Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 9: "Question Authority"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Cadmus Makes Superman "Question Authority"

Just as Government operatives and Lex Luthor's Secret Society put their plans against the World's Greatest Super-Heroes into high gear in comic books like "Villains United" and "The OMAC Project", Government operatives and Lex Luthor do likewise to the animated World's Greatest Super-Heroes in "Question Authority". Parallels abound between comic book continuity and animated universe continuity at present. But it's the distinctions that firmly place what's being called the "Cadmus arc" in the animated arena - and many of those distinctions are tying into characters and plotlines that date back to Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and early episodes of Justice League.

Timm and company continue to mine ideas and plot points established in the Superman: The Animated Series finale, "Legacy", from the hints at an evolving relationship between Superman and Lois Lane to the continuing instability on Apokolips to the long-in-coming confrontation between Superman and former ally Emil Hamilton.

The scene with Superman's and Lois' date was priceless. The voice work by Dana Delany and George Newbern in this scene presents the most compellingly realistic dialogue between a man in tights and his lady in waiting this side of "Superman II". Lois is forward in a way that few others in Supey's life would dare to be. And, yet, she's simultaneously reserved in that surprisingly demure and respectful tone that distinguishes the way Lois Lane talks to Superman from the way she talks to pretty much anyone else on Earth.

Superman's tone likewise straddles that line between the small-town guy trying to impress his girlfriend and an almost frighteningly powerful presence that lends credibility to Cadmus' point of view. Adding to that is the animation itself - Supes appears to actually grow in stature with his angry reaction to Lois' concerns.

Some may question whether Superman's actions of late are reasonable. Did his blind hatred of Lex allow him to be manipulated into battling Captain Marvel a few weeks back? Did Superman have the right to keep the actions of the alternate Justice Lords Superman from his JLU colleagues and/or the public? Does Superman somehow deserve Emil Hamilton's betrayal? Did Superman let down the Question? Questions of morality are fine fodder for obstacles to the Man of Steel provided, when all's said and done, Superman makes the "super" choice.

Bravo for the animated universe getting its Lex Luthor to say what I believed the comic book Lex should have realized long before the year 2000. Of course someone like Luthor would have to give up way too much power to be President. The United States isn't a dictatorship or a monarchy, but it's designed specifically to prevent any one of the three branches of Government from having too much power. The checks and balances of a system of Government that required Lex to cooperate with (not kill) members of Congress and a Supreme Court would be a major step down for Luthor. Ultimately, I'd have found it a more satisfying conclusion to the President Luthor storyline from the comic books if he'd voluntarily resigned because he found his hands tied by the limitations of the Oval Office compared to his unfettered control of Lexcorp and Metropolis.

On the SFMWNS, this episode earns a perfect score. Superman, Lois, Lex, the continuing use of plot points from Superman: The Animated Series - Superman fans should not miss the remainder of the season.

To my Canadian friends who've already seen the rest of this season, I ask that you please refrain from posting any spoiler comments. I've already seen the remainder of this season's episodes too and it's going to be a fun ride with lots of action and melodrama. Beyond that, I hope every good Superman fan has the opportunity to see these episodes fresh.

Two weeks ago, I asked readers to identify the four villains that Batman and Superman were fighting about mid-way through "Clash". Anthony Robles was first to identify the bad guys as Black Mass, Shatterfist, Fastball, and Crowbar. Anthony also added that, in the comics, these four villains were granted their powers by the Overmaster and joined together as the Cadre. Nicely done, Anthony and secondary kudos to Evan Tarlton for writing in with the villains' names very shortly after Anthony.

Next week - Flashpoint! Peace out.

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