Jimmy and Tom are back for more cartoon chat!
Today’s entry is on the Superman the Animated Series episodes “Obsession,” Little Big Head Man,” and “Absolute Power”.
Lana Lang has a problem only Superman can solve: the Toyman is obsessed with a model in her latest fashion show!
jimmy: And Lois remains MIA.
tomk: We got Lana instead. We rarely see her, and she’s more appropriate for this story.
jimmy: I bet you say that for all the stories about fashion shows.
tomk: Not so. She wouldn’t have worked in that Calendar Girl episode of Batman.
jimmy: I thought we were heading down a similar path when Darcy face got injured. But luckily, no. She’s just a cyborg. Phew!
tomk: Or a robot. Robots are different.
jimmy: You know, I was going to say robot. Since she was entirely synthetic (I think), I guess so. Either way I was surprised.
tomk: She says she’s a life sized model of the DCAU equivalent of a Barbie doll.
jimmy: That Lana failed to recognize.
tomk: Oh come on. It’s like when Shipwreck and Snakeyes built that deck for your house. You didn’t think they were life sized G.I. Joes when they showed up.
jimmy: I knew his tattoo looked familiar!
tomk: But of course the Toyman would have to build a girlfriend.
jimmy: It’s hard to get dates with a giant toy head.
tomk: Which may or may not be a mask. The show hasn’t made that very clear.
jimmy: Damn…it has to be a mask…right?
tomk: You kinda hope it is, don’t you.
Then again, he is the guy who sends a cowboy with a lasso gun to fight Superman.
jimmy: Well, the lasso guy was sent for Darcy. He sent something much more practical after Superman…a boxing kangaroo.
tomk: That was silly. Those things only work on cats.
Well, the kangaroo still had a better chance than Lana vs Darci.
tomk: But would the sheriff?
jimmy: You don’t bring a rope gun to a cape fight.
tomk: Rocket boots work a little better. Swords, not so much.
jimmy: None of it works particularly well against Superman. He should have brought back that crazy bouncing ball from season one.
tomk: Superman broke that one too.
You know what’s always weird about supervillain plans? They come close and lose, but then rather than fix the one flaw from the first plan and try again, they come up with a whole new plan.
jimmy: That’s a…really good observation. Reminds me of the Batman episode where the Joker has all the blueprints of plans that Harley eventually uses to capture Batman.
tomk: Yeah. I mean, if a plan almost works, make a minor change and win the day.
jimmy: Time to open Tom Kelly’s School For Super Villains.
tomk: I’d just give the address to Batman just before the first day of class.
jimmy: Funny. Thinking you’d need to give Batman the address.
tomk: You’re right. I’d need to give it to the guy the publisher of my favorite newspaper calls “that criminal Spider-Man”.
jimmy: Yeah, he’s not much of a detective.
In either case, I think it’s safe to say someone like Toyman would have no chance against Superman. He’d probably work better as a darker character that targeted the likes of Lois and others close to Clark/Superman to play the psychological game. But then he’d just be Luther with a big weird head. Well, weirder.
tomk: Would Toyman, any version of him, work better as a Batman foe?
jimmy: Definitely. He feels more like a Batman villain. No super powers. Mentally disturbed. Etc.
tomk: He’s also the classic Superman foe of a mad scientist with giant death machines.
jimmy: Fair enough. Though he needs to work on the “giant” and “death machines” parts.
tomk: Those things cost money.
We’re not really discussing this episode. Not even Nancy Travis voicing Darcy. Anything else to add, Jimmy?
jimmy: I don’t even know who that is.
tomk: She is an actress who got a lot of work in the 90s. The one role I remember off the top of my head is the title character from the Mike Myers comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer.
jimmy: Which I saw, but she made no lasting impression on me.
tomk: It wasn’t the sort of movie that made lasting impressions.
jimmy: I don’t have much on this one. It was one of those ones that was fine but doesn’t illicit much in the way of discussion. Darci being a robot was a surprise twist, but that’s about it.
tomk: Yeah, but we do have a fan favorite villain in the next one.
jimmy: Sewer King?
tomk: Um no. Shall we see?
