Superman The Animated Series Review


Now it’s time to take a look at the Superman show! Unlike Batman, Superman never really got any shows after this, which was really too bad. He had the ultra old shows from the good ole days, which were a lot of fun, but Superman needs a new one. Ah well, it would have a tough time beating this one anyway as this is the definitive Superman cartoon, which really defined the character. I still consider this to be the definitive Superman portrayal. Between owning all of the collections for this one and the Batman show, our comic book show collection is going strong!

The Superman show was much shorter than the Batman one, but with around 50 episodes give or take a little, I’d say that it still had a good run. We got to see a lot of villains and there were a lot of plot lines to wrap up. I’d also say that the series had more guest stars than the Batman cartoon, which is impressive considering its smaller size. It doesn’t have that same theater feel, but that’s all right since Superman accepts its position as more of a comic book series from start to finish. It’s fantastical and gets pretty out there at times, but this is a Superman show so that’s really how it should be.

As with the Batman review, I’ll quickly highlight some of the good episodes and maybe mention one or two, which fell flat for me before going into the characters. Naturally, Lobo’s big debut made for a good two parter. The fight between him and Superman was a lot of fun and Lobo is crazy in an interesting way for the most part. Likewise, Blasts from the Past was another good story arc as two Kryptonians arrive from the Phantom Zone and try to trick Superman. When that doesn’t work, it’s fighting time and seeing Superman go up against foes who are nearly as strong as him is always a blast. Of course, they don’t have Superman’s longer exposure to the sun or his genius intellect.

Speed Demons was really fun as the Flash makes for a great guest star. I still say that Superman would easily beat him in a race, but I know that Flash fans would beg to differ. The Weather Wizard wasn’t much of a threat…but who would be right? Father’s Day was another good one as it saw the debut of Kalibak. We can’t forget the Hand of Fate either as Dr. Fate helped Superman fight off a demon. That episode was a lot of fun and the creature had a good design.

There are many more really good episodes, but let’s talk about what could be the best one. The three part World’s Finest event! Batman comes into town and Superman doesn’t like that since the Dark Knight’s tactics can be…questionable. Lex Luthor and Joker also decide to team up so the heroes have a real fight on their hands. Naturally, the big draw was that the heroes would finally be meeting up and I’ve seen those three episodes over a dozen times. This was an awesome event and I never tire of them.

Batman would appear two more times as Superman teamed up with Robin to find him and when they teamed up against Ra’s Al Ghul. Supergirl’s opening two parter was another great arc as she got to fight the Furies and help Superman out. The final two parter with Darkseid was definitely intense although I don’t believe that Superman could ever be mind controlled. It was still definitely an intense arc. Darkseid’s first two part event was also quite good as well as the episode where Clark Kent appears to have died in a car crash.

Another solid episode had the Legion of Superheroes arrive to help Superman in the past. Those characters never got to appear all that much in animation although they had a great episode in Justice League Unlimited, which was certainly neat for their fans. Seeing Superman in high school was also neat as he took down the bullies while still learning more about his true strength. He went a little far with the bully, but it was still relatively minor to what the average character would have done and Superman learned his lesson. The bully did have a rough time of it later on as he was thrown quite a long distance. (But lived somehow)

There are a lot of entertaining episodes to be found in this show. Ranging from light hearted Clark Kent themed ones to the dark and intense Darkseid episodes. The show really knows how to alter the mood depending on the situation and it makes for a lot of good stories. Superman is always in character and since the writing is always good, that takes care of most of my main concerns.

As for episodes that were more of a miss for me, basically any Bizarro episode. I definitely didn’t care for those stories. Obsession was another episode that fell flat. Basically, any time the villain is obsessed over getting a girl, the episode is going to fail because it just makes the villain look so petty. There are other episodes out there that don’t rank too high either due to animal shenanigans or villains who weren’t very cool, but for the most part, nearly all of the episodes were quite good.

