DCAU #154: The Prometheon

IN THIS ONE... A monstrous giant comes to Earth chained to an asteroid.

CREDITS: Written by Stan Berkowitz and Alan Burnett; directed by Nobuo Tomizawa (better known as a animator, he continued to do DC projects up through Superman vs. The Elite).

REVIEW: Sometimes, it's about the animation. The Prometheon is a gorgeous piece of Akira-like action about a giant monster akin to Gamera the heat-sucking turtle (that's EXACTLY how the giant behaves) with all of anime's shadowing, detailed destruction, and excellent liquid interaction. The bit where Superman's spacesuit melts right off him, the creature's sea landing and its effect on a cruise ship, Superman luring it to the city's reservoir and the various military attacks on it, all look terrific.

So what if the plot is so slim? I WOULD have liked a bit more closure at the end, lest we believe the giant is forever trapped in the lake (which can't be, it's sure to thaw, and besides, looks like Metropolis is built in a wasteland, they're gonna need some fresh water). The initial premise seems to be based on the film Armageddon, surely not the best flick to imitate. And I do hate the trope of the xenophobic military officer who won't listen to experts and makes bad things get worse. Hardcastle won't appear in MANY episodes, but even one may be too much. Perhaps I'm just flashing to the state of Superman/girl comics today and how that idea's become a dreadful cliché.

But that's not really what the episode is about. It's about big, gorgeous action, Superman paying tribute to kaiju movies with flair.

IN THE COMICS: General Hardcastle is original to the show, but his "type" is obviously inspired by Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk comics, and would become an unfortunate mainstay of post-2000s Superman comics through General Sam Lane. The Prometheon may not be related to the Old Gods of Chaos imprisoned in the Source Wall, having smashed into it strapped to comets, but it sure does feel like it's related to them! The Wall is in the Promethean Galaxy, after all.

SOUNDS LIKE: General Hardcastle is voiced by Charles Napier, unmistakable face and voice on TV and in movies since the late 60s. He was the Space Hippie Adam on Star Trek, and yes, that's what I decided his claim to fame should be.

- On animation alone. Story feels a bit incomplete, but it's gorgeous to look at.


Anonymous said...

And of course Charles Napier was that general in DS9's "Little Green Men". He was the best.

Do you have a sense of when exactly Sam Lane turned into Thunderbolt Ross? Was it part of some major event, or did they just have him show up one day being all Thunderbolty? However it happened, I've never liked it, not one bit. Besides the crappy melodrama, Superman is pretty clearly not an engine of destruction the way the Hulk (sometimes) is. I can understand military types having concerns about Superman, but at the same time he's also saved the nation just enough times that any sane military man would temper their concerns with some recognition that Superman is not the enemy, or at the very least, he's not the enemy to be worried about. The US allied itself with the USSR in WWII, and surely Superman is an easier Man of Steel to get along with than Stalin.

Side note, are you starting to feel that this series is mostly Villain Of The Week after Villain Of The Week? I wish it had more to say.

Siskoid said...

My unverified opinion is that Captain Atom's General Eiling used to be the DCU's Thunderbolt figure, and then they put his mind in the Shaggy Man and turned him into the General. Needing a replacement, they turned to Sam Lane. I hate it too.

As for the villain of the week format, well sure, but Batman did a lot of that as well. Still very early to say that it's all Superman ever offers.

LiamKav said...

It's possibly a bit unfair to accuse a 90s cartoon of being "villain of the week". Back then, it was a lot less common for cartoons to have ongoing storylines. I do wonder if there's any interviews with the creators making a statement about if/how/when they changed their minds on that, because later JLU stuff is chock full of ongoing storylines.

Siskoid said...

Superman does have a timeline, references to past episodes, growing relationships, etc, while Batman may have done more stand-alone character building episodes, the episodes often felt (and were) jumbled.

American Hawkman said...

It amazes me that Eiling started out as a Thunderbolt Ross type, became a monster only to see Ross do the same thing. :)

LiamKav said...

One thing that does annoy me about this episode... Hardcastle is a jerk, but he's kinda right at the beginning about using Superman. Kal-El makes a point on several occasions that he's only helping humanity, not solving all their problems for them. Hardcastle had a trained crew ready to blow up the asteroid, but they were kept aside because Superman showed up to seemingly take all the glory. Why not let them at least try, and keep Superman in reserve in case it doesn't work?

The animation on this episode in indeed terrific. I really like how they managed to give the monster a proper sense of weight. It's an incredibly hard thing to do in animation, and they delivered it in spades here.

Also, on "personal perferences for Superman", I like it when he's not at Silver-Age god levels of power. He can survive in space or underwater, but he'd need to hold his breath and so he's given suits to make things a bit more comfortable. And I'm a bit of a sucker for some toyetic designs every now and then.


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