Fleischer Superman Cartoon Reviews
Episode 2: "The Mechanical Monsters"Reviewed by: Matt Loyet
Once again, the episode starts as announcer gives us the "Faster...! More powerful than...! Able to...!" speech. Then we are met with a crash and the image of a broken bank window. An odd moving shadow indicates a weird figure flying away. In a room somewhere, a man controls the robot as it enters his fortress and lands, depositing stolen cash in a vault. The robot then returns to a resting position with several others.
Shots of newspaper front pages tell of various heists in the city... and of a jewel display. At the House of Jewels, onlookers surround an enormous display. Clark is there covering the story and is surprised to find Lois there as well.
Suddenly, a robot arrives. Police fire upon it but the bullets merely bounce off. The robot breaks into the House of Jewels as Lois pulls at Clark screaming, "Come on you fool! You want to get trampled?!"
They run to a phone booth and Clark tells Lois to wait as he phones in the trouble. Lois looks mischievous and slinks away. As the robot loads the jewels into its torso, Lois climbs in. Clark realizes Lois is gone as the robot flies away, police continuing to fire.
Clark changes in the phone booth and then leaps high into the sky over the city. Hovering, Superman spots the robot and dives after it. Using his X-ray vision, he spots Lois inside and lands on the robot and rides. In his hideout, the villain sees the disturbance on the robot's sensors and flips the robot. Superman falls, landing on power lines. Lois and the jewels fall out but Lois manages to hang on and land back inside as the robot rights itself.
At the lair, the villain asks Lois what happened to the jewels to which she replies, "You'll read about it in tomorrow's paper!" She looks in fear has he closes in on her.
Meanwhile, Superman frees himself and flies off. The villain holds a tied up Lois on a platform over a vat of hot molten steel. She won't tell him where the jewels are (because she's gagged) so he lowers her towards the stuff.
Superman arrives and fights as the villain controls the robots. Realizing his machines are beaten, he runs back to the dungeon to finish Lois. Superman breaks in and the man threatens to cut the support rope if the Man of Steel takes another step. Superman flinches, the man cuts the rope, and Superman dives forward catching Lois just in time. The man then dumps the vat of molten steel in Superman and Lois' direction. Our hero uses his cape to protect her.
Just as in the first episode, Superman carries Lois, catches the bad guy, and leaps back towards the city. This time, the flight seems more like a jump.
Newspapers announce Superman's victory. Back at the Daily Planet, Lois tells Clark that once again she got the story thanks to Superman.
Rating - 3 (out of 5): The Animation/Story: As in the first episode, the animation is solid. The oddity of the physics in the hot liquid (it doesn't move on the ground like it should) is passable.
Where I find reason for concern is the silliness of some of the concepts. Where do villains get these vats of hot molten steel? Is there a catalog?
Why would two reporters be assigned to a jewel display story? Discuss.
Why the heck does Superman fall when the robot flips? He clearly hovered above the city. He can fly. Also, Superman has difficulty with the power lines and robots. He seems less SUPER than the man who caught a building and beat an electro-death ray in the last episode.
Superman stands waiting as the many robots SLOWLY come to life. Clark! This is where you start swinging. Knock 'em down before they can react.
Our hero uses his cape to protect her. That's a powerful piece of bed-sheet if it can deflect molten liquid!
My big problem is that this is only the second episode and the show is already very formulaic. Again, almost exactly half way through the episode, Superman appears. The final chase is incredibly similar. Lois and Clark's final conversation is almost verbatim what she told Perry last time. It all seems like someone at the studio was being lazy.
Nevertheless, there are some great moments as well. I love that Clark seems to want to stop the robot as Lois pulls him away at the House of Jewels. This is a wonderful character moment. The hero shows through the disguise for an instant as happens in most Superman incarnations. It shows that Clark would love to let the dual identities merge if it didn't have the problems of the public attention he would never be able to avoid.
Another excellent scene was the X-ray vision effect. Superman's pupils shrink and light grey ones appear shooting yellow beams at the robot. Considering the still young concept of Superman, this was a great way to portray an almost equally fresh idea of seeing through solid objects.
The best moment of the episode for me is the last second rescue over the vat. The catch is so fast and smooth, its pure Superman at his "Lois in distress" best.
The Voices: The voice-acting is again well done. Lois seems silly telling the villain he will read her story in the paper tomorrow. She's at his mercy! But at least she remained brave. These stories do not demand much dialog, which is the sign of a solid action cartoon. You could watch the show with your TV muted and get 98 percent of the content. Nevertheless, the acting remains strong.
The Music: The score is fairly similar to the first episode. The Superman theme is played in all the most SUPER moments. There's not much else to say here.
The weak concepts not withstanding, this was still an entertaining episode that should make any fan hungry for the next.
Back to the "Fleischer Superman Cartoon Reviews" Contents page.