DCAU #264: Superman's Pal

IN THIS ONE... Jimmy is outed as Superman's best friend which makes him a target for Metallo.

CREDITS: Written by Robert Goodman; directed by Kazumi Fukushima (storyboard artist on The Real Ghostbusters and G.I. Joe).

REVIEW: Better late than never, I suppose, but we're almost to the end, and only now are we giving Jimmy Olsen a more important role, and only now giving him his famous signal watch. It seems an afterthought, and won't make much of a difference. With this much Jimmy in an episode, it does highlight how flawed his design is. The DCAU Jimmy is is kind of paunchy and stumpy, and its looks like his clothes hang awkwardly on him. A slicker design would have helped the animators here, because while the action beats aren't bad (the junkyard fight, but the sequence of terrible events in Act 1 as well), every sequence he's in look weak (see above).

So this all starts when Angela Chen decides to make Jimmy a star and uses fancy editing to make him say things he never said on TV. Was it necessary? After all, the attention quickly goes to his head, and I'm not sure we need those early "humble" scenes to justify his redemption. He can start flawed, and then learn his lesson. At least about letting crazy blonds get him into trouble. It was cool to give him his own Lois Lane (and not make her Lucy), but "Tina" (she likes metal, get it?) turns out to be an agent of Metallo's (and by agent, I mean girlfriend in a gross relationship, METAL!!!) quickly loses her luster once she becomes cookie-cutter evil, though she's pretty good at martial arts. Cue a long fight where Metallo and Superman play catch with buses in a junkyard... meh, it's not the worst Metallo episode, I guess. And when your villain has a kryptonite heart, you set your supporting cast up to play hero, get rid of the Green K, etc. Is battery acid that powerful? Whatever.

A word about Lois Lane's anime upskirt as Superman flies by... Terrible, silly and sexist. Her comment about wearing pants means this happens all the time, and just feels like fashion-shaming. Guys, you went with this design and it's NOT a problem. Women wear skirts all the time and it's not an issue, nor should it be. Lois doesn't deserve this humiliating treatment - she really deserves more SCREEN TIME - and the joke falls flat. If you want to humiliate a character that deserves it, how about Angela Chen who is never punished for her lack of journalistic integrity.

IN THE COMICS: "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen" was the full name of Jim's own series, which lasted 163 issues, from 1954 to 1974. The signal watch Superman gives him here is a staple of his comics career, in pretty much every incarnation.

SOUNDS LIKE: Tina is played by voice actress Dina Sherman (Carbine and Spitfire in Biker Mice from Mars, Yachiru Kusajishi in Bleach). Captain Croissant is voice actor David Walsh, AKA Blue Senturion in Power Rangers Turbo.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Had this come much earlier, and not included all-negative female characterizations, I might have nudged it up to Medium.


LiamKav said...

There's a roundtable on the DVD (hosted by the guy who voices Jimmy) where they kind of apologise for this episode. I think Timm thinks it is the worst one they did. You might want to check that out.

Regarding skirts on superheroes (and related characters): I've tried to listen to other people on this because I'm not sure how I feel. You're right in that there's absolutely no problem in how people choose to dress day to day, but how should those rules be applied to this genre? Superheroes move their bodies a lot, and if you add in flying the situation potentially gets even worse. There's no way that STAS Supergirl isn't going to be flashing her underwear at everyone constantly if it moved in a "realistic" way. I've seen some people argue that's it is ridiculous for any flying superhero to wear a skirt (it's not like women wear skirts when they go to the gym, or fight in the army etc etc), others say that it's no more ridiculous and shows no more skin than wearing what is essentially a bathing costume (Wonder Woman, for example), and others who say that it's one of those things we should just shrug and ignore as part of the fantasy of the universe, like Clark's glasses. Certainly attempts to make costumes more "realistic" or "practical" don't tend to have good results (looking at you New-52 designs). For me, it's not that I have a problem with the costumes, it's just that certain costumes make some artists more likely to draw characters in male-gazey ways. It happened with the 2000s Supergirl who often coudn't go a single issue without a panty-shot (and there was an almightly backlash when one artist decided to have her wear shorts under the skirt), and it does happen with characters in this show too. Lois in particular has several lingering pans over her legs, such as the plance sequence in World's Finest.

Lois is slightly more tricky, in that she's not actually a superhero. She's just someone who spends a lot of time falling out of buildings. The skirt is fine for her normal day to day wear, although I am always amused when she goes sneaking around in a short skirt and heals.

(I haven't watched the episode, and the combined knowledge that the writers hate it and that it included Metallo aren't encouraging me.)

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I guess I didn't take anything more from the Lois joke than 'While this is a perfectly valid choice of clothing, it just occurred to me that Superman is constantly taking off accompanied by a large gust of wind in my vicinity; that and my clothing of choice are probably not the best combo.' I mean, it's silly- but I don't think it's intended to shame, or with any overtones of sexism. I dunno; maybe I'm just naive. :-)

It's funny, because we were watching this, and Tina says she has something she wants to 'show' Jimmy in her house (Red flag! Anyone that claims they want to show you something without elaborating on TV, unless it's a rom-com or a story about a wacky scientist, is up to no good), I turned to my wife and said in my best Metallo voice "Ah, sweetheart, you're home," or something like that; we joke about Metallo because he feels like a pretty lame villain to us yet he seems to be about the most frequently used.

We were both flabbergasted when he ACTUALLY showed up ten seconds later.

Siskoid said...

Well here's the thing. In comics and animation, the characters and the physics of fabrics they wear, are entirely up to the artists. Even if Lois is wearing a skirt, it doesn't mean it has to behave in this manner. And in this case, it's right out of anime, with the skirt frilling in a silly motion this kind of skirt never would, with Lois making an anime face that's a bit off-model while her bum is exposed to the rest of the office (though no one is in shot). It serves absolutely no story purpose, and they act like she has that problem all the time, except it's season 3 and we've never seen a single wardrobe malfunction before. So it just looks like a dated sexist joke to me, where a female character is embarrassed when made to show her underwear in public, and it's done in a style that often does that sort of thing (i.e. anime). If they're really going for "realism", then I've got reams of notes to go over with the writers and animators about actual plot and physics problems I'd like to submit.

The DCAU likes to "sex things up" sometimes, and I don't know what audience they're catering to when they do it.

LiamKav said...

I suspect they're playing to a "late-teens/early twenty something audience who are mildly embarrassed that they're still watching cartoons and need the occasional adult joke to make themselves feel okay".

It's the same sort of ickyness I feel whenever I see an interview with a producer stating that their TV show will feature naked breasts because it is "mature" and "important to the narrative". It doesn't feel grown up... it feels adolescent.

If you ever do get to Justice League, and I absolutely hope that you will, get ready for a whole bunch of innuendo humour. Including my favourite:

Flash: *explains how he saved a bunch of kids from fire really quickly*
Hawkgirl: That's fast.
Flash: (smugly) Fastest man alive.
Hawkgirl: That might explain why you can't get a date.

Siskoid said...

Now that my podmates over at the Fire and Water Podcast Network are doing a JL/JLU show, that looks less and less likely.


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