Going Through The DCAU Part Fifty-One

Jimmy and Tom are back for more cartoon chat.

We’re almost done with Superman the Animated Series, but we have a few episodes to cover first.  Let’s look at a pair of superhero team-ups and a spotlight on a longstanding Superman supporting character with “In Brightest Day…,”  “Superman’s Pal,” and “A Fish Story”.

“In Brightest Day…”

New Green Lantern Kyle Rayner is being hunted by the evil Sinestro! Can Superman help the rookie hero figure out how to work his new ring in time to beat the villain? 

jimmy:  Now that’s more like it.

tomk:  How so?

jimmy:  I was being a little bit sarcastic. But it was a good episode even if it was mostly just another slugfest and felt like the Green Lantern show guest starring Superman.

tomk:  It would have made for a great set-up for a Green Lantern spin-off.

jimmy:  Definitely. I assume Kyle Rayner was the DC Green Lantern at the time? Hence their desire to use him…but give him Hal Jordan’s origin.

tomk:  And Hal’s costume.

Yes, Kyle was the Green Lantern at the time. Hell, he was the only Green Lantern at the time since Hal went nuts and destroyed the Corps.

jimmy:  Can we count Guy Gardner who tried to steal Jimmy’s camera at the beginning?

tomk:  We can, though Guy’s backstory included his being a college football star, so Kyle got a little from him as well.

jimmy:  What is Kyle’s actual origin besides being a comic book artist?

tomk:  Not a comic book artist.

Ok, here’s the breakdown.

Hal goes insane after the Reign of the Supermen story destroys his hometown of Coast City, absorbs the Oan power battery, and becomes Parallax.

The last surviving Guardian, Ganthet, takes the last power ring and goes to Earth. He meets a random guy in an alley behind a nightclub and says, basically, “You’ll do,” and tosses him the ring. That was Kyle.

Kyle was a freelance artist with no steady job. He got no training on the ring and didn’t even have a power battery of his own right away.

jimmy:  I knew he was an artist!

tomk:  As it was, the need to recharge the ring every 24 hours and the yellow weakness were both removed. He charged the ring as needed when he finally got a battery.

jimmy:  You’d never say I read a lot of Green Lantern from Emerald Twilight up to Blackest Night.

tomk:  I might if you had. Then again, writer Ron Marz might have based Kyle’s personality after Peter Parker.

jimmy:  Well I did! But mostly reading Hal’s story. From Reign to Parallax to Rebirth.

I don’t know Kyle well enough to comment on that, but I assume that means he has great responsibility.

tomk:  Or he feels guilty about his girlfriend getting killed and stuffed into the refrigerator.

jimmy:  That I knew. Funny they never adapted that for the show.

tomk:  Questionable gender politics is clearly more for Batman’s show.

jimmy:  Is Kyle GL in Justice League?

tomk:  No. Well, he appears a couple times, but he’s stationed out in space. Mostly it’s John Stewart.

jimmy:  And not Hal? Interesting.

tomk:  Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

jimmy:  I guess I will. I know a lot of the younger generation feel John Stewart is their Green Lantern because of Justice League.

tomk:  He’s an interesting character. Started off as a stereotypical angry black man, later shown as a former Marine (like Frank Castle) and an architect (not like George Costanza).

jimmy:  A superhero who’s a cross between the Punisher and George Costanza…now THAT would be interesting!

tomk:  “I stand for truth, justice, and the American Way. As such, I practice my second amendment rights and say it is not a lie if you believe it!”

jimmy:  “Should I not have slept with the Don’s daughter before I killed her? Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started my reign of vengeance that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, cause I’ve talked to a lot of vigilantes and I tell you people do that all the time.”

tomk:  You win that round, Impossible.

jimmy bows

It was nice to see Sinestro. I know he mostly fought Green Lantern, but he seemed like a foe that could give Superman some trouble.

tomk:  Yes, and he does. This may be the one guest star episode where Superman seems more like a sidekick. Even with the Dr. Fate episode, Superman still played a vital role in saving the day. Here he’s just an obstacle.

jimmy:  I’m going to guess Sinestro returns possibly multiple times in Justice League.

tomk:  He does. Though I don’t know if he’s still voiced by Buffalo Bill. Or how he gets his ring back.

jimmy:  Man, I never notice when Buffalo Bill does a voice.

tomk:  He really wanted Kyle to put his lotion on his skin or else he got the yellow ring again.

jimmy:  Nice. I was trying to come up with something similar.

tomk:  I got the idea when I visited Gil’s Diner.

jimmy:  Good ole Gil.

tomk:  Or, you know, Gil Kane, the artist who first drew Hal Jordan?

jimmy:  No, no. Mine’s funnier.

