It’s time for more animated cartoon talk with Jimmy and Tom.
This time, we’re covering a pair of two-parters: “Apokalips…Now!” in which the full threat of Darkseid is revealed, and “Little Girl Lost,” which introduces Supergirl!
The full threat of Darkseid comes to Earth as the war between the New Gods engulfs Superman!
jimmy: Treaty or not, I find it hard to believe that Darkseid walks away so easily.
tomk: If he wanted a quick take-over, then he might. I have to wonder why New Genesis doesn’t step in like that more often.
Besides, it’s Darkseid. He’ll be looking for loopholes.
jimmy: Exactly. (To your New Genesis point.). When Orion showed up it wasn’t just coincidence or precautionary. It was like, “Darkseid is coming. You guys are doomed.” If they knew that, why not send the whole Armada in the first place? Or at least post on the New Genesis website that Earth was under their protection?
tomk: There’s probably a good reason. It could be as simple as Darkseid didn’t see the point of fighting a huge stalemate of a war over Earth. My guess is Superman himself may be too valuable a prize for New Genesis to allow fall into Darkseid’s hands. Kryptonians are probably pretty valuable towards a war effort if you think about it.
jimmy: It sure seemed like Orion was just as strong or stronger at times.
tomk: Yeah, but Orion is both off-limits and fights for the other side. If the two planets already fight to a stalemate, the addition of a Kryptonian would easily tip the scales in Darkseid’s favor.
jimmy: Plus Darkseid probably feels bad that Orion flies around on the most uncomfortable looking apparatus in the DCAU.
tomk: Jack Kirby loved weird flying apparatus. The Black Racer was hovering in the background on his when the forces of New Genesis showed up.
This might be crazier than surfboard:
jimmy: Is he…skiing?
tomk: Yes. Through space. And he’s the New God version of the Grim Reaper.
jimmy: I guess technically it is no crazier than a surfboard, but definitely looks crazier.
tomk: Kirby had a thing for aquatic sporting events. When he added an African American to the Newsboy Legion in the 70s, the kid was obsessed with scuba diving.
jimmy: But did he scuba dive to get around in space?
tomk: Probably not, but I haven’t read much of anything of that stuff.
jimmy: In either case, these episodes were a perfect send off to Kirby, even if it did mean the death of a strong character. Surprisingly, that’s back to back episode with a major character death.
Albeit parts one and two of this story.
tomk: Albeit, Mannheim might have lived and Turpin was designed to look like Kirby. Letting Turpin essentially be the hero and die and stay dead is a big deal.
I think Mannheim is dead. And the majority of the people in that show should be dead. If you are close enough that you can see a mushroom cloud, you’re in trouble.
tomk: If he wasn’t before, I am sure the eventual cancer finished him off. I don’t think we see him again.
jimmy: Getting back to Turpin’s funeral, apparently when the episode originally aired, the mourners included the likes of Stan Lee, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, etc. But subsequent airings and home video versions have replaced them with “normal” mourners. Here is a taste:
tomk: Huh. Cool.
jimmy: Everyone loves The King.
tomk: The rabbi was a nice touch too, as was showing Maggie Sawyer with her girlfriend.
jimmy: That surprised me, just because I never knew. And it wasn’t played in any sort of way. It just was.
tomk: That was probably about as radical as they could get, but Maggie Sawyer’s sexuality has been part of her character for years, so having an anonymous woman there that could pass for a sister if necessary works very well considering when this cartoon came out.
jimmy: Exactly. First I thought, “that must be her mother…no wait, she’s way too young…is that…a girlfriend?”
Who was it that was with Batwoman in the comics?
tomk: That would be Renee Montoya.
jimmy: That’s what I thought. I doubt her girlfriend shows up in BTAS.
tomk: Montoya wasn’t outted until Rucka did it in the comics post No Man’s Land.
