September 28, 2007

Do Not Watch: "The Death of Superman"
— Ace

A.K.A. "Superman: Doomsday."

I got excited when I saw this cartoon advertised during an Arrested Development re-run. It seems to be by the people responsible for the very good Justice League -- Bruce Timm's involved, and the animation is similar -- but it's crap.

The only good thing is that Adam Baldwin ("Jayne Cobb" from Firefly) voices Superman.
I have to admit I never like these guys' redesigns/reinventions/recastings of characters, at least not at first, but usually they grow on me. I admit to having a bias in favor of the familiar.

Nevertheless, seriously, the old designs and voicings were terrific, and here they've reinvented the wheel to come up with a clunky squarish design. The super-sexy brainy minx Lois Lane is now a bit of a bore and voiced by... Anne Heche. Lex Luthor has lost his voluptuary beefiness and has been made thin and weedy. (He also lost his powerful baritone.) Superman's face has developed, for unknown reason, more crags and fissures than the cliffs of Dover.

The story is just stupid with the thinnest of plotting. Doomsday is discovered in an underground tomb and begins killing people. Snapping necks like there's no tomorrow. (A bit more violent on that than I expected, but I'm afraid I can't give a good review just for lots of neck-breaking sound effects.) Then Superman shows up, they fight, they both die.

Then a clone of Superman shows up.

Then we find out Superman really didn't die in the first place. His metabolism just slowed down, and his Robot Buddy just gave him Super-Aderenline or something to wake him up.

I really think that if you're going to bring someone back to life, even in a cheat, there has to be something dramatic about it, something lost in exchange for the reclaimed life. Just saying "Oh, I was dead but I got better" is pretty lame.

At that point I don't know what happened, because I turned it off. I imagine Superman fought the clone and won. Yayyyy.

Anyway, this is being promoted a fair amount so I figured I'd warn you.

One and half stars, and really, that's just for Adam Baldwin. For some reason the Batman/Superman/JLA team never got the hang of Superman; all of the Superman stories were dreadfully boring and underwritten, just basically the thinnest backstory, a new baddie suddenly coming on to the scene, and then two or three fights separated by a few minutes of dialogue. They never captured the sense of wonder and excitement and mystery (and sometimes horror and humor) they so frequently caught with the Batman stories and some JLA stories. Superman to them was just a three-trick pony -- punch, ice-breath, laser-eyes -- and he remains so in this newest stupidity from the otherwise-brilliant guys who so perfectly captured just about every other hero from the DC Universe.

These guys could even make The Question or Wonder Woman seem cool. Superman? They just never could do a thing with him. To be fair, I don't really get Superman either, and never really liked him, and would have no idea how to make a compelling story about a god either. Then again, no one asked me to do so so my conscience is clear.

Eh: They did manage a fair Superman story, for the very last JLA episode.

This is a cool moment, and one of the only two or three cool Superman moments they managed.

And even this isn't that great.

Oh and this Superman vs. Doomsday fight was better...

But that wasn't Superman. That was his alternate-dimension analogue, where the Justice League became the fascist "Justice Lords" and imposed their rule upon the world through force.

Posted by: Ace at 11:38 AM | Comments (79)
Post contains 629 words, total size 4 kb.


Next: I give the political socioeconomic breakdown of Starship Troopers 2 as a projection of American power and potential mis-use.

Or we could try to not watch cartoons anymore Ace.

Posted by: TheEJS at September 28, 2007 11:45 AM (KINJc)

2 in his original appearance SUPPERMAN was a villain and was BALD

Posted by: somewing guv'nor at September 28, 2007 11:47 AM (lPxkl)

3 I tried watching it but stopped as soon as they did the giant mechanical spider.  It was just bad.

The animated series wasn't bad.  Especially The Question.

Posted by: z ryan at September 28, 2007 11:52 AM (PDeVA)


I never liked Superman anyway, or understood the appeal. He's one of the worst super hero characters ever.

Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 11:55 AM (m6c4H)


Best line by Superman (Adam Baldwin),

"If I'm gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is poontang"



Posted by: Penn State Marine at September 28, 2007 11:57 AM (M/4m4)

6 Superman, huh.

Jayne is in Chuck, so I'm in for the season.

Posted by: Stormy70 at September 28, 2007 12:00 PM (Y+o71)

7 Superhero comics? Dude, even when I was 7 or 8, I thought superheros were frickin' gay. One word: spandex.

Gimme EC Comics, Jonah Hex or hell, even SGT Rock any day of the week.

Posted by: IllTemperedCur at September 28, 2007 12:03 PM (tVbxd)

8 Superman is for the children.

And for making Batman look good.

Posted by: z ryan at September 28, 2007 12:04 PM (PDeVA)

9 These guys could even make The Question or Wonder Woman seem cool.

No one made Wonder Woman cool like Lynda Carter did. And by cool I mean smoking hot.

