Washed ashore on the highly active volcanic island of Raknaveek, Metallo is stuck somewhere between villain and hero in “Action Figures”. Amnesia is one of the most clichéd plot devices in all of writing, but its use here never comes off as contrived. Apparently spending nearly a year submerged in the deep sea has caused a now completely skinless Metallo to lose large chunks of his memory. Found by young Sarita Felix and her brother Bobby, they are initially scared of Metallo before he saves Sarita from falling off a cliff and being crushed by rocks. The siblings now see him as a hero and start calling him Steel Man, since he reminds Bobby so much of the actual Man of Steel.
Metallo, who only gets flashes of his past life whenever Bobby mentions Superman, gets another shot at being a hero when he helps pull a truck driver out of a burning truck. The driver’s reports of being saved by a robot eventually reach Metropolis, where Lois Lane and Clark Kent both have suspicions that this robot might actually be Metallo. Lois gets the assignment to cover the story, leaving Clark to travel there as Superman (not without first stopping by STAR labs to pick up the anti-kryptonite suit of course). We also learn that the kids are there with their father, a scientist studying the seismic activity of the volcano on the island who constantly warns them of its imminent danger.
Metallo as a confused, disoriented, reluctant sort-of-hero would have made for an amazing character arc, but unfortunately his memory returns to him after Sarita gives him a handmade Superman doll which causes all his hatred of Superman to come rushing back. The return to the status quo for Metallo is expected, yet disheartening considering how many directions the show could have gone with it. The kid affection for him is sweet too, giving him their juice boxes and granola bars even though he never eats.
Now back into his old villain routine Metallo convinces the kids to get him a disguise to smuggle him off the island. Before he can escape the volcano erupts, sending the scientists evacuating the island while Superman finds Metallo just as he is tying up Lois to leave her to the mercy of the molten lava.
Supes and Metallo fight, splashing through the lava as Metallo succeeds in ripping Superman’s anti-kryptonite suit open and exposing him to the harmful rays of his kryptonite core. Metallo is distracted for a second when Bobby cries out for him to stop, giving Superman a split second to rip the kryptonite heart out of him and toss it into a river of molten lava. Supes whisks Lois and the kids away from the scene as Metallo chases after his source of energy. The final images of the episode are an incredibly haunting scene of Metallo, stuck in the hardened lava and slowly losing what’s left of his power, struggling to force himself to remember who he is as the barren world around him becomes more and more still and silent.
Even more villains return in “Double Dose”, when the duo of Parasite and Livewire conspire to finally take down Superman. After getting a charge of energy from a janitor’s Walkman, Livewire is able to break out of prison in order to seek out revenge on Superman for turning her into the villain she is now. Finding him at a police press conference, she is eventually outmatched by him and decides to delay her revenge in order to find a way of making Superman more vulnerable.
She decides that Parasite, still locked away in prison with his big TV, would be ideal to help drain Superman’s powers so that she may have a chance of actually killing him. She breaks him out, but finds he’s very handsy, constantly trying to grab at her to drain her of her immense electric energy. There is actually a lot of weird innuendo in this episode, with Livewire dropping several suggestive lines as Parasite is almost constantly trying to grab her ass. Livewire is always having to stave off Parasite with a blast of electricity when he gets too close, making this a particularly incompatible duo that seem to fight off each other as much as Superman.
The villainous twosome usually have very good episodes when featured on their own (although the fact 90% of Livewire’s dialogue is puns gets old fast) but this is one of those episodes that would be, as Roger Ebert once put it, “chewing gum for the mind”. Nothing particularly interesting happens; no major revelations or amazing fight scenes and the two villains are lackluster compared to other appearances. Once the episode was over, I had to go back and rewatch the first half just because a majority of the action sequences are so forgettable.
Either way the two decide to head to the power plant where they can have extra power to finally finish off Superman. Having fought with them before Superman knows that either of them laying a hand on him could be trouble so, taking inspiration from Lois’ rain poncho, he covers himself from head to toe in rubber. For a while this allows him to attack Parasite and Livewire without being hurt, but the rubber suit eventually breaks giving a fully charged Livewire her shot at killing him. Parasite has other plans though, grabbing Livewire and feeding off her immense energy. He figures that if he can keep both Superman and Livewire alive he can have an almost unlimited power supply all to himself.
With Livewire out of commission it’s down to just Supes and a Parasite teeming with electric powers. Parasite, ever the cocky bastard, thinks he’s got Superman, wielding only a push broom, finally cornered. His blast of electrical energy actually sets the broom on fire, allowing Superman to set off the sprinklers and completely fry Parasite. Once again Livewire is locked up and Parasite is comatose as Superman flies off into the night. Not the worst episode in the world but not an essential one to watch either. For such a promising team up of villains to produce only an “eh” episode make it seem much worse than the actual end product.
-Cool/creepy line from Metallo: “I'd give you a kiss, if I still had my lips.”
-For some reason “Action Figures” is one of the few STAS episodes I definitely remember watching on a Saturday morning when I was 8. It's the only episode that has always stood out to me over the years.
-Parasite’s TV set is actually a kind of nice call back to him cooperating with the cops in “Two’s a Crowd”