Superman: TAS – S1 – The Main Man Review

Characters: Superman/Clark Kent, Professor Hamilton, Angela Chen, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor
First Appearance: Lobo, The Preserver

Almost a quarter century ago, a then teenage Michael never in his life thought he would see the following things:

  1. An animated Superman series,
  2. Lobo in the opening credits of an animated Superman series,
  3. Lobo actually featuring in not one, but two episodes in the first season of the show.

Okay, perhaps that second one is a bit of poetic embellishment, but the sentiment behind it is no less sincere. I have written about how I never thought I would see a good Superman animated series, so imagine my surprise when I see Lobo in the opening credits. I knew there would be an episode featuring Lobo in my future, but I was also incredibly hesitant of that.

Lobo is a character that only really works well as a parody. Not only that, but a very specific type of parody that unless done by the right kind of writer, loses its edge and in turn becomes a parody of itself. It takes a writer such as Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison, Alan Grant or his creator, Keith Giffen to succeed at this type of character writing, so imagine my surprise when I see it is a Paul Dini written episode. You normally would not associate such writing with Dini, but then again, Joker and Harley over in Batman: The Animated Series were best handled by him; there is no denying that Dini knows his DC lore and has a passion for it.

Another concern of mine, was language tone. Two of Lobo’s catch phrases, “Bastiche” and “Frag” are a little similar to common swear words, so I figured those would not get past the censors. Imagine my surprise when carefully placed “frags” ended up in the final episode. Perhaps this Lobo would not be too watered down after all.

I remember loving this episode as a teen, and watching it as a guy pushing forty…. it is still funny in places. Sure the plot is cliched as all heck, but I am finding that has a very charming quality for this series. I am also beginning to appreciate that while Batman: The Animated Series was innovative, perhaps the whole point of Superman: The Animated Series was to be an “opposite, or in this case, more nostalgic feeling cartoon? Midway through the first season, and I am already beginning to reevaluate my own assumptions about this series. I am not normally the type to say something is really good or really bad (this is all subjective, right?), but these two episodes, really, truly are two of my fanboy favourites from an already cherished series.

Oh, and Superman reveals his identity to Lois. She does not believe him (c’mon Lois, you’re a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist!), harkening back to a time in the Silver Age where such goofy reveals were common. It was even pulled a few times during John Byrne’s reboot (most notably using Lex Luthor the first time around) before Clark Kent finally revealed his dual identity shortly after Lois and Clark got engaged.

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