SciFi Japan


    Can the Man of Steel come back from the dead? Author: Aaron Cooper Prepare yourself for a look at some recent animated delving into the DC Universe. As the resident SciFi Japan comic book geek, I’ve been promising the staff to do these reviews for a while. It took me a while to sit and watch SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY. I’ll be the first to admit that the entire “Death and Return of Superman” storyline that permeated comics in the early 1990’s was far too excessive in hype, multiple covers, and bagged editions mixed with mediocre and melodramatic storytelling. Sure, it was exciting at the time…for about a month. It wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to revisit. Add to that, of all the DC Superheroes animation that Bruce Timm and Paul Dini had been producing for Warner Bros. for over a decade, the Superman series was the least interesting to me. Of course, being a Batman apologist never helps in this regard! Regardless, I’m a little older and (hopefully) wiser now. Having separated myself from the source material for a while now, I thought it would be interesting to see how Warner Bros. did with SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY and see if I could give this title an unbiased review.

    It’s been a while since the end of the Superman animated series. Superman and Lois Lane have a relationship, though she is still unaware he is also Clark Kent. Lex Luthor’s company, Lexcorp, unwittingly unleashes an alien humanoid weapon that had been confined and buried on Earth. It attacks Metropolis and kills Superman. After a tearful memorial, it appears that Superman almost immediately comes back from the dead. In reality, Lex Luthor has tried cloning Superman several times over and seems to have finally succeeded, that is until the clone turns on its master and decides to ‘protect’ Metropolis under its own tyrannical regime. However, the one true Superman returns, having been restored from what was actually a near-death state by his loyal robotic servants at the Fortress of Solitude. As always, battle ensues, the bad guys lose, and Metropolis rejoices over the return of the real Superman and Lois Lane rejoices over the return of her lover, who finally reveals his dual identity. Too bad she figured it out already! As a stand-alone story, SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY works very well throwing you into the story and action. Let’s face it; just about everyone is familiar with most aspects of the Superman mythos, so just about every character is known and understood. The story really doesn’t expect you to have watched anything previous out of the animated series or read any of the comics. It also does a wonderful job taking what was a long, convoluted set of stories contained throughout Death of Superman, Funeral for a Friend, Reign of the Superman, and Return of Superman comics and condense it into a viewable 60 minute feature without any excess baggage. The action sequences are top-notch. I actually preferred how Superman ‘dies’ here compared to the comics and it seemed much more believable as an end to the Man of Steel.The climatic battle towards the end between Superman and his clone is quite epic. I also thought they did a really nice job tying up what could have been obvious plot holes, such as while Superman is dead, where’s Clark Kent? That question is asked and answered without any ‘deus ex machina’ monkey business.

    My complaints are minor. I couldn’t get over the lines that appeared on Superman’s face. I can only assume this was to give him an ‘older’ look. Also, the animation was exactly like the animated series, but the subject matter definitely was not. For instance, Lois and Superman have a notable adult relationship and the violence of the material earns its PG-13 rating. Just don’t expect to sit the kids down thinking it’s another volume of the animated series. I also found myself looking for Pa Kent. Ma was there and had a pivotal role. Where’s Pa? Dead I guess, but it’s never stated. Finally, there is the most worthless Jimmy Olsen plotline that goes no where. I guess they just needed him to do something throughout the feature until he showed up at the climax. SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY exceeded my expectations. Is it high-art or the next big thing? No, but it is an enjoyable way to spend some time and soak up some superhero action that doesn’t talk down to adults. The animation is serviceable and comfortable, like visiting an old friend. The storyline is action-packed, easy to follow and rewarding. I found myself rooting for the Man of Steel throughout. Definitely recommended!

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