“Little Big Head Man”
Mxyzptlk promised he would never bother Superman again. He didn’t say anything about Bizarro!
jimmy: Life am good.
tomk: You know, between this and Mxy’s (I am not typing that full name out if I can help it) previous appearance, as much as he’s a pain in the ass, I get the distinct impression Superman likes tricking him back.
jimmy: Well, we know Superman’s a jerk.
tomk: “Jerk” is not the word I typically hear…
jimmy: Asshat? Turd? Watson?
tomk: It’ll come to me later.
jimmy: But you’re right. He’s pretty happy with himself at the end. But that was less about tricking him and more about giving comeuppance.
tomk: True. That is technically correct, and that is the best kind of correct.
But he did come up with the idea for Mxy’s penance.
jimmy: And it wasn’t relegating him to a deserted island and bringing him supplies.
tomk: That’s clearly for “hot” women.
But speaking of women that might as well be on deserted islands, hey, it’s Lois!
Annnnnnd she’s gone again.
jimmy: She was in what, one scene? Dana Delany must have pissed somebody off.
tomk: Would you believe Lois plays a very vital role in the final episodes?
jimmy: I hope so. She’s gotten the shaft so far this season.
tomk: Let me think…we see a bit more of Jimmy Olsen in many of the remaining episodes, and there’s a character that got a bit shafted in the past considering he is “Superman’s Pal”.
jimmy: You know, it’s not like many of these episodes needed Lois, it’s just such a contrast to her being in basically every episode and usually the one getting rescued.
tomk: Must be why we’ll be seeing more of Jimmy Olsen in the future. Heck, she had to be rescued in this one.
jimmy: The more things change…
tomk: But then I wonder…where did Clark stash his work clothes? In the sewer? Superman used to have a pocket in his cape for that sort of thing…
jimmy: And where does he keep the cape when in his work clothes?
Or the boots?
tomk: Um, Phantom Zone?
jimmy: That’s…actually a good idea, if he could more easily open a portal there.
But we are heading down much too serious roads. This was a fun episode. And Little Big Head Man is much easier to spell that Mxylipstickapit.
tomk: Oddly enough the commentary for the previous Mxy episode suggested Dini and Timm thought this episode was a bit subpar compared to his first appearance and Mxy would have worked better if he only appeared the one time.
jimmy: I thought the council bit was a little lame, but him recruiting and using Bizarro against Superman was inspired.
tomk: It was. Bizarro is too stupid to realize Little Big Head Man lie like rug.
jimmy: I loved Bizarro looking after the “city-sins” too. When he goes up on the hill and whistles innocently whilst kicking the giant boulder towards the city.
tomk: He needs to save somebody! Rocks might count.
jimmy: And then call it a day and head home to Rock Lois with her silly head trick.
tomk: Make sure to sneer at Rock Luthor.
jimmy: Rock Luther made me laugh. With the big bald head.
tomk: It sure was shiny. Bizarro hates that guy.
But you know what I learned? Superman never gets to just enjoy the dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum.
Any time he goes there, he just gets into a fight with something.
jimmy: I like that they completely rebuilt the exact same dinosaur, just without robotics this time. “That should keep it from getting destroyed by Superman.”
tomk: No one accounted for Bizarro…
jimmy: No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Or Bizarro.
tomk: Or Mxy’s girlfriend.
jimmy: Well, we can kinda expect her to show up. For all the good she was able to do.
tomk: She had a new voice. She couldn’t do much more.
jimmy: I never really noticed. It’s more about her bombshell looks anyway. And I don’t remember…is she from the 5th Dimension as well? Because all those council guys looked the same. Do all the 5th Dimension women look like her?
tomk: I don’t know. She’s the only one that appears on the show.
