Home > B-plus, Superman: The Animated Series > Superman: The Animated Series, Episodes 40 & 41 – “Little Girl Lost”

Superman: The Animated Series, Episodes 40 & 41 – “Little Girl Lost”

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Written by Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett (Part 1) / Dorkin / Dyer / Rich Fogel (Part 2)
Directed by Curt Geda (Part 1) / Kevin Allen (Part 2)
Origina; Airdates: May 2, 1998 (apparently these aired back-to-back in the U.S.)
DVD: Superman TAS, Volume 3

Summary: Superman comes across Kara Zor-El, the sole survivor of Krypton’s sister planet, Argo, and brings her back to Earth. However, when Darkseid begins a new plan of conquest, the newly-minted Supergirl may be the only person who can save Superman from Apokolips.

Arc Notes: These  are the fifth and sixth episodes of the Darkseid arc, and lead almost directly into the Superman: TAS finale.

Debuting Characters: Supergirl / Kara Zor-El, Lashina, Mad Harriet, Stompa. Granny Goodness gets her first dialogue after appearing in the flashback sequence in “Apokolips.. Now!”

(Yes, I know I’ve done a Supergirl episode already, but this was her first appearance)

Background:

For such a simple concept – Superman’s cousin from Krypton – and for being one of only three DC characters to have a (theatrical) live-action movie, Supergirl is freaking complicated to try and explain. The main reason for that is that in the days when deaths actually meant something in comic books, Supergirl gor killed off in an issue sporting what was later voted the greatest cover in the history of DC comics:

This then tied into DC’s Superman reboot, which definitively stated that Superman was the only Kryptonian to survive the destruction of Krypton. Of course, it didn’t take long for holes and work-arounds of the dictate to come into play, and a shape-shifting entity known as Matrix took on the form of Supergirl around the time of the epic Death / Funeral / Return of Superman storyline.

(A lot of people think that Supergirl was also killed off in that storyline, due to a scene where Doomsday hits Supergirl so hard that her face literally turns into paste.)

That Supergirl was the one who starred in Peter David’s Supergirl series which was being published while this episode was being produced. Well, for about six pages until David had her sacrifice her life and transfer her powers to a human, Linda Danvers (which was the name of the pre-Crisis Supergirl’s secret identity). Although the STAS version of the character is far more “classical” than David’s wound up being, the animated series costume eventually made a transition to the comics, but the series was cancelled shortly thereafter and yet another Supergirl variant briefly made an appearance, although merely as a supporting character in the Superman books who was quickly dispatched.

Finally, DC just said “to heck with it” and re-introduced a Kryptonian Supergirl in 2005 who was Superman’s cousin, who wound up wearing a costume that was a combination of the traditional costume and the STAS look. That costume eventually gets slightly tweaked into Kara’s on-screen look during the final season of JLU.

There have been several alternate versions of Supergirl through the years, including a disturbing one that was basically a cross-dressing Superboy (Superboy #78, for those of you who are into that type of thing).

Thoughts on the Episode:

Good lord is Ed Asner playing Granny Goodness the creepiest thing ever. Just wanted to get that out of the way first thing.

In contrast to some of the episodes we’ve reviewed that don’t have much going on, this one’s almost too packed for its own good. But it avoids any crash-TV related problems, and through a nice display of efficient storytelling, the end product is incredibly watchable.

The problem with female knock-offs of established heroes is that you either wind up with the character turning into a Mary Sue in a writer’s attempts to get them over with the viewing audience, or they get treated fairly and are dismissed as, well, a knock-off. Supergirl has the advantage going for her that, at the very least, she’s the most recognisable of the knock-off characters, so even a casual viewer will take her as being a bit more important than, say, a female clone of Wolverine. The small twist given on her origin is nicely done, eliminating much of the baggage of the character in one fell swoop, and the show smartly moves past any awkward meetup between Clark and Kara and moves directly into showcasing the status quo she’d retain for the rest of this series, namely rooming on the Kent farm in Smallville just as the Matrix Supergirl had. The scene of Supergirl delighting in the power of flight is a great piece of animation, and most importantly reminds the viewer that it’s fun to be able to do the type of things she can. That sense of fun extends to just about everything Supergirl does – she could be an annoying attitude-sporting character, but instead she simply comes across as over-enthusiastic at worst.

When the action shift to Metropolis, we not only get a great gag mocking the secret identity conceit – with her Silver Age-esque brown wig and glasses, Kara’s certainly doing a better job of hiding her identity than Clark – but, thanks to a line dropped by Martha Kent, we have all the backstory needed and can get on to a meet cute between Kara and Jimmy, then to the fight that closes the first part of the story, as Kara reveals her Supergirl costume (which quite plausibly is a tube top and a pair of shorts), gets the better of Granny and Intergang v. 2.0, but then gets confronted by the Female Furies.

