Characters: Clark Kent/Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Mercy,
If this is not the worst episode of the entire series, I do not even want to think about how bad it actually gets. So, it should come as little to no surprise that I am not going to be particularly kind towards this episode, because I likely will not be, and that is largely due to some very cringeworthy material that does not hold up today.
This episode sees the introduction of Lana Lang as an adult into the Superman: The Animated Series universe, if you want to call her that. I say that, because this version of Lana Lang does not go through a particularly interesting or worthy redemption arc during the episode. Actually, I would argue that a foil like Lana should not need such a story, but having accepted this episode’s existence, can only say that this arc is more character assassination than character redemption.
First, having her on the arm of Lex Luthor? No. Just no.
I should probably point out at this junction that I am comparing the characterization of Lana Lang to that of the Post-Crisis version of the character. You know… the one that Lex Luthor tortured in an attempt to learn the alternate identity of Superman.
Not that this episode does Lana Lang any better. She is shot at, kicked out of an elevator kidnapped, and nearly drowned in molten metal all in twenty-two minutes. The damsel in distress motive is tired (and I will admit, I cheer when Lois gets out of scrapes before Superman needs to be there).
So then, if the show has already established Lois Lane as a strong female character, why can we not do the same for Lana?
Oh, and just when you thought this episode’s representation of female characters could not get any worse, the episode actually opens with a scene where Lois comes off incredibly jealous and petty towards Lana. Not a good look, and one that the comics did touch upon in the late 80s/early 90s, but largely abandoned when it became clear they worked better as a support system for each other; a sisterhood of sorts.
The men do not come off too much better in this episode though. Superman comes across as that earnest, traditional values sort which is fine, if a little too cliched, and Luthor comes across like a familiar business tycoon towards women, and this is not the first time such comparisons would happen, and come true between the fictional and real world (re: presidency).
To say this episode is an absolute mess, perhaps is not entirely fair. But, does it hold up well? No, not at all. Can it teach us anything? We still have a long way to go in our narratives; both fictionally and in the real world.
For folks looking for easter eggs, the hometown of Barry Allen, Central City, and Batgirl are both dropped throughout the episode.