DCAU #268: Legacy

IN THIS ONE... Superman becomes Darkseid's son and attacks Earth. (Two-parter)

CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel and Paul Dini; directed by Curt Geda and Dan Riba.

REVIEW: Legacy gets us to the good parts quickly by starting with the shocking revelation that Superman has been turned by Darkseid and is actively conquering planets for Apokolips. Meanwhile, Earth is being defended by Supergirl and her less than independent Superman robots, something that leads to some Luthor badassery when he hijacks the signal and makes one of the robots crash in his office. That's the Luthor we want to see! Of course, I don't know why the military is basically taking orders from him in this pair of episodes. Hardcastle is a known Superman antagonist and though he might collude with Luthor to get the weapons he needs, the power dynamic goes the other way and makes it seem like there's no government approval for any of this - the hasty execution especially - and that Hardcastle is partnered to Lex's business interests or possibly, Luthor's lackey. That's really my one complaint about Legacy, because the rest is rock'em-sock'em heartbreak.

The brainwashed Clark attacks Earth and loses humanity's trust even once Granny's spell wears off, which goes beyond the Hulk-like situation of having soldiers after you, but extends to Professor Hamilton cowering in fear before his friend and refusing to help save Supergirl's life. We can understand the man and woman on the street, who have just been invaded by Superman's forces and don't know him personally, but you'd think Hamilton would be on the same page Jimmy and Lois are. Lois is particularly strong, in fact, showing trust, love and support to the Man of Steel, and staging a Taseriffic rescue of the Kryptonians. This is a proper way to set up humanity's mistrust of a hero like Superman - a major betrayal caused by a force we don't know or understand - showing how BvS, for example, might have actually handled it (especially since the franchise wanted to use the New Gods).

Superman's retaliation is a great "enough is enough" moment, entirely unsuitable for clearing his own name, that leaves many Parademons vaporized, Granny Goodness lobotomized, and Darkseid bleeding orange lava from his cracked skull. His being thrown from the ramparts should be a punch the air moment, but Superman is deflated to discover the Hunger Dogs don't embrace some kind of new-found freedom. They pick up their God and continue their servile worship. Superman is a demon to them, not a liberator. Home, things aren't much better, Superman's reputation in tatters. A fourth season would have seen him have to earn that trust back, but alas, it has to happen off-stage before Justice League starts up. A shame, but as it stands, a bold, dark ending for the program.

IN THE COMICS: Superman has been brainwashed and turned into the Son of Darkseid before, the first being during the Legends crossover (where his lover was Amazing Grace rather than Lashina; a nixed idea for Batman Beyond would have introduced their son). The uniform he uses here is close to the one he wears in the Elseworlds project The Dark Side, where he really was raised on Apokolips, and to the one worn by the New52's Superman of Earth-2 once he was captured and turned. Superman robots were a staple of the Silver Age and frequently used to solidify Clark's secret identity.

REWATCHABILITY: High - An intense series finale!


Anonymous said...

Hated it.

I can't complain about the mechanics of the episode, but this episode did a couple things I don't easily forgive: it pulled the trigger on "what if Superman were someone people couldn't trust?", and it helped cement Apokolips as a force that Superman regularly fights (and thus is in close contact with the regular DC Universe). The DCAU has influenced the comics in lots of ways, and usually for the good ... but an untrusted Superman and an ever-looming Apokolips were bad ideas that unfortunately everyone else has run with.

Meanwhile, the season 2 premiere of "Supergirl" just happened, with Superman in it no less! And goddamn he's nearly perfect.

Anonymous said...

FYI -Jack Kirby is responsible for the New Gods being part of the Superman mythos by way of his work on the Jimmy Olsen and Forever People comicbooks back in the early 1970s.

Anonymous said...

Other Anonymous - the difference is, Kirby never intended for Darkseid and Apokolips to be a never-ending source of people that Superman had trouble punching into submission. That's how they were treated in this cartoon and it has become increasingly common in comics.

LiamKav said...

Lois's "one person at a time" comment: I imagine season 4 would have involved Superman snogging a new person each episode until they liked him again.

(Regarding his distrust... I think there is some of that in season 1 of Justice League, but it's subtext. Or fanon. We'll see when we get there.)


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