Superman: Animated

by Russ Dimino
Originally ran in Krypton Club Newsletter #188, December 1998

On September 12, 1993, future FoLCs got their first look at an all-new take on the classic man of steel known far and wide as Superman. Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher brought new life to the fictional characters Clark Kent and Lois Lane, and made them believable human characters for the 1990's. For the first time since Christopher Reeve, this show made us believe that a man could fly.

On September 6, 1996, another incarnation of Superman hit the small screen. Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and Alan Burnett, the creators of the five-time emmy-award winning Batman The Animated Series, offered their take on the big blue legend. In an animated form, Superman's powers were now beyond the limits of a live-action television series special effects budget. This new version paid homage to the old Max Fleischer cartoons of the 1940's, while still keeping a modern spin on the classic super hero.

Although different in medium, the live-action L&C and the animated series have many similarities. Bruce Timm, one of the creative minds behind the cartoon, is even an FoLC himself. "I like Lois and Clark a lot," he admitted in the January 1996 issue of Comics Scene magazine (an issue which, coincidentally, sported Teri Hatcher on the cover), "I watch it every week." But there are differences to be sure. Clark Kent is a hard-edged crime reporter, more of a throwback to George Reeves than Dean Cain. And, though Lois and Clark married on L&C, the writers are insistent on keeping Lois in the dark about Clark's secret. Much like the first season of the live action show, Lois has a bit of a crush on the flyboy, yet constantly ribs her partner about his farmboy roots in Smallville Kansas.

So just how alike (or how different) is the cartoon from our beloved L&C? Well, judge for yourself. The Krypton Club presents for you a complete episode guide to the animated series, along with comparisons to Lois and Clark along the way. So whether you're already a fan of the animated Superman, or if this is your first glance, sit back and enjoy this look at a different take on our favorite super hero.

Here's a list of the major character voice credits for the first season.

Superman/Clark Kent: Tim Daly
Lois Lane: Dana Delany
Lex Luthor: Clancy Brown
Perry White: George Dzundza
Jimmy Olsen: David Kaufman
Angela Chen: Lauren Tomas
Ron Troupe: Dorian Harewood
Martha Kent: Shelley Fabares
Jonathan Kent: Mike Farrell
Jor-El: Christopher McDonald
Lara: Finola Hughes
Sul-Van: Tony Jay
Braniac: Corey Burton
Lana Lang (teenager): Kelly Schmidt
Lana Lang: Joely Fisher
Teenage Clark Kent: Jason Marsden
Bibbo: Brad Garret
Bruno Mannheim: Bruce Weitz
John Corben: Malcolm McDowell
The Toyman: Bud Cort
Mercy Graves: Lisa Edelstein
Professor Hamilton: Victor Brandy
Parasite/Rudy Jones: Brion James
Commissioner Henderson: Mel Winkler
Lobo: Brad Garrett
Dan "Terrible" Turpin: Joseph Bologna
Darkseid: Michael Ironside
Maggie Sawyer: Joanna Cassidy

"The Last Son of Krypton" (Premiere)
Air Date: September 6, 1996
Written by: Alan Burnett and Paul Dini
Directed by: Dan Riba, Scott Jeralds, Curt Geda, Bruce Timm

SUMMARY: This 90 minute special introduces everything we need to know about Superman. It starts out with Jor-El on Krypton racing to save his infant son Kal-El from their exploding home planet. We see Clark growing up as a teenager in Smallville, using his powers for the first time, and becoming Superman. He moves to Metropolis and meets Lois, Jimmy, Perry, and has his first encounter with Lex Luthor after the tycoon tries to off him with a giant robotic battle suit. This sets up the whole series. This special was later re-run a a three-part storyline, and is available on home video.

L&C CONNECTIONS: This episode explains many key things that were shown throughout the first season of Lois and Clark. As a teen, Clark's parents show him his space ship, in which an imaging device tells him of his heritage, much as the globe did in "The Foundling." Lois does coin the name "Superman" in this version, and he grants her an interview. The confrontation between Superman and Luthor near the end of this episode is eerily similar to that at the end of the L&C pilot. Also, you may recognize teenage Clark's girlfriend when he is in Smallville. Her name is Lana Lang, a character we see in L&C in the episode "Tempus Anyone?" She will appear again in this series. Another note, Tony Jay (Nigel from L&C) provides a voice in this episode.

