Superman – The Last Son of Krypton

by Alan Rapp on June 6, 2013

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Superman: The Animated Series – The Last Son of Krypton
  • tv.com: link

Superman - The Last Son of Krypton

With a new Superman ready to fly into theaters this summer every now and then I’ll continue to take a look back at the hero’s more memorable moments on both the big and small screen. Following the success of Batman: The Animated Series, Warner Bros. Animation decided to try another cartoon based on their other biggest property. Superman: The Animated Series had a similar, if far more vibrant, look to that of Batman: The Animated Series but it was given a sleeker and more modern/futuristic look and lacked the earlier show’s uniquely cool Art Deco style. A mix of both Silver Age and Modern continuity, the show did justice to the Man of Steel running for more than 50 episodes before the show came to a close to allow Warner Bros. to move forward with Justice League.

The show opened with a three part origin tale of Superman that didn’t feature our title character in costume until halfway through the second episode. Choosing to deal with Superman’s Kryptonian heritage at the beginning rather than deal with the issue later in the series, “The Last Son of Krypton” began on Superman’s home world by focusing on Jor-El (Christopher McDonald) and the baby infant Kal-El’s doomed planet. In one of the show’s twists on established characters, Superman: The Animated Series decided to recreate Brainiac (Corey Burton) as a Kryptonian computer system, much closer tying its origins to Jor-El and Superman than the Collector of Worlds origin.

In this opening origin story the series introduces audiences to both Clark and Superman (Tim Daly), Lois Lane (Dana Delany), Jimmy Olsen (David Kaufman), and sets up not one put two archnemeses for the Man of Steel in Brainiac and industrialist Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown). More villains and supporting characters, both old and new, would continue in the years to come. The show’s score is a bit overused at times, especially during the final-half of this origin story during the Man of Steel’s various heroics.

Taking place entirely on Krpton, “Part One” follows Jor-El’s attempts to reason with other Kryptonians about the coming apocalypse which will destroy their planet and discover why the all-wise computer system known as Brainiac is so adamant to dismiss his findings. With baby Kal-El placed in the spaceship by his mother (Finola Hughes) and father, “Part One” ends with the destruction of Krypton. Although there’s quite a bit of action, it is an unusual way to start the series on an alien world while waiting to introduce the characters who will make up the core of the show in the remaining two episodes.

Superman - The Last Son of Krypton

“Part Two” jumps around quite a bit more than the first episode. It focuses on the baby’s arrival on Earth, the discovery and adoption of the baby by Jonathan (Mike Farrell) and Martha Kent (Shelley Fabares), and then skips forward to showcase the manifestation of Clark Kent’s powers during puberty at Smallville High School. The second episode then jumps forward again to Clark accepting a job at The Daily Planet, meeting Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, and gives us Superman’s first big save.

“Part Three” focuses on Superman battling mercenary John Corben (Malcolm McDowell) who is in possession of a stolen LexCorp robotic power suit. Superman also correctly guesses Lex Luthor’s hand in the scheme and ends in a nearly identical manner to the Pilot of Lois & Clark as Superman confronts Luthor in his penthouse and reminds the billionaire that he’ll be keeping a close eye on him from now on.

Superman - The Last Son of Krypton

As basically a Pilot episode for the series, “The Last Son of Krypton” does its job by introducing a hefty amount of Superman’s backstory and setting up the supporting cast and world. The power suit itself really isn’t that interesting, although it is challenging enough to give the opener plenty of time to showcase Superman’s powers. The best choices made here are stylistically and in voice casting as Daly and Delany make for an excellent pair of leads and Brown help give Luthor a villainous feel even if he doesn’t do anything all that evil here.

I like the choice of redesigning Brainiac for the show, giving a classic character a much needed facelift, a cool redesign (although we don’t see his android body yet), and tying his origins much more closely with that of Superman. The other original character created here is Luthor’s no-nonsense bodyguard Mercy (Lisa Edelstein) who no doubt was included to cash-in on the success that Batman had in giving the Joker his own sidekick.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

better than Man of Steel June 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

It’s better origin story than Man of Steel.

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chaz June 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I had forgotten how much the first part of this movie plays out like Man of Steel. The difference is when you get to Metropolis we get a real Superman not a killer. I prefer my Superman to not commit murder.

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