It’s time now to turn to the other titan of the DC universe as I dive into Superman: The Animated Series. Launching on 6 September, 1996, the series started with a three part story that retold the classic story of Kal-El’s (Tim Daly) arrival on Earth after the destruction of Krypton, and growing int the persona of Clark Kent and the heroic Superman.
In part one, we are introduced to the world of Krypton, Kal-El’s parents, Jor-El (Christopher McDonald) and Lara (Finola Hughes) as they try and prepare for impending destruction of their world, something Jor-El has discovered, and try and come up with a way to save their infant son.
We are also introduced to the Kryptonian computer and artificial entity, Braniac (Corey Burton), as the series plants the seed early for the supervillain.
Krypton is brought to life in an interesting way, there are costumes that seem like a nod to the original comics, and designs, they feel very art-deco. The planet is filled with strange life forms, including a familiar looking white dog.
The people, of course, don’t listen to Jor-El, who suggests escaping to the Phantom Zone, believing only in Braniac’s answers, never suspecting that the computer may be working against its creators to save itself.
Part I concludes with the destruction of Krptyon, and if you watch the background as Kal’s ship races away, the first creation of kryptonite.
It’s a fun, exciting introduction to the world of Superman, and I love the fact that the creators have decided to take their time, and tell Superman’s origin right.
Part II sees Kal’s arrival on Earth, where he is given the name Clark, and raised by Jonathan (Mike Farrell) and Martha Kent (Shelley Fabares).
He slowly discovers his powers as he grows up in Smallville, Kansas. Well as slowly as you can on a twenty minute program that wants to balance character and story development with action beats’ and under his adopted family’s guidance, becomes a strong, intelligent, morally upright reporter for the Daily Planet.
I will say, for learning that not only is he adopted, but that he’s an alien to boot, Clark handles things pretty well.
In the bustling city of Metropolis, he begins making his name for himself, not only as a reporter, but as the city’s protector. He works alongside Lois Lane (Dana Delaney) and Jimmy Olsen (David Kaufman) for editor Perry White (George Dzunda), working on stories which also helps him keep an eye on the state of the city, to help where he’s needed.
Superman’s existence is revealed to Lois Lane when things go sideways at a Lexcorp presentation by Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown). John Corben (Malcolm McDowell) is intent on stealing some of the new prototypes and may have picked the wrong day to do it.
Part 3 of the story sees it picking up right where the previous episode left off as Corben continues to effect his escape while a airliner plummets to the Earth.
Saving the day, Superman gives an interview to Lois, and begins a long-lasting conflict between himself and Lex Luthor, after he suspects that Luthor arranged the theft of his prototype to get more money for the contact.
Tim Daly and Dana Delaney make a perfect pairing as the leads, and I love that his Superman isn’t above berating himself for a mistake. And how can you not be amazed by the stunning voice talent Andrea Romano brings to the table – Clancy Brown as Luthor? It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role, every role is perfectly cast, I don’t think there’s a better voice and casting director ever!
The episode makes a reference to Batman, firmly establishing them in the same universe, and, of course, setting up future alliances, it also establishes that Lex and Lois had a prior relationship.
I love that yes, Clark is super strong, and can fly, but that doesn’t mean his actions don’t require effort and exertion.
The series also introduces the supporting character of Bibbo (Brad Garrett), and lays down the groundwork for recurring characters, storylines, and establishes the look and the feel of what will be a fast-paced series – if only they had been able to use John Williams’ themes, oh well.
Up, up and away!