But Sandra Bernhard did not return like Gilbert Godfried did. Gsptisnz was voiced this time by veteran voice actress Jennifer Hale.
And for her efforts, Gizpy got turned into a tree by the Fudd Elders.
jimmy: That’s how they treat lawyers in 5D.
tomk: It’s efficient.
Do we know any lawyers we can send there?
jimmy: DO WE?!?!
tomk: If we get them to say Nostaw and Nayr we can find out.
jimmy: I’ll work on some scenarios.
tomk: Get Jenny onboard. She’ll help.
OK, we got off track. Anything else to add? This was mostly just a fun and silly episode. And we’ll never see Mxy again, though I think I read Godfried reprised the role for Justice League Action.
jimmy: It was a fun episode. The only other notes I had were that I loved the fake Super Family that Mxy shows Bizarro on TV. And I’m pretty sure there is a Mr Magoo reference when Mxy is driving around in his little car.
tomk: Probably. Ready to move on?
jimmy: Sure. Road hog!
Jax-Ur and Mala have escaped the Phantom Zone and created a “New Krypton”! Will Superman be able to stop them from expanding their empire?
jimmy: Earth. Why am I not surprised?
tomk: Some people have problems. Space Conqueror OCD.
jimmy: It’s like my mother always said, “Never trust a Kryptonian.”
tomk: Some are OK. They wear an S.
You should be especially wary of one that suddenly has an English accent.
jimmy: New voice I imagine?
tomk: Well, yes. Originally, Mala was voiced by Police Academy actress Leslie Easterbrook. For this episode, the role was recast with an English actress named Sarah Douglas. I have a photo of her to show you.
She’s the one on the left.
jimmy: Hmmm. I don’t recognize her.
tomk: Well, she’s basically really known for that one role in Superman II.
jimmy: Heh. That’s a pretty cool re-cast.
tomk: If you’re going to do a recast, that may be the way to do it.
But be sure to keep Ron Perlman, because he’s cool.
jimmy: One of the coolest.
tomk: And why not toss in Jennifer Jason Leigh, who had a pretty good movie career at the time, into the mix as an alien leader?
jimmy: Why not? We’ve also had Melissa Joan Hart and Jason Priestly lately. Not exactly Simpsons level guest stars, but not too shabby.
tomk: And hey, one last mention…that male alien was actor Carl Lumbly. He’d go on to play the Martian Manhunter on Justice League and currently has a reoccurring supporting role as the Martian Manhunter’s father on the live-action Supergirl series.
jimmy: That name sounds familiar, has he done anything else I’d know?
tomk: I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. Unless he was on Walking Dead or something else I haven’t seen.
jimmy: Probably Alias.
But they sure don’t make inescapable prison dimensions they way they used to.
jimmy: And pretty convenient that this so called “rip” happens right next to where their would be Kryptonian conquerers are just hanging out.
tomk: Well, coincidence is what drives superhero comics.
Why else would some random burglar go clear across New York City to rob a very specific house after a pro wrestler decided not to stop him?
jimmy: Seems we’ve had this conversation before…
Why else would a man brood over what the best symbol to frighten a superstitious and cowardly lot leave a window open for flying rats to conveniently fly through?
jimmy: Doesn’t it break through the window?
tomk: Um, yes.
That bat had perfect timing, though.
jimmy: Indeed. Well, we don’t seem to be talking much about New Krypton. Where exactly in the solar system were they? The range and speed of Superman’s ship once again surprises me. They made good use of his (and others) need for the space suit though.
tomk: True. The fact Jax-Ur and Mala almost suffocated and saved everyone a lot of trouble was a good touch.
