Tom and Jimmy just don’t know when to quit, so here are three more discussions for Superman the Animated Series.
This time, the episodes covered are “Solar Power,” “Brave New Metropolis,” and “Monkey Fun”.
Edward Lytener is back as the sinister Luminus! When he finds a way to put the Earth under a red sun, can Superman save Lois and Jimmy before Luminus can kill the Man of Steel first?
jimmy: Whenever I see a red sky, no matter the story, it always reminds me of Crisis.
tomk: You are going to love the newer Batman episodes.
jimmy: You tease. But that said, I’m not sure why the sky was red. I know there was some mumbo jumbo about the satellites only letting the red light through, but our sun is currently yellow, and we don’t have a yellow sky? And if only the red light was coming through, why did the sun still look yellow? Dammit cartoon show about a super powered alien, get your facts straight!
tomk: Don’t make Jimmy mad!
jimmy: Jimmy’s getting upset!
tomk: Yeah, well, I don’t think it helps that Luminus is kind of lame.
jimmy: Don’t you mean Metron?
tomk: I was thinking more Multiple Man.
jimmy: Yes, I thought of him as well. In look and of course the holograms. But yeah, I found him lame as well.
tomk: I think Robert Hays’ voice doesn’t help. He doesn’t sound particularly dangerous. It worked when he was the mild-mannered scientist. Full-on supervillain? Not so much.
jimmy: Excellent point. And this time I knew who he was…and I still thought it was Bruce Campbell. Though Campbell could have hammed it up a lot more.
tomk: Campbell would probably make a great villain.
jimmy: Exactly. Whereas with Hays you mostly just have to worry about his drinking problem.
tomk: He just sounds bland. That’s why he did better as the scientist pre-reveal.
jimmy: Yes. I agree. Not menacing in the least. Mercy was more menacing and she said nothing and just handed Lex an arrow.
tomk: And Clancy Brown just oozes evil when Lex opens his mouth.
jimmy: Well, there is no competing with Lex on an oozing evil level.
tomk: There’s plenty of competition at the hair-growing contest.
jimmy: Heh. So, Luminus is lame, but very conveniently knows how to fly a helicopter. I guess he picked that skill up when he was a scientist or in metal shop at the prison.
tomk: Same place he got those parts to do the invisibility belt gadget.
jimmy: Yeah, I was wondering about that as well.
tomk: Clark thought Luthor smuggled him some stuff. Luthor does have a good reason not to, but it’s Luthor, and the episode never really clarifies anything.
jimmy: Thinking about it again now, I think he says something along those lines when he is practising his archery.
tomk: Yes, he does. It’s a good alibi all told, but Luthor’s tech was used by Luminus in the past, so who knows?
jimmy: Getting back to Luminus’s plan, why didn’t Superman just fly into space and recharge? I know in this reality he needs a space suit and rocket, but he should still be able to get up and out into the yellow sun rays.
They almost enact this plan with Supes preparing to fly up and destroy the satellites.
tomk: I’m not sure this Superman can get into space on his own let alone survive the vacuum. Keep in mind, he didn’t even find out what Luminus did until he’d already been weakened. Besides, I was wondering why he didn’t ask Hamilton to use the ship to destroy the satellites for him.
jimmy: That’s what I mean, he would have to take the ship, but that would be doable. Or like you said, have Hamilton, or anyone for that matter, take out the satellites.
tomk: Well, by this point he only really has one superhero friend, and the Flash isn’t the guy to call to go into space. As an expert on going into space, he really needs someone with the power of flight, or at least a jet of some kind. Besides, if he could get up there on his own, he wouldn’t need the ship.
jimmy: I know, I know. It just seemed like a scenario that should have an “easy” solution. Luminus had an invisible building, but they knew exactly what was happening…it was on the news.
tomk: Birds found that building without any problems, too. Not sure how that works. It’s not like birds can smell a building. I don’t think birds even have a sense of smell. And they fly into closed windows all the time as it is.