Rucka also moved Sawyer to Gotham for the Gotham Central title. Sawyer didn’t date Montoya or Batwoman.
jimmy: Rucka likes to write the ladies.
tomk: I remember one bit he did while on that book. During a storyline where a kid in a Robin costume was found dead, the cops had to spend a good deal of time first trying to figure out if it actually was the real Robin since they, you know, had no idea who Robin was. Now, the reader knows it isn’t Robin, and Batman isn’t being particularly helpful here, so the cops calls the Teen Titans to come by and ID the body. And various Titans are walking through the station house when in comes Starfire. And she is, quite literally, glowing. And every man in the place is staring at her with the same dumb look on his face. Two women are off to the side. One says something about men being idiots. The other just points. And then there’s a panel of Sawyer and Montoya also making the same dumb look at Starfire.
jimmy: Haha, nice!
tomk: By the by, the CW’s Supergirl series added Maggie Sawyer as a regular cast member this year. She started dating (and ended the season engaged to) Supergirl’s adopted sister Alex.
jimmy: Cool. I’ve never seen an episode. Maggie…looks a lot different than I remember.
tomk: Though when I was looking for that photo, I found one of Batwoman kissing Maggie in some comic I’ve never read, so those two were an item at some point too.
Yeah, well, Maggie is usually drawn as a blonde with short hair.
jimmy: Not surprising.
tomk: But the whole thing in these episodes about Maggie and her off-duty partner is done so quietly. It’s a subtle thing, and this on a show not known for doing anything subtly.
And I am pretty sure we won’t see her girlfriend again.
jimmy: I would guess it was done as a nod to the fans, and in such a way that if the censors questioned it they could simply say, “oh that’s her sister”.
tomk: That’s my guess. The simple fact that they even did it back then in 1998 is impressive in its own way, especially for a kids show when the most that most people at home might have seen as far as gay people on TV would have been limited to something like Will and Grace or the occasional Seinfeld episode that would remind us that there was not anything wrong with that.
jimmy: My father’s gay!
jimmy: So, kind of a ground breaking set of episodes, besides being good in their own right. Maggie’s girlfriend. Death of Turpin (and probably Mannheim). Funeral and tribute to Jack Kirby. Like you said, pretty heady stuff for a Saturday Morning cartoon in the late nineties.
tomk: I did a little Internet check, and the producers confirmed Mannheim was killed.
They apparently wanted to kill Ma and Pa Kent but were told those two couldn’t stay dead. They went with Turpin instead.
He may not have been a super man, but he was a brave one.
tomk: Though beyond that, we had Orion kicking ass in part one at an Air Force base named after one of Kirby’s inkers (the power plant was named after another one), and then Darkseid makes Superman look like a wimp.
Though, you know, see #4.
jimmy: Apparently Turpin calls two cops by the names of the inkers that worked with Kirby on New Gods.
See! That’s what I said about that nuclear explosion. Oh, and “Superman will survive the blast because he could literally stick his dick into the Sun and be OK”…lol
tomk: Superman has often been accused of being a dick.
jimmy: That’s true.
And I don’t know if this would be something that would stand out to you, but Professor Hamilton writes on his computer in binary code. That’s impressive. And incredibly inefficient.
tomk: He’s not a efficient man.
Besides, what happens if all of Darkseid’s stuff runs on a trinary code?
jimmy: Death to all humans?
tomk: It’s a good thing that Superman doesn’t need computers to hit things.
But let me ask you, Jimmy…were you fine with Turpin basically being the hero at the end of this story? It makes for a nice bookend when the first Turpin episode showed him reluctant to go along with Superman in town and then needing to work with the guy and maybe letting Superman mostly save the day by himself. And that was the first Darkseid episode to boot.
jimmy: It works. At first I thought “hey it works as tribute to the King” and a bit overkill otherwise, but you know what, he stood up to those heavy hitters like Darkseid. And being a cop in general, he was definitely a hero. His death also crushes Superman, not just as an ally, but because Supes failed to protest him. It also pointed out what a jerk Darkseid was, with the battle completed and he one foot in the boom tube.
tomk: Yeah, Superman was actually rather inconsequential in both parts. Orion saves the day in part one, Turpin and the New Gods of New Genesis in the second. All Superman can do is pulverize an Apokaliptan tank and feel general frustration. If I didn’t know how the series, and indeed the DCAU as a whole, ended, I’d know this was really just a prelude to a bigger action down the road between Superman and Darkseid.
jimmy: He probably caused more property damage punching that tank than the Parademons did when invading.
tomk: Well, those Parademons love biting necks.
jimmy: Anything left to add on this super two-parter?
tomk: Hmmmm, not really. It’s a Superman episode that barely needed Superman.
Kinda like that BTAS episode with Jonah Hex.
jimmy: Well, more Supes than that, but I see your point.
tomk: Anything you wish to add, Jimmy?
jimmy: I think that’s it for me.
tomk: We should try something a bit more lighthearted then.
