Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“The Prometheon”)

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: “The Prometheon”

He is you, you is he.

What Happens: A giant asteroid heading for Earth turns out to be a giant asteroid-with-a-big-alien-dude-attached. As is its custom, it rampages. Superman appears.

Yo

Thoughts:

  • Because the disc order on these Superman DVDs is kind of wonky, I assumed this was the last episode of Season One, but that was actually last week’s Two’s A Crowd. According to Wikipedia, Season Two starts off with the Blast from The Past two-parter.  But since I’ve already got this episode queued up, I’ll be going in whatever order the discs have the episodes.
  • General Hardcastle (voiced by Charles Napier, who’s just one of those character actors you see everywhere) first shows up in this episode. I thought he’d be in earlier episodes but NOPE. He fulfills the standard “law and order figure who doesn’t like Superman” role  here but doesn’t get really interesting until the series finale and his short but important JLU appearance.
  • You know, guys, maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong. Maybe the guys behind this show DON’T like Jack Kirby:

Very, very, very Kirby.

  • Man, General Hardcastle hates Aliens. If you even mention the movie Aliens, he probably flips a shit. Thats how deep his hatred goes.
  • Superman’s Space Suit (which just gets an enormous amount of screen time on this show, really) melting as he tries to redirect The Prometheon/Asteroid chunk toward the ocean is a cool bit of animation.

BLORP

  • Lady on cruise boat, that is not a shooting star. You are dumb.
  • Lois’ offhand reference to Perry White’s explosive flatulence is… intriguing.
  • Haha how great would it be if The Prometheon ran into Metallo while he was walking down there at the bottom of…whatever ocean Metropolis appears to be attached to? Place gets alot of foot traffic ever since Superman showed up.
  • The best Superman foes somehow reflect or play off of Superman himself: Brainiac is Superman’s alien nature without his compassion, Lex Luthor has Superman’s capacity for greatness but is too small minded to reach his potential, The Parasite TAKES as much as Superman GIVES to the world. Prometheon’s another interesting threat for Superman because he’s like a mindless, destructive exaggeration of Superman himself: Enormously powerful, absorbs energy for strength, sent from a distant alien world only to end up on Earth. Has to be intentional.
  • The Prometheon’s the biggest (literally, I guess) physical threat Superman’s had to deal with on this show. He’s barely holding his own for the most part.
  • Prof. Hamilton shuts down all the power to the city for a few minutes. Hope that doesn’t cover back up generators, people in hospitals on life support!
  • So they freeze the Prometheon with cold pack chemicals. Cool ending shot aside, what the hell do they do with it? Because Metropolis is screwed the next time they get a sunny day.

Overall?

I really liked this episode. Not the most satisfying ending in the world but this was a big monster movie that had Superman in it. Prometheon’s a good one episode monster that, like I said, reflects Superman in several respects. And hey, we got a fart joke from Lois Lane.

Kind of a shame no one ever used this character again, would’ve worked great as a Justice League threat of some kind.

NEXT EPISODE: The previously mentioned BLAST FROM THE PAST. Kryptonian criminals! The Phantom Zone! Be there!

Advertisements

Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“Two’s A Crowd”)

I’ll be honest. I’m alittle buzzed. I just got back from bar trivia. In other words, I’m in the perfect mood to watch some 90’s Superman animation. Lets bust a move.

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: “Two’s A Crowd”

Even Parasites Get The Blues

What Happens: Rogue scientist Earl Garver threatens Metropolis with a radioactive bomb and is left unconscious via severe concussion following a stand-off with Superman. The bomb’s location still unknown, Professor Hamilton suggets they use the Parasite, last seen here, to probe the scientist’s mind. No possible downsides to this plan!

Shh. Shhh.

Thoughts:

  • I love, love, love that this episode opens with Dan Turpin and co. firing on this house with laser guns and SWAT shields.
  • The set piece of a normal house decked-out in Super-Science weapons is well done, reminds me of the gauntlet Luthor puts him through in Superman: The Movie.
  • Sawyer, put on some pants. Everyone, act like you’re posing for a lame album cover!

HRUMPH

  • I dig how this episode utilizes Parasite in a way beyond something like a prison escape or something like that. The good guys desperately need his help and it just kind of goes to shit from there.
  • Hamilton’s whole idea of using a super villain to solve their problem (along with a bunch of stuff in the series finale) arguably goes a long way to explaining his heel turn  over in Justice League Unlimited (JLU’s Cadmus sure did like using super criminals for stuff).
  • So Parasite’s awake, I guess. But we already knew that from the bug touching thing at the end of his first appearance.
  • Parasite refusing to help them unless they give him cable TV is perfect, I love how Parasite’s plans are never “take over the world” or anything, just simple pleasures for a simple guy.
  • Parasite’s “feedback” scream is unnerving as hellllll.
  • Hey so fun fact: Earl Garver is voiced by Brian “Original Hannibal Lecter” Cox. Consistently amazed by the voice talent on the Timm DC Animated stuff.
  • I was going to cry foul on Superman using the special underwater suit but then I remembered this Superman needs to breathe periodically (also, probably doesn’t hurt that you can make an action figure out of it)