But yeah, fine. And Hal Jordan’s name on the fighter jet they crash into.

tomk:  OK, you win again.

jimmy:  One other thing I noticed:  Kyle becomes GL right after taking a dump and before washing hands…

tomk:  Um…

I’m not touching that one.

jimmy:  You wouldn’t want to.

tomk:  I would have said the extensive use of GL mythology, but what do I know?

jimmy:  But you’re right. Green Lantern didn’t just show up as an established character like say the Flash did. We get an origin, Abin Sur, the Guradians, Sinestro, etc.

tomk:  The oath.

That’s an easy oath to get wrong.

jimmy:  LOL, pretty close.

tomk:  True. Anything else to add to this Green Lantern spin-off episode, Jimmy?

jimmy:  I think that about covers it.

tomk:  Then we should move on.

“Superman’s Pal”

A news report has named Jimmy Olsen a close friend of Superman! Will Jimmy be able to handle the consequences?

jimmy:  Jimmys are just the best.

tomk:  Except at dating from the looks of things.

jimmy:  Well…I…er…um…it’s true. 🙁

tomk:  You keep mentioning as Ms. Impossible. I always assumed you didn’t need to worry about that quite so much.

jimmy:  Well, not now. But I wasn’t always Mr Impossible.

tomk:  Ah. How is your Superman signal watch running these days? There are commentators who say original artist Joe Shuster based Metropolis off his childhood hometown of Toronto.

jimmy:  He probably knew Toronto better than New York, so that’s not surprising.

tomk:  And he met Siegel in Cleveland.

jimmy:  And then the two became beloved and millionaires many times over for creating one of the most iconic fictional figures in modern history.

tomk:  Um…

Sure!

This is quickly becoming the saddest chat yet.

jimmy:  No one said being Superman’s pal was easy.

tomk:  Obviously. Needy strangers follow you everywhere.

jimmy:  Some people REALLY want Superman at their kids birthday party.

tomk:  Or to talk to their neighbors the hard way.

jimmy:  I know, right?

tomk:  Now we know why he needs a Fortress of Solitude!

jimmy:  Which he’s going to take Jimmy to any day now.

tomk:  He’s going to have to at this rate.

jimmy:  Did you see Metallo’s master plan and his gorgeous undercover accomplice coming at all? And funny how that worked out as she ended up being much more appealing to Jimmy than ever would be to Lois.

tomk:  And she resented him for it. I’ve seen it before, so I don’t remember how surprised I was. How about you?

jimmy:  I never really saw it coming.

tomk:  How come Superman’s show surprises you, but you mostly unmasked the hidden bad guys before Batman did?

jimmy:  I’m Batman.

tomk:  Oh. I thought you were Jimmy this time.

jimmy:  But I don’t know. Maybe I just know Batman and his villains better. Though this was hard to see coming. And the last time we saw Metallo, wasn’t he trapped in lava somewhere?

tomk:  Steel helped beat him up.

But good point. We don’t expect Metallo to have a girlfriend.

jimmy:  That can’t be good for Jimmy’s self-esteem either.

tomk:  He didn’t seem to have much to begin with.

jimmy:  True. But now a robot with half a face and a kryptonite heart can get a girl and Jimmy can’t. And the only reason he even had a shot at said girl was as part of a nefarious plan.

tomk:  He can always try a Super-Groupie.

jimmy:  Beats those lonely nights with the Sears catalog.

tomk:  If he’s lucky considering the catalog’s own standards.

jimmy:  Did this episode also remind you of Superman III?

tomk:  Well, there was a junkyard fight and some questionable attempts at humor, but otherwise no.

jimmy:  Those things weren’t enough?

tomk:  Maybe?

It’s still a Jimmy Olsen story, and despite many people’s best efforts, Jimmy Olsen was never cool.

jimmy:  Jimmys rarely are.

Except to their moms.

tomk:  Seriously, I seem to recall Bruce Timm basically saying Jimmy Olsen was never cool, so they weren’t going to try to change that.

I remember two old Silver Age Jimmy Olsen stories where he was supposed to be cool. One was Jimmy trying to impress Lucy Lane in his apartment while he was dressed in a Hugh Hefner-style smoking jacket, and the other had him undercover at a high school trying to look “tough” to get in with some juvenile delinquents, so he just drew a grade-school level caricature of the teacher on the chalkboard.

Both looked pathetic while somehow sort of working in-story.

jimmy:  Yeah. I mean, no one nowadays would attempt to have Jimmy be cool by making him an undercover CIA agent or anything.

Jimmy Olsen in Batsoup.

tomk:  And then immediately killing him off before he could even be identified for the audience.

jimmy:  That’s just silly. No one would do that. Better for Jimmy to stay uncool.

tomk:  Part of the problem was likely middle aged men trying to write cool teenagers for child readers.