“Little Girl Lost”
Superman finds a young survivor from Krypton’s sister planet Argo! Meet Supergirl!
tomk: Something struck me about this pair of episodes…Supergirl gets over the death and destruction of everyone she ever knew awfully quickly.
jimmy: Well, there does seem to be some indiscriminate amount of time missing between Supes finding her and the introduction Disney-like flying scene.
tomk: She got her powers a lot quicker than he did too from the look of things.
jimmy: Yes. Well, she was also a teen and not a baby and they only had 7 minutes to get her origin in.
tomk: Well, yes, she’s older than Clark.
That matches the most recent comic book origin where she was an older cousin sent ahead as some sort of babysitter whose escape craft got lost en route and she ended up not aging for the entire trip, emerging on Earth to see Superman didn’t need a babysitter anymore.
It’s also a good thing all these inhabitants of alien worlds all look human.
tomk: Yeah, well, mostly. Lobo looks like a member of the KISS Army.
jimmy: True. But I was thinking more the Kryptonians and the…I don’t remember the name of Kara’s planet.
tomk: Silver Age Supergirl originally came from the Krytponian city of Argo which may or may not have somehow survived the destruction of Krypton.
jimmy: I liked that there were other worlds affected by the destruction of Krypton. Makes a lot of sense from a science standpoint.
tomk: The live action Supergirl TV series did that this year as well, though in this case the other planet was Daxam, a completely different DC world where the aliens have Superman-like powers under the yellow sun but also are very vulnerable to lead instead of Kryptonite.
jimmy: Interesting. I did wonder if ANY being that comes from a red sun world to a yellow sun would have super powers?
tomk: If we’re talking interesting…Geoff Johns did a story once where Bizarro got weird powers (to make more Bizarros) under a blue sun, and when he took Pa Kent there, Pa got superpowers.
jimmy: I was wondering what the reverse was if one of us went to Krypton.
tomk: Probably suffocation since there’s no planet there anymore.
How far away is Krypton? It seemed pretty implausible that Superman could fly there (and back) in what seemed like no time.
tomk: Well, now that I think about it, how did he fit Kara on that ship of his?
jimmy: That was my next question.
tomk: The ship did seem to have some sort of hyperdrive. This isn’t a Superman Returns scenario where he was gone for years and Lois Lane would get mad and write a jilted girlfriend editorial.
jimmy: Luckily that was retconned away by the excellent DCEU timeline.
tomk: I sense a great disturbance in the Force…it feels like sarcasm…
jimmy: Like millions of unsatisfied fans crying out all at once.
tomk: And suddenly…WONDER WOMAN!
Well, at least we don’t have to worry about that here since the DCAU is pretty enjoyable.
tomk: Very true.
This two-parter did two things I think are worth mentioning.
1. Skipped the most problematic aspect of Supergirl’s origin as far as I was concerned: that Krypton would have two random survivors that both happened to be closely related.
2. Gave us the perfect voice for Granny Goodness.
jimmy: Agreed. And the casting of Granny was awesome.
tomk: I told you way back when we first started Ed Asner had a better DCAU role than Roland Daggett coming…
Heck, he even revised Granny for at least one direct-to-DVD movie.
jimmy: So this is four episodes in a row about Darkseid/Apokolips. And it seems like the writers finally figured out how to solve the problem of Superman being hard to write for week in and week out…not have Superman barely in the episodes.
tomk: Well, to be fair, the second set was to bring in Supergirl and let her save the day.
Because, you know, if a comet heading to Earth breaks in half and Superman can only stop one, what are you gonna do? Ask Batman to take care of it with his rope?
jimmy: He could do it. He’s Batman.
tomk: The trick is to find a way to challenge Superman, and what’s a bigger challenge than a teenage girl who won’t listen to any rules?
jimmy: And give Jimmy something to do in 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Super Teenage Cousin.
tomk: I think Jimmy did occasionally have some sort of quasi-romance with Supergirl. They might have even gotten married in a Superman “imaginary story” which was a DC term to do a “What If” story in their own books, usually with Superman.
Of course, when I read that story, Jimmy marries Supergirl, and then they go home to sleep in separate beds and Jimmy doesn’t even know his wife is Supergirl right away because he’s that dumb.
jimmy: Her secret identity here was blown pretty quickly.
tomk: Not necessarily. Did she tell Jimmy she was Clark’s cousin? I seem to recall she just claimed to be a Planet intern.
