For this entry, we delve into another solo tale involving the Man of Steel. So far in this series, he’s taken care of a rampaging monstrosity of death, teamed up with Batman to stop a Kryptonite Meteor & Darkseid (while discovering a long-lost relative), and has even fought alongside Earth’s greatest heroes in the fight against The Centre and the Crime Syndicate. For Kal’s second solo outing, he’ll look to tackle some of his greatest feats while under a certain kind of clock as we weave through the tale called…
Originally released on February 22, 2011, this film is based off the award-winning 12-issue series written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Released under the former DC Comics imprint “All-Star”, this story allowed the creators to weave “fresh take” tales without being restricted by decades of established continuity from the main DC Universe.
We open to a sun exploration mission turning sour. Dr. Leo Quintum (voiced by Alexis Denisof) and his small team are in danger of being destroyed by the sun as malfunctions continue to pile upon each other.
Suddenly, one of the fellow explorers mutates into an abomination and starts to wreak havoc aboard the craft.
Back on Earth and specifically at the Daily Planet, editor-in-chief Perry White (voiced by Ed Asner) tells his staff that the public has been fooled by Lex Luthor into thinking that he’s reformed despite their newspaper trying to convince them otherwise. He tells them that they finally have a way to put him in his place.
With Luthor deeply invested in water rights by planning to buy up and take advantage of the world’s aqua shortage due to a method that allowed him to tamper with the sun, Perry reveals to his staff the Clark Kent-penned story that’s going to go into publication and bring Luthor to justice.
Meanwhile, we see the mastermind himself, Lex Luthor (voiced by Anthony LaPaglia). Hooked up to a simulation suit and using a bat, he makes some key strikes onto his wall.
Just then, he’s confronted by General Sam Lane (voiced by Steven Blum) who tells him that the Daily Planet has called and have asked for a comment.
When asked what he’s doing, Luthor explains that he’s sending a signal to the “clone” that’s currently attacking Dr. Quintum and his crew since it’s taking nine minutes to reach it.
Just as we learn that Luthor has been released from jail to work for the government, he then chokes Gen. Lane and tells him of his realization that while he continues to get older, Superman isn’t and that something’s going to be done about it.
As the clone continues his rampage aboard the collapsing craft, Superman (voiced by James Denton) arrives to save the day. After the huge abomination tackles the Man of Steel into the airlock chamber, Quintum seals it up and opens the hatch. From there, Superman is able to toss the beast into the sun and put a permanent end to the destruction.
Just then, solar flares begin popping up around Supes as he heads over to save Dr. Quintum and company. With the added solar energy, Superman is able to use a power that he never had before by extending his bio-electric field enough to drag the spacecraft away from certain doom.
After arriving back on his moon base, Dr. Quintum tests out Superman’s newfound strength. Supes discovers that he’s easily lifting 200 quintillion tons without breaking a sweat.
However, Dr. Quintum makes a grave discovery. Superman has become overexposed to too much solar radiation and it’s more than his body can handle. With his cells bursting from excessive power, he realizes that he’s dying. Quintum blames himself for his mission to take fire from the sun for this unfortunate incident and tells Superman that Luthor used him to finally get the best of him. After being promised that a cure will be found, Superman makes Quintum promise to not tell anyone of his fatal condition yet.
Following a quick scene where Superman returns to the Daily Planet as Clark Kent to hand over the finishing touches of his story to Perry…
…we see the police show up to arrest Lex Luthor for his attempted murder and crimes against humanity. He doesn’t even put up a fight as he calmly surrenders and smirks.
Later on, Clark is helping Lois Lane (voiced by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks) get her groceries back to her apartment. During the walk, she states about Luthor’s serene nature during his arrest and even mentioned about “friends in high places”. She even states that the Court of International Justice is highly considering bringing back the electric chair just for him. After escorting Lois inside and up to her apartment, Clark uses this opportunity to finally tell her that he’s actually Superman. She drops her groceries in stunning revelation from this.
We then cut to Superman carrying Lois to the Fortress of Solitude while she’s inside her car. We discover that despite the revelation, she’s not entirely accepting the fact that Clark Kent & Superman are one and the same.
