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Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“Blasts From The Past – Part 1”)

I now own all of SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES on DVD. Each week, I’m going to work my way through the series one episode at a time.  Dig?

Episode: “Blasts From The Past – Part 1″

ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER KIRBY HELL

What Happens: While messing around with a Kryptonian Phantom Zone generator with Prof. Hamilton, Superman discovers a surviving female Kryptonian trapped inside. Somethin’s up, though. Why’s she there in the first place, right?

Thoughts:

  • So this is the first time the Phantom Zone shows up in DC Animated continuity. I honestly can’t remember it showing up much outside of this two parter and its use on a Cadmus storyline JLU episode (Man, that arc was like non-stop Superman stuff, huh?)
  • Professor Hamilton just messing around with switches on an alien machine. What the hell school taught you that, Prof?
  • The Fortress of Solitude’s more and more built out and homey each time we cut to it. It’s practically a bachelor pad at this point.
  • So Superman just keeps Brainiac tech in his crib? I mean, its the only way he’s going to learn about his former planet I guess but I’m surprised they never followed up on the storytelling potential of this. Too similar to his next appearance, I guess?
  • Ron Perlman as Jax-Ur!

Is that like...supposed to be Krypton on his chest?

  • Interesting that they went with Jax-Ur and Mala as names for these characters since they resemble General Zod and Ursa rather closely. Jax-Ur makes some sense as that’s a pre-crisis Kryptonian Phantom Zone criminal, but Mala’s counterpart in the comics is…male.
  • THE DRAMATIC RETURN OF THE GOOFY LOOKING KRYPTONIAN COUNCIL!

Seriously what is UP with that?

  • I LOVE how Jor-El was basically this SCIENCE ACTION HERO back on Krypton. Dude steals a soldier’s helmet, wires it to take down everyone in like 5 seconds. Animated Jor-El’s the best.
  • A big part of using The Phantom Zone in your standard Superman story tends to involve raising the question of how ethical the whole thing is, this episode manages to keep that concern but without belaboring the point.
  • I’m really glad this is a two-parter, this would’ve really suffered otherwise. Way too much too cover and explain, I think.
  • Dig the “Mala’s eyes adjusting to sunlight” perspective shot.
  • I think one of the real strengths of this episode is how Mala is built up to be pretty likeable and sympathetic initially. The lighthearted “testing out her powers” montage, the affection for Superman, just the whole tone. But you still get the impression something’s off.
  • And then the other shoe drops and we realize how crazy she is.
  • “THE EX-CON FROM KRYP-TON”. These Angela Chen soundbites are always fantastically dumb.
  • Lex Luthor going all Glenn Beck. “THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE KRYPTONIAN BABIES AND MAKE US THEIR PETS!!”
  • Glad they build up Mala’s big freakout here. There’s lots of signs, but Superman rejecting her romantically really setting her off just makes sense.
  • Lois gets the best quips, doesn’t she?
  • Great cliffhanger.

Overall?

Just going off of the first half, this is one of the best episodes of the series. The two-parters really give this team time to put in some nuance and detail that you can’t do in a one shot episode.

NEXT EPISODE: BLASTS FROM THE PAST – PART 2. PERLMAN. PERLMAAAAAN.

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About Max Robinson

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