jimmy: Kinda like this:
tomk: Yes. Exactly like this. Everyone knows helicopters are really just large birds.
jimmy: Does Luminus show up again? I’m ok if he goes the way of the Parasite.
tomk: He does for Justice League with a new voice actor. I don’t think he comes back for this show.
tomk: Luminus is merely the next in a long line of lame original villains created for the DCAU. He’s right up there with Red Claw, Baby-Doll, and the Sewer King, the suckiest suck who ever sucked.
jimmy: Does he make his way to the comics?
tomk: Not that I can recall.
jimmy: Probably a good thing.
tomk: The character probably has some potential, but the execution here is just lame.
jimmy: Anything else stand out to you? Good or bad.
tomk: Nah. We can move on. The next episode is much better, and there’s a silly one after that one.
“Brave New Metropolis”
Lois Lane has fallen into an alternate dimension! And to make matters worse, she’s stuck in a Metropolis ruled with an iron fist by Lex Luthor…and Superman!
jimmy: Well now, that was a good one.
tomk: You’re just saying that because you got your two favorite things: Jimmy Olson with a mullet and a dead Luther.
jimmy: You got me!
tomk: Truthfully, it was a good showcase for Lois and what she means to Superman.
jimmy: The first time they kiss, even if it was Red Son Superman. And of course the reverse “How you doing?” at the end.
tomk: I’m not sure we’ve seen Superman, even an alternate Superman, express emotions this deep before on this show.
jimmy: He was really devastated by Lois’s death. But of course the first thing I thought was “why doesn’t he just fly around the world at super speed until the Earth starts rotating the opposite way and turn back time”?
tomk: This Superman listened when Joe-El told him that was forbidden.
jimmy: Jor-El is such a party pooper.
tomk: Jor-El never had to worry about outliving his special someone.
jimmy: Or anyone for that matter.
tomk: That sort of stuff makes a real difference.
jimmy: Obviously, this was years before Superman: Red Son, and of course he’s not Russian, but the suit certainly reminded me of that story.
tomk: The new shield looked a bit…Nazi-ish. We’ll see more like that on Justice League.
jimmy: Alternate dimensions is obviously not a new concept for super heroes, but I think this is the first time either series has gone there, outside of some dream or drug induced sequences in BTAS.
tomk: BTAS wasn’t this kind of show. Huge sci-fi concepts fit Superman better than Batman.
jimmy: For sure. That said, Batman always works with every story.
tomk: He does, and even Batman got some sci-fi in when necessary. We just didn’t see Batman in space or anything. I think, when the time comes and the two heroes meet up, this show does a good job of showing the differences between Batman and Superman, and how some things can only be handled by one of them.
jimmy: That time is coming soon.
tomk: Yes, yes it is.
But visiting alternate dimensions, particularly with Phantom Zone-based technology, is much more of a Superman thing, and Superman wasn’t even the one who made the trip.
jimmy: Well, it would have been a very different story if it had been him instead of Lois.
Then again, I tend to have a weakness for alternate reality stories. Part of the fun is seeing how characters are different.
Like here, Jimmy’s a rebel, Angela Chen is homeless, Mercy is an officer for the police force, Turpin’s gone full fascist…
jimmy: Me too. Unless they are Luthor, who was identical. Even had the same suit.
tomk: Well, he’d look good being buried in it if it weren’t going to be closed casket.
jimmy: I was surprised they straight up killed him.
tomk: It’s an alternate Lex. He can be killed.
jimmy: That was pretty much Paul Dini’s view in the commentary. He also said that Lex became the villain by default as they needed someone for Superman to fight in the end. Even though many of the things Lex did were because Superman told him to.
tomk: Funny, the episode plays it like Lex more or less manipulated Superman into the worst of it.
Though I do wonder…how far did their control run? Was it just Metropolis?
jimmy: Alternate super-facts
That’s a good point. One would assume just Metropolis…which probably wouldn’t play well elsewhere in the United States.
tomk: We never really saw outside Metropolis.
jimmy: No. Makes you think though. And in either case, who could stop them?
