DCAU #177: The Late Mr. Kent

IN THIS ONE... Clark Kent is killed while trying to free an innocent man from death row.

CREDITS: Written by Stan Berkowitz; directed by Kenji Hachizaki.

REVIEW: Detective Bowman from "Target" is back, and if he seemed dodgy then, turns out he's more corrupt than a Gotham PD jobber. He's a murderer who sent another man up the river and tries to kill both Clark and Lois to make sure his plot is never uncovered. Bombs are his thing apparently (who even WANTS to rent to Clark by this point, seriously?), but he'll throw a woman down some stairs if he needs to. A thoroughly disgusting human being, and for all his normalcy, one that comes with some fairly dynamic action beats.

Clark's assumed death isn't just a plot point; it's something to react to. Not everyone gets a turn, sadly, but as long as Lois is at the center of the story, you won't hear any complaints from me. We see her bail from the funeral in a hurry, intent on solving his murder, and finding herself overwhelmed with emotion when she glimpses a picture of him. She doesn't admit to romantic feelings, but perhaps there's still the kernel of that in her voice. When he's back, and by Lana's side, there's jealousy disguised by anger (and nice to see Lana again; she usefully knows Clark's secret and can act as an alibi). As usual, Delaney's voice makes it all very touching. Nice to see the Kents too - the series uses them only rarely - and Ma Kent's inability to act sad when she gets "the call" is amusing (and perhaps, a clue to Clark's true identity).

In a world where no one actually dies (except Krypton), a woman had to be murdered five years ago, and a man must be executed for that murder. The first is all off-stage, but the second has to be averted at the very last minute by Superman. We really do see the execution! The people watching, the executioner in his hood, the switch getting flipped, the gas coming out of the floor... This is pretty adult fare for the DCAU, and even if Superman had evidence that the man didn't do it, he's surely acting illegally and even recklessly in that moment. And then at the end, they do it again. Now it's Bowman's day, and right there, in the chair, he figures out that Clark is Superman, just before the same switch is flipped. Dark. Don't learn a hero's secret identity, yo. The show just might break its own rules to see you don't spill the beans!

IN THE COMICS: The comics did do a Death of Clark Kent story, where he had to lay low to mollify Conduit and protect his loved ones. When Superman died a few years earlier, Clark did too, so he had to be resurrected in a way similar to what we see here, found injured with his memories scrambled.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - I don't know what to think about the macabre execution scenes, and it's that off-putting tone that keeps the High rating at bay. Otherwise, strong emotional stuff.


Anonymous said...

I frequently gripe that this series is too "supervillain of the week", but this episode stands out in my mind as a very high caliber exception. More episodes like this please!


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