TV Review – “Superman: The Animated Series Vol. 1”

With this one finished, I can get back to working on
Dead Like Me: Season One.

Cast and Crew

Tim Daly as Clark Kent / Superman

Dana Delany as Lois Lane

Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor

The list of guest stars includes:

Joseph Bologna as Lt. Turpin

George Dzundza as Perry White

David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen

Malcolm McDowell as John Corben / Metallo

Brad Garrett as Lobo

Michael Ironside as Darkseid

Rom Perlman as Jax-Ur

Lori Petty as Livewire

Complete information is
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Past TV reviews can be found here.

Original Airdate

These episodes originally aired from 1996-1997.


In these first 18 episodes of the series (hitting
exactly the 1/3
mark), we’re introduced to Superman, Krypton,
Brainiac, Lex Luthor,
Metallo, Lobo, and an assortment of other characters
from the Superman

Superman’s abilities and power levels have been
erratic over the years
in the comics. This is the weakest I’ve seen him; he
strains to lift
a tank, and can take a serious beating from anyone
with enhanced
strength. The powers he uses are strength, speed,
flight, general
durability, heat vision, X-ray vision, and extremely
good hearing.

High Point

The two parter introducing Lobo (“The Main Man”)
seemed odd at first,
but it really grew on me by the end of the first
episode. I haven’t
read enough Superman in the comics to recognize most
of these
characters (the only villains I’ve seen in comics are
Lex Luthor and
Doomsday), so I don’t know if the fans consider that
an accurate
portrayal, but I can say that this version was quite
especially in part two.

Low Point

The worst of the bunch was probably “The Prometheon,”
with a big
mindless monster riding in on an asteroid and
defeated on Earth. It
just had no real story, and a predictable ending.
Furthermore, the
basic problem they faced felt more like a plot from
the 1967
Spider-Man series
It’s not terrible, but it’s just not as good as the

The Review

This is not only an adaptation from another medium,
but it’s almost a
sequel series to boot, as it was done based on the
success of the Batman
animated series

(the second volume of which I’ll review at some point
before the next
movie comes out.) As such, it takes something of a
loss for
originality. On the other hand, looking at
their work on the
Batman series, it’s probably a pretty safe
bet that they
reworked a lot of details, which counts somewhat.
I’ll give it 3 out
of 6.

The animation was a little bit choppy. In
fact, it looks to
me like they were trying to do Superman on their
Batman budget, but
that just doesn’t work for animation. Batman does
most of his
fighting in brutal, close quarters. One background
can be the size
and shape of the TV screen, and then he can fight
without any panning
needed. That doesn’t work for Superman. Superman’s
battles need to
span huge portions of the city, they need more camera
angles (and thus
more backgrounds) for all the iconic poses that he’ll
be making in
mid-flight, and they need to have long backgrounds
for his high-speed
flight sequences. Superman is simply a more
expensive cartoon
property than Batman is, but it doesn’t look like
their budget got the
needed boost. Most of these comments are really
about the production,
I know, but I said them here because I suspect that’s
the cause of the
jerky animation with some over-the-top anime-style
characters (like
Bruno Manheim, who plays like comic relief in badly
dubbed anime.)
The first few episodes looked like they were still
having problems
with perspective on his legs when he flew, as well.
I give it 4 out
of 6.

The stories and writing, however, were just
as good as those
on the Batman series. They’ve got an excellent grasp
of the
character’s personality, and with what makes him so
super. The
villains, adapted though they might be, come across
clearly, and form
nice artistic counterpoints to the Big Blue Boy
Scout. I give it 5
out of 6.

The voice acting is better than I expected
when I heard Tim
Daly would be voicing Superman. I’ve always imagined
Superman with
the kind of deep, powerful voice he had on Challenge of
the Super
, but as I got into this series, I really
started to like
the soft-spoken approach. Superman has power, yes,
but he doesn’t
flaunt it, and that’s what comes across here. The
guest actors all do
some great work. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is strong, once you
get used to
Superman taking these kinds of beatings. I give it 4
out of 6.

The production had its comments in the
animation section
above. High aspirations, but a tight budget. I’m
hoping that this
gets corrected in the later seasons, but given how
similar the five
season two episodes on this set were to season one, I
don’t really
expect an improvement. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a good set, and a better
representation of the
character than a lot of the live action entries.
It’s well worth it
for Superman fans out there. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Superman: The Animated Series Vol.
receives 31 out
of 42.

One reply

  1. *That’s* what happened!
    Ah! That explains a lot. I saw exactly one episode of this series, and I gave up on it because it was a plotless “look how powerful Superman is!” show. It was this one where this big scary monster arrives on an asteroid and gets defeated on Earth…

    Yeah, so it sounds like I just happened to hit the one poor ep in the bunch, eh? Heh. Maybe I’ll check it out again if I get a chance…

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