Superman Homepage reviewer Marc Lax continues reviewing episodes from “Superman: The Animated Series” for those nostalgic for the 1990s.
Check out his review of the Season 2 episode titled “Apokolips…Now!” – Part 2 in which Darkseid comes to conquer Earth.
The continuation of Superman’s first encounter with Darkseid finds our hero at STAR Labs learning of a “Hot Zone” in the ocean outside of Metropolis. Professor Hamilton explains that an eruption from this zone will rip holes through the earth causing fire to burn through the planet, resulting in an… Apocalypse. Dan Turpin joining Superman and the Professor tells Superman that he should contact “old bucket head” better known as Orion. Superman produces the signal given to him by Orion but when he tries to activate it the device shorts out. Hmmm? Superman proclaims they’re on their own.
Meanwhile on Apokolips Darkseid discusses his lack of faith in his son Kalibak. Kalibak fought Superman last season and was defeated. He tells his father that now he’s ready, send him to stop Superman. But Darkseid, not trusting his son with this task calls on another powerful member of his family. The hunter Steppenwolf!
Rating – 4 (out of 5): You can’t help but make comparisons to the animated Steppenwolf and the version from the recent movie “Justice League”. Obviously the animated Steppenwolf is more faithful to the comics. With his green suit long cape and hunter like cap he looks a cross between Robin Hood and General Zod! This is not a criticism. This design is faithful to the comics, mustache and all! But you wonder if this look would have worked for the movie. I don’t think it would have. Now at this point I have to say that I thought Steppenwolf was one of the weaker elements in “Justice League”. He was obviously just a means to an end. Bring in a god-like being from another world having him wreak havoc on earth, cue heroes to assemble and fight. And that’s ok. It brought the Justice League together and planted seeds for upcoming movies. But Steppenwolf didn’t seem like a scary all powerful villain like he was set up to be earlier in the movie. He fought Green Lanterns he fought Amazon’s but in the end he was easily defeated. And to be fair he’s easily defeated in this episode as well. This is a long a way of saying, if he didn’t feel threatening with horns and armor he certainly wouldn’t seem anymore dangerous with a cap and cape.
Downtown Metropolis becomes a battle ground for Steppenwolf, Parademons, Orion and the denizens of New Genesis. Meanwhile Superman stops the hot zone from erupting by diving in the ocean and burrowing through the rock. He opens holes which the water flows through eventually destroying any chance for an eruption. This wiped Superman out! He flies of to a cliff to catch his breath when from behind Darkseid appears. After using his omega beams on Superman weakening him even more Darkseid asks our hero to join him. Superman says no! So Darkseid makes him his pawn.
Meanwhile back in downtown Metropolis Turpin and the MSCU are fighting the good fight taking down Parademons and trying to save the city. Rumbling like an earthquake through the streets comes Darkseid in a massive Apokoliptian tank with Superman on top like a trophy defeated and restrained. Hovering over the tank Darkseid declares war on earth, but the heroes of New Genesis appear to put an end to Darkseid’s takeover. The crowd getting revved up with Turpin as their leader has already shown Darkseid that they won’t go down without a fight. Turpin throws a discarded weapon which breaks Superman’s bonds. Orion convinces Darkseid to step down for the time being but before he departs he sends Superman a message by using his omega beams to kill Dan Turpin.
This episode serves not only as a showcase for Darkseid and the New Gods but also as a dedication to Jack ‘The King’ Kirby, the creator of the New Gods and the inspiration for this version of Turpin. It’s action packed with great voice work by all involved, especially Michael Ironside as Darkseid and Joseph Bologna as Turpin. The animation is very dark with red skies and a haze that settles over Metropolis for most of the episode. The last scene is sad and poignant and set against a sky of gold. Beautiful ending for a great character and one of the most legendary comic creators ever!