Posted by: Drew at September 28, 2007 12:05 PM (hlYel)

10 I won't watch it............because I'm an adult.

Posted by: Kasper Hauser at September 28, 2007 12:06 PM (KeOQp)

11 Drew,

They came pretty close:

Posted by: ace at September 28, 2007 12:08 PM (1UCRY)

12 Kasper, you realize you're posting on a blog that routinely talks about fantasy football, Harry Potter and anything tenuously connected to anal sex.  You're not an adult.

Posted by: z ryan at September 28, 2007 12:15 PM (PDeVA)

13 <a href="">The source material</a> is no great shakes either.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 28, 2007 12:18 PM (0jtcT)

14 Neither are my HTML skills...

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 28, 2007 12:18 PM (0jtcT)

15 They came pretty close:

But not quite.

Odd story...A few years ago I was working on a project with a guy and we were having lunch in some TV themed restaurant  and there's a huge poster of Lynda Carter dressed as Wonder Woman. I start talking about my childhood crush on her and he says, "my son is married to her daughter" and pulls out a picture of him, his family and Lynda Carter and her family.  At first it felt a little odd and then I simply asked, "given the chance would you...?" he just smiled and said, "hell yes".

Posted by: Drew at September 28, 2007 12:26 PM (hlYel)


The story is just stupid with the thinnest of plotting. Doomsday is discovered in an underground tomb and begins killing people. Snapping necks like there's no tomorrow. (A bit more violent on that than I expected, but I'm afraid I can't give a good review just for lots of neck-breaking sound effects.) Then Superman shows up, they fight, they both die.

Then a clone of Superman shows up.

Then we find out Superman really didn't die in the first place. His metabolism just slowed down, and his Robot Buddy just gave him Super-Aderenline or something to wake him up.

Isn't that the original plot of the comic book story arc of the death of superman?

Posted by: buzzion at September 28, 2007 12:29 PM (TY0jZ)


I disagree, the source material was fine. It was also told over a period of almost two years across several series, so it had a vastly greater depth within its constraints. By the end, they'd spun off two characters that held down their own monthly series for several years. Steel,  while spawning the atrocious movie, also did the all-important job of securing the name for DC for a good long while. A third character got some mileage as part of a team, so in general the 'Death and Life of Superman' storyline delivered pretty well in the near and long terms. The Superboy semi-clone was killed off recently, apparently  for the sin  of not having a regular gig when a tragedy was needed for a big crossover event.

They recently created a third version of the original Steel character. (Is my nerd beanie on straight?) The first was a WWII guy who lasted all of five issues back in the 70s. It seems like both DC and Marvel were endlessly refighting WWII. The second Steel was the son of the first and appeared ina version of the Justice League made up almost entirely of new characters. He was killed off along another annoying guy who was a blatant bit of racial tokenism reaching out to the Latino audience. Now they have a new Steel who is the grandson of the original, serving in the Justice Society of America.

The JSA is a bit problematic. Unlike other characters whose continuity keeps moving up every few years, so that groups like the Fantastic Four now get their start in the 90s rather than the  early 60s, the JSA cannot be disentangled from the WWII era without losing a lot of what shapes the book. So they've got senior members who are now in their 90s and still kicking ass with no lengthy periods frozen in ice bergs or otherwise skipping a few decades. Yes, there is reasons given for this but it all gets to be a drag on the writing.

Posted by: epobirs at September 28, 2007 12:43 PM (loHPt)

18 To anyone who says superheroes are lame, I can only reply:

Posted by: Trimegistus at September 28, 2007 12:56 PM (jQlIa)

19 Treacher, I'm still laughing.

Posted by: PattyAnn at September 28, 2007 01:17 PM (8vM5E)


Well, you could watch Superman: Doomsday or you could check out the 90's classic "The Tick vs Season 2" with such dialog as:

The Tick: Isn't sanity really just a one trick pony, anyway? I mean, all you get is one trick, rational thinking! But when you're good and crazy… ooh hoo hoo hoo… the sky's the limit!


Posted by: Darth Randall at September 28, 2007 01:22 PM (oLULt)


Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 01:27 PM (HgAV0)

22 I actually like the Justice League Animated version of Superman a lot, much more than what you'd find in comics these days.  The whole story arc of Luthor trying to goad him to make Superman look like a badguy was done pretty well.  A similar story arc was done with Darkseid in the Superman animated cartoon as well.  All in all, I find the DC Animated Universe to be the best take on the characters, instead of what you find in the comics.

