DCAU #133: My Girl

IN THIS ONE... Lana Lang uses the fact she's dating Luthor to spy on the villain for Superman.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary J. Bader; directed by Yuichiro Yano (one of Anamaniacs' animation directors).

REVIEW: Lana Lang on Luthor's arm?! Outrageous! It almost seems strange after so many years of a wholesome Kansas Lana to see her back to the glamorous seductress of the Silver and Bronze Ages, but no one can claim Byrne's take on Lana did much for the character. It may still be that the woman who takes pleasure in manipulating men feels dated, or at least, awkward for family viewing. It makes Lana shallow in a way Lois no longer is, dating rich powerful men because it excites her, and jumping from one to another with entirely too much ease. When Superman shows up, the one person more powerful than Lex, she's ready to reconfigure her life to be his partner, in love AND in crime fighting. If Clark rejects her, it's less about being in love with Lois (we're not there yet, she's more of a pain in his butt), and more because Lana's personality isn't very attractive.

Not something Lex finds disturbing, surely, but he can't accept her betrayal. She has to die once she sells him out to Superman. And it hurts. It's perhaps with some surprise that the viewer will find Luthor has a heart; he was really in love! He looks at her longingly, is afraid for her life when it's in danger, and jealous when she spends time with Superman. This relationship mattered to him. His bodyguard Mercy seems to be in charge of his emotional well-being as well as his physical health, which is why she was spying on Lana in the first place, but she's not the one assigned to kill her. Lex doesn't want to look at Lana's killer every day. (And "No Mercy tonight" is a great line.) It's lovely when Luthor is the only "name" villain in a story, because there's room for character development like this. But please, never show Clark driving a car again; it's really weird. Also strange from a character point of view is Clark showing surprise that Lana recognizes him. It's like he forgot the events of the pilot.

My Girl features several action set pieces, some of which -the train bit especially - have a feel that recalls the old Fleischer cartoons. Perhaps it's no accident that Lana uses the old Fleischer line "Thanks to Superman". The bit with the fashionistas in the exterior elevator was fun, though one wonders why Big Susan was dressed as a stereotypical Commie. And then there's the big finale in the lead foundry, which doesn't always work. Never mind all the fumes Lana must have inhaled, but at one point Superman grabs her while dripping molten lead. She shouldn't come out of that without a scratch or a burn. But dream big. Success or not, I appreciate the crazy ambition.

IN THE COMICS: Though the show's Lana shares her post-Crisis comics counterpart's status as the high school girlfriend who knows Clark's secret, her look and personality are closer to the glamorous PRE-Crisis version (though Angela Chen has that character's job). Central City, falsely named as the location of Luthor's cache of weapons, is, of course, the Flash's hometown.

SOUNDS LIKE: The adult Lana Lang is played by Joely Fisher, perhaps best known for the role of Paige Clark on Ellen. Mr. Eelan was voiced by Larry Drake (Benny on L.A. Law). Big Susan was Valri Bromfield, who once had an act with Dan Aykroyd, had a recurring character on Grace Under Fire (Faith Burdette), and wrote for The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I'm a little ambivalent about the execution, but I'd rather have character-building episodes like these at near-enough intervals than an unbroken string of villains of the week.


Andrew Gilbertson said...

My no-prize explanation is that Superman flew out of the lead to snag her do fast that the lead blew off of his body before he reached her.

...But yeah, that bot bothered me, too.


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