Episode #43 & 44 - Hereafter Part 1 & 2 Original Airdate - November 29th 2003
After Superman makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his fellow heroes,
the Justice League and rest of the grieving planet must learn to live in
a world without Superman.
Media by Bird Boy
Pans by Borg4of3
Review by Maxie Zeus
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by Butch Lukic
Music by Kristopher Carter
Animation Services by Koko Enterprise C.O., LTD.
Kevin Conroy as Batman
Maria Canals as Hawkgirl, Livewire
Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman
Phil LaMarr as Green Lantern
Carl Lumby as J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern as Superman
Michael Rosenbaum as Flash
Corey Burton as Metallo, Toyman, Weather Wizard
Brad Garrett as Lobo
Phil Morris as Vandal Savage
Dana Delany as Lois Lane
Michael Dorn as Kalibak
Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred
Jason Marsden as Snapper Carr
Okay, I don't know whether "Hereafter" is a travesty and waste of a
great opportunity, or if it is sheer, unadulterated brilliance. Maybe
it's both. Certainly, the idea of taking an iconic event like the death
of Superman and dramatizing it with strung-out, random crap and playing
it for wall-eyed comedy is ... original.
If you're going to kill Superman, it seems like it should be done in a
story that is big, BIG, BIG. Except then it's all anti-climax when he
comes back -- which you know he is. Playing the death of a hero for
straight, breast-beating when you're just going to wind up saying "Oops,
heh, not really" is an ugly thing to do. So why not take the opposite
tack? All credit for the gutsy move to avoid the obvious.
And boy, does it avoid the obvious. There's not a predictable moment in
this story. On the other hand, it's unpredictable only because it's
pretty damn arbitrary. The wake gets interrupted by ... Lobo? Superman
hacks through the jungle and finds ... the Watchtower? He's met there by
... Vandal Savage? I have a vision of the writer at his keyboard with a
Random Event Chart and a thirty-sided die. Okay, it all makes sense at
the end, but only in the way that a plate of spaghetti makes sense: you
don't untangle it, you just take it a bite at a time. There's far too
much going on in the story for it all to jell -- from Legion of Doom
plots to supervillain breakouts to funerals/wakes to Superman as
Robinson Crusoe to battles with bugs -- and you find yourself wishing
that it had all been simplified with a few more rewrites. Or maybe not.
Part of its charm is the way it jitterbugs away from ever committing to
any single storyline.
While you're sitting there with a look of stupification on your face,
pay attention to the characterization. That's where the episode shines.
It gets Flash, Diana, Batman, even J'onn perfect. The real prize is
Savage, though. It gets the pathos of the immortality curse right but
also finds unexpected comedy in him. He's both lucid and a lunatic, and
you see exactly why that should be. It's marvelously entertaining.
Someone earlier (or on the Cartoon Network forum) said something about
"The Odd Couple," and the thought of one immortal and one near-immortal
living together and driving each other crazy at the end of the world has
a real attraction, like Beckett meeting Neil Simon. It's so
entertaining, in fact, that once he and Supes run into each other you
begin to resent all the time spent at the funeral in part 1.
On the other hand, the funeral business was tastefully handled, so maybe
you don't want to lose that. You don't want to lose Lobo, either, and
there seems to be a cryptic pun in the way the Leaguers are fighting off
Lobo while Superman is fighting off mutant wolves. So much stuff, none
of it worth jettisoning. Well, Yogi Berra advised, "When you come to a
fork in the road, take it." Start thinking about it, and you see that
the story follows his advice exactly: Faced with a choice -- Go straight
or play comedy? Stay with the League or show what happened to Superman
-- it takes both. It splits dozens of seams when it does so. But is that
a flaw or just more comedy?
There are patches where the action is attenuated (odd, that, considering
how packed it is), and the recasting of key voices is horrible to hear.
But that's just nitpicking. "Hereafter" is too big of a shambling mess
to worry about such stuff. And it's too much fun to let it affect you.