Naturally, Superman is an incredible main character. He is the definition of heroic and definitely stands up for justice. While Batman gets things done in the shadows, Superman gets to be around during the daytime. The public is usually very appreciative of him and Superman does his best to keep their trust. Darkseid wrecks this for him in the end, but it’s always nice to see Superman get public support. After seeing so many heroes run from the government and be despised by the world, Superman is always a nice contrast to that.

While some may find his incredible abilities to make him boring, I’d say that they help to make him such a great character. He is supposed to be virtually perfect so then you can see how well we could all handle tough situations if we were invincible. Superman always makes the right calls and he’s a great role model for anyone. Naturally, he’s a little too tough in the sense that he has to get nerfed in just about every episode or else it would all be too easy. So, get ready for a lot of plot holes involving the power levels. Superman shouldn’t lose to just about any of the situations that he’s put in, but you can just assume that he is holding back and toying with the opponents. This is practically canon after Justice League anyway.
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Superman’s supporting cast is stronger than Batman’s if you ask me. Naturally, Lois Lane has a huge role here and she instantly beats the people surrounding Batman. She’s constantly going on dangerous missions so Superman has to come to the rescue. That being said, she can fight and Lois is still prepared for many dangerous situations. It’s just that she tends to attract super threats who aren’t deterred so easily. Her bold personality has won Lois many fans and this is definitely the best portrayal of her character. She is supposed to be tough and independent, two traits that the show does a good job of showing.

Beyond that, Superman’s supporting cast don’t really get huge roles. Perry White is around to remind Clark that he needs to step up his game. A drunk sailor is typically around to back up Superman. He’s a nice guy and a good character even if he could have used some more screen time. Lana doesn’t appear very often either. I always found her to be a likable character back in the Smallville days, but the city life didn’t do her any wonders as she became the head of a fashion show and got tricked by people in the know. She also didn’t handle the puppet lady too well, but since she knows Clark’s true identity, at least she can typically count on a save since he’s always pretty close when in Metropolis.

We’ve also got Jimmy Olson here as well. I’ve never been a big Jimmy fan in any continuity, but he had some decent moments I suppose. He certainly looks better here than in some other adaptions like Superman vs Doomsday where he sold out. Thurpin was essentially the big cop in the Superman continuity. He didn’t last as long as Bullock, but he was certainly a good officer. He definitely didn’t mind jumping into danger and he talked tough right up until the bitter end. That being said, antagonizing the enemy is something that you should typically only do when you have super powers or can think of a way to survive the situation.

We also can’t forget Superman’s super powered help like Steel. He didn’t get to appear all that much, but he was a nice guy before he adopted the persona so it was cool to see him get his blows in. He would have a small role in Justice League as well, but a pivotal one as he held off Galatea for a little while. Green Lantern makes a brief appearance and he looks pretty good. It was a nice way to see his origin story even if he would never really do much in the continuity again. Sinestro made for a fun villain in that episode.

Another guest star for the series was the Flash of course. He was certainly a fun addition to the team. Supergirl had a fairly big role as she helped out in quite a few multi part episodes. She was introduced a little late in the series, but she mastered her abilities with great speed. Her powers never seemed to be as impressive as Superman’s, but she helped fight off an invasion and cover for Superman when he was out of town. She even got some episodes to herself where she proved her meddle. Supergirl’s always been a really fun character and I’d say that this show really nailed it with her portrayal.

As for the villains, Superman definitely dealt with quite a few heavy weights during the series. Metallo was one of the main stays who appeared quite a few times through the episodes. It’s safe to say that he’s nowhere near Superman’s level in strength, but he did put up quite a few close fights thanks to his Kryptonite. It’s a running gag that he always clobbers Superman at least once with that gimmick. For the most part I’ve always been a Metallo fan. He can be a little cheesy and act like a generic grunt at times, but for the most part he’s a pretty neat villain.
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That being said, I prefer Parasite. His gimmick has always been cool as he can steal energy from Superman and grow stronger. I grew up with this design thanks to the Gamecube design and it always made me think of him as a really cool villain. He’s technically not too much of a threat unless he can grab Superman, but he’s able to do that quite often so I guess that would make him a legitimate threat right? Livewire was not quite as likable in her human form although I did like her gimmick of basically being against everyone. She thinks that adults are part of the old way and basically tries to incite rebellion at every chance that she can get. Even Clark Kent had enough at one point and Superman always tries to act mild mannered in that form. I do like Livewire’s confidence though as she seriously believes that she can win the fight.

