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Yes, It's Been 25 Years Since Superman: The Animated Series

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Superman Animated Series

Perhaps one is officially old when the best versions of their favorite things date back beyond twenty years. I was pleased to find that Superman: The Animated Series was getting a Blu-ray collection of all three seasons. But I did blink at the fact that it had been twenty-five years -- a whole quarter-century -- since the show had debuted on television. And while Superman hasn't really been away from the animated theater, this particular incarnation, a by-product of the success of Batman: The Animated Series, was a show that understood the character, what he was about, and was able to tell engrossing stories that challenged the hero.

Tim Daly (Wings) gave voice to Smallville's Clark Kent, and gave him the perfect midwestern, small-town appeal. The series begins with the three part origin that finds baby Kal-El rocketed from Krypton to Earth, where he is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent (M*A*S*H's Mike Farrell and Coach's Shelly Fabares). Upon moving to Metropolis, he soon encounters Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Dana Delany) and billionaire tycoon Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown), setting up two different kinds of rivalries.

The animated series did not play into the Clark/Lois romance angle too hard; not to the point where they even dated, let alone married. But there were definite feelings Lois had for Superman, best explored in the three-part episode "World's Finest" which saw the first meeting between Superman and Batman, a story that saw a team-up between Luthor and the Joker and had Lois falling hard for Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy). In a twist from the comics, Lois discovers Bruce's secret before she ever discovers Clark's.

The series had a wonderful array of villains, each expertly cast: Metallo (Malcolm McDowell), Darkseid (Michael Ironside), Brainiac (Corey Burton), and Mxyzptlk (Gilbert Godfried), just to name a few. And there was a particularly inspired bit of casting in having Ed Asner play the gravel-voiced Granny Goodness.

The show ended on a rather serious storyline, in which Superman had been brainwashed by Darkseid into attacking the Earth. In the battle, Superman's friend Dan Turpin (Joseph Bologna) is killed, and most of the world's trust in Superman is eroded. It was going to be a long, uphill battle for Superman to get back to where he used to be. Unfortunately, that's where this series ended. But we would still get this particular brand of Superman in the fantastic follow-up shows Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

 

Disc One Disc Two Disc Three

01. The Last Son of Krypton (Part I)
 --- commentary
02. The Last Son of Krypton (Part II)
03. The Last Son of Krypton (Part III)
04. Fun and Games
05. A Little Piece of Home
06. Feeding Time
07. The Way of All Flesh
08. Stolen Memories
 --- commentary

09. The Main Man (Part I)
10. The Main Man (Part II)
 --- commentary
11. My Girl
12. Tools of the Trade
13. Two's a Crowd
14. Blasts from the Past (Part I)
15. Blasts from the Past (Part II)
16. The Prometheon
17. Speed Demons
18. Livewire

19. Identity Crisis
20. Target
21. Mxyzpixilated
 --- commentary
22. Action Figures
23. Double Dose
24. Solar Power
25. Brave New Metropolis
26. Monkey Fun
27. Ghost in the Machine

Disc Four Disc Five Disc Six

28. Father's Day
29. World's Finest (Part I)
30. World's Finest (Part II)
31. World's Finest (Part III)
32. The Hand of Fate
33. Bizarro's World
34. Prototype
35. The Late Mr. Kent

36. Heavy Metal
37. Warrior Queen
38. Apokolips...Now! (Part I)
39. Apokolips...Now! (Part II)
40. Little Girl Lost (Part I)
41. Little Girl Lost (Part II)
42. Where There's Smoke
43. Knight Time

44. New Kids in Town
45. Obsession
46. Little Big Head Man
47. Absolute Power
48. In Brightest Day...
49. Superman's Pal
50. A Fish Story
51. Unity
52. The Demon Reborn
53. Legacy (Part I)
54. Legacy (Part II)
Special Features:

  • Superman: Timeless Icon
  • Menaces of Metropolis
  • Building the Mythology
  • Superman: Learning to Fly
  • A Little Piece of Trivia
  • The Despot Darkseid

 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0