As we come to the end of Superman’s first season, it winds up ending on a much more subdued note than I would have anticipated. “Two’s A Crowd” brings back Parasite as the police need him to absorb the thoughts of Earl Garver, a former S.T.A.R. Labs scientist who has gone rogue and planted a bomb somewhere in Metropolis. While the stakes are slightly higher than most other STAS episodes, it’s weird to see a season finale that doesn’t really up the ante or add something totally new to the mix. Maybe the idea of having a more epic scale for the end cap of a season is only a recent trend with cartoons. But to me it makes for far more interesting television when you end with a bang before going on a long break (which in this case lasted seven months).
After a failed police raid on Garver’s house, Superman flies in and decides to take out Garver himself. He’s successful but winds up knocking Garver unconscious in the process, leaving the police with no way of interrogating him on the location of the bomb. Professor Hamilton suggests that they could use Parasite’s power of absorbing people’s minds to help give them the location of the bomb, an act of charity Parasite is only willing to comply with if he is given cable television and premium channel packages in his jail cell.
Garver and Parasite’s minds wind up melding together as he tries to absorb his thoughts, leaving the minds of both criminals caught in Parasite’s body. There is some striking imagery as we get to actually see Garver and Parasite arguing over what to do as they stand within the metaphysical plane of Parasite’s brain. Interesting thing to note is that within his own mind, Parasite sees himself as his human form of Rudy Jones rather than the monstrous Parasite he has become.
The Garver/Parasite being escapes, and lures Superman down into an abandoned subway where the bomb is. Garver tries to steal his powers using Parasite’s body, but Superman eventually convinces Parasite that Garver is simply using him as a tool rather than a partner. Parasite isn’t able to take back his body in time as the bomb blows up just as Superman tries to throw it down a massive pit, but luckily both Superman and Parasite/Garver survive the blast. Garver (in his actual body) is sent off to prison, where he notices Parasite is laughing it up in his cell thanks to a new TV and cable box.
Season two is able to kick off with some actual high stakes action in the two-parter “Blasts from the Past”. Professor Hamilton finds the Phantom Zone Projector hidden in a compartment in the ship Superman was sent to Earth in. The Projector houses all the most dangerous criminals of Krypton in an alternate dimension. Among them is Mala, the former second in command of Krypton’s military forces who was sentenced to the Phantom Zone along with her superior Jax-Ur for trying to usurp the Kryptionian council in a military coup.
After finding out Mala’s sentence was only supposed to be 20 years, Superman decides to let her out of the Zone and help get her acclimated to Earth. She is at first slow to get used to her amplified powers on Earth, but eventually gets use to it and helps Superman try and thwart some criminals. She winds up getting too wrapped up in her thirst for conquest and, afraid of Superman sending her back to the Phantom Zone, decides to steal the Projector and release Jax-Ur on Earth. Jax-Ur is voiced by the always commanding Ron Perlman, while Mala’s voice is provided by Police Academy veteran Leslie Easterbrook.
Since these are some of the strongest foes Supes has fought yet, the fight scenes are given more oomph. Punches are thrown with more forces and land with more power than we’ve seen before. Rampant destruction and collateral damage is intensified as the Kryptonians smash each other through buildings, bridges, and streets. The plot of these two episodes is lifted from Superman II, right down to the scene of the evil Kryptonians crashing through the Daily Planet offices, and does a much better job with the subject matter by simply being far less campy.
Superman’s battles with the both of them are interrupted when they trap him in the Phantom Zone, allowing them to attack other cities on Earth and eventually convince the U.N. to surrender power to them. Luckily Superman is let out just in time to fight them one more time, leading them on a chase that ends with Lois Lane and Professor Hamilton activating the Phantom Zone Projector to send them both back to the alternate dimension for good. A strong way to kick off the second (and longest) season of Superman the Animated Series, “Blasts from the Past” gets the season on the right track right off the bat.
-The background of the sequences in Parasite’s mind bears a passing resemblance to Earthbound boss Giygas
-Brian Cox disappears into the role of Earl Garver in that I had zero clue as to who could have possibly voiced him until I actually looked it up.
-The Phantom Zone Projector reminds me of an old Nintendo Virtual Boy, with its blinding red color scheme and painful looking display screen.
-The Phantom Zone design makes good use of Kirby Krackle to make the alternate dimension look more…alternate.