"Fun and Games"
Air Date: September 7, 1996
Written by: Robert N. Skir and Marthy Isenberg
Directed by: Kazuhide Tomonaga

SUMMARY: The Toyman is introduced when he tries to bump off gangster Bruno Manheim for ruining his father, a toymaker named Winslow Schott. Toyman kidnaps Manheim with a giant duck, and then abducts Lois and dresses her as a toy doll. The Toyman plans to have Manheim executed by a toy soldier firing squad, and Lois is to report on it. Superman saves the day, with some help from Jimmy Olsen.

L&C CONNECTIONS: Many people don't realize that there were actually *two* characters on L&C based on The Toyman - Winslow P. Schott in "Season's Greedings," and the toymaker Dr. Kripsley in "Toy Story." The animated version is different from both of these, as he looks like a giant toy himself.

"A Little Piece of Home"
Air Date: September 14, 1996
Written by: Hilary J. Bader
Directed by: Toshihiko Masuda

SUMMARY: While trying to stop a museum robbery, Superman is weakened by a green rock that is on display. When Luthor gets ahold of it, he may actually have something that can defeat the Man of Steel - Kryptonite.

L&C CONNECTIONS: This episode is comparable to "The Green, Green Glow of Home," introducing Kryptonite into the mythos. Although it was Jason Trask who initially discovered the rock on L&C, here it was right in Lex's museum all along, giving him very easy access to it.

"Feeding Time"
Air Date: September 21, 1996
Written by: Robert Goodman
Directed by: Curt Geda

SUMMARY: An attempt to steal chemicals from STAR Labs goes awry, and a man named Rudy Jones is transformed into a parasitic creature that feeds on human energy. Calling himself The Parasite, Jones goes after the man in Metropolis who can provide him with the biggest energy snack of all - Superman. Jones soon finds he can absorb memories as well, and he knows something pretty interesting about Clark Kent after he tangles with the Man of Steel.

L&C CONNECTIONS: The villain Parasite was not actually used on L&C, but in an episode of The Krypton Club's TUFS (The Unaired Fifth Season).

"The Way of all Flesh"
Air Date: October 19, 1996
Written by: Stan Berkowitz
Directed by: Kenji Hachizaki

SUMMARY: John Corben, a former Lexcorp employee, contracts a fatal disease while serving time in prison. Luthor has Corben broken out of jail and offers him a new lease on life - a cyborg body that runs on a Kryptonite heart. Calling himself Metallo, Corben is to go after and kill Superman...but when he finds out that it was Lex who arranged for him to get the fatal disease in the first place, it's Supes who has to protect Lex from his own steel-plated assassin.

L&C CONNECTIONS: There was an episode in the second season, called "Metallo," in which Lucy's boyfriend was given a Kryptonite-powered cyborg body. His name was John Corben. The scientists operating on Corben on L&C were Emmett and Rollie Vale, and prison physician in the cartoon is named Dr. Vale.

"Stolen Memories"
Air Date: November 2, 1996
Written by: Rich Fogel
Directed by: Curt Geda

SUMMARY: The alien being Brainiac comes to Earth, and Luthor suggests a business deal to provide data on Earth in exchange for Brainiac's knowledge of the universe. But Brainiac has a secret of his own, with close ties to Clark. He, too, is a survivor of Krypton, and may be the reason it exploded. Does the alien have a similar fate planned for our world? Not if Superman has anything to say about it.

L&C CONNECTIONS: In this episode, Superman learns more about Krypton's heritage. He finds data globes in Brainiac's space ship, much like the globe in "Strange Visitor" and "The Foundling," not only for Krypton but for numerous other planets that Brainaic has visited and destroyed.

"The Main Man" (Part One)
Air Date: November 9, 1996
Written by: Paul Dini
Directed by: Dan Riba

SUMMARY: The intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo is hired by an alien creature called The Preserver to capture Superman for his own personal collection of one-of-a-kind creatures. Being the Last Son of Krypton, Superman is the ideal addition to his unique zoo. Of course, Lobo might not look bad along side him... to be continued.