They had to get the whatever those statues were made of from somewhere.
jimmy: Those incredibly sticky statues, or Lois gained some spider-powers when traveling dimensions.
tomk: Well, as long as she stays off Luthor’s smoother head.
And Superman was missing some facial hair. Everyone knows the evil version of a character in another dimension always has a goatee.
tomk: He did seem to have more lines in his face, like he was clenching all the time. Like the Henry Cavill Superman.
jimmy: Ha. And I guess he was more distraught than evil.
tomk: He loosened up pretty fast when he found Lois. Apparently, there is someone he will listen to.
jimmy: So what happens moving forward for him? Lex is dead. Lois is gone but he seems to have some closure.
tomk: Well, he learned a lesson. We’ll never see the guy again. Maybe this time Lana and Jimmy keep him grounded.
jimmy: Only if Jimmy gets a haircut.
tomk: He’s got no reason to be homeless now!
jimmy: It seems hard to believe that a lot of this stuff either a) went on under Superman’s nose or 2) even with the Lois grief, he was ok with it.
tomk: He seemed content to ignore a lot of things. That actually squares with Superman in the controversial Identity Crisis mini-series, where it came out that Superman knew a lot of what other heroes were doing but actively ignored the less savory stuff.
jimmy: I doubt Paul Dini et al would be excited about being compared to Identity Crisis.
tomk: They shouldn’t be, but it was the explanation given for how the guy with super-hearing seems to miss as much as he does.
jimmy: There’s only so much he can do. I’m sure he filters out a lot of “noise”.
tomk: Kurt Busiek did an interesting thing with Astro City, where his Superman analogue Samaritan was so busy saving lives he never really got much chance to sleep. Fortunately, he didn’t really need to, but he did say he had to prioritize rescues often by who was closest.
jimmy: Makes sense. I doubt Superman sleeps much either.
tomk: Well, the show seems to suggest Superman has to focus to use the super-hearing.
jimmy: He probably has learned to block almost everything out and has to focus to allow in just what he wants to hear without everything else coming through as well.
tomk: As long as he isn’t snooping on Lois in the shower. But he’s Superman, not Super-Watson.
jimmy: For which the whole DCAU is grateful.
tomk: Especially all those mini-skirt women with the bare midriffs that seem to make up half the female population.
jimmy: Who are we kidding? He still wouldn’t stand a chance.
tomk: That’s our Watson!
But speaking of people with problems…Turpin sure went fascist in the other world, didn’t he?
jimmy: That didn’t really surprise me.
tomk: You never trusted those eyebrows.
jimmy: No. No, I don’t.
But where was Sawyer?
tomk: She isn’t a fascist. She was probably locked up in that camp with Jimmy Olson.
In the grand scheme of things, what this episode was was a reminder of what Lois Lane brings to the table. I think we need that once in a while so we don’t just think of her as that one person Superman always needs to rescue.
jimmy: And it spurs her to take a more active role in developing a relationship with Superman, which I’m going to guess plays some part in things moving forward.
tomk: I’m not sure how much more active she is romantically speaking since we’re dealing mostly with a different Superman, and a big time romance isn’t really in the cards but this was still a good showcase for Lois.
jimmy: But, but, the end…with the “how you doing?”…and the “dinner sounds delicious”…
tomk: I’m just saying that Lois and Superman aren’t going to be much of an item going forward for the foreseeable future. In point of fact, well…that would be telling.
jimmy: Oh Tom, you big tease!
tomk: Did you have anything else to add, flatterer?
jimmy: I don’t think so. Good episode. I’m always a sucker for these alternate reality type stories. If they do one with a replacement Superman (not Bizarro) I’ll be in heaven.
tomk: Well, good. Because now we have a silly one about a giant ape.
Lois Lane had a pet chimp as a child, but when Titano was selected to blast off into outer space and then didn’t come back, it was a sad day for young Lois. But when the ape returns twenty years later and can’t stop growing, it’s a problem for the entire city of Metropolis.
tomk: So, the late Julius Schwartz, longtime DC head honcho, famously said that the best way to guarantee sales was to put a gorilla on the cover of a comic. That explains how a character like Grodd or Titano exists.
