Superman on Television
Superman: The Animated Series - Episode Reviews
Season 2 - Episode 25: "Apokolips...Now!"Original Air Date: February 7, 1998
Reviewed by: Marc Lax
First thanks to Steve Younis for giving me the opportunity to review this series. It is one of the very best incarnations of our legendary hero. Also thank you to Jeffrey Taylor and Nathan Wozniak for the great reviews of the first season and a half. Big shoes to fill.
Jack "The King" Kirby! Without going through his whole history at Marvel Comics and how DC Comics lured him away from Marvel, Kirby was considered one of the greatest visionaries in comic books. While his art style is somewhat debatable and he's not one of my favorite artists, his creativity and his brilliant creations are undeniable. His creation of The Fourth World at DC introduced characters and concepts that are now part of legend. Of these characters Darkseid the tyrannical god-like ruler of Apokolips has become one of DC Comics' enduring and popular villains. This episode of the animated series gives us our first encounter with Darkseid and the extended family of The Fourth World's New Gods. Thank you Mr. Kirby!
Rating - 4 (out of 5): This particular episode gives us an abbreviated version of the history of the New Gods thanks to Orion (son of Darkseid) and his Mother Box. Of course it only scratched the surface. We get brief mentions of the Anti-Life Equation and the Source Wall, as well as a few brief appearances of characters who will eventually make a major impact on this series. But for Part One it's all about Orion.
For most people it would be terrible to have to fight your own father but for Orion it's just another battle in New Genesis' fight against Apokolips. Orion was raised on New Genesis by its kindly ruler Highfather. While New Genesis has been fighting Apokolips for eons Orion's fight is much more personal. He comes to Earth to warn Superman of the coming of Darkseid who already has agents working on Earth and in Metropolis to set his evil scheme of taking over the Earth in motion. Ugly Manheim and his Intergang are testing some Apokoliptian tech given to them by Darkseid himself. They test this weapon on the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit (henceforth known as the MSCU) and make off with twenty million dollars of laundered money. Though not before badly injuring the MSCU's leader Maggie Sawyer and a fight with Superman which ends in the release of a nova bomb that sets off a piercing signal that not only stops Superman but actually makes him bleed from his nose and ears! At a press conference the next day Dan Turpin, Maggie Sawyer's partner (who bares a striking resemblance to Jack Kirby) criticizes Superman's handling of the attack the night before, vows to get revenge on the hoods who almost killed Maggie. Meanwhile while Clark notices alien writing on the ship a boom tube opens. Enter Orion!
As with many people my age, I was first introduced to Darkseid and the New Gods on the Super Powers version of the "Super Friends". Who can get Frank Welker's Darkseid voice out of their head? Though here Michael Ironside does a great job. This episode is the first of many appearances of the New Gods in the Timmverse. While the Fourth World has a big presence throughout the entirety of the main DC Universe, I've always felt that they're an extension of Superman's cast. They were first featured in "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen" and took off from there. They've menaced Superman for almost five decades. Whether it's Intergang or one of Darkseid's minions or teaming up with Orion and the denizens of New Genesis, the Fourth World has had a huge impact on Superman's world. So it's appropriate they're introduced in his animated series.
Action is plentiful in this episode, as it usually is, but again Superman seems to be taken down very easily. The high pitched signal that comes from the ship is clever enough, after all with super hearing that should stop Superman in his tracks and it does. The sight of Superman bleeding from the nose and ears is disturbing. But then he just walks off in a daze and seems to ignore some of the people who may have been injured in the aftermath. Later when Superman and the fighter jets are trying to take down the ship a giant claw comes out and pins Superman to the wall. Then electricity is released and we suffer seeing him being electrocuted. It takes Orion swooping in to save the day. While I get that this episode wants to showcase Orion and I also understand that this post-Crisis version of Superman isn't the all powerful god he once was, he should have easily taken that claw and twisted into knots. Okay it's Apokoliptian tech but he's gone toe to toe with aliens and their weapons before so this should probably have been a piece of cake. Probably. It's these nitpicks that make me rate this episode a 4 instead of 5. The animation is wonderful and the pacing is quick. While the characterization is faithful for the most part I found Lois to be too sarcastic and dismissive toward Clark. This is the second season and previous episodes have shown Lois to be concerned even caring towards Clark, so I just felt 'enough with the sarcasm already'. I love this characterization of Lois but it's time to take Clark seriously. Aside from these examples this was a fun episode.
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