Superman on Television

Justice League: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 13: "Destroyer"

Reviewed by: Barry M. Freiman

Lex Luthor's Paranoia Leads to "Destroyer": The End is Here

As far as series finales go, "Destroyer" is a fairly good one but I still think last season's Cadmus arc climax - most notably "Panic in the Sky" and "Divided We Fall" - would have been a more natural end. Then again, "JLU" at its worst is still better than most anything else on the tube. While season five of the "JL" franchise hasn't been my favorite, I'm still not ready to see the show fade to black.

So Lex Luthor has embraced full-on dementia? My natural reaction to Darkseid emerging from Lex's experiment last week was that Darkseid manipulated Lex into believing he was freeing Brainiac and that the voices Lex heard were Darkseid's doing. I'd have expected the idea to at least have crossed Lex Luthor's mind - that it doesn't speaks to how far his mind has strayed from its calculating businessman persona of "Superman: The Animated Series". Having now seen Clancy Brown portray Lex Luthor as businessman, mad scientist, evil genius, and super-villain, it's more palpable having a new actor take on the role in the direct-to-DVD "Superman: Brainiac Attacks" just to get a truly new take on the role.

I will miss George Newbern's Superman. "Brainiac Attacks" will bring back Tim Daly which is undoubtedly exciting - Daly and Dana Delany had great romantic chemistry. But Newbern after a slow start has really risen to the role having brought a much needed intensity to the character. The climax to "Destroyer" is a perfect example of how far Newbern's come - though the dialogue was a bit over-the-top and the Superman I know would have been much more aware of collateral damage he was causing to Metropolis.

My hero this episode is the Toyman. In the animated universe, this is the guy who plugged Superman, after all. That static mask - which, as static masks go, blows away the live action Green Goblin mask from "Spider-Man" - is so effectively creepy that it has wound up the basis for the new Toyman in current "Superman" comics. This Toyman would be a brilliant B-story bad guy in a "Superman Returns" sequel.

While Superman's never been gone for me, the concurrent end to the animated universe in regular series television and the long-in-coming "Superman Returns" definitely makes it feel like one era is ending and a new era is beginning. The animated "Brainiac Attacks" has Daly's return, introduces new voices for Lex and Brainiac, and doesn't feature either Bruce Timm or Paul Dini in any creative capacity. Most everyone is assuming "Smallville" will wrap up with year six. The next DC 'toon - "Legion of Super-Heroes" - brings us Superboy. At the same time Superman returns on screen, he does so after a one year absence in the comics - and to a brave new post-Crisis world.

Change can be scary, sad, and frustrating. With that in mind, the high point of "Destroyer" was the end showing the JLU's never-ending battle continuing on. The only difference is that our weekly window into that world is, for the time being, closed.

Thank you to everyone who ever read even a sentence of one of my reviews of "JL" and "JLU". Short of a handful of features I'd written for the Superman Homepage, my reviews for "JL" really started off my more regular work on the website, which has itself grown over the years and hopefully will continue to do so. I'll miss the show as a fan and a writer/reviewer.

Who knew when I started closing out these reviews with "Peace out" as my own little yellow ribbon tied around the old oak tree that America would still be in Iraq as I penned my last review? I'd never have started this "Peace out" thing if I'd known the war would go on so long - as a writer, ending a weekly column the same every week in perpetuity can get boring. That I'm lucky enough to have truly boring moments in my life where the worst thing that happens to me in a given week is my favorite TV show goes off the air is reason enough to wish that same peace and contentment on everyone whose life continues to be personally affected by the war.

Peace out and thanks for coming along for the ride.

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