Lobo is naturally a pretty chaotic villain who gives Superman a tough time. He’s definitely not my kind of villain in the sense that he’s constantly looking for romance and flirts with Lois. It’s sad because he’s a cool character otherwise. He reminds Superman that he is The Man and I like to see him fight other villains. He would make a brilliant rival/”anti hero” (likable villain) if not for his character flaws. If nothing else, he’s a pretty fun character to watch. I’d say that he’s essentially a better version of Bizarro. I personally don’t find Bizarro all that funny or entertaining. Typically his stories just end up being tragic and you can’t help, but feel bad for the guy. He gives Superman some tough fights, but he’s typically just misunderstood.

Naturally, Darkseid has a fairly big role in this series. He’s a villain from the shadows from the most part, but he does step out into the limelight when the time is right. He’s a very strategic villain who rarely fights himself even though he has the power to do so. He prefers to break Superman through other means like telepathy. Naturally, Superman can crush him when going all out, but Darkseid has the edge otherwise. He launched a pair of pretty solid invasions on Earth and he’s definitely one of Superman’s ultimate villains. He’s a fighter who always has a threatening presence.

Granny Goodness is also around, but she’s really just there to be a weak villain who lets her minions do all of the work. It’s definitely hard to find any reason to really like the character. The Furies are decent fighters and I like them as enemies for Superman and Supergirl, but their personalities aren’t really existent. I also call plot hax whenever they appear since they shouldn’t pose much of a threat physically.

Brainiac is definitely known as one of Superman’s most deadly opponents. I mainly became a fan of him through the DCAU as I liked his new mecha design much more than the traditional green one. He could actually give Superman a pretty good fight when they met up and his laser blast against Lex would certainly have some future ramifications. This genius always has a backup plan and while it is not enough to take down someone like Superman, it makes for some good episodes.

Toyman has always been a bit of a recurring Superman villain. He can be amusing at times and unlikable for the rest of the episodes. I can’t say that he’s typically my kind of villain, although he’s much better than other interpretations of the character. The one in Superman vs Doomsday for example, Toyman looked pretty bad there. Kalibak’s surprisingly more likable, although his whole gimmick is that he’s strong, but not very smart. I liked the fights between him and Superman and even the senior Kents got involved. That was one of the episodes which had a lot of fun with the soundtrack and Superman just seemed to be in shock for the whole fight. Once he snapped out of that, it was game over for Kalibak!

Superman’s animation is naturally solid as it came out during the prime of western animation! The fights are even better than Batman’s as Superman trades blows with heavyweights like Darkseid and Lobo. Buildings are shattered and Superman is taken to his very limits during some of these fights. The visuals are always very bright and you will clearly be able to see everything as it unfolds. This definitely doesn’t feel dated and should continue to look good for some time.

As for the soundtrack, the Superman show had a lot of fun altering it to fit whatever the episode’s theme was. For example, the Lobo episode used a lot of crazy disco music throughout the episode. Some will play out more like the retro Superman, heroic themes that you would expect. The music can go from ancient to futuristic, from elevator styled peace to chaotic war themes. Superman really has it all and it’s why I’d say that the soundtrack is pretty stunning. No matter what type of music you like, you should find some good themes to listen to during the show.
There aren’t any other Superman shows to compare this too so let’s look at where it ranks compared to all superhero shows! Right off the bat, it loses to Justice League, but beats up every other DC show. Really, the only other show that I would say is really close would be Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. After a little thought, I would still say that Superman has the advantage here as it has the solid edge in fight scenes. At 2nd place in the all time lists, that’s pretty impressive for the show!
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Overall, Superman is definitely a great show. He makes for a great lead in it and the characters who surround him are pretty good. Add in the solid soundtrack, good animation, and the fun battles and you have got a winner here. You’ll definitely be cruising through the episodes once you start and there’s no turning back. You can continue these adventures in Justice League and then you’ll find it hard to watch the newer versions of the characters. I highly recommend this to all comic fans or to anyone who likes a good adventure with solid writing and some action to top it all off!

