DCAU #128: A Little Piece of Home

IN THIS ONE... Lex Luthor discovers kryptonite. Also, first appearances of Mercy and Professor Hamilton.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary J. Bader (on staff on this show and later Batman Beyond, he wrote a number of sadly subpar Star Trek TNG and DS9 episodes as well); directed by Kazuhide Tomonaga.

REVIEW: This is a great, great episode for Luthor. And I don't just mean because he discovers kryptonite, because that's something of an accident. It's everything he does after that. A true mastermind, we see him coordinate a complex, but easy to follow scheme to finally defeat the Man of Steel. We cut to him just often enough to get the sense that he's acting through his henchmen, that these are HIS chess moves. And the only reason it fails is because he's using flawed human beings who don't really understand his plan, and the prideful boxer at the end of a frankly fun sky chase decides he can beat Superman with his fists and takes him too far from the chunk of Green K. In the end, Luthor can count himself lucky (or clever) that Supes still has nothing on him, but that's about it. Except the Kryptonite mines are working overtime now...

Lex also gains a Number 2 in Mercy Graves, his totally badass bodyguard/chauffeur, in a way the STAS equivalent of Harley Quinn. Not as versatile or independent as Harley, but a great creation nonetheless. She certainly earns our respect here. The other addition to the cast is Professor Emil Hamilton, straight out of the post-Crisis comics, acting as Superman and Lois' liaison to the scientific world. He's the one who coins the term "kryptonite" and delivers the necessary exposition, and should serve well as a Superman ally in the future. And Superman finally meets Bibbo, but it's for a single line. He hasn't yet become his "favrit". Metropolis features a huge cast now (and we're not exactly done); the real trick will be to service all these characters through the course of the series.

Full props to the writers for a tight script that not only juggles its various introductions and makes Luthor look good, but also uses everything it introduces. The museum environment provides things useful to both action (robot dinosaurs) and plot resolution (Caligula's lead dinnerware), as well as a dark day indeed for archaeology and paleontology. Even a small character moment like Lois absent-mindedly playing office basketball with balled-up paper links to how she eventually saves Superman from the radioactive rock. Yes, she saves Superman, which is always great, but no points for exposing Clark Kent to Green K and not realizing his sudden cold pegged him as a Kryptonian ;-).

IN THE COMICS: Mercy Graves is a creation of the show, but would appear in the comics, specifically from Detective Comics #735 (1999), in a much-altered form. There, she's an Amazon in Luthor's employ, a blond woman who never actually dresses in a chauffeur uniform, and very briefly joined Infinity Inc. to perhaps atone for her sins. In the New52, she's an Asian-American and more of a personal assistant, which is the version of the character Synder blew up in BvS. Professor Hamilton premiered in Adventures of Superman #424 (1987) as a more interesting and less goofy stand-in for various kooky scientists who interacted with Superman in the Silver and Bronze Ages. He's a slighter and more troubled man in the comics, but the essentials are here. He does not name kryptonite. That substance dates back to the 1940s radio show and quickly made it into the comics, to the point of over-use.

SOUNDS LIKE: Mercy's voice is Lisa Edelstein's, best known as Dr. Lisa Cuddy in House M.D. For Prof. Hamilton, they got Victor Brandt, who despite having a long resume as a TV day player and voice actor, I shall forever remember as the space hippie with the purple hair who played the djembe in Star Trek's "The Way to Eden". LexLabs' Professor Peterson is recognizable character actor John Rubinstein, whose biggest role was as the lead of Crazy Like a Fox.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The Superman-Luthor conflict is very well rendered, and the show ought to do more episodes like this.



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