STAR labs whole budget goes toward making Superman little mission suits, I guess

  • Teaming up Parasite with a character like Garver whose charisma and intellect act as a counterpoint to his…unmotivated brute strength is a fantastic way to raise the stakes by giving Supes a physical threat that can plan.
  • The concept of introducing a scientist consciousness into Parasite actually predates this in the comics (Google: “Torval Freeman”), I’m not sure if this is intentional or just a happy coincidence. Circumstances aren’t identical, atleast.
  • The difference in the movements of Parasite-with-Garver’s consciousness (very acrobatic, playful almost) is a great touch.
  • Superman not being strong enough to fly out, just kind of super-jumping from ledge to ledge is, again, another great touch.
  • Kind of weird that they gave Parasite the TV after all that but, hey, whatever.

Overall?

I say this alot, but good episode! It’s kind of cool but strange just how many of these Superman episodes are low action and plot-heavy. Obviously not a bad thing, though.

Next Episode: THE PROMETHEON (One of the more memorable episodes from my younger years! Space gollum!)

 

Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“Tools Of The Trade”)

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: “Tools Of The Trade”

Metropolis police officers look alarmingly fascist

What Happens: Intergang! Specifically, Superman goes up against crime boss Bruno Manheim’s crime syndicate, who are being armed with super-weapons by a Mysterious Benefactor.

Thoughts:

  • First appearance of Animated Captain Sawyer and Dan Turpin (loved that they modeled him off of Jack Kirby, by the way)

Police. Cops. Police cops.

  • The Superman vs Ultra-Tank or whatever fight’s a nice way to open the episode.
  • Superman unwittingly undermining the legitimacy of the city police is a rather clever idea that I hadn’t really thought about. It also gives Turpin a kind of valid reason to dislike Superman.
  • Kanto! Our first official New God appearance? I love that he’s dressed like a normal dude except for the Kirby-tastic trident thing

Gotta respect Kanto's luscious head of hair.

  • Totally forgot that Michael York voiced Kanto. And then much later on Ares on Justice League. What a sweet voice that man has.
  • They threw in some cool Kirby weaponry. The giant energy hands gauntlet is neat:

Eh?

  • I’m really glad there’s some build-up to Darkseid/The New Gods conflict over time, it sells the enormity of the threat very well.
  • Someone should count just how MANY trains Superman has saved in the various media. Is it even trackable?
  • Superman pushing apart the energy hand construct things so hard that he BREAKS THE DUDE’S ACTUAL HANDS is awesome.
  • You know, “Superman with angry heat vision eyes” has  become a cliche by now, but this is just used perfectly.

Welp. That's that.

  • LOVE how Kanto, evil demi-god from space, flat out just runs away. Kanto doesn’t need this. Kanto can’t deal with this right now.
  • Animators totally outdo themselves on the brief glimpse of Apokolips we get.
  • Michael Ironside’s 10 seconds of Darkseid dialogue = possibly the best part of the whole episode.

Overall?

It’s mostly “Superman vs. crooks”, so I think the episode’s not quite as exciting in terms of action, but all of the Jack Kirby Fourth World concepts that get used are used very very well. The episode’s basically just a trailer for the AMAZING Darkseid two parter we get alittle later on. But a good episode on its own, for sure.

Next Episode: TWO’S A CROWD

Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“The Main Man – Part 2”)

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: “The Main Man – Part 2″

What Happens: PREVIOUSLY. Superman and Lobo were captured by the sinister alien “The Preserver” and put in his SPACE ZOO. Now they have to team up and escape AHH SPACE DEMON WORM.

Look at that thing.

Thoughts:

  • Weird fact: the first time I ever saw DVR technology being demo-ed was like ten years ago on a news broadcast that used this specific episode to demonstrate pausing/rewinding live TV.
  • The Preserver keeping Lobo satisfied with robot alien hookers in what looks like a college dorm room is the best, man. That concept alone is pure Dini.

Literally my sophomore year dorm room.

AHHH! AHHHH!!!!!!

  • “Kizz”

Yep.

  • Superman reflecting the red sun lamp light onto some kind of wacky space rhino in order to goad it into smashing through his cell is a clever way to get him free.
  • “The Main Man’s word is his bond, man”
  • Hahaha what the hell?

    " "

  • The dynamic between Superman and Lobo in this episode is really fun.
  • There’s even more really sweet alien designs in this half of the two parter, must’ve been a pain to design and animate but it really adds something. And moar STARRO

Love that guy.