Upon entering the Fortress of Solitude with a key made out of a piece of dwarf star (so heavy that no human being could ever pick it up), Lois showers up and gets into her dress as Superman begins her best birthday ever, starting off with singing flowers from Alpha Centauri IV.
And so, Superman gives Lois a tour of his fortress. From the armory where he shows various confiscated weapons (like the Gravity Gun and the Kryptonite Laser), to the Time Telescope where he can communicate with a Superman from the future.
The fortress is even the home to a baby Sun-Eater where Superman feeds it sun particles.
Just then, Lois notices some steam coming from a slightly-open door. She then peeks in to see what’s on the other side.
From her likeness on display to a certain suit getting made, Lois starts getting creeped out over what’s she sees. Superman comes along and tells her that this room is the only one that’s off limits to her.
They then proceed to have dinner aboard the Titanic (which Superman has restored). During the meal, Lois continues to express her non-believing of Supes and Clark Kent being one and the same. Whether it was Batman or one of his robots filling in as Superman while under the guise of Clark Kent, Supes states that he only misled her just to keep her safe. However, Lois ends the conversation and dinner with the fact that he was technically lying to her for years.
It doesn’t get any better for her later on in her room as she types up her article. Her paranoia continues to grow as she wonders what experiment was going on in the restricted area.
With her suspicions growing at an alarming rate, Lois sneaks into the armory, grabs the Kyptonite Laser, and prepares to take down Superman. As she approaches said room, Robot 7 comes up and startles her yet she blasts the mechanical being in defense.
As Superman opens up the door, Lois uses every single amount of power within the Kyptonite Laser and blasts him with it. However, Supes had absorbed so much sunlight that it no longer phases him.
After mentioning that Robot 7 has been malfunctioning, Superman tells Lois that the vapor was what caused her to become freaked out. She says that she’s calmed down by this point, allowing Kal-El to explain that he’s been working on her birthday present. Not only is it a superhero suit, but also a special super-serum that will allow her to have Superman’s exact powers (without the weakness to both Kryptonite & red sunlight) for 24 hours. After drinking it up, Lois starts to feel the exhilaration when she notices that she’s hovering above the ground.
We then have a quick scene where the Judge (voiced by Obba Babatundé) finds Lex Luthor guilty for his crimes against humanity.
In the skies over Metropolis, Lois takes full advantage of her birthday gift as she flies alongside Superman. Just then, they’re both called into action as trouble is afoot.
An army of Subterranosaurs have made their way from the Earth’s Core and have already caused some destruction in the city. Led by Krull (voiced by Fred Tatasciore), they continue their rampage.
Just then, his tail gets tugged as he’s slammed into a building by the muscular figure named Samson (voiced by John DiMaggio).
After Superman and Lois arrive, Samson flings Krull into space. Knowing that it must be returned to the Earth’s Core, Superman flies up to go get him, leaving Lois to get smooth-talked by the muscular being.
Shortly afterwards, another strong figure emerges from the smoke named Atlas (also voiced by Steven Blum).
After Superman returns, they take Krull and his army back to the Earth’s Core. While the leader of the Subterranosauri named Tyranno (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) says that his own son will be punished, he also exclaims that he was goaded into battle by Samson himself. Superman tells him that he’ll take care of the situation.
Meanwhile, Samson gives Lois a certain item he acquired: The Crown Jewels of the Ultra-Sphinx. Her super-serum easily protects her from the deadly Plutonium-240 radiation emitting from said jewels.
Shortly afterwards, Supes tells him that he doesn’t particularly like him since trouble is usually never far behind him. However, Samson is a time-traveler and has even brought a copy of the Daily Planet from the future to show to Supes, knowing that his time is running short. He even remarks on the fact that Lois won’t be Kal’s girlfriend for long.
Just then, the crown jewels start to glow. With that, the Ultra-Sphinx (also voiced by John DiMaggio) arrives to reclaim them and puts Lois in a state of quantum uncertainty (she’s both alive and dead at the same time). It turns out that Samson and Atlas had stolen the crown jewels and purposely lured the great being towards Superman. With Lois’ life in the balance, Kal accepts the task of answering the unanswerable question: “What happens when the irresistible force meets the immovable object?”.
