Superman on Television
Justice League Action: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episodes 41: "Harley Goes Ape!"Reviewed by: Marc Lax
Originally Aired: October 21, 2017 (U.S.)
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Shaunt Nigoghossian
Tara Strong as Harley Quin (voice)
Jason J Lewis as Superman (voice)
David Sobolov as Gorilla Grodd (voice)
Natalie Lander as Stargirl (voice)
Rating - 4 (out of 5): Stomping through the streets of Metropolis is none other than Titano, Superman's giant ape nemesis. It seems Gorilla Grodd has taken control of Titano and feels he doesn't need an army of Gorillas when he's got control of a giant ape to crush humankind. Sitting in a dome atop Titano's head Grodd commands the giant ape to do his bidding. Stargirl appears and tries to stop the apes while the city is running wild. She calls Superman and asks him to hurry before it's too late. Superman arrives at the scene and is quickly taken out by Titano's kryptonite beams. Stargirl steps in and gets Superman out of danger, he tells her he has an idea about protecting himself from the kryptonite and tells Stargirl to disperse the crowd while he's gone. At this point the crowd has already ran and the street is clear. Stargirl remarks how you'd have to be crazy to be out on the street during the rampage. Enter Harley Quinn! Seeing the street deserted she takes advantage and attempts to rob a jewelry store. Stargirl crashes the store window after an attempt to stop Titano and quickly uses her staff to catch Harley. But before she can be apprehended Titano reaches through the store window and grabs her. Harley seems happy to see Grodd who doesn't remember her. But then she realizes the giant ape is Titano who she seems to know and starts singing a song she used to sing to him. Superman arrives just in time to save Harley. Wearing a lead suit Superman starts his attack on the apes. He tries smashing the glass dome that protects Grodd but is told it's virtually indestructible. That doesn't stop Superman. He flies across the planet passing through Smallville and ending at his Fortress and comes back charging. Meanwhile Stargirl asks Harley about Titano. It seems long before Harley was a psychiatrist she worked at S.T.A.R. Labs as a zoologist and her job was to look after a young normal sized Titano before he's shot in to space. She makes up a song to sing him to sleep. Then just like that he's sailing through space where he encounters a kryptonite meteor which changes him into the Titano we know. Superman crashes into Grodd's dome to try and stop the rampage. Will he succeed?
Apes were always a thing with DC Comics. Back in the Silver Age if you put an ape on the cover they seemed to sell like hotcakes. In fact there was even an issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen where he supposedly married a gorilla! This episode is reminiscent of those early stories. Titano has always been an enjoyable character, a tragic ape who is not responsible for his circumstances. This makes him sympathetic but no less dangerous. Grodd on the other hand is all about power and conquest. He's always been an evil character used to good effect in The Flash comics but has also been a troublemaker for the DCU as well. Loved him in “The Challenge of the Super Friends” and "Justice League Unlimited". A powerful ally to the Legion of Doom. Of course here, while he's not exactly played for laughs, he's not quite as formidable. Tying Titano's origin to Harley Quinn was an interesting development, showing the softer side of her character before she went insane and fell in love with Mr J (Joker). Harley has always been complicated and her characterization on this show is no different. Fun episode.
While Superman attacks Grodd, Titano is forced to drop cars and trucks onto the Man of Steel crushing him. Stargirl uses her staff to throw the vehicles into Grodd's dome, smashing it which gives Titano his mind back. Superman is weak after Titano's final attack with his kryptonite eye beams but as the police force goes on the attack Titano grabs Harley and climbs to the roof of the Daily Planet. Just as a copter is ready to shoot the big ape Superman regains his strength and jumps in front of the gun. Stargirl uses a giant Teddy Bear that has fallen from the roof of a toy store to calm Titano down while she sings the song that Harley used to sing. Titano is all smiles when he sees the bear and grabs it almost crushing Stargirl in the process. Harley tries to make a run for it but runs into Superman instead. In the end Harley and Grodd are arrested and put in the back of a police van. Grodd apologizes for the way he treated her and while contemplating why he does this Harley escapes her handcuffs and starts analyzing the ape while promising him she won't sing.
An enjoyable episode. Though Superman is not front and center I liked the way he was portrayed here. Flying all the way to the Fortress to pick up speed so he can smash the dome was a funny gag. And was that Pa Kent who yelled hello to Clark as he passed over the farm? The lead suit was obvious but it worked for the most part. And Superman flying in front of the gun to stop the speeding bullets from hitting Titano is a great moment. This show can do Superman well when they put their minds too it. More please!
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