Home > B, Episode Reviews, Superman: The Animated Series > Superman: The Animated Series, Episode 48 – “In Brightest Day”

Superman: The Animated Series, Episode 48 – “In Brightest Day”

October 10, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

In Brightest Day  - Superman and the Lanterns
Written by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by Butch Lukic
Originally Aired: February 6, 1999
DVD: Superman: The Animated Series, Volume 3

Summary: A space accident takes the life of a Green Lantern, and a member of the Daily Planet’s staff has to step up and fill the heroic void. No, not Turtle Boy.

Spotlight Characters: Kyle Rayner / Green Lantern (DCAU Debut)

Other debuting characters: Abin Sur, Sinestro, the Guardians of the Universe, and a couple dozen Green Lanterns in non-speaking roles

These guys you should know:
Superman, Jimmy Olsen

Background:

We’ll go into the actual conception of Superman: TAS when we’re in more of a Superman-centric Justice League episode, but suffice it to say that it’s a show starring a relatively modern take Superman based in a futuristic art deco version of Metropolis, with a significantly lighter touch than Batman before it.

Green Lantern is a concept theoretically dating back to the pre-WWII era, but in practice the heroes we most associate with the name originated under the regime of Julius Schwartz at DC comics. Schwartz replaced the classic “mystery man” concept that had generated many of the original heroes with characters based more on the science fiction that was being popularised at that time due to the technological developments in the post-WWII years (Stan Lee would later create most of the Marvel Universe by showing them as being the results of that same science gone wrong). So from a man who found a magic ring that granted him his every wish, Green Lantern became one of 3600 space police (the “Green Lantern Corps“), whose role was to keep peace throughout the galaxy.

Though many members of the Corps have been prominent since 1950s revival of the concept, at the time of this episode DC had cut the Corps down to one member wielding the last remaining power ring: Kyle Rayner (yes, RaynER. Where the erroneous RaynOR spelling originated I have no clue), freelance artist. This episode showcases his start as Green Lantern, although in practice it’s more inserting Kyle into the origin story of his predecessor, Hal Jordan.

Thoughts on the Episode:

This episode feels very much like a classic backdoor pilot, far moreso than the other team-up episodes that populate the latter half of Superman:TAS. The entire goal of it seems to be for the viewer to say “gee, I’d sure like to see the further adventures of this Kyle Rayner guy as he protects Earth and meets up with all these other strange creatures, all while working in an art career back in Metropolis!” Superman doesn’t feature in the episode much, aside from the scene where he meets up with the Guardians. If they’d thrown in a token love interest for Kyle, it would basically hit all the requirements for a backdoor.

And what do you know? You could certainly do a lot worse when it comes to backdoor pilots (Batman Beyond has a much worse example). In an efficient 22 minutes, we see the transition from Abin Sur to Kyle, receive some background on the nature of the Corps and Guardians, introduce Sinestro as a powerful bad guy, and get a demonstration of both the potential and weaknesses of the power rings. It’s a good solid episode no matter what, although it is somewhat lacking in the Superman quotient. As a lead-in to the usage of the Guardians and the Corps in Justice League, it is even better, as the primer here set up the rules which we’ll be talking about in several subsequent episodes, and allows those to work with a minimum of exposition.

There’s no real secret that the DCAU team originally wanted to use Hal Jordan and not Kyle Rayner as the Green Lantern in this episode, but for the purposes of introducing GL through the context of Superman, commercial artist Kyle fits in better than test pilot Hal (they probably would have used Lois, another military brat, as the bridge character rather than Jimmy). Heck, Kyle even looks more like Jordan, as he’s got brown hair instead of his usual black and sports what we’d come to recognise as the standard Corps outfit; his ring use is also a bit more in favour of the simplified tools that Jordan preferred, although Kyle’s preferences (giant anime battle robots and scantily-clad women) would be understandably difficult to use on a television budget.

While S:TAS would have more emotionally involving episodes, this one’s about as good as a straight, single-episode superhero plot gets.

Overall Grade: B.

Random Thoughts:

  • Might as well get the bit about the S:TAS opening titles out of the way in this relatively short entry: a longer sequence of original animation was planned, but because of time pressures, only a small amount actually made it into the production credits. You can see this at about 0:38 (counting from the WB logo) – it’s the shot of Superman flying amidst the darkened city. The final shot of Clark¬† revealing the costume is also taken from the prototype credits.
  • There’s a nice bit of continuity here, as Abin Sur’s lantern is hidden from view until Superman stumbles across it. John Stewart would be shown to have the same type of trick (explained as a “pocket dimension”) for his lantern.
  • No Lantern may be able to defeat Sinestro by themselves, but Kyle sure as heck pretty much did it by himself here. Sinestro’s re-acquisition of a yellow ring to replace the one destroyed here doesn’t get explained.
  • This would be Michael P. Greco’s only voice work as Kyle Rayner; the brown-haired Kyle would appear once more, before being changed¬† to a more comic-accurate black-haired version for later Justice League-era cameos; there, he was voiced by Will Friedle, better known as the voice of Terry in Batman Beyond. It’s an inspired bit of casting, given that both Kyle and Terry share a “replacement for more famous hero” character backstory.
  • In other minor costuming details, the Guardians would look more like their comic book counterparts when they’d next appear. There’s a reason for this change, but better to discuss it then.
  • I’m not sure who did the artwork that Kyle uses as his submission to DC Comics; the TwoMorrows book isn’t clear if it’s classic GL artist Gil Kane, or just Timm doing a swipe of Kane’s style.
  • At some unscheduled point in the future, we’ll look at a project that started out as an idea for a series starring Kyle Rayner and the rest of the Corps.

Line of the Episode: “Wait! Don’t you want to talk first? You know, banter back and forth to show me your innate superiority?” Kyle’s character here is the always fun comic-book-fan-who-becomes-a-superhero-and-knows-all-the-tropes model.

Next Entry: Justice League’s second story, “In Blackest Night,” takes us on a more in-depth examination of Green Lantern and fleshes out the character of John Stewart, while Flash tries to emulate another red-suited hero’s day job.

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  1. Red Hedgehog
    October 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Looks like something got cut off at the end of the second paragraph of Thoughts on the Episode.

    Also, really enjoying these. Keep them up.

  1. November 13, 2009 at 3:49 pm

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