The problem with Superman is that DC is an outfit stuffed with liberals, and they make Superman into a pansy.  You'd have to try pretty hard to make a pansy out of a character like Batman, because of the history of Bruce Wayne's vigilante mission to fight crime because of his parents' murder.  But the liberals at DC/Time Warner love to make a pansy out of Superman.  Why?  Because Superman is ultimately an extremely conservative character.  Grew up in red-state Kansas.  Mild Mannered, not a hippie.  Yeah, he's a reporter for the MSM, but that's just a cover job so he can act as a superhero.  Doesn't try to dominate the world with his power, just tries to lead it by example.  The reason why people don't like Superman is because most superman stories are so angst-ridden that they're revolting to anyone who has self-respect, and find it impossible to like a character who's so powerful yet so guilt-ridden.  But they're looking at the DC liberals' take on the character.  Not the 40s version that was powerful, confident, and in control of things.

I was always a Batman kinda guy myself.  Superman has been abused by his writers.  No one would "hate" Superman if he was written with the respect that a character like red-white-and-blue Optimus Prime.  But the liberals at DC can't stand that.  No wonder they tried to kill him off.

Posted by: Sydney Carton at September 28, 2007 01:38 PM (xdyjV)

23 Sydney Carton,

Or turn Superman into a commie.

See "Red Son".

Posted by: rinseandspit at September 28, 2007 02:11 PM (5ksba)

24 Yeah, Superman, just cut loose and knock the guy through three office or apartment buildings.  I'm sure no one was inside or anything.  Just decorative. 

Sorry, just bad writing/staging in my opinion.

And now, the greatest superhero of them all....

The Tick: "And so, Arthur, we learned that gambling is bad and yet in a certain
sense, isn't life itself a gamble? You can never be sure of anything.
Like who would have thought that dolphins could go bad and that fish
were magnetic? Not me, no sir, not me."

The Tick: "Deadly Bulb! I'm about to write you a reality check. Or would you prefer the cold, hard cash of truth?"

The Tick: "Don't ever try to swim against the mighty tide of justice!"

The Tick: "Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even
yesterday. But once. Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our
us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs
of hope. And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will
make an interception."

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at September 28, 2007 02:26 PM (6aLzO)


I am also a Batman guy, but for entirely different reasons.

Just ask yourself this - what if Superman had the martial abilities of Batman?

Superman is a walking plot flaw. Batman has no super abilities, he simply makes the most of what he has. Which is just his mind. He's a genius. Not unlike Iron Man's situation.

But Superman, despite being gifted with the most insane super powers in the entire superhero universe, cannot be bothered to learn how to throw a proper punch. He just dunders and plows through everything. And this is also neccessary, because the character is so overpowered, the only way you get a story to last more then 5 minutes is to limit the character with character weaknesses. If superman had the mind and determination of Batman, not a damn comic would last more then 2 frames, or cartoon more then a minute. So superman must be incompitent putz who has just been lucky enough to be born with unimaginable power.

You can't aspire to be Superman, you can only be born superman. And he isn't even particularly enviable, as his only remarkable quality is sheer coincidental luck, the luck that landed him his birthright, which he can't be bothered to even maximize because he's a putz and doesn't need to.

Batman makes the most of what he has. But because of poor character planning and in order to generate the conflict absolutely neccessary for the plot, Superman always eeks by with the least of what he's been given.

Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 02:27 PM (HgAV0)

26 Oh, and of course, after falling off of a large building...
The Tick: "Gravity is a harsh mistress."

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at September 28, 2007 02:27 PM (6aLzO)


It's also worth noting that the archnemesis of Superman is Lex Luthor, a man in the same mold as Iron Man and Batman. No super abilities whatsoever, just brilliant.

(Ok, they're all 3 filthy rich as well and that helps. But it can be considered a side effect of their intelligence).

The dichotomies are almost completely reversed. I say almost because Batman's world doesn't pit him against exclusively superpowered foes...his arch nemesis is the Joker who is similarly superpowerless. But they pit a regular hero against superpower villains and have him succeed.  Superman pits a superhero against regular villians and...duh. *yawn*

Given what Batman is doing it's almost offensive Superman drags it out like he does. Lazy ass. And the fact that he always bests Luther is like a repudiation of Batman.

Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 02:36 PM (HgAV0)

28 Last one, promise.

The Tick: "I don't know the meaning of the word "surrender"! I mean, I know it, I'm not dumb... just not in this context."

Entropy, your right.  Incidentally, why is Superman "evil" for zapping Doomsday's brain with his heat vision or whatever its called?  The guy was going to kill him, then the rest of the Justice League, and then EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PLANET!  I mean, good job, Superman!  Way to stop the monster!

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at September 28, 2007 02:36 PM (6aLzO)


If you want a WAY better, deeper take of the sort of goody-two-shoes pacifism that the Superman clip above hints at, that admits and examines the real COSTS of such behavior as well, watch Trigun.