Superman thinks long and hard as he tries to come up with the answer. He then remembers the same newspaper that Samson showed him having a car advertisement on the back with the same question. As such, he answers with “They Surrender”. The Ultra-Sphinx accepts his answer and lets Lois go, taking his crown jewels back.
We then have a quick scene where Superman gets into a double-arm wrestle match with Samson and Atlas. If they lose, they must vacate this century immediately. Both of them were unable to make one of Supes’ arms budge even an inch as the Man of Steel easily defeats them in order to continue his venture with Lois on her birthday.
Following the celebration in Atlantis, Superman takes Lois up to the moon where they share a passionate kiss to serve as the perfect capstone to her birthday gift.
With the super-serum wearing off, a huge wave of exhaustion finally catches up to her as Superman tucks Lois in and closes out her special day with one final kiss.
The next day, he heads over to Stryker’s Island as Clark Kent where Luthor is imprisoned and putting the finishing touches on the Bibliobot (also voiced by Obba Babatundé), a floating and mobile library.
After the guards escort them to the exercise room, Luthor has his workout while Clark interviews him. Instead, Lex continually states about his sickening hatred towards Superman, his image of a world without the Man of Steel, and that he’s not OK despite looking like he is.
As they get escorted through the Maximum Security area, they come across a holding cell containing Parasite (voiced by Michael J. Gough). Clark notices that the glass wall isn’t lead-lined, which allows Parasite to absorb just enough power to break out of his cell in order to go after him to soak up the immense power within.
As they make their way down to the cafeteria, Parasite manages to keep in hot pursuit. It continues to search by absorbing the energies of any inmate unfortunate enough to get in its path.
The riot squad comes in and tries to get the situation under control, but Parasite continues its unstoppable rampage. To make matters worse, some of their weapons gets knocked over to the inmates who use this opportunity to strike back on the officials as well.
With the riot squad forced to retreat, more guards from the upper levels shoot down tear gas. As the noxious vapor continues to build, Clark takes advantage of the opportunity to use his super-speed and get the remaining guards off the island.
After Clark manages to save his life from an inmate, Lex finds one of the guard’s hand guns and tries to escape from Parasite.
With a discrete use of his super powers as a way to help out with getting away from the towering behemoth…
…Clark gives Luthor enough time to rig the destroyed keypad in order to make the door open.
However, Parasite is able to smash through the wall and catch up to them. With bullets unable to even effect it, Lex and Clark try making a run for it.
Thanks to a intentional trip, Clark slams the floor down just enough to disguise it as an earthquake. This causes Parasite to fall through the hole and get pinned by the debris, bringing the rampage to an end.
Having brought Clark back to his cell, Lex shows him an escape tunnel for him to use. It was created by his Bibliobot playing at a high-enough frequency to sonic drill through the floor. Despite being told that he could have used this a long time ago to escape, Luthor doesn’t want to since he’s sure enough that he’ll go to death knowing that Superman will die as well.
At the base of the stairs, Luthor introduces Clark to his equally-evil niece Nasthalthia “Nasty” Luthor (voiced by Linda Cardellini). She proceeds to row Clark back to Metropolis as Lex watches with fulfillment.
That night on the Daily Planet’s roof, Superman tells Lois that’s he’s going to a hospitable planet that the shrunken-down bottled-up Kyptonian city of Kandor can live. He also breaks the bad news to her that he’s dying. A tearful Lois states that he’ll find a way to overcome this looming death and that she’ll wait for him to return from his space venture. With that, Superman takes the bottled city of Kandor and flies off into space.
After he finally makes it back to Earth, he’s shocked to find Metropolis with brand new forms of architecture built on it.
When he arrives back at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent, we find out that he’s been gone for two months. Clark tells Perry that “Superman saved him” from the Styker’s Island incident as Lois informs him of the planet’s newest visitors.
As Superman, he heads over to meet the pair. It turns out to be Bar-El (voiced by Arnold Vosloo) and Lilo (voiced by Finola Hughes) who are also from the planet Krypton. They’re astronauts who were thought to have been lost for many decades until they finally managed to track the warp signature of Kal-El’s spaceship (the one that initially brought him to Earth). However, these two plan on using the planet to build a new Krypton and don’t care for the human beings.
