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The World's Finest Presents

Apokolips...Now!, Part 2

Episode #35 - Apokolips... Now!: Part 2
Original Airdate - February 14th, 1998.

Steppenwolf, a hunter from Apokolips, joins Darkseid in his battle to take over Earth, which results in a crushing blow to Metropolis and Superman -- the death of a friend.

Media by Bird Boy
Review by ragindrummerboy
Credits:
Story by Bruce Timm, Rich Fogel
Written by Rich Fogel
Directed by Dan Riba
Music by Kristopher Carter
Animation by Koko Enterprise Co., LTD., Dong Yang Animation Co., LTD.

Voices:
Tim Daly as Superman/Clark Kent
Dana Delany as Lois Lane
Michael Ironside as Darkseid
David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen
Steve Sandor as Orion
Joanna Cassidy as Maggie Sawyer
Joseph Bologna as Dan Turpin
Victor Brandt as Professor Hamilton
Laraine Newman as Toby Raynes
Michael Dorn as Kalibak
Sherman Howard as Steppenwolf
Michael David Donovan as Male Anchor
Joseph Gole as Rabbi
Screen Grabs











Pans



Darkseid: You're a magnificent opponent Superman... but even you must realize its hopeless.
Superman: Darkseid.
(Darkseid begins using the Omega Effect on Superman)
Darkseid: I could easily destroy you now... and once you're gone, the pathetic beings of this planet won't have the will to resist me... the few who survive, that is. (Darkseid releases Superman) However, if you join me as my loyal vassal, I could guarantee a moderate amount of... restraint. Think of it Superman... the power you have now, its *nothing* compared to what I'm offering you.
Superman: You know I can't do that.
Darkseid: Pity. Still, if you won't be my knight, you will be my pawn.

Darkseid: People of Earth - I am Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips! Here is your savior... cowed, and broken. I have crushed him as easily as I have crushed all who have dared to oppose me throughout the cosmos. I am power unlike any you have ever known: Absolute, infinite, and unrelenting. You have no choice but to prepare for a long, dark future as my subjects... and my slaves.
Dan Turpin: In a pig's eye!

Darkseid: Savor your moment of triumph Superman... but remember, victory has its price.


This episode is just as intense, if not more than Apokolips...Now! Part 1. The action sequences and plot twists pile on top of each other at a breathtaking pace, and never lets down for a second until the end when it reaches its heart wrenching conclusion.

As the episode starts, a sense of urgency is immediately created when Superman finds out that the nuclear explosion is threatening to create huge "burn holes" on Earth, similar to those found on Apokolips. As the foul planet is mentioned, we switch to a conversation between Darkseid and Kalibak. One thing I love about this show, and this episode in particular is that each locale or kind of situation has a unique "mood" or "flavor" to it... this is noticeable in the Apokolips scenes with its flying Parademons, oppressed slaves, blazