Sunday, April 29, 2018

Superman 1988!


There was something of a Superman revival in the late 80's following on after the four Chris Reeve movies and the reboot of the series in those halcyon post-Crisis days by John Byrne and others. One thing which stood out to me at the time was the use of Gil Kane on Superman all over the place. It's Gil Kane who is the primary designer here as Ruby-Spears tries to present a Superman which is at once smart, sentimental and self-aware. They don't quite get it done, but it's a noble effort.


The stories are pure 80's with nods to Star Wars, horror flicks, and other tropes from the time. Lex Luthor is much in evidence, the industrialist Luthor, not the mad scientist and there's even a special feature which explores the role of greed on the 80's and how Luthor is an expression of that dark sentiment. There's magic, time travel, and space travel alongside high-tech pirates and such. The Prankster shows up to give the show a nostalgic gloss as well.


The Daily Planet crew are intact, with Lois getting her usual high-profile treatment. They put her in a horrendous pink in the series and like much of the clothing the characters are drawn with, it consumes her. There's a general thickness to the character designs which is frankly odd. Everyone looks to be a good hundred pounds heavier than they should.


The episodes show real care has been taken, but to my mind the leads cartoons were almost all too long with not enough real plot in them to justify that length. They felt plodding at times. Also each show had a short which followed Kal-El as he grew up on Earth with the Kents and became Superman. It's a nifty idea and we see him as a baby, a little boy, a young man and finally on his first day as Superman, but there's a cloying quality to it which irks.


I want to like this collection of cartoons better than I do, because I respect the talent which worked on them, but sadly they fall somewhat short of the ambitious goals of the creators who are to be congratulated for trying something really smart.

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4 comments:

  1. I recall Superman being all over the place in '88 to celebrate his 50th anniversary, but I've never seen this. Thanks Rip!

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    1. You are very welcome sir. These cartoons are not ones I remember from the time, but this collection I found for relative cheap at Half-Price Books several years ago.

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  2. This was especially weird because it was the last DCU cartoon before they really hit their stride with Batman: The Animated Series which led directly to a fantastic Superman series as well as a Justice League one.

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    1. True that. I almost reviewed "Son of Krypton", the debut Superman movie, but didn't have time. I have not collected those 90's DC cartoons, as good as they are. But I do have a few of the Superman "movies'.

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