WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for the DC Animated Universe's Reign of the Supermen, now streaming on DC Universe and available for digital download.
Reign of the Supermen is the DC Animated Universe's follow-up to last year's The Death of Superman, continuing the adaptation of the '90s comic book event that saw Kal-El of Krypton die at the hands of Doomsday, only to be resurrected months later.
This adaptation is similar to the source material in the way it depicts Hank Henshaw (the Cyborg Superman) as an antagonist, along with the Eradicator (a soldier created thanks to Kryptonian technology), the clone known as Superboy and John Henry Irons' Steel, as they all strive to replace the Man of Steel. In the animated flick, though, as these four Supermen rumble, a new villain arrives to the party in what proves to be a very surprising twist to the lore.
HANK HENSHAW IS A CYBORG WITH A MASTER
Without Superman, Metropolis is crying out for a hero, which is answered when Cyborg Superman asserts dominance and marks his territory by overpowering all of his rivals in broad view of the public. Still, no one knows who to trust or exactly which of these individuals has ties to the real Superman, but when Hank stops an invasion of Parademons, he wins everyone's adoration, finally becoming recognized as the real Man of Steel.
Lois, however, meets him and, with Steel's help, deduces that this isn't the case. Her investigations confirm this wannabe superhero is, in fact, the astronaut Superman failed to save when Doomsday came hurtling to Earth in the previous film. While she digs deeper, though, Hank takes his campaign to safeguard Earth public, transforming willing humans into lethal soldiers via unique alien technology. Secretly, it strips participants of their humanity, which leads to an ominous discovery -- Hank's actually a servant of the Lord of Apokolips, Darkseid.
It turns out that, while Hank's crew plummeted to their deaths on Earth, Darkseid plucked Hank from the doomed craft and retrofitted him with a mix of Kryptonian and Apokoliptian technology. He also used the Anti-Life Equation to brainwash Hank and send him to infiltrate and prepare Earth for his return. As part of the scheme, Hank engineers a battle that sees a boom tube collapse, marooning the League at the end of the universe, as Darkseid wants them gone after they united to beat him him in Justice League: War.
With the League missing, Hank's "Cyber Corps" are ready to lay waste to Earth's defenses. But there's one more twist to Darkseid's new hit squad. These soldiers, along with Cyborg Superman, are meant to act as boom tube conduits, creating one huge portal to allow Darkseid's full army to invade the planet, rather than bit by bit. Clearly, after the first wave failed in Justice League: War and Doomsday failed to kill the rest of the League, Apokolips' ruler felt the next best move would be to attack from the inside. Fortunately, maintaining control of Hank would prove easier said than done.
Directed by Sam Liu, Reign of the Supermen stars Cameron Monaghan, Jerry O’Connell, Cress Williams, Patrick Fabian, Rebecca Romijn, Nathan Fillion, Rainn Wilson, Toks Olagundoye and Nyambi Nyambi. The film is now available on Digital HD, with a Blu-ray release on Jan. 29.