Come to think of it, for a Superman episode, there’s a LOT of bad guys for him and Supergirl to punch through in this one. Firstly, the Intergang teenagers, who are involved in Granny Goodness’ Dickensian schemes, then the Female Furies, a few dozen Parademons, and finally Darkseid himself. Although the Furies don’t get much play, they come across effectively as threats to Supergirl, and Lashina gets to fight her to a virtual stalemate even at the climax of the story. The climax is very well-staged, with Supergirl coming across as capable if a little fortunate to be able to rescue Superman from Darkseid’s citadel, but at the same time showing off that she’s pretty powerful in her own right. By keeping Darkseid distant from the main battles, it’s obvious that the creators were saving his eventual physical confrontation for the series finale, although that causes its own problems.

My main problem with the episode is that it’s slightly oddly placed in the running order. Since Superman knows about the peace treaty between Darkseid and New Genesis, it’s obviously after he’s met Orion. However, Superman seems to treat Darkseid like he had in all prior appearances… but the next time he has a chance, he beats Darkseid nearly to death while invoking the name of Dan Turpin. Admittedly, he has good reason to run back to Earth, but considering how he reacts every time he’s in proximity to Darkseid in every episode after this one, it seems a bit odd. Aside from that, the only other problem with the episode is that the comet plotline seems a bit tacked-on; it gives Jimmy something to do while the others are off on Apokolips, but at the same time the stakes are high enough with Superman a captive of Darkseid’s.

However, this episode manages to both introduce a significant new character to the DCAU, tell a good story with both a lot of action and characterisation, and work in a lot of cameos and guest villains Sure, it may have some problems with the overall plotline, but aside from that it’s a great bit of business and a worthy chapter in the Superman / Darkseid war.

Grade: B+. It’s a very good episode, but as the bridge between the two really epic Darkseid stories, it’s lacking something.

Random Thoughts:

  • I assume the snow-covered, rocky landscape of Argo was meant to be reminiscent of Krypton as seen in the Superman live-action movies.
  • The comet plan is reminiscent of an old Fleischer episode (which I’ll probably post tomorrow to give me some more time to work on Savage Time), and that tie-in is noted in the episode, as the comet that nearly hits earth is called Fleischer’s Comet.
  • Mad Harriet’s a better female version of Wolverine than the one kicking around Marvel right now.
  • Wow, although they’re not specifically depicted on-screen, the deaths of the rest of Kara’s family is disturbingly graphic – ice spiked through their bodies while they’re in hibernation. It’s reminiscent of quite possibly the most disturbing Mythbusters ever.
  • Yup, that’s Today Show weatherman Al Roker as the voiceover while Kara’s flying over Kansas.
  • Ah, a tech show. How 90s. I think I wound up with 20 t-shirts from COMDEX Toronto over the years, plus a giant plush lizard that played happy birthday. No, I can’t explain that either.

Line of the Episode: “KNEEL, you big Meatloaf!” Granny Goodness with the most bizarre putdown in DCAU history.

Next Side Story: I actually think I’m going to change up the schedule a bit and insert another DCAU episode in the middle here; we haven’t done any Batman Beyond in a while, so I think I’ll just pick one at random.

Next Justice League: The first season finale, first time travel episode, and debut of a great Justice League bad guy in “The Savage Time.” Plus the Blackhawks, Sgt. Rock and EZ Company, and Steve Trevor.

literally
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  1. JFink
    November 19, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I think Ed Asner as Granny Goodness is probably one of the best casting decisions in the DCAU, even better than Hawk and Dove and Dr. Fate. Ties That Bind (aka Miracles Happen) is made even better just for this reason.

  2. JFink
    November 19, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Oops, forgot to add, if you’re going to do a Batman Beyond episode, can I request the one where Inque gets into the Batcave, just we talk about Old Man Bruce with the Grey Ghost mask on?

    • November 19, 2009 at 8:43 pm

      Aw, now you’ve gone and spoiled it.

  3. kyle747
    June 16, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I am becoming a HUGE fan of your extensive reviews, to the extent that I am going back to watch many of the episodes in question after reading the reviews.
    What great work.

    Now to your review – it`s actually one of the lightest that I`ve read and it actually seems to have a factual error. I get the sense that maybe you are not the biggest Supergirl fan……THIS Supergirl is Kara In-Zee, not Kara Zor-El. No actual relation to the big meatloaf.

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