Also during Superman’s two-month absence, Bar-El & Lilo had moved into the Fortress of Solitude. They even celebrate “The Life of Krypton” by replacing the statues of Superman’s parents with those of their own image.
Even Phantom Zone prisoners get more respect from these two than any human being on Earth. Superman tells them that they’re not worthy of calling Earth their home after the complete display of disrespect to all who inhabit the world.
As such, Bar-El & Lilo use their new found abilities and strength to beat up Superman. They even throw him into the moon so hard that it almost splits in half. Bar-El then throws Superman back down to Earth, slamming into the streets of Metropolis.
Not even within the walls of the Daily Planet as Clark Kent is he able to avoid Bar-El and Lola’s watchful eye as they berate him for living among the humans. As one of his co-workers unintentionally distracts them, Clark takes advantage to become Superman.
Just then, Lilo feels faint as she starts plummeting towards the ground. Bar-El tries to fly down and get her, yet Superman is able to come to the rescue. After Bar-El smacks into the ground, he realizes that he can’t fly and also starts to feel weak. Superman tells them that because they followed the same trail that he took to get to Earth, they also passed through Kypton’s debris field. As such, it slowly but surely turned every single mineral within them into kryptonite.
With their health deteriorating, Superman takes them back to the Fortress of Solitude. However, he tells them that he won’t be able to neutralize the kryptonite within their bodies in time. Even with the bad news, Bar-El is amazed by the compassion and forgiveness on display.
Per Bar-El’s request, Superman is able to save them by sending them to the Phantom Zone where he and Lilo can live out their days together.
With three weeks to go until Luthor’s execution, Superman drops by and challenges him to do any good thing that would have happened had he’d hadn’t been around. However, Lex refuses with a single spit.
Superman then continues his “Final Farewell Tour” by heading to his childhood town of Smallville and visits the grave of Pa Kent, thanking him for knowing how to go on in the world. Shortly afterwards, he’s greeted by his earthbound mother Martha Kent (voiced by Frances Conroy). After a brief conversation involving good ol’ Jonathan, Superman then flies off to take care of his final wishes
At Stryker’s Island, the day of Luthor’s death sentence has finally arrived. He gets his last request by having one final drink before he’s strapped in and given full-blast electrocution.
To the shock of the present guards however, Luthor survived his execution. He tells them that his “last request” was actually the same kind of super-serum that Lois had before. For the next 24 hours, Lex can go on his ultimate rampage.
Meanwhile, Superman had just released the baby Sun-Eater into space as he begins to write the final entry of his journal via Heat Vision. In it, he writes about the cells within him that are rapidly deteriorating. For the positive, he mentions about the places he’s been to, the adventures that he went on and the wonderful people that he’s met. He then changes his wardrobe to begin his final and greatest task.
Meanwhile, Lex makes his way back to his hide-out where his niece Nasthalthia is laying around. When she asks how he was able to even acquire the formula for his super-serum, he mentions that the Fortress is “less than entirely secure” before he uses his new found speed to put together a pair of robot drones. He then gives her the helmet that will give her control over said drones. As they make their way to the surface, Lex even states that he’s made some extra precautions for his plan.
And that extra help comes in the form of the tyrant sun Solaris (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes) who’s screwing around with Earth’s sun so that it’ll emit red sunlight, which normally drains Superman of his powers. With his journal completed, Kal dons a special suit to combat the red sunlight and takes all but one of his Fortress robots with him to fight against the massive threat to the planet.
Solaris manages to strike down some of the robots, but Superman is able to lead the remainder towards the tyrant sun. It turns out that its got different motives as it plans to betray Luthor by turning Earth’s own sun blue, rendering all human beings to his mercy. Superman and a group of robots manage to reach Solaris and start to tear him apart. Robot 7 tells Superman that he secretly went against his master since Solaris reprogrammed him to help Lex acquire the super-serum formula and it’s helping to atone for his mistake. A swift punch helps destroy a piece of Solaris, but it ends up getting destroyed in the process.
Just when Solaris regains control and delivers a powerful blast onto Superman, he gets saved by his baby Sun-Eater. It then proceeds to try and eat up the tyrant sun, but Solaris overpowers and kills it.