Like with Snapper Carr.

jimmy:  A common problem for them writing teens, woman, people of color, etc.

tomk:  Canadians, talking dogs, Klingons…

I mean, Jimmy’s signal watch is an important part of the character’s mythos. Jimmy Olsen held down a solo title for years, including a run by Jack Kirby that was included as part of the Fourth World, but he’s kind of a tough nut to crack. How to use this guy who was not quite Superman’s sidekick but is best remembered as the “gee whilikers!” guy in the bow tie.

And they’ve both been so good to each other over the years…

 

jimmy:  Superman and Jimmy are jerks. They deserve each other.

tomk:  But Jimmy beat Metallo with simple battery acid!

jimmy:  Battery acid…or those tears he is collecting from Superman?

tomk:  Well, maybe all kinds of people can beat Metallo. Check out this bit from a recent episode of Legends of Tomorrow.

jimmy:  Except those people have more than the power to look good in a bow tie.

tomk:  Does Jimmy Olsen have that power? Ever?

jimmy:  Probably not. Jimmy’s never had powers.

tomk:  Um…look up Giant Turtle Boy.

jimmy:  I’m impressed by the lengths you went to to create and populate around the Internet the story of Jimmy with these so called “powers”. I guess you were going to mention these other 4 next.

tomk:  I work hard to create the illusion of credibility.

jimmy:  Anything else to add here, Tom? I don’t think we’ve actually talked much about the episode itself, but more “around” it.

tomk:  Here’s the thing: Jimmy Olsen is an important part of the Superman mythos and the show hasn’t done much with him. His solo series ran for decades and he still gets a one shot here and there for his own offbeat adventures. Most of this episode is played for laughs until Metallo shows up.

jimmy:  Nobody laughs at Metallo.

tomk:  He’s just not funny. His stand-up routine is The Worst.

jimmy:  “What’s the deal with Superman?”

tomk:  And he’s magnetic. You’d think someone would have tried the giant magnet sooner.

But now we’ve finally gotten a Jimmy Olsen episode, and there’s only four whole episodes left.

jimmy:  It’s more airtime than Lois has gotten lately. Shall we move onto the final four?

tomk:  Why certainly!

“A Fish Story”

Aquatic animals are attacking all kinds of ships out of Metropolis harbor! Could it have something to do with what Lex Luthor has locked up in a lab?

jimmy:  Aquaman’s not a very cheerful guy.

tomk:  See how cheerful you are if some dude locks you in a small tank.

jimmy:  How did they capture him in the first place?

tomk:  He was taking a nap?

jimmy:  Lol. It happens.

tomk:  I do like the idea that Aquaman is somehow an urban legend.

jimmy:  Just like the movie!

tomk:  I am sure Batman knows exactly where he is.

jimmy:  It just takes him a beard’s length of time to get there.

tomk:  Unless the beard is an elaborate disguise.

But no sign of him as it is.

jimmy:  I think I saw a beard hiding behind a bale of hay.

tomk:  I must have missed the bale of hay behind the Atlantean warship.

jimmy:  I think it was behind the other ship that either only had two crew members, or the Atlanteans killed a lot of people.

tomk:  Well, let’s see…they sank Lex’s ship which had a lot of guys who were either Navy officers or worked for Carnival Cruiselines judging from their uniforms, and the wake of all those ships going down would have sucked a lot of those guys down with them…

jimmy:  And all Superman did the whole time was protect Lois.

tomk:  Well, Superman can only carry so many people. Lex’s helicopter could have taken a few more.

And remember: Aquaman is a good guy.

jimmy:  I just noticed that when the Atlantean ship was firing on Lex’s ship, all Superman did was drape his cape out around Lois to protect her.

And, yeah, Aquaman is gonna need to be taken down a peg prior to Justice League.

And, are seagulls considered “ocean animals”? That seemed a stretch.

tomk:  They are now.

I could point out Aquaman doesn’t order the ship to be sunk. His people do that in retaliation for an attempted harpooning of their king.

jimmy:  He doesn’t really stop them though.

tomk:  Keep in mind this was during a period where comic book Aquaman was getting moodier. Not quite Namor-levels of moodiness, but more like a guy who didn’t mind getting his hands relatively dirty. He had an army he didn’t mind using in Grant Morrison’s JLA run.

And quite frankly, I think that’s awesome. Aquaman could be DC’s Black Panther if they use him right.

jimmy:  It was the 90s.

tomk:  True, but between Peter David on his solo series and Grant Morrison on JLA, it was a pretty good time for Aquaman. He wasn’t an anti-hero, but he did deal with things in his own way. And David still had his characteristic sense of humor on things anyway.