L&C CONNECTIONS: Superman as part of a collection of rarities? Sounds like "Don't Tug On Superman's Cape," the third season episode where Tim and Amber Lake add Supes and Lois to their private museum.

"The Main Man" (Part Two)
Air Date: November 16, 1996
Written by: Paul Dini
Directed by: Dan Riba

SUMMARY: Superman and Lobo, the last of their respective races, are imprisoned in The Preserver's private zoo. Exposed to a synthetic red sun light, Supes is powerless, preventing him from escaping. That is, until he finds that The Preserver has the last dodo in his zoo as well... under a replica of Earth's yellow sun, which could restore his power. But even so, can he trust the bounty hunter he's imprisoned with, or will Lobo betray him again?

L&C CONNECTIONS: Again, we see the one-of-a-kind collection theme of "Don't Tug On Superman's Cape," and the red sun exposure leaving Superman powerless may remind you of how Red Kryptonite played with the Man of Steel's powers throughout the series.

"My Girl"
Air Date: November 23, 1996
Written by: Hilary J. Bader
Directed by: Yuichiro Yano

SUMMARY: Lana Lang, Clark's old friend from Smallville, has made it big in the fashion industry. She shows up in Metropolis... and she's dating Lex Luthor! But Lana had seen Clark use his super strength back in Smallville, and she's made the connection between him and Superman. Will her ties to the Man of Steel get her in trouble with her bad-boy boyfriend? Nah, Lex wouldn't mind... he'll just try and have her killed.

L&C CONNECTIONS: Although we loved to hate her in "Tempus, Anyone?", Lana is a true friend to Clark in this series. Although her helpfulness gets her in trouble from time to time, her heart is in the right place, and she encourages Supes to use his powers right, rather than forcing him to hide them the way she did on L&C.

"Tools of the Trade"
Air Date: February 1, 1997
Written by: Mark Evanier
Directed by: Curt Geda

SUMMARY: Organized crime is on the rise in Metropolis, with an underworld organization known as Intergang using futuristic weapons the likes of which no one has ever seen before. Even the Metropolis SCU (Special Crimes Unit), led by Maggie Sawyer and Dan "Terrible" Turpin, can't bring the gang down, and neither, it seems, can Superman. Bruno Manheim, the leader of Intergang (last seen in "Fun and Games"), is being supplied with high tech weaponry by a mysterious figure called Kanto. What Manheim doesn't realize is that he may have made a deal with the devil... more literally than he can imagine. The end of this episode is chilling, as we are introduced to Darkseid, lord of Apokolips.

L&C CONNECTIONS: We were first introduced to Intergang on Lois and Clark in the second season episode "Church of Metropolis." Originally headed by the Bill Church family, Intergang always possessed advanced weapons, but never on the scale used in "Tools of the Trade."

"Two's A Crowd"
Air Date: February 15, 1997
Written by: Stan Berkowitz
Directed by: Hiroyuki Aoyama

SUMMARY: Criminal terrorist Earl Garver has set a bomb somewhere in Metropolis, capable of taking out a square mile of the city. But the criminal is now in a coma, and no one else knows where the bomb is. Even Superman can't search the whole city in time. They need someone who can get inside Garver's head... The Parasite. Rudy "Parasite" Jones (from "Feeding Time") is released from his captivity at STAR Labs, but there's a twist when he tries to absorb Garver's memories - Rudy and Garver now share the mind of The Parasite, and are working as "partners" within the same body.

L&C CONNECTIONS: It's nice to see STAR Labs as a constant on both the cartoon and on L&C. Where Dr. Klein was Lois and Clark's main resource there, Professor Hamilton is the main scientist there in the animated series. It should be noted that the character Professor Hamilton was used on L&C in the second season, in "That Old Gang of Mine" and "Return of the Prankster."

Well, that wraps up the first season! In the next edition we'll see some villains from Krypton, an imp from the 5th dimension, and one of the "world's finest" crossovers of all time when Superman is joined by the Dark Knight, Batman, when the Krypton Club covers the second season of the animated Superman. Until then, be sure to tune in and see this version of the big blue superhero for yourself on Kids WB weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings (check your local listings for the time and channel).

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Russ Dimino 2008