to matching just how awesome Batman was. In fact, the show made me miss Batman several times while watching. It probably isn’t fair that Superman: The Animated Series be trapped in the shadow of its Batman counterpart, but that’s the way it crumbles, cookie wise. There was some very good episodes sure, but most of them were sort of average. Even most of the great episodes have fairly big problems. I don’t want to come off too negative though, since I did enjoy watching this show on the whole. So to sum up, Superman was a fun show with flashes of greatness. It’s not perfect, but it is better than your average children’s cartoon.

Future plans? I’m gonna put together a top ten episodes list, and after that, I jump into Batman Beyond and Justice League.

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