Retro Review – “Superman: The Animated Series” S03E03 “New Kids in Town”

Superman: The Animated Series

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 3 episode titled “New Kids in Town” in which, in the 30th Century Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl of The Legion of Superheroes follow Brainiac through a portal into the past. At the Smallville High dance Clark can’t help showing off some of his abilities by challenging Kenny Braverman to a one on one in Basketball. During the match Kenny gets hurt and Clark gets a dressing down by Lana. As he’s leaving the dance Clark gets attacked by Brainiac. Enter the Legionares, who come to the rescue. After the battle with Brainiac the four teens escape. The Legionares explain to Clark that he’s to become Superman. Saturn Girl uses her psychic abilities to show Clark how Superman’s heroic deeds influence the future and the forming of the Legion. Meanwhile Brainiac raids a retro diner where Kenny and his friends are hanging out. Brainiac, short of killing Kenny, gets Clark’s address out of him. Brainiac shows up at the Kent Farm but before he can kill the Kents Clark shows Brainiac just how powerful he can be. Clark’s ready for the kill but the Legionares show up and fight Brainiac. In the end it’s Clark who finishes the job by resetting Brainiac’s controls which destroys him. Afterward Saturn Girl makes the town forget Brainiac, making them think all the destruction came from a twister. She then uses her talents to make Clark forget the attack with Brainiac and everything the Legionares had told him. They then use Brainiac’s hover chair and take off. Back to the future.

5Rating – 5 (out of 5): I love this episode. “Knight Time” is probably my favorite but this is high on the list. Why we didn’t get a Legion of Superheroes show out of this or even after their appearances on JLU is anybody’s guess. Yes, there was a show that came later which was very good, but I would have loved one taking place in the original Timmverse.

Clark being an arrogant teenager was great to watch. Powers or no powers he is the typical teen we find at every High School. Kenny Braverman! Since his introduction after “Zero Hour” every form of media has sneaked him in at some point. I was never a big fan of the character or a huge Conduit fan but it’s nice to see that there’s a consistency with Superman continuity. Pre and Post-Crisis is represented. Now I’ve made it no secret that this version of Brainiac is probably my favorite. They always use him to great effect. It’s interesting to see him in this episode directly after “Knight Time”. Whether that was on purpose or just a glitch in the episode order I don’t know. But it seems appropriate since fighting Clark and Bruce in the last episode that Brainiac would use the past to destroy Clark. Or maybe this happened before “Knight Time”. I love the wibbly wobbly timey wimey feel to it. It is about time travel after all. Clark’s trips through time Pre-Crisis we’re constant and got to be a bit ridiculous but I loved it. The new twist on time travel Post-Crisis was interesting but I knew Superman’s trips would be few and far between. But then “Time and Time Again” was one of my favorite Post-Crisis stories.

I think we could probably agree that many Smallville citizens were killed during Brainiac’s reign of terror but with it being a “kids” show we’re made to believe everyone got away with minor scratches. I mean that fight at the diner and the explosion should have killed everybody! Now I’m glad everyone got away but the show doesn’t shrink towards violence and yet Kenny, thrown through a neon sign, has minor injuries. The point is that maybe the violence should have been toned down if they weren’t going to show the consequences. Yes, people have died on the show (I miss you Turpin) but although I don’t really want a death count sometimes the suspension of belief just goes too far. But again it’s a cartoon so what do you expect? But of course later in the season they would make up for it, it’s just the diner scene was exceptionally violent and that’s why this long train of thought has gone on way too long. Moving on.

The Legion telling Clark about the future is misguided on their part. I mean Saturn Girl fixes that but it seems like an afterthought. This could have led to Clark becoming Superboy and we could have gotten a prequel series. Of course that wasn’t going to happen for many reasons but it’s nice to think about.

Despite my criticism of the violence and a few other nitpicks, this is a terrific episode. Barely a glimpse of Superman yet this is very much his world. The Kents play a great part here. They seem to be used to there son’s super antics. Johnathan, we all know in a fight you should use a shovel. Thank goodness for Martha’s quick thinking. This version of the Kents are probably my favorite. I love all the portrayals but this show has taken the best aspects of the characters, at least at this point, and gave us a near perfect version.

All in all this episode is a joy to watch. Watching Clark as a teenager as he’s learning how to use his powers is fun, as is his interactions with Kenny and Lana. I’m not saying this episode is a precursor to “Smallville” but they dealt with a lot of aspects we would see on that series. Just a great episode all around.

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