Vash the Stampede is very supermanesque (although with Vash, it is purely restraint and philosophical, he demonstrates the ability to kick ass - superman often just seems incompitent). Obscenely powerful but doesn't use it, but as you get deeper into the series it shows you what the costs is of his philosophical  refusal to kill absolutely anyone at all is, even the most hideous people who will surely take other lives if left to live.


The gay BDSM miller thread got me thirsty. I picked up a couple cases of Pilsner and Woodpecker apple cider after work and I'm now blitzed.

So I'm totally not responsible for whatever the hell I'm going on about. Cartoons, apparently.

Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 02:50 PM (HgAV0)

30 Well, in the case of Trigun, GOOD cartoons.  Looping this back to the original post, what first got me into Firefly was that it reminded me of Trigun and Cowboy Bebop.  Of course, Firefly is great in its own way, but that's what first drew me, and many others, in.     

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at September 28, 2007 02:56 PM (6aLzO)

31 Yah...Trigun I don't quite see in Firefly, but it's occured to me it is indeed very similar to Cowboy Bebop.

Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 02:59 PM (HgAV0)


Hey Mike, ever seen Full Metal Alchemist?

I recently bought Conqueror of Shamballah. It's not quite up to par with the series in my opinion, or packs the extra ending I was hoping for, but it was a suitable addition.

But the series has become one of my all time favorites.

Posted by: Entropy at September 28, 2007 03:06 PM (HgAV0)

33 Kasper, you realize you're posting on a blog that routinely talks about
fantasy football, Harry Potter and anything tenuously connected to anal
sex.  You're not an adult.

Okay.......Point taken.......but I'm old anyway....

Posted by: Kasper Hauser at September 28, 2007 03:13 PM (TnQKB)


I have always preferred Green Lantern, a character who's only limitation was his will/imagination and the color yellow.

Manga/Anime - One Piece they even have a batman like character named Ussop amongest super powered freaks; uses gadgets, schemes and out-and-out lies to fight, he is a bit of a chicken though. And Death Note.

Posted by: ecos at September 28, 2007 04:39 PM (XWJh5)

35  Entropy, I haven't, but I'll put them on my list to check them out.

Posted by: MikeTheLibrarian at September 28, 2007 05:04 PM (6aLzO)

36 Hey,  I just read the whole comments thread here and I have a question.

Am I the only one here who'se ever been laid?  

Posted by: Kasper Hauser at September 28, 2007 05:22 PM (TnQKB)


Entropy, variations of the same criticism can be just as easily placed upon Batman. The Joker and Luthor flourish because their respective adversaries are constrained against the simple expedient of killing them. If anything, the Superman/Luthor stories since the 80s revamp have made more sense than Batman's continuing tolerance of the Joker's survival. The revamped Luthor rarely confronted Superman directly, working instead through his corporate power base and enjoying plausible deniability for his crimes.

Either character lives or dies by the strength of the writing. Both can be the basis for enjoyable plotlines and both can be deadly dull in the wrong hands.

I recently got a gift of some DVDs that each collect several decades of long-running series like Spider-man. Trying to read these straight from their beginnings was almost painful. Much of SF and fantasy writing was awful back then as well but that era was also producing enduring novels like 'Dune' and 'Lord of Light.' The comics field was almost universally dreck for children with occasional glimmerings of something more being possible.

Posted by: epobirs at September 28, 2007 11:09 PM (Nti55)


Kasper:  possibly.

If you're going to watch One Piece, go with a funsub of the show, the Americanized version did all sorts of horrible, horrible things with the original, if my understanding is correct.

Posted by: Shawn, but not lowercased shawn at September 29, 2007 05:13 AM (8nB5X)


epobir, point well noted.

But I'm not complaining about the anti-capital punishment inclinations of Superman or Batman. I just said Trigun better handled the sort of 'no killing, ever' theme both of those 2 superman clips above hint at.

My criticism of Superman has more to do with the power issue I noted above.

Posted by: Entropy at September 29, 2007 07:37 AM (HgAV0)

40 The JLA series had one good story centered on Superman that I saw. He gets transported way into the future when the sun has become red, so he loses his powers. He wanders around for a while, fights a wolf, and meets up with Vandal Savage. Together the two of them have to defeat a bunch of ant critters so he can go back in time and stop Vandal Savage from destroying all life on earth during his absence.

Another good Superman moment (not entire episode) from the JLA series is he's fighting that super-intelligent ape villain (can't recall his name right now). The ape tells Supes the two of them should be running things as superior beings, why is Supes always siding with the inferiors? Superman won't change sides (of course), so the ape says he's going to have to inflict some terrible psionic pain on Superman (or something). Anyway, the ape starts gloating about how doesn't Superman wish he'd joined him in world domination now that's he having so much pain inflicted on him. Superman says, "I've...felt...worse." Then bam, knocks the ape for a loop.

Really good delivery of the line by the guy voicing him, plus you know how true it is.

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