Holidaying with his parent's Clark is called off time and time again to help out as Superman. From the Phantom Zone, General Zod and his companions successfully create a creature they call The Hunter...
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This series, the first since the character's overhaul revision in the comics by John Byrne, shows the adventures of the Man of Steel as he fights villains like the evil head of the mega-corporation Lexcorp, Lex Luthor. In addition, we see the adventures of Clark as a boy in Smallville and all the mischief he causes with his powers.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
If you're looking for a deep, expertly crafted, cutting-edge cartoon that's destined to be appreciated by many adults as well as kids, you won't find it here - that's not what this show is, nor what it's trying to be. Honestly, it's cheesy and doesn't exactly try to have super-tight writing. But if you look at this show for what it is - a 1980s kids cartoon about Superman - well, it actually does its job well. If you don't set your expectations too high, you might, like me, end up enjoying yourself quite a bit.
This show's take on Superman and his mythology feels really reminiscent of the Christopher Reeve movies to me - the creators even admit in an interview that they directly took inspiration from them for Superman's character. There are even several direct allusions to the movies, such as Superman flying with Lois in a similar manner and calling himself a "friend" upon first meeting her as Superman. Despite not being as big a fan of that interpretation of Superman as most, it definitely has its charm and I think this cartoon captures it well, making Superman a somewhat unreal and cheesy yet immensely likable character, so if you actually ARE a fan of the movies, I have to recommend this cartoon all the more! Apart from the movies, this show also takes some cues from the post-Crisis Superman comics, such as making Lex Luthor an evil businessman - but he has a humorous personality like his movie counterpart, complete with a ditzy female sidekick. While the serious Luthor is cool too, I have to admit this version is really entertaining. Clark Kent is definitely NOT influenced much by the new take on him in the comics, as he's clearly based on the more traditional cowardly and clumsy Kent as opposed to the more assertive one the comics were "rolling out" at the time. He's certainly not as amazingly humorous, adorable, and generally well-done as Christopher Reeve's (not many are!), but he's still fun and endearing. His journalistic skills do come into play occasionally, which is always a treat.
I REALLY appreciate this show having a pretty heavy emphasis on Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen (especially in contrast to the later and obviously better-known Superman: The Animated Series). They figure prominently in almost every episode and even do some helpful stuff sometimes, in addition to their regularly-scheduled rescue-needing. Their portrayals are pretty rockin' overall, nothing ground-breaking or special, but solid and true to the characters. Lois even gets some romantic scenes with Superman, nothing serious or emotional, just some cute fun you can't help but smile at. Perry White doesn't really do much, which is too bad, but I guess you can't cram everything into such a short run time.
The artwork and animation in this show is pretty good. I'm not going to say it's mind-blowing, but it certainly has a reasonable level of quality, especially for the time. There are a few too many errors and inconsistencies for my liking, such as multiple instances where they reverse the colors on Superman's S-shield for a few frames (seriously, that should be pretty easy to catch!), but overall it's not that big a deal. The main characters are all quite well-drawn, especially Lois and Jimmy. Unfortunately, non-recurring characters frequently have pretty bad character designs, and that's kinda too bad, but oh well.
The stories in this show aren't amazingly well-written, but they're usually inventive, entertaining and charming on some level. Overall, they're definitely geared towards kids, but there's still effort put into them. Some may be disappointed at the general lack of iconic supervillains, but I'm not sure I can share the sentiments - we do get a few of them at least (the Prankster and General Zod & co. get one episode each and Lex Luthor appears in a few), and honestly, I really feel like this keeps the show fresh and always doing something different, unique, and all its own. Superman: TAS felt a bit samey after a while, just having supervillain after supervillain. So, in all honesty, I prefer this style - unique plots with new characters most of the time with occasional appearances by iconic, comic-derived villains. The stories are usually very science-fictiony (with a few exceptions) and may be a bit goofy, but not depths-of-the-Silver-Age goofy. There's honestly a good deal to love, as long as you're the sort that can enjoy kiddy stuff like this that doesn't take itself very seriously.
Another interesting and fun trait of the show is the "Superman's Family Album" sections, each only a couple of minutes long, detailing an episode from Clark's past - over the course of the series, we're taken from his adoption by the Kents all the way to him assuming the Superman mantle. These can be extremely endearing sometimes, and I LOVE the way younger Clark is drawn (aside from when he's a baby) - he has such a powerfully "Supermanny" look with a really pronounced spit-curl, and is just adorable! They're a little dull sometimes, and there's not much you can do in such a limited time-frame, but every now and again they'll just make me feel so happy.
Needless to say, this show isn't going to appeal to everyone. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend this show to most - most people don't watch random 1980s kids cartoons for fun, after all. But if you happen to be a fan of Superman, I'd happily suggest you give it a go. I mean, at the end of the day, it does really succeed in, well, being a show about Superman. It's got Superman being Superman, it's got Clark being Clark, it's got Lois being Lois, it's got Jimmy being Jimmy, it's got Lex being Lex, it has Superman saving the day. If that sounds good to you like it does to me, chances are you might just find something to like here!
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