Enraged, Superman then wails away at the weakened Solaris, ending its reign of red sunlight and ultimately getting forced down towards Earth.
After the tyrant sun crashed down into Metropolis, Superman brings his terror to an end with a swift punch. He then takes off to take care of some important business.
With the red sunlight dissipated, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen (voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler) are then confronted by Nasthalthia who blasts away with her mini-tank and mobile drones. However, they’re let go since they promise to write a front-page story about her. (Yes, seriously.)
Superman arrives back at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent as he prepares to turn in the big story for tomorrow’s paper. Just as Lois and Jimmy arrive back themselves, he collapses from his desk as Perry White and the rest of the staff discover in horror that he’s not breathing and there’s no sign of a heartbeat.
Just then, Lex uses his Heat Vision to blast open a hole in the Daily Planet as he prepares to strike back on the newspaper whose words gave him the death sentence. Lois tries to reason with him on having these god-like powers, but Luthor will have none of it.
Jimmy even brings up the fact that a source from Singapore says that sun is turning blue due to Solaris, while Lois states that it’s double-crossed him. Yet again, he doesn’t care.
Just then, Clark regains his consciousness and strikes back at Luthor with his ace in the hole: the Gravity Gun. Lex ends up getting hit and plummets hard into the ground.
While the rest of the staff try to see where Luthor was blasted to, Lois goes to check up on Clark. He uses this opportunity to erase any of her lingering doubts about him & Superman being one and the same before going to take care of Lex once and for all.
During their tussle, Superman tells Luthor that he had his initial suspicions about him ever since the initial malfunctions of Robot 7 before another shot from the Gravity Gun sends Lex plummeting.
Luthor then counters with Freeze Breath, followed by the destruction of the Gravity Gun with Heat Vision. He then holds onto Superman as they smash through the streets and down into the subway station.
They then proceed to smack each other before an oncoming subway car gives Lex the opportunity to lay some fierce blows on his hated adversary.
He emerges from the subway dragging Superman’s body as he proclaims himself the next president of America while his niece Nasthalthia manages to get Lois, Jimmy, and Perry front and center to cover this.
Just then, Luthor starts talking about the amazing feats one can see and do with Superman’s powers. In short, he’s more than amazed by these abilities.
Superman then wakes up and confirms his revelation: The reason that he used the Gravity Gun was that the immense shots warped time around Lex. Each blast briefly encased him in a relativistic conundrum and sped up his metabolism to burn up the super-serum much quickly.
It turns out that during the fight, Superman managed to take Luthor’s extra batch. As such, he uses his Heat Vision to destroy it. Luthor crumbles saying that with it, he could have save the world. Superman responds with that fact that if he truly cared, he would have done so a long time. As such, a defeated Lex finds himself in police custody.
As Lois approaches him, Superman tells her that he’s turning into pure energy and that he’s the only one capable of undoing Solaris’ blue sun plan. After confessing his love for her, he gives Lois his cape before the two have a final embrace. With that, he flies off to save the world.
With all of his earthbound deeds, feats and will behind him, Superman flies right into the sun. The resulting impact disperses the pure energy and sets the sun back to its normal self, saving the world in the process.
The next day in Centennial Park, Jimmy visits Lois and offers an invitation to Superman’s memorial service. However, Lois declines by stating that he’s not really dead and that he’ll return once he’s done fixing the sun.
We then cut to Luthor in prison where he’s visited by Dr. Leo Quintum. Lex invited him here so that he can give away a notebook and a textbook. As Quintum starts to decipher it, he discovers that it’s in fact Superman’s genetic code. Using the super-serum as reference, Luthor states that he’s found a way to replicate Superman and that it requires an embryo from a healthy human woman.
With the newly-acquired research in tact, Dr. Quintum heads off to go put it to good use.
And so, our story ends in the sun as Lois’ final words show the image of Superman “fixing the sun” in preparation for his return.
Because 12 issues had to get condensed into a 1-hour, 14-minute film, various tales were left out. One such yarn came in issue #4: “The Superman/Jimmy Olsen War”. In it, Jimmy is hired by Dr. Quintum to take his place as the director of P.R.O.J.E.C.T. while he visits the Electrokind. While with that honor, Superman saves him from being killed by a portal to the Underverse. Supes even discovers Black Kryptonite, which turns him evil. In order to stop him, Olsen had to inject himself with Doomsday DNA in order to get him under control. He even did a cosmetic alteration of the moon in order to impress his girlfriend, Lucy Lane (younger sister of Lois).