Overall 9/10

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Superman Krypton Returns Review

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It’s time to look at yet another Superman comic! I have to say that I feel a little bad for the casual comic enthusiast who may be trying to keep up with the Superman trades. DC certainly didn’t make it easy as you have the Superman Action Comic volumes, Superman volumes, and then the unnumbered Superman volumes like this one and Doomed. It makes it kind of tricky for fans to know when they all take place. This one only has 1 actual Superman issue along with a .3 in there somewhere, a few zero issues, and then issues from the other members of the Super family. I guess you could say that this is actually Superman volume 4.5. We temporarily get a break from the Psy War plot, which is certainly a good thing!

Superman was just minding his own business when he bumps into Supergirl and Superboy in space. For reasons unknown to them, they have been summoned to that area! After a little wondering, a cosmic being appears and his herald lets the heroes know that H’el has begun his latest assault on the universe. If he succeeds, everything dies! Each hero is given a task to complete to save the timestream. Superboy must go to the past and make sure that Supergirl gets onto the rocket. Supergirl must defeat the clones in one of the battles of Krypton’s past. Finally, Superman needs to make sure that Krypton actually blows up since H’el wants to stop that! It’s a race against time, but the heroes are ready!

Unlike the first arc where H’el showed up, this is a very small event. It’s so small that technically, the heroes aren’t even on screen together for almost the entire adventure. I thought that was a bit of a cop-out as some more team fights would have been a lot of fun. Each comic is a stand alone adventure for the heroes like in the classic DC/Marvel comics of old, but there are some cutaways so they aren’t completely isolated.

Before the plot began though, we got to see the 0 issues for Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, and H’el. It’s interesting because I’d already read Superman’s and Supergirl’s in the past thanks to their respective collections, but Superboy and H’el’s were new. Origin stories are always intriguing. The Superboy one definitely had some interesting plot points that would probably come into play in his series. The main villain certainly has a cool design at any rate. It’s also neat how Superman’s actually foreshadowed an event that happened in this collection as he witnessed Krypton explode in person. It’s impressive since the issue came out way before this arc began.

H’el’s is a little tragic for the character even if he seriously overreacted. It turns out that everything he has ever known was basically fake so his life was a lie. Now, he doesn’t want to save Krypton so much as he just wants to rule it and destroy everyone who gets in his way. Any sense of heroism is gone now and only the villain remains. He looks a lot weaker than he was in hte original event, which is a good thing since the fights won’t be so lopsided now. He didn’t really get to fight anyone though so it’s hard to say if his true ability was really lowered or not, but that’s just how it goes.

Supergirl’s adventure was likely the most straight forward. As she was under a red sun, she needed to use her hand to hand moves to defeat the clones. She does know some close combat skills thanks to an old friend of hers so she manages to hold her own. After that, she has a quick rematch with H’el as he tries to fight the heroes across time and space. The issue was good although I wish that she had maintained her super abilities since a high speed fight with H’el would have been cool.

Superboy’s issue was surprisingly the best one as it easily had the most action. He got to fight the actual essence of Krypton when it wanted to explode. It turns out in a neat twist that all planets have a hidden life form that makes sure that the planet will die when it is supposed too. It’s one of those random things that will likely never be mentioned again, but this also gave Superboy a good opponent to fight so I am certainly fine with that. The design for the villain was cool and Superboy even got to get along with Supergirl for a change. Their rivalry is certainly very intense on Earth so their’s no shot of getting along there.

