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When Superman: The Animated Series Tried to Make Clark Kent Cool

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When Superman: The Animated Series Tried to Make Clark Kent Cool

The Wrap-Up

Design-y

“The Late Mr. Kent” compensates for its lack of supervillains and monsters with numerous explosions. Here’s a great shot of a bomb exploding in Superman’s face.

Continuity Notes

  • Detective Bowman previously appeared in the episode “Target,” unwilling to properly investigate threats on Lois’ life, due to an earlier story he disliked. Why exactly he killed the wealthy woman from this episode is never revealed.
  • The smaller headline from the ending of “The Late Mr. Kent” reads “Fans Nix New Duds!”, which was very possibly a jab at the “Electro-Supes” redesign of Superman from the mainstream comics in early 1997.
  • In “The Late Mr. Kent,” Superman is adamant that he is Clark Kent and cannot abandon the identity. In “It’s A Wonderful Super Life!,” Superman is ready to give up life as Clark (at least for a few pages.) The idea of Clark being Superman’s true persona was pushed by John Byrne during his 1986 revamp of the character, and was one of the many aspects of Byrne’s work to make its way into this series.

Over the Kiddies’ Heads

It’s hard to imagine a story focusing on a corrupt white cop framing a minority victim, poorly served by his lazy public defender, that ends with someone dying in the gas chamber, airing in the current environment of children’s television. Doesn’t exactly fit into the jokes-action-jokes format.

Hey, I Know That Voice

Character actor Eddie Barth, who spent much of his career playing cops on prime time dramas, voices Detective Bowman. Barth earned the nickname “Mr. Gravel,” thanks to his raspy tone.

Battle of the Identity Crises

Can Superman exist without Clark Kent? Both stories make a compelling case for why Clark is just as important as Superman, although “The Late Mr. Kent” has more of an impact. While “It’s A Wonderful Super Life!,” is a decent fill-in, and manages to use the obligatory action scenes in a way that emphasizes Clark’s internal conflict, “The Late Mr. Kent” is such an unusual story for this canon, it easily stands out.

Not only does the episode offer insight into what a more character driven Superman series could’ve been, but it also raises the prospect of a Superman cartoon with strong episode to episode continuity. How does Clark react after not only losing his car, but also his apartment? What does he do after being declared legally dead? After giving that lame story to Lois, will Clark be able to maintain his double life in the future? Long-term continuity won’t appear in this canon until Justice League , but episodes like “The Late Mr. Kent” show that this is a tool that should’ve been utilized years earlier.

That’s all for this week. If you have any animated episodes you’d like to see paired with their comics tie-ins, leave a comment or just let me know on Twitter.

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