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September 28, 2007

Do Not Watch: "The Death of Superman"

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.

digg this
posted by Ace at 04:38 PM

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