And she still had the wig/glasses combo if needed.
jimmy: She did…but they were the only two at Intergang, suddenly she was gone and there was Supergirl. I mean, c’mon!
tomk: Look, Jimmy isn’t very bright in the best of circumstances. He’s at best a big dork in just about every interpretation.
And that Clark Kent thing continually fools Lois Lane. Kara’s secret identity is plenty safe.
jimmy: And she wears gloves as Supergirl and Kara does not, so obviously…
tomk: Well, the half shirt was hidden under another, nearly identical half shirt.
jimmy: Heh. And what is up with the gloves anyway?
tomk: I dunno.
But how about this: the Supergirl comic at the time actually adopted that look, and the Supergirl in the series was not Superman’s cousin, or even a Kryptonian (it was complicated and weird but rather worth it). At the end of that series’ run, she actually met the pre-Crisis Supergirl who was very much a Silver Age character.
jimmy: Jenny will hate that image.
tomk: Well, the context: Kara (the Kryptonian version) spotted a meteor headed to Earth and was doing a very Silver Age thing by trying to push the Earth out of the way. She couldn’t, and Linda (the other one) reminded her that moving the Earth out of its orbit would be a very bad thing and Superman had already taken care of the meteor.
jimmy: Unlike in this episode where Supergirl obliterates her half of the asteroid…and probably causes an even worse meteor shower to rain down on Metropolis.
tomk: Good thing Batman has that rope!
By the by, this can explain all things Supergirl in comics.
jimmy: That’s some fine article writing there, Mr. Kelly. I was wondering if that was the Matrix version.
tomk: No, the DCAU Supergirl is just some random Kryptonian (sorta) who calls herself Clark’s cousin.
jimmy: Sorry, I meant the Supergirl in the image you sent that had adopted the DCAU look.
tomk: Um, sort of. As I said, it was complicated.
jimmy: Well, like Steel or Jonah Hex, it seemed here like they were trying to launch them into their own shows.
tomk: I would disagree. Supergirl is a longstanding supporting character from the Superman mythos. She’ll hang around as one.
jimmy: That’s cool. And at least she can get herself out of trouble, unlike Lois…who I’m pretty tired of. Wrong place, wrong time and need rescuing again Lois? Ho hum.
tomk: I’ll still take Lois over Jimmy Olson.
But we are missing some points here, Jimmy. For one, that comet.
The Fleischer comet, to be precise, named for the animation studio run by brothers Max and Dave whose 1940s Superman cartoons heavily influenced the entire look of the DCAU.
jimmy: Right. How did I miss that?
tomk: You were dazzled by the DCAU return of comedic actress Andrea Martin, last heard voicing a Roseanne lookalike for BTAS, here as Female Fury Mad Harriet?
jimmy: That…could be it?
tomk: I think she’s Canadian.
But what did you think of the Furies, Jimmy?
jimmy: She is.
The Furies were ok. Very powerful.
tomk: There’s usually more of them.
jimmy: How many more? I thought there were only three. Maybe I’m thinking of something else. Wait, Barda was a Fury right?
tomk: Barda was their leader before she defected out of love.
Usually there’s at least four, the fourth being one Bernadeth.
But there have been probably eight to twelve at times as other creators may have added to Kirby’s originals.
jimmy: I’m sure they are pretty disposable to Darkseid and Granny.
tomk: Wikipedia lists five as being created in 1972, not counting Barda who first appeared in 1971. Those would be the ones Kirby whipped up: the three from this episode, Bernadeth, and one Gilotina.
jimmy: Great names.
tomk: That was Kirby for ya.
Since then, there have been a few more Furies added going by the names Bloody Mary, Speed Queen, Malice Vunderbar (with her pet shadow demon Chessure), Knockout, and Artemiz.
jimmy: Not to mention Lord knows how many scenes with Nick Fury.
tomk: Well, they are the Female Furies.
Do you have anything else to add, Jimmy? We got Darkseid as a real threat now, and Supergirl has arrived.
jimmy: No, I don’t think so. Maybe time we take a trip down the interstate.
tomk: You’re right. Superman has been fun and all, but Batman always brings more depth to his stories.
NEXT TIME: It’s back to Gotham for Tom and Jimmy as we discuss the New Adventures of Batman episodes “Holiday Knights,” “Sins of the Father,” and “Cold Comfort”.