Besides, an episode like this is probably at least partially an antidote for the Superfriends version.

jimmy:  Superfriends? What’s that?

tomk:  A kids cartoon version of the Justice League that didn’t allow the characters to punch each other.

jimmy:  Haha, I won’t ask how you know of that clips existence.

tomk:  That was a clip Cartoon Network used to run during commercial breaks when they used to do little comedic clips where the different characters from their shows would interact. That one does show not only the difference between Superfriends and more modern superhero cartoons, even comedic ones like The Powerpuff Girls, but also how Aquaman was generally treated on that show.

Prior to Superfriends, there was always Filmation’s DC cartoons from the 60s.

jimmy:  Now I feel like Jenny. I didn’t know Aquaman had his own show.

tomk:  It’s…very old. And he shared it with Superman.

jimmy:  All in all though, a good representation of Aquaman here…even if he did feel depowered like Superman himself.

tomk:  True. He holds his own in the episode, even if he doesn’t exactly get along with Superman. It’s not quite a team-up.

That actually makes some sense. Aquaman doesn’t have a superhero pal like a lot of other heroes. Superman has Batman and Wonder Woman. The Flash has the Green Lantern and Elongated Man. The Lantern also has Green Arrow. Arrow bickers with Hawkman and Hawkman is good friends with the Atom. Meanwhile, back in the classic JLA, the only guy who seemed to be out of his own more than Aquaman is the Martian Manhunter, and he left the team first.

jimmy:  Well, he is a king. In most ways, no one can really relate to him. Even Diana is “only” a Princess.

tomk:  Diana is the one he seems friendliest with in more modern takes, but the Rebirth series showed Aquaman actually telling Superman that he’s the outsider on the Justice League since he isn’t part of either of the two “Trinities” (the other being Flash, Lantern, and Cyborg).

jimmy:  Tell that to the series Trinity.

tomk:  Well, clearly the original Trinity is Supes, Bats, and Wonder Woman.

jimmy:  And Cyborg is almost as much of a “thing” as the Inhumans.

tomk:  They are trying so hard with that.

jimmy:  Too hard.

tomk:  Die Hard?

jimmy:  Well, it is Christmas time.

tomk:  True. Merry Aquamas!

But let me ask you this, Jimmy: did this episode feel like it ended on unfinished business? Like there was more that would happen and not everything was really resolved?

jimmy:  Definitely. It seemed to be a good set up for future episodes, but with like 3 left, I doubt we see Aquaman again until Justice League…and I doubt it picks up any threads from this story there.

tomk:  Well, yes and no. When Aquaman returns, and he does rather early in the Justice League run, he’s still got problems with the surface world that show he might have meant what he said.

But it won’t be Miguel Ferrer doing the voice again.

jimmy:  That guy gets around.

tomk:  Arguably, Aquaman doesn’t have quite the same overall storyarc as, say, Mr. Freeze in the DCAU, but there is something there.

jimmy:  Comparing Aquaman and Mr. Freeze, that’s probably something you don’t see every day.

tomk:  I should maybe compare Aquaman to Spider-Man?

jimmy:  You definitely don’t see that every day. Though that 1960’s Spider-Man sure likes swimming.

tomk:  And I’ve seen some Aquaman stories that shows, on land, he can leap and bound around a lot like Spidey.

jimmy:  Odd.

tomk:  But here we go. Aquaman. And he means business.

jimmy:  He usually does…when they are not making fun of him.

tomk:  Considering he’s been around since the Golden Age, he was among the first Silver Age heroes to get married and have a kid, and then his archenemy actually murdered that same kid, there’s a lot to Aquaman that doesn’t come up often.

jimmy:  Having your kid get murdered usually doesn’t make it to Saturday mornings.

tomk:  No, not really.

This, on the other hand, does:

jimmy:  Well, now, that floundered.

tomk:  Are we down to puns now?

jimmy:  I tried. Not my best work.

tomk:  Aquaman was the breakout character on The Brave and the Bold.

But that was a different take on the character. He had a beard.

jimmy:  Beards always triumph.

tomk:  True. Do you have anything else to add about this one that features an unresolved final showdown and the most likely drowning of who knows how many LexCorp sailors?

jimmy:  No. I think we scraped all the barnacles off of that one! Sigh. I give up.

tomk:  If it makes you feel any better–and it shouldn’t–the next episode is generally considered the most hated in the entire STAS run.

jimmy:  I can’t wait!

NEXT TIME:  Tom and Jimmy are going to finish up Superman the Animated Series with “Unity,” “The Demon Reborn,” and the two-part finale “Legacy”!  Be here for it!

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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