Still, they put aside their differences when necessary. I like all three of the Super characters and I assume that they can patch things up eventually. As for the Superman story, not much happened there for a while, but eventually he got to meet up with H’el and have a fight. Granted, H’el was super weakened from fighting Superboy and Supergirl while also having most of his body melt thanks to Superman’s father, but Superman still took a decisive victory in this match. It was a decent climax and while H’el’s end in the first arc was probably better for him as a character, at least this one cemented him as a villain.

As expected, the art is solid. The weakest issue in that regard would likely be Superman 0, but they’re all quite good and live up to DC’s strong reputation for having well drawn comics. The fight scenes are good and the character models stand out as usual. The art would have likely been even more impressive if the collection had only had some more action. Alas, it was simply not to be!

As for the writing, it’s certainly a step up over the last two Superman volumes. This time, Superman actually acts like his typical heroic self for the most part. Even at the very end of the comic where his father tries to destroy H’el, Superman quickly stops him. Destroying the guy simply isn’t right and Superman took a stand. That being said, Superman’s father actually managing to get into space and go across the timelines was a little iffy. I think that the comic went a little too far trying to show how much of a genius he was in that scene. It’s also very intriguing that he would create H’el in the first place as it seems a little out of character to do such morally dubious acts.

If there’s just one issue that I had with this event, it’s that it just felt like filler. I feel like DC only half heartedly brought H’el back and just used him as a time waster. As I explained earlier, it doesn’t feel like much of an event because of how isolated all of the heroes were. Some plot elements also feel random like Superman’s father arriving and Superboy fighting the essence of Krypton. As a result, the collection was also decently light on the action angle. I think that a few more issues for the event would have helped it out a lot. As it stands, half of the collection was made up of origin issues.

Overall, Krypton Returns is still a fun collection. It’s certainly a big step up from the last Superman volume that I read! The action scenes that we got here were much better than the Psy War’s and the writing has also improved. It’s always nice to see Supergirl and Superboy as well. Especially Superboy as I never see him anywhere else and he seems like a fairly good character in the New 52. I prefer this streamlined version to his Young Justice counterpart. H’el was not as impressive as last time, but that’s probably a good thing. Maybe he will return again someday and the cosmic being will have to call Superman to action. If so, I’ll be ready for that! I’m afraid that the Superman reviews will likely stop here for a while, but no worries. Soon I shall have a Marvel one up to counter this! If you’re a comic fan who likes some action, then I definitely recommend this trade paperback to you!

Overall 7/10

Superman The Power Within Review

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Aw yeah, it’s time for a Superman review! I think we all remember how that Unchained review went after all. Suffice to say, this one isn’t quite at that level of awesomeness, but it’s still a fun comic from back in the day. We get to see why Superman deserved to have such power as he teaches others about humility and perseverance. He certainly does have a lot of power within.

There are really two big story arcs to be found here. The main one is about two factions who are fighting for power. One group believes that Superman is the messiah and that he has come to help them. Many miracles start to occur and they gain special abilities. The other group believes that Superman is the Anti Christ and he has come to lead people astray. They have no special abilities, but they do possess great weapons, which can harm the Man of Steel and even destroy him. They are ready!

This story was interesting because of the Christian elements involved. We do know that an Anti Christ will appear and seem to have remarkable abilities. In that sense, it’s interesting to see so many people actually become suspicious. There is a plot twist involving mental suggestion, but that’s how I would expect us to be when the Anti Christ shows up. In this modern era of skepticisim how will he trick us? We do know that he will trick many people so I just may not be able to comprehend exactly how he will do it. I suppose that a few heroic feats can go a long way. If he stops a terrorist attack or something, that would win him a lot of fans instantly.