But with Superman’s ship, remember it does have a hyperdrive.
jimmy: As must all of the impending invasion fleet.
tomk: You can’t have an invasion fleet without that sort of thing.
jimmy: So, you’re two beings with the power of Superman…do you need an invasion fleet?
tomk: The fleet would be needed to handle everything else while the first two subdue Superman. Probably.
jimmy: Better safe than sorry I suppose.
tomk: Someone needs to keep Batman busy. So, while Superman is tied up with the fleet…
jimmy: That’s true I suppose. At this point they’ve established the existence of several other heroes. How Jax-Ur and Mala know this though…
tomk: Everyone knows who Batman is. Everyone.
Dr. Doom fears Batman. Batman is the reason Thanos messes with the Marvel Universe. Genetically modified raptors on Jurassic Park avoid Gotham City. Freddy Krueger gets nightmares about Batman.
jimmy: What about Daredevil or Green Lantern?
tomk: Those are good guys. They have nothing to worry about.
jimmy: No? I’ve read Tower Of Babel.
tomk: Ra’s al-Ghul did that. Those were misconstrued emergency plans.
jimmy: He still made them. Anywho. As we draw near the end of STAS, this is probably the last we see of Jax-Ur and Mala? (Who autocorrect wants to change to Martha, which is hilarious.)
tomk: Yes, it is. There’s no way out of that black hole.
But before we go too much further, Superman almost declined to save the day. It’s only when he sees his own home World is next that he decides to act. Is Superman racist against orange-red people?
jimmy: He may be. I thought that was a bit out of character too. And it’s not like Ma and Pa Kent have become rulers of this planet. He’s well aware of what Jax-Ur and Mala are capable of.
tomk: Not that his initial reasoning was wrong. It would have caused insane amounts of property damage. Zach Snyder isn’t directing this episode.
jimmy: But still, it’s not often Superman doesn’t immediately do the “right” thing.
tomk: And he did wait for Jax-Ur and Mala to go off-world before challenging them.
jimmy: That Superman. Always worried about property values.
tomk: Or, you know, innocent victims.
jimmy: Oh. Yeah. Those.
tomk: Superman can’t just wreck everything and leave a planet in utter ruin.
jimmy: I’m sure he could lend a hand cleaning up after overthrowing the tyrannical rulers.
tomk: Except he generally doesn’t. He pretty much immediately went home after all that.
jimmy: Lousy Kryptonians. Just like my mother always says…
tomk: Your mother was a remarkably perceptive woman.
jimmy: Is. And I know the passage of time in these matters is mostly to be ignored, but it sure didn’t take the Kryptonians long to take over, enslave people and build a new city and armada.
tomk: Who can say these people didn’t already have an unused armada drone factory?
Good point. Maybe they were planning to invade Earth already.
tomk: Or somewhere else. Like Rann or Thanagar or Oa.
Or the drones were for agricultural reasons.
Or fighting each other.
jimmy: Hmm…maybe Superman’s first instinct to not get involved was correct.
tomk: He needed more information.
It just seems weird Superman would decline to help.
jimmy: That’s what I said from the start!
tomk: I am agreeing with you.
jimmy: Well it doesn’t seem like it!
tomk: Why would anyone disagree with the charming King of Mooses?
Do you have anything else to add for this one, Your Grace?
jimmy: Haha, I’m struggling to keep this going as it is.
tomk: You know, it occurs to me that the real problem is that Superman as a character has a different style of adventure. These are fine and fun cartoons, but they tend to be straight ahead action stories. Batman solves mysteries that often dig into the psyches of his enemies. Superman just has to deal with these powerful bruisers that just want to break and conquer things. Unless we want to say how cool an action scene is, we’re left wondering why Superman would temporarily not help people needing help.
jimmy: I agree with that. Supes is a hero and his rogues gallery are just not that emotionally deep or interesting.
tomk: As it is, we’re down to the last six installments. Three of them have guest stars. And the last is a two-parter.
jimmy: Shall we?
tomk: I think we shall.
NEXT TIME: Tom and Jimmy will have more to say in the future. Be back soon for discussion on the Superman the Animated Series episodes “In Brightest Day…” “Superman’s Pal,” and “A Fish Story”.