Saturday, October 9, 2010

Episode Two: The Last Son of Krypton - Part 2

Part two of the opening trilogy takes us all the way from Superman's infancy in Kansas to first assignment in Metropolis.  We go through two love interests and get our first glimpse of Lex Luthor.  While shadowing Lois Lane at a LexCorp's press event, the party is crashed by an aerial attacker (not throwing Lex off his game at all) and novice hero Superman ends the episode by blowing up a passenger jet in pursuit.  Thanks...

Evan:  Thankfully, we get all the way to Metropolis in about eight minutes, saving us watching young Superman fall in love with every woman he meets initialed LL.  I really liked this episode.  I appreciated the rocket not crash landing, because the original plan was to safely land and let all of Krypton out of the phantom zone, and that would be really tough if your ship exploded.  We get the (amazingly too sweet) Kents, who adopt an alien within seconds of finding his shuttle in a swamp.  A time jump later and Clark is trying to deal with his powers.  I'm hoping that the series addresses that Lana Lang knows he's Superman, because frankly if she doesn't make the connection there's no hope for any of us.

We then hit my biggest problem with the episode.  Young Clark is shown a recording of his parents, who tell him all about his strange powers and the fate of Krypton.  How did they know he would have super powers?  Why didn't this factor into Jor-El's plan at all?  They had a a back-up plan to shoot Clark into space if it all went to hell, but they were pretty sure they could send Jor-El.  When did they record this?  I really liked the scene, but it all seemed way too neat.  The machine even used the Superman logo to scan his brain!  Why is that even a thing?

Finally we make it to Metropolis, and Clark is fresh on the job.  I'm liking Lois as a reporter.  She needs to be a good reporter to not become a complete damsel in distress, which we know she will spend a fair amount of time being.  Hopefully, she'll spend an equal amount of time doing whatever the first completely insane thing she can think of in any given situation.  That's my favourite Lois.  The quick look at Jimmy Olsen was a little disappointing, but I think that I just miss the bow tie.

Anyway, it looks like Luthor is taking a page out of his classic playbook (although I guess it's all new in a first episode!) and robbing himself.  I like his white-tie look.  I'm hoping he keeps rocking it throughout the series. As I've said before, I like Luthor way more than anyone else in Superman's cast, so I'm always happy when he's around.  Maybe he'll even get to talk in part 3!

Watching this episode was really strange, because it felt half as long as the first one.  Maybe that's just the benefit of not having to kill off all of your characters at the end.  Or maybe Krypton is just a boring, terrible place...  I thought that the episode was actually pretty good, and I'm excited to see the end of the premier..

I've got some high hopes, show... please be awesome.  Thank you.

Kristin: One thing I did not notice last episode was that the opening credits also contain Superman in his own personalized space suit! Not only do I find this almost as awesome as the opening credit t-rex, but I also would like to know who makes this stuff for Clark. Does Mrs. Kent sew his super suit and craft space-worthy equipment on their Kansas farm? I'm not even sure Superman needs a space suit considering the fact that he already flies to such extreme heights that the levels of oxygen do not seem particularly important to his physiology... In the end, the space suit is a win in my book and sits next to dinosaurs as an awesome bonus to watching this series for the next few months.

I was also pleased with the brief time spent in Smallville itself. Baby Superman is cute, but not cute enough to excite my imagination for twenty minutes which could be spent on something more awesome. Like Lois Lane. I was thrilled that we were already introduced to her as an independent, ass-kicking journalist in the big city although I was less thrilled about the length of her skirt. Not to be picky, but isn't the pleated mini more suited to pornographic notions of a Catholic school girl than a self-actualized career woman? I guess what I have to learn is that women are more often present in superhero stories as the helpless victim of villainy/bad relationships/society than they are actual personalities.

I've talked to Evan about this lack of strong, dimensional women in comics before and believe that it likely comes down to the fact that no writers working in comics right now know how to write good characters that are not men. In such a male-dominated industry, I'm not sure whether this is due simply to the lack of women available to write about what they know or if this is about the nature of the industry itself being filled with men who are afraid to write women who will not "sell" to the men who consume comics. It's probably a combination of several factors, but I digress...

I hope Lois Lane kicks ass.

Also, (is it just me?) the actress voicing Superman's childhood girlfriend completely sucks. A monkey shoving a banana in its ear while doing the lindy hop could do better line readings than this low-budget choice.

Final Thoughts:  Time-skipping saves this episode from the dregs of super-puberty and brings us right up to where we want to be - Superman in Metropolis dealing with Lex Luthor and Lois Lane, respectively.

Evan's Episode Rating: 8/10 (Lois Lane Ratio: 1 incompetent / 0 insane) - I hope I get dozens more opportunities to see the adventures of these great characters!

Kristin's Episode Rating: 7/10 - I like the fact that we neutralized Smallville Syndrome. Time to add some personality!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Episode One: The Last Son of Krypton - Part 1

The introductory chapter of the three-part series premier, The Last Son of Krypton - Part 1 follows Jor-El's final day on the doomed planet.  The scientist's pleas to Krypton's governing council go unheard when Brainiac contradicts his theories on the planet's impending death.  Also, his terrible plan.  When it turns out he's right, Brainiac escapes and little Superman is drugged and shipped off to earth.  So... good?

