MY ADVENTURES WITH SUPERMAN REVIEW SCORE
The first two episodes of My Adventures with Superman premiered on Adult Swim this weekend, followed by their streaming debut on Max. The series is a young, anime-style retelling of the eponymous hero’s origin story. While it puts a few new interesting spins on the story of the Man of Tomorrow, they’re not quite so intriguing to justify yet another trample through this already heavily trafficked tale.
Episode 1 opens with the young Clark about to unconsciously trigger his powers for the first time. After he takes his first flight through the clouds, we take a big time jump forward to Metropolis where a now tween Clark Kent (voiced by Jack Quaid) is rooming with photographer Jimmy Olsen (voiced by Ishmel Sahid), both of whom are interns at the Daily Planet.
Their supervisor, an intern herself, is Lois Lane (voiced by Alice Lee), who’s determined to make her name as a journalist no matter how far she has to push editor Perry White (voiced by Darrell Brown). Lane’s ambitions lead the the interns to a confrontation with Livewire (voiced by Zehra Fazal), a squad of giant robots, and Clarks’ first public appearance as Superman.
One of the biggest differences between My Adventures with Superman and other projects about the Man of Steel is that many of his abilities manifest in a kind of electrifying power-up sequence.
In fact, we don’t even see the new version of his classic red-and-blue costume until Episode 2, when — rather than the old phone booth switch — his powers just magically make the suit out of thin air in a sequence reminiscent of Voltron‘s lions combining.
Between Brandon Routh, Henry Cavill, Smallville, Superman & Lois, and who knows how many comic book retellings and reboots, it’s simply not possible for this new series to keep my attention.
Unless you’re a Superman purist (and if you are, why bother watching?) there’s nothing inherently wrong about this different way of portraying his powers, but it does lend itself to a couple of associations, and not all of them are good.
For one, all these scenes that make it look like electricity is activating Superman’s powers makes it practically impossible to not think of Superman Blue, aka Electric Superman — a short-lived (but not nearly short enough) shift in DC Comics’ Superman status quo in the late 1990s.
For another, it’s tough to not wonder if they’ve given this show the wrong superhero name. Should it really be My Adventures with The Flash?
A scene in Episode 1, when Superman has one of his power-ups in order to save Lois, looked like something right out of either The CW’s The Flash or the Ezra Miller version, and I found myself wondering whether we were going to learn for some reason that this version of the Man of Steel is connected to the Speed Force.
Speaking of any mysteries surrounding this version of Superman’s origins, that is one of the ways in which the series seems to be wisely borrowing from Smallville. By the end of the second episode, we don’t know the hero’s whole story yet, and neither does he.
In fact, he grows up and heads to Metropolis without ever even learning the name “Krypton.” He tries once to enter the ship that brought him to Kansas, but the experience almost kills his adoptive mother, so he waits years before he makes another attempt.
But while, sure, I’m a little curious to find out if some of the darker things hinted at in the first two episodes — the vision of Jor-El (voiced by Jason Marnocha) sounds less like Russell Crowe or Marlon Brando and more like a WW II era dictator when we first encounter it — it’s not enough to keep me watching.
While it puts a few new interesting spins on the story of the Man of Tomorrow, they’re not quite so intriguing to justify yet another trample through this already heavily trafficked tale.
In spite of being released on Adult Swim, My Adventures with Superman is decidedly family-friendly, so it could act as a great way to bring your kids into the world of superheroes. Otherwise, it’s impossible to recommend.
As much as I want to judge My Adventures with Superman on its own merits, how could I? Between Brandon Routh, Henry Cavill, Smallville, Superman & Lois, and who knows how many comic book retellings and reboots, it’s simply not possible for this new series to keep my attention.
I’m not cynical enough to think no one could ever retell Superman’s origin in an engaging way, but in a media landscape as crowded with capes as ours, if you want to keep our attention with the 28743482th version of the Kal-El origin story, you need more than electric bolts and a different animation style.