Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 3 - Episode 6: "Fearful Symmetry"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Fearful Symmetry, a.k.a. Galatea, a.k.a. Power Girl - How Bizarre-Oh

One is the sole survivor of an alien race imbued with powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary earth people under a yellow sun. The other is a millionaire playboy who crusades with no super powers for the innocent with years of training and an arsenal of wonderful toys. Brought together by a common desire to make the world a better place, they are arguably one of the world's finest duos. Forget about Superman and Batman, here comes Supergirl and Green Arrow!

Who knew that Supergirl and Green Arrow would be the Brave and the Bold super-team of 2004? If JLU is teasing us with GA's constant ogling of Black Canary, his main squeeze from the comics, they're actually delivering with the friendship, camaraderie and genuine chemistry he's developing with the Girl of Steel. While this pair hasn't spent any significant time together in the comics, they've more than made up for that with two of the more memorable team ups of the JLU's inaugural season, first on the debut episode "Initiation" and this past week in "Fearful Symmetry (a.k.a. Galatea)." As usual, the animated universe picks and chooses from the history of the DCU and spins something both new and logical in that "why didn't anyone think of that before?" way. After all, who better for the World's Finest B-Team than in essence, Superman's second and Batman's second?

In fact, the comic book Green Arrow does have some history of being contrasted with a more innocent female hero as he was largely influenced by an anomaly of the Silver Age Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, who existed during the 1994 DCU crossover event, "Zero Hour." But Supergirl and GA make an even more appropriate pair than that.

The Question's inclusion is proof positive that a new character can be introduced in the space of one 30-minute episode without sacrificing characterization. Dialogue isn't wasted in this episode, nor is mood, especially where the Question is concerned. A character that never quite worked for me in the comic books, giving that faceless form such a quirky voice, and portraying him as being either a genius of conspiracy theory or a raving madman, brings Vic Sage (the Question's secret identity) to life for me.

The story itself is a first-rate continuation of the dangling plot points from the last episode of STAS, "Legacy." There, Darkseid had brainwashed Superman into believing he was Darkseid's son. Superman leads an Apokoliptan army to Earth. Luthor, allying himself with the military, including the misguided General Hardcastle (who'd previously appeared on STAS), captures Superman and Supergirl just as Supergirl and Lois are making Superman remember his true heritage. After Lois breaks the Kryptonians out of their military prison, Supergirl is almost fatally shot. Superman brings her to Professor Hamilton for medical help but Hamilton is reticent to assist the pair since they've been branded traitors to the Earth due to Superman's actions while brainwashed. Superman forces Hamilton to help her, and presumably he did, because (except for a cameo in last season's JL arc, "Hereafter") Supergirl shows up next good as new in the JLU debut episode, "Initiation".

The second season premiere, "Twilight", effectively dealt with Superman's remaining issues from "Legacy", and now Supergirl's "Legacy" legacy is addressed. The end result of "Legacy" appeared to be a growing distrust by many on Earth in Superman. The Earth forgave and forgot pretty quickly, it seemed, as they basically handed world security over to Superman a few years later in the JL pilot arc, "Secret Origins". But, we've been shown since that the impact of "Legacy" was much deeper for Superman and Supergirl. Hamilton's distrust appears to have been harvested into full-blown deception of his former allies and the shadowy operative calling the shots on the military's Supergirl clone appears to be the nefarious Lex Luthor.

While not named at all in the episode as anything other than "Galatea" - a "perfect" creation by the mythical Pygmalion of Greek mythology - this Supergirl clone is age accelerated into a character from the comic books: Power Girl. Pre-Crisis, when the Golden Age Superman's adventures actually were treated as having taken place on the alternate Earth-2, Power Girl was the cousin of the Golden Age Superman, just as the more popular Kara was the modern Earth-1 Superman's cousin. Since the Crisis on Infinite Earths merged all the alternate universes in 1985, Power Girl has floundered as a heroine without an origin at times and once was saddled with a clunky relationship to Arion, a DCU wizard from ancient Atlantis. To me, that origin was always a huge demotion from cousin of the Golden Age Man of Tomorrow. In JSA, written currently by Geoff Johns, Power Girl's secret origin is again being revisited, but it'll be hard to top the simplicity of essentially making her a successful age-accelerated Supergirl clone.

Among other things, it may raise the issue of something different in the Girl of Steel's physiology that makes it possible to successfully replicate her sans the white chalky skin and speech problems of a Bizarro. An interesting issue they've now created for me, though, that I hope is dealt with in a future episode is how Supergirl's been successfully cloned. All attempts by Luthor to clone Superman in the past - at least in the animated universe in which there is no Superboy yet - have only resulted in "Bizarro Superman".

This episode also gets the award for both best episode title and best alternative episode title. It's understandable why they had such trouble picking only one title for this episode when two equally strong options presented themselves. By the way, among the references to the term "Fearful Symmetry" in pop culture over the years, is it's being the title of Chapter 5 of the classic Elseworlds series, "The Watchmen". As I haven't read "Watchmen" from beginning to end (I know, I know, what an admission; now that I've publicly shamed myself as the world's worst comic geek, I'll seek it out and read it because yes, I know it's just that important!), I ask those readers who have read it to let me know if any parallels exist between that chapter of the "Watchmen" saga and this JLU episode. It's also the name of an episode of TV's "X-Files" - I love Google....

Beside the awards for the titles, this episode brings JLU its first five out of five speeding bullets on the Superman Fan Must Watch or Not Scale since "For the Man Who Has Everything." Coincidence that the three episodes I've awarded highest honors to all featured Superman and/or Supergirl? Of course not, it's the Superman Homepage!

Next up is "The Greatest Story Never Told", featuring another son of Metropolis: Booster Gold, and the JL also battles wizard Mordru (of Superboy and the Legion and JSA). Let's hope the story they do tell is also pretty great.

Peace out.

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