Evan:  First, I guess I should disclose that while a huge fan of comics, I've never really read a lot of Superman.  I've always loved Batman, and that meant that my introduction to Superman was the Justice League, where I always enjoyed him but never really wanted to read his own book.  I was mostly interested in how other people reacted to Superman, especially (my personal favourite) the Green Arrow's awesomely out-of-place outrage.  Frankly, I've always enjoyed Lex Luthor more than I've enjoyed Superman.  That said, I love the big guy and I'm really excited to see his show.  I've somehow completely missed it despite loving Batman: TAS and the Justice League cartoons, and I'm looking forward to this crash course.  Fingers crossed people...

In the first episode we get to follow Jor-El as he battles against evil monsters, police officers and an evil computer overlord using his flying machine, gun and sweet halo-headband.  Which makes perfect sense as he's a scientist.  The origin of Superman, especially the part on Krypton, is never going to be very interesting because all the characters end up dead.  So here we get a brief look at Jor-El, his (British?) wife, father-in-law, and the homicidal computer brain that runs the entire planet.  Brainiac is straight up evil, but everyone is too busy navigating the nightmarish architecture (the council is about ten stories in the air on a five-foot wide platform) to notice that they've allowed robo-Hitler to run their society.

See... here's what they don't tell you going in.  Everyone on Krypton is a moron.  Every single person.  The council (rocking some Gaga-esque shoulder points) decides to trust the creepy computer brain over everything.  The hero scientist's plan involves saving an entire species by having everyone hide in extra-dimensional prison while he uses his homemade single-man rocket to find a new home world.  Brainiac is completely unable to kill a single man on a planet that built him guns into the walls and surveillance in every room.  Jor-El's wife offers no resistance to the idea that their infant son should be sent into space.  Her father is completely won over to this argument in five seconds, despite perfectly reasonable objections.  Most fun, the police shoot to kill immediately, and Jor-El himself likely kills at least a half dozen of them.

Maybe this planet deserved to blow up?

Here's to hoping that the crash landing in Kansas goes a little smoother.  Or at least the Kent's show some basic logical reasoning... or even some fashion sense.

Kristin:  I braced myself for impact on this show. Being the first episode and Evan only giving me vague hints as to the quality of content (with such gems as "Are you ready for this?" and "I have never even made it through the first episode!"), I was ready for anything and expecting the worst.

Shockingly, despite the obvious flaws in logic and the complete inability to develop any sort of character depth in an episode literally designed to both introduce and kill off an entire cast of characters, it was fairly entertaining. By that I mean that I was not face-down in my cheap cup of coffee trying to drown myself for agreeing to this blog in the first place. The opening credits, hilariously containing a t-rex, are action-packed and really get me excited to start the show. I have always been a half-ass fan of Superman in the I-watched-Lois-and-Clark-in-the-90s sort of way, but I'm not really familiar with the majority of the actual comics timeline or anything of the sort. I didn't even know the name of Superman's dad until I met Evan. And he didn't know that until just now.

When we first see Jor-El putting along in personal aircraft of some kind zooming into an icy abyss, I automatically assume that we are being taken into his own "Fortress of Solitude". Do all Kryptonian men have their own? If so, what do they do there and why does it sound so dirty? I breath a sigh of relief when I find out that he is simply conducting routine experiments on the planet's core and being attacked by a giant amoeba monster. Which I guess is a daily thing on Krypton, judging by the way he brushes off his wife when he saunters home with his data.

My overall impression of Krypton is that it is an impractical place for being so advanced. Why are all their buildings (monuments? government institutions?) on spindly stilts? The architecture aside, Kryptonian fashion sense is an entirely different bag of potatoes. I think the governing council must have been leagues ahead of us on discovering Alexander McQueen's genius if their shoulder pads have anything to say.
These are modest by Kryptonian standards.
Baby Superman is cute, but I'm kind of wondering if it was necessary to stretch his origins into a three-part introduction. Let's just hope it doesn't get all Smallville up in here...

Final Thoughts: Despite the blatant mirroring of our planet's destruction as predicted by all of Earth's scientists and the incompetence of our leadership in dealing with said problems (and we don't even have giant ameobas coming out of the ground when we take our polar ice cap measurements!), the episode is not terrible. Jor-El is kind of a badass. Let's hope Superman can keep it up.

Evan's Episode Rating: 6/10 - A good start, let's just add some brains when we get to Earth.

Kristin's Episode Rating: 7/10 - Digestable. Is Alexander McQueen on the shuttle to Earth with baby Superman?

Our Mission

The Team: A comic book enthusiast and his skeptical girlfriend, both first-time viewers of...

The Object: Superman: The Animated Series, which we found discounted at an electronics store, much to Evan's delight and Kristin's disbelief.

The Goal: To watch and review all 54 episodes.

Why: We don't own a TV and the Canadian winter fast approaches!

Deadline: The thaw... 'cause winter won't last forever!