DCAU #129: Feeding Time

IN THIS ONE... Superman fights the Parasite.

CREDITS: Written by Robert Goodman (staff writer who would go on to produce The Zeta Project); directed by Dan Riba.

REVIEW: Following right from the kryptonite shenanigans of the previous episode, Feeding Time has Professor Hamilton build some specialty suits for Superman - a lead ensemble which any alert viewer will recognize as the solution to this episode, and a spacesuit that'll only come into play in a couple more episodes. I'll say it one last time. This series is really going for more of a serialization than BTAS, and I'll all for it. Really reminds me of this era of Superman in the comics, where the story continued weekly across four titles. (Is the kryptonite at S.T.A.R. Labs an inconsistency though? Doesn't look like the bit Lois had, and the bigger piece was thrown into space.)

Enter the Parasite, an energy vampire born from the rather simple and well-meaning Rudy Jones, apparently in over his head, and a perpetual victim until his rather intense accident. The transformation is crazy fearsome, and perhaps not for smaller kids! His somewhat creepy look, the way he gets smarter but also crueler as he absorbs others' life force and memories, and how he essentially turns into a junky once he's tasted Superman's Kryptonian power, make him a cool villain, immediately more interesting than his comics counterpart (if not necessarily someone you can bring back again and again). They try to give Jimmy something to do this time around, and he's instrumental in saving Superman from his leech of a villain. Stealing Perry's press card takes some guts after his quite-correct theories on the Parasite's whereabouts were ignored by the Chief, and he shows more courage in the next sequence still.

Directorially, there's a pleasant transition from fire hose to ocean spray early on, and Dan Riba has fun making us believe certain things have happened before relieving us of that burden. Case in point the cop who gets drained by the Parasite - as someone adjusts a blanket that might go over her face, it doesn't and she's taken into the ambulance. Wow, they came very close to killing her there. The trick occurs in the script as well, when Rudy tries to make nice with Superman, claiming he's the victim of a terrible accident, before turning his powers on the Man of Steel. These kinds of reversals keep the episode alive, when it could just as easily have turned into a big, senseless punch-up.

IN THE COMICS: The original Parasite, Raymond Maxwell Jensen, first appeared in Action Comics #340 (1966), but S.T.A.R. Labs janitor Rudy Jones appeared much later, in 1987's Firestorm #58. The show's Parasite is Rudy Jones, but looks more like the original, purple instead of the later green. The origin is different; in each case, the man who became the Parasite opened a container of his own volition, for some greedy reason. The ability to immitate voices is unique to the animated version of the character. The Inspector (here Commissioner) Henderson of the comics is white, not black, and actually first appeared on the 1940s radio show, and not in the comics until Action Comics #442 (1974). Professor Hamilton once created an armor for Superman to simulate his powers after losing them to Red Kryptonite; the suits he fabricates here are an echo of that.

The Parasite is voiced by Brion James (Leon in Blade Runner), but the big name is Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, X-Files, The Unit) as Martin LeBeau. Commissioner Henderson is played by Mel Winkler, who also played him (once) in live action, on the Lois & Clark pilot.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The solution to this villain of the week episode is telegraphed a little too obviously, but the Parasite makes for a fairly interesting physical threat.



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