DCAU #267: The Demon Reborn

IN THIS ONE... Ra's al Ghul is dying and needs Superman's life force.

CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel; directed by Dan Riba.

REVIEW: What's your Ra's al Ghul doing in my Superman? Batman sells papers, I guess, so he's got to come to Metropolis once in a while. And I guess the writers had one last Ra's story to tell. It's more Talia's show anyway, with the old man's Lazarus baths failing fast unless he gets a supercharge of life force through some Native American artifact in a cool hidden mesa that acts as Ra's own cave HQ. While Talia shines by giving Superman a run for his money, Ra's essentially stays in the background until he gets his boost and looks like he took a lot of Venom. To his credit, when given the choice between saving his daughter and insuring his own power, he chooses Talia, which hasn't always been his go-to. Superman here gives the al Ghuls the same kind of ultimatum they gave him at the top of the show, a nice mirror.

But here's the thing. This move is meant to show Superman "using his head", which was Batman's criticism of the Man of Steel. That he came in fists swinging, etc. At the end, Superman accepts the criticism, and establishes the groundwork for the Justice League by intimating he and the Bat make a good team, but this is based on a false premise. Superman DOES use his head, and he doesn't immediately take the violent option. It's Batman, by not informing Metropolis' champion that a known supervillain has come to his town, who handicaps Superman. If Supes HAD all the available information, maybe he wouldn't have used the more direct approach. Batman does his own thing and plays the antagonist - which is damn ungrateful considering their last "team-up" had Superman take the Bat's place in Gotham until Bruce Wayne could be rescued - and only collaborates when he has no other choice in the climax. Superman should be a lot more sarcastic at the end there.

Maybe he could take a lesson or two about that from Lois Lane, a character I find more and more misused. Her wry, sarcastic wit has become the whole of her characterization, it seems, and she's made to insult Native Americans with thoughtless, insensitive comments in this episode. When dealing with her relationship to Bruce Wayne, her first instinct is to be quippy and contemptuous. By the time she makes herself at all vulnerable, Batman's silently left the room. She's rubbing everyone the wrong way, myself included, and I feel like I'm missing some truly human moments with Lois, and with Dana Delaney.

SOUNDS LIKE: Olivia Hussey now plays Talia; she came to our attention as Zeffirelli's Juliet.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A fairly good team-up that hints at what is to come, but the point it makes about Superman isn't remotely true.


Andrew Gilbertson said...

Speaking of Superman using his head or not, when the crate smashes open, Talia looks right at the staff, and says "The staff!" Superman then moves to stand in front of it, indicating that he knows it's what she's after.

I was just waiting for him, once she says "You can choose between saving the train and stopping me," to just smirk at her, grab the staff in one hand, and fly out to save the train. It's right at his feet, there's no reason he couldn't just grab it out of the way and take it with him as he's going to save the train.


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