DCAU #170: Monkey Fun

IN THIS ONE... Titano, the astronaut chimp Lois grew up with, returns to Earth and starts growing.

CREDITS: Written by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: A King Kong riff so close to the Bizarro episode? Thankfully, despite giving Titano a personal connection to Lois, they avoid retreading the same ground. She never ends up in his giant clutches, and though she's the beauty who calms the beast, so to speak, and the giant ape is sent to what is essentially Skull Island, the plots feels very different from both King Kong and the Bizarro story.

The best thing about this episode is actually the locations. They whet our appetite with a meteor swarm threatening to hit 2001's space station. Then there's the crazy-gorgeous Metropolis Zoo. We've seen the docks before, but seeing Bibbo get thrown onto a garbage scow is pretty fun (I feel like developing this character is long overdue if bits like this are going to mean something in the context of the show though). But the really cool location is the fairgrounds, well used for a number of giant monster gags - Titano wrestles Superman over a Ferris wheel full of people, his hand is multiplied in shards of the Hall of Mirrors, a carousel horse gets decapitated, the musical monkey that can save the day gets lots in a mountain of carnival stuffed toys... It's incredible how much making full use of unusual locations adds to action.

Another good episode for Lois as well, revealing that she's an army brat, had a sister, and... was raised with a astronaut chimp? It's kind of cute, actually, and full props to the series for making Sam Lane an empathetic, kind man who isn't overprotective of his daughter. We're very far from the Thunderbolt Ross analog we've gotten for the past decade+.

IN THE COMICS: The original Titano, from Superman #127 (1959), had a similar origin, rocketed into space and bombarded with radiation (not gas, and this actually makes more sense in the outer space context), but also had deadly kryptonite vision. The post-Crisis Titano, from 1987's Superman Annual #1, was cruelly experimented on here on Earth, lacked the k-vision, but did bond with Lois before growing to enormous side (if not when she was a kid). He dies in her arms when returned to normal. The other chimp in this episode, the stuffed animal Beppo, shares the name of the Silver Age's Kryptonian astronaut ape that survived his world's destruction and became Super-Monkey, a member of the Legion of Super-Pets. Lois' family appears for the first time here, including Sam Lane, a much more sympathetic character than he's ever been in the comics, and Lois' sister Lucy (at a young age), a brunette rather than a blond like in the comics.

SOUNDS LIKE: Sam Lane is played by Dean Jones, of Love Bug fame. Young Lois Lane is voiced by Mae Whitman, who was the voice of Katara on Avatar and Suzy on Johnny Bravo (and the daughter of Pat Musick, who plays the character's mother in this episode, the voice actress also responsible for many cartoon characters, like Mona Lisa on TMNT and Tony in An American Tail), and the amusingly unmemorable Ann on Arrested Development. Aria Curzon plays Young Lucy Lane; she was also the voice of Ducky in The Land Before Time.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Could have been silly and/or a complete cliché, but totally jumps those hurdles.

4 comments:

Toby'c said...

"Young Lois Lane is voiced by Mae Whitman"
Her?

speedball said...

Damn, Toby beat me to it.

Siskoid said...

Him?

Andrew Gilbertson said...

"It's kind of cute, actually, and full props to the series for making Sam Lane an empathetic, kind man who isn't overprotective of his daughter."

It's so refreshing, isn't it? Especially after yet another jerk-hole portrayal on CBS' Supergirl. And Dean Jones? This is completely out of left field for Sam Lane- a LIKEABLE Sam Lane is an unfaithful adaptation- but I can't hold it against them. I just want to see more of him! :-)

 

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