Well, back to the comic. The humans certainly don’t look great as they believe in Superman so quickly. The twist involves a certain villain of Superman’s who wants to understand the human race a little more. This is all just an experiment to him. Unfortunately, Superman only gets into a small scuffle with the guy before he leaves. Superman was batted aside rather easily, but you can make the case that he was startled and not really ready for a fight. Next time, Superman would be victorious!

At least he got to prove to his religious fans that he wasn’t God during that moment. He showed them the light and that they had to lead their lives without thinking of Superman as always watching over them. Superman stopped a war in the making and showed us why Metropolis is still such a great place to live. This plot were mainly told through one page stories, which was a unique twist. Hopefully they came out daily as you would have had to wait through around 50 installments to see it through to the end.

The second story is not quite as engaging, but we are in more familiar territory. Lex Luthor has ordered a suspicious belt from someone that allows the wearer to enhance his/her abilities 1000 fold. His receptionist receives the package from a dying man and her brother decides to put it on. They suspect that Luthor is a little shady and their hunch turns out to be correct. The girl’s brother already had some telekinetic abilities so now he is a powerful figure. Will the power corrupt the boy or will he help Superman stop Lex?

This comic seems to have taken place after some kind of political action in the real world. Superman ended up demolishing an army from the place that we were fighting. Likely for some war propoganda and hopefully we were the heroes through and through. Superman is a little unsure of whether he made the right call, but we have to have confidence in the Man of Steel and trust that he did the right thing. The people from that culture who live in Metropolis certainly don’t like Superman anymore. Superman gets blasted by the kid on two occasions before the kid realizes that Superman is all right.

The kid got a lot of hype as his abilities were enough to even hurt Superman. Superman’s superior speed should still help him claim victory in a fight, but the kid certainly gave it his all. The climax has them team up as a large UFO is planning to wipe out the world (or the country) so Superman takes it as far as he can and then the kid erects a barrier over the city. It cost him (most of) his powers though, but it was worth it. The ending is pretty happy though as the kid can eventually grow up to be a protector for those who need one.

The art is nice and retro. You can definitely tell that these stories were published quite a while ago. It’s nostalgic to see things like this and you can also appreciate how much everything has changed. Perry was still there, but most of the other reporters are new or vastly changed. Lois looks nothing like she does nowadays and this was back in the times where Lex Luthor was actually very overweight. It’s cool to see the old cast and at least Clark Kent was the one constant that you could depend on.

Speaking of which, it’s also good to see Superman portrayed as strong, but also intelligence. He uses his deductive skills to figure out who the culprits were in the first case and he uses his abilities in useful ways. He scans an entire physical database in seconds with his x ray vision and the dialogue says that he can essentially see to the ends of the earth when he concentrates. Likewise, he can hear everything in the city when he concentrates. It’s always good to see this. It’s why Superman is always ready to stop a crime, but also why he can’t be everywhere. There is a crime every minute so if he was constantly focused, he could keep on trying to stop them, but he would never have any peace. It’s why he still spends some time as Clark Kent and doesn’t stop everything. It’s a tough moral issue that is tackled in other comics, where I would likely go into it more. Still, Superman does the best that he can and he is still the best comic book character out there. That’s why it’s always exciting to read a new Superman story.

Overall, The Power Within is a fun Superman collection. It’s a stand alone story that doesn’t really have anything to do with…anything so it’s very easy to just jump in and read. I had never heard of this collection before I read it, which is always a fun way to be introduced to something. At times, it can be hard to buy the fact that the alien weapons from a certain planet can be so lethal to Superman, but I suppose that it’s a decent change of pace from Kryptonite. Superman also doesn’t give in and he could likely have taken down both armies rather easily despite their armaments. Superman tries to find a nice balance on being a hero while being careful not to let the people think he’s more than that. He has trouble with moral dilemmas just like the rest of us. The collection is rather short and you can finish it really quickly, but I imagine that the price shouldn’t be too high. I certainly recommend picking up this title and you won’t regret it. Batman is even mentioned so be on the lookout for that reference.

Overall 7/10