Characters: John Corben/Metallo, Clark Kent/Superman, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane,
First Appearance: None
John Corben returns, but we see him where we left off in the premier; with him in prison after his attack on Superman and Metropolis. Now stricken with a rare and fatal virus, Corben has no choice but to accept the assistance of Lex Luthor, but that always comes at a price. Turning Corben into a cyborg now known as Metallo, Luthor sends him after the Man of Steel with a big advantage…. his heart is now made of Kryptonite.
As for as episodes go, this one is pretty damn good. The writers attempt to do a little more with Metallo than what’s traditionally done in the comic books. This may have a lot to do with the fact noted film actor Malcolm McDowell voices Metallo in the series, giving the character more than just the dumb brute strength angle to work with, or it could also be a stylistic choice to distance him from a character such as Parasite who is already well established in the dumb brute strength role. In event, it’s clear that based on the success Batman: The Animated Series had in attracting top voice talent, Superman: The Animated Series would benefit from this established precedent.
That said, you can tell from the types of fights and how the story is paced, that the writers are trying to do a fresh spin on a character without necessarily re-inventing the wheel from scratch. At the end of the day, it is still Superman facing off against a Kryptonite powered villain, and with all things Kryptonite, usually requires some sort of deus ex machina to wrap up the plot (it is a cartoon, after all), but this time around it’s done with a bit of humour, and left the viewers with a credit end scene hinting at future encounters.
So how does the episode stack up?
Remarkably well, and after Parasite’s appearance in the previous episode, it’s perhaps the first signs that the series may finally be hitting its stride. Two classic villains have been introduced, we are continually exposed to the machinations of Lex Luthor (which I have issues with, but that’s for the next Luthor-centric episode). I will say this though: it should not come as a huge surprise to the viewer that Luthor double-crosses Metallo and still tries to pin it on Superman; a couple of cliches we could do without for a while.
Fans of the comic books, specifically John Byrne’s take on the character will appreciate the joking scene, a great example of how Byrne loved to play off Clark Kent as bumbling buffoon to further separate the dual identities of the character. Fun stuff, and a great wink and a nod to the comic book mythos that actually helped advance the plot of the episode.
Overall, just the sort of episode that I would expect from a series such as this