  • Maaaan, Lobo tearing the skin off that giant alien snake thing. How on earth did they get away with that?
  • I don’t know how it took me this long to place it but Sqweak is voiced by David “Squiggy” Lander. Ok!
  • The Preserver transforming from “alien John Hodgman” to “enormous Kirby-esque monstrosity” is cool!

Total Kirby teeth.

  • I like that Superman puts all the animals from the Space Zoo in his budding Fortress of Solitude and that its something that gets referenced from time to time later on.

😀

 

Overall? This is a really fantastic two-parter. There’s so many weird, cool ideas they manage to jam into the story and it all works.

Next Episode: (Talkin’ bout) “My Girl”

 

The Spider-Man Challenge Day 9: Amazing Spider-Man #8

The Spider-Man Challenge: Monday through Friday, I read a Stan Lee-written issue of Amazing Spider-Man and write crap about it.

ASM #8

Special "Salute-To-Hyphens" Issue!

Fun Fact: This issue is one of Dan Slott’s favorite classic Spider-Man issues. Let’s have a look.

“The Terrible Threat of The Living Brain”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Steve Ditko

Synopsis: The first story opens in a Midtown High classroom, where Peter and his classmates watch as a robot is wheeled in. Flash Thompson knocks off Peter’s glasses and the two almost get into a fight until Liz Allan breaks it up. Mr. Petty of ICM then explains to the strange looking machine, “The Living Brain”, to the class: the machine contains more knowledge than any human or computer on Earth and has the ability to think. Mr. Petty  asks for a volunteer and Peter is selected to operate the robot while two janitors scheme to steal the Brain. The students suggest Peter asks the machine to reveal Spider-Man’s secret identity. Nervously, Peter inputs the data.

REEFER

Luckily, the machine spits out a numbered code that Peter’s teacher charges him with translating for homework. Flash tries to grab the code from Peter and, after a shoving match, their teacher suggests they solve their problems in the gym. After class, Flash and Peter get in the ring and box. Peter is torn between looking like a coward after dodging Flash’ punches and seriously hurting his opponent. While everyone distracted by the fight, the two janitors attempt to steal the Living Brain. Mr. Petty walks in them and is knocked out and in the scuffle, one of the crooked janitors is knocked into the Brain, which goes kill-crazy.

Murder-Bot Comes For The Children In The Night

WRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Back at the fight, Peter figures out how to use the least amount of his strength and lands a blow just as Flash is momentarily distracted by the Living Brain panic. Peter gets booed and he leaves an unconscious Flash in the locker room while he sneaks off as Spider-Man. Spider-Man attempts to stop The Living Brain but nothing works against the haywire machine. This continues until two students are nearly mowed down by The Brain and Spider-Man slows it down, but is grabbed by the machine. He manages to shut it down before it can fall down a flight of stairs. The two janitors flee through the locker room and are accidently knocked out when Flash wakes up. Seizing the opportunity to play a trick on his rival, Peter plants the idea that Flash is Spider-Man. Peter decides to say he lost the paper slip in all the confusion, pleased with getting a chance to clobber Flash and save the day.

Observations:

  • It took 8 issues, but Peter has finally ditched the glasses!
  • The Living Brain, man. Only in comics can knocking into a computer make it freak out and attack people. An incredibly useful feature. I’m only sad that the Living Brain didn’t get the ED-209 ending hinted at by the stairs.
  • The many goofy faces of Flash Thompson, ladies and gentlemen:

WHAM!

* * * *

:0

<< >>

  • So yeah, Flash Thompson is a great foil and the pay off at the end is priceless.

The next story is much shorter, but it makes up for it in weirdness.

“Spider-Man Tackles The Torch”

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Jack Kirby

Synopsis: Spider-Man heads down to Glenville to ruin a party held for Johnny Storm by his girlfriend, Doris Evans.

Profound Spider-Dickery

Spidey and The Torch fight and it takes them to the beach, where the rest of The Fantastic Four show up to watch before being pulled in. Finally, Sue Storm breaks up the fight and flirts alittle with Spider-Man (“You’re entirely too clever, and adorable, to be fighting with us!”). Spider-Man takes off in a huff, but not before leaving a heart made of webbing for Sue.

Observations:

  • This story is…bizarre. Why does Spider-Man act like such an enormous dick? Shouldn’t he still be grateful for the pep talk he got back in the Doc Ock issue?
  • As I pointed out in the credits, this is the first Kirby-drawn Spider-Man story. I think he does pretty good with the physicality/movement, but he’s alittle too reliant on webbing gimmicks (Over the course of 6 pages, Spider-Man makes a bat, a parachute, some bags, a hang-glider, and a heart). It’s a well-drawn story, but Ditko’s a much better fit.

Final Thoughts: As an issue, it’s good, but kind of a mixed bag. The first story’s fun and simple with some really funny moments, the second one feels like a last minute fill-in, though Kirby art is Kirby art and that’s always good. Tomorrow: Electro! Why not?