This particular Superman is Kal Kent, who hails from the 84th Century (the year 85,250 A.D. according to issue #6). He and the other two members of the Superman Squad: the Unknown Superman (from the year 4500 A.D.) and Klyzyzk Klzntplkz (hailing from the same 5th Dimension as Superman foe Mr. Mxyzptlk), travel back in time to become farmhands on the Kent farm. Eventually, a being called the Chronovore (a being that ages anything in contact) appears and goes on a rampage. The youthful Superman tries to help, but Kal says he can’t do so. While this is happening, the Unknown Superman is having a conversation with Pa Kent who gets thanked for the work. Superman-Youth ultimately manages to fight with the Chronovore, but it came at a price. It ate three precious minutes of his life and in that time, Pa Kent dies from a heart attack. It ends with the revelation that the Unknown Superman is actually our grown-up Superman and he was given the chance to say good-bye before Jonathan Kent passed on.
In fact, the Kryptonian Flower that Superman places on Pa Kent’s grave in the film is how issue #6 closed out. In that issue though, he received it from the supreme Superman Squad leader. Here, it’s just something Superman has apparently.
The scene where Superman arrives back on Earth (prior to discovering Bar-El & Lilo’s existence in Metropolis) in front of a group of workers trying to put up a circus tent is how issue #9 started. In the comics, he arrived back from the Bizarro World. He spent issues #7 & 8 trying to get off said world before it entered the Underverse and ceased to exist. By helping the planet’s actual Superman Zibarro, he manages to get all of the Bizarros to help him build a make-shift rocket that helps him get back to Earth. A few other minor changes exist, but those were the major ones.
For the character analysis, I’ll talk about the three main characters of this film. After all, they’re the ones who end up being the driving force of the movie. First up, Superman. He goes above and beyond when it comes to the one true love of his life, even tells her of his secret identity due to his time running short (even though he doesn’t believe it at first). He’s saddened that Luthor wastes his great intelligence on trying to find ways of doing him instead of using it to make revolutions towards the betterment of mankind. Even when natives of his home planet frown upon him and even go towards insulting and beating him, he’s still caring enough to teach how to give and forgive. While James Denton isn’t exactly my kind of Superman voice, he does put in a really good effort. Never raises his tone unless he’s greatly provoked, it helps in embodying the kind soul that comes with the man who provides hope.
Next in line: Lois Lane. Initially disbelieving of the fact that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same, she grows some distrust about the Man of Steel due to him being able to find a way for his two sides to exist at a given time. She even gets the chance to see and feel what it’s like to walk and fly in Supes’ shoes as Superwoman. For these major moments of her character, Christina Hendricks turns in a nice performance. She gives this portrayal as a woman who accepts only the hardcore straight-up facts, knows how to work her attitude towards the super heroic in order to please her, and she’s a stable person who knows not to let the exhilarating power of Superman consume her yet just enough to obtain a firm grasp.
Finally, our main mad genius: Lex Luthor. Infuriated that Superman gets praise for pretty much everyone on the fact of existence, he plans on how to finally get rid of his longtime adversary and even rule with the same powers that flow within the Man of Steel. Some parts of his plan are subtle enough if you don’t see it in time or hear a step get mentioned, while other parts could make you scratch your head on how he’s able to pull it off. There’s a certain level of enjoyment that I get out of Anthony LaPaglia’s take on Lexy Boy. His voice is cunning, ravaging, and has the feel of cold mongrel waiting for the right moment to strike.
Overall, this is a nice piece of entertainment. The creative team takes Grant Morrison’s high concept tale and bring it to life with fluent animation, thrilling action scenes, and a basic story that shows what Superman is capable of in times of hopelessness: Finding out how to conquer the impossible and making it happen. Check it out if you can.
Next Time: We head back into space and revisit our favorite space cop. Just like Batman, he’s getting multiple tales woven together into one main story. No plot shall escape my sight as I dig into, “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights”.
Superman (Created By Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) is owned by DC Comics.