Oh, and this:
jimmy: How does reading Treasure Island, Moby Dick, and Robinson Crusoe prepare a gorilla to take over the world?
tomk: You know, I read a reprint of that story once, and I can’t remember.
It does seem odd that he has to rob a library to get those books. He could just borrow them for free.
jimmy: Maybe his library card got revoked.
tomk: That’s what happens you pull a gun on a librarian.
jimmy: I don’t know how much I’m going to have to say about this episode besides the fact I’m pretty sure it is illegal to have a monkey as a pet. Even if he is just hanging out waiting to go to space.
And of course, comparisons to this:
tomk: Well, this may be the only episode to feature Lois’ kid sister Lucy, a sometimes love interest of Jimmy Olson.
jimmy: I was wondering about her. From your comment, I take it she is a character from the comics?
tomk: She is. I’ve seen her in a few older Silver Age stuff, but she still gets around. I think she was killed off pre-New 52 when he dad put her through an army experiment and made her a new Superwoman.
jimmy: Funny, since New 52 Lois became Superwoman.
tomk: And also died. The Lane women should not become Superwomen.
tomk: Though this may be the only time General Sam Lane didn’t come off as a jerk.
jimmy: That’s true. He had a soft spot for that little monkey.
tomk: Normally, Sam Lane is like a bad cross between J Jonah Jameson and Thunderbolt Ross, with an especially dim view of Clark Kent.
jimmy: Ross is who came to my mind as well.
tomk: This version of Sam Lane was voiced by Dean Jones, star of many old Disney movies.
jimmy: From the Love Bug movies? (He says after definitely NOT using Wikipedia to look up who Doug Jones was.)
tomk: Yes, that Dean Jones…unless there’s another Dean Jones I know nothing of.
jimmy: I’m sure there are many.
tomk: Well, he’s not some sort of Doug Jones type. And Doug Jones is awesome.
Here’s a fun(?) fact for ya, Jimmy…the comic book version of Titano had Kryptonite vision.
jimmy: Like heat vision, only with kryptonite?
jimmy: That can’t be good for people from Krypton.
tomk: Or apes in general. Apes should not shoot beams from their eyes.
It makes it harder to find a banana, or for Bibbo to tell off a large one.
Oh, and though not listed in the credits as such, do I need to mention Frank Welker was the voice of Titano?
jimmy: You did not. He gets around. So what is Titano’s comic origin? Was he a space cowboy?
tomk: Yeah, pretty much. A post-Crisis Titano was part of abusive scientific experiments. He seems more like a misguided animal that occasionally causes trouble.
Though apparently New 52 Titano was a robot.
jimmy: A gangster of love?
tomk: Well, no, he didn’t speak of the pompitous of anything.
jimmy: Heh. Was he related to Lois in any way as he was here?
tomk: No, that looks to be from the cartoon.
jimmy: Not surprising. It was a bit of a silly plot point.
And old Superman comics are never silly.
tomk: Well, it makes the connection easier, allowing Lois to have a connection to the ape and then have the high comedy of showing why chimps make poor pets.
But you know, Jimmy…this was a basic, silly episode. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it doesn’t exactly offer much in the way of analysis. It’s a nice little adventure with a lot of light comedy considering it involves what is probably a very heavy chimp.
Do you have anything you wish to add?
jimmy: No. I’m surprised we talked this much. I said right off the hop I wasn’t sure what there even was to say.
tomk: Well, maybe we need a headier bad guy. Maybe some folks with less hair.
Better conversationalists, too.
jimmy: Bring on the folliclely challenged!
NEXT TIME: Jimmy and Tom will be back soon, but for reasons that will become clear later, will only be covering two episodes instead of their usual three. Be back soon for “Ghost in the Machine,” and “Father’s Day,” two episodes of greater importance down the DCAU road.