DCAU #179: Warrior Queen

IN THIS ONE... Maxima is looking for a mate, and Superman is it.

CREDITS: Written by Hilary Bader; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: The old trope of the warrior (male or female) looking to tag our hero (or heroine) as a mate seems dated in this day and age, but is just absurd enough to provide some chuckles if played as a comedy. Warrior Queen definitely does that and gets some solid smiles from this viewer. The discouraged court when Maxima defeats yet another suitor. Angela Chen overhappy to score a last-minute interview with her. Superman calling her world "Almanac". The old couple commenting on the action from a nearby building. Superman wagging his head from side to side to prevent Maxima from killing De'Cine at the end. Even Lobo's timely entry in the last few seconds. That's all quite fun.

The flip side is that the comedy sacrifices tension and believability. Maxima's character is the main casualty, an unfunny terror with her handmaidens one minute, very easily made to pardon Sazu's treachery the next. Sazu is meant to be a step down royally, but she's the one with the posh accent, while Maxima squeals like a sex-starved teenage girl and uses a familiar American vernacular. People on Alderac change allegiances faster and more seamlessly than probable. It's okay, but it's not focused.

The action, for its part, is uneven. Sometimes the animation has a hard time keeping up. One minute, we get some cool kung fu close-ups. The next, guys are just flying through the air with nary a thought to physics. Maxima has a number of good, memorable moves, but the episode can't sustain the same level of quality throughout. Cue some lessons about leadership for good measure, and we're out of here.

IN THE COMICS: The Maxima of the comics wears a more revealing (and lighter) green and yellow outfit with a diaphanous cape, nothing like this darker number except maybe the epaulets, which rather puts me in mind of Kingdom Come's version of Starfire. Her powers are psionic, which doesn't seem to be the case here, though she does use some kind of matter rearranging ability. She tried to claim Superman as her mate for the first time in Action Comics #645 (1989), and would serve with the Justice League by the time of his much-publicized death. Her handmaiden, Sazu, is much different; in the comics, she's a wizened alien with light pink skin and multiple arms and eyes. De'Cine, who first appeared in an Armageddon 2001 Annual before showing up in actual continuity in a few issues of Steel (co-starring Maxima), was also multi-limbed and an ugly cyborg to boot.

SOUNDS LIKE: The role of Maxima is played by Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue). Sazu is played by Australian actress Shannon Kenny (The Invisible Man TV series). De'Cine is Miguel Ferrer (Mulan), earlier seen playing the Weather Wizard (and who will later show up as Aquaman).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A very watchable if uneven episode.


Andrew Gilbertson said...

My 2-year-old watched this with us, and immediately started looking for "Pink! Snakes!" (The monster's tongues) in the real world for the next several days.

Generally fun, but my one big complaint is the ridiculously-overdone 'acting' of the final shot, which seemed to me to detract from a great gag by overselling it. Just a quirk of the lip, a hint of a smile, a sigh or an "Mmmmm..." would have sold it. No need to go full Tiny Toons.

That said, great action this episode, especially in the catacombs.


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