Superman on Television
Justice League Action: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episodes 10: "Under a Red Sun"Reviewed by: Thomas Dreyfuss
Originally Aired: December 11, 2016 (U.K.), February 25, 2017 (U.S.)
Story by Shannon Denton
Teleplay by Heath Corson
Directed by Doug Murphy
Kevin Conroy as Batman (voice)
Jason J. Lewis as Superman (voice)
Peter Jessop as Steppenwolf (voice)
Laura Post as Big Barda (voice)
William Salyers as Virman Vunderbar (voice)
Rating - 4 (out of 5): It's a Superman episode! Yay! I mean, it's a Justice League show so they would never devote an entire episode to just one superhero. Still, it's Superman centric episode (YAY!) which means I get to talk about Superman (YAY! YAY!) on SupermanHomepage.com (YAY! YAY! YAY!) for all of you!
Superman is a deceptively hard character to adapt outside of the comics because any major changes to the Superman mythos runs the risk of ruining the simplify of the character. Conversely, the general audience will lose interest if Superman is portrayed as being too "one dimensional" so changes are inevitable. It's a delicate balance between old and new. Between the children's power fantasy Siegel and Shuster originally envisioned and the adult power fantasy catered to modern day fans. In the case of Justice League Action, the show just assumes you know these characters and tries not to reinvent the wheel with the heavy hitters.
"Under a Red Sun" begins with Superman, Batman and Big Barda fighting against a legion of Darkseid's Parademons. But then, Superman is trapped when Steppenwolf transports them via Mother Box (ping ping ping) to a desolate planet orbiting a red sun. Under red sunlight, Superman is rendered powerless so he has to outwit Steppenwolf to survive and it's pretty clever stuff. Jason J. Lewis has done a good job so far of playing up a confident and laid back Superman but here, we get to see a more vulnerable side to the Man of Steel and Lewis delivers. The writers take the "blue boy scout" moniker quite literally as Superman fashions rock traps to outsmart Steppenwolf and his Apokoliptian technology. It's a clever game of "cat and mouse" that I wanted to see more of, but the climatic encounter is satisfying.
The B-Story with Batman and Big Barda infiltrating Darkseid's fortress on Apokolips is also pretty fun. Their game of "who can take down the most baddies" provides for some back and fourth for both heroes. And the interrogation of Virman Vunderbar is brilliant in its own right as Batman and Barda work together to literally squeeze intel out of the Mussolini pastiche. And all of this is drawn wonderfully thanks to Shane Glines and the entire art department who've honed in on Jack Kirby's original designs.
Overall, "Under a Red Sun" is a fun Superman story with a neat excursion into the Fourth World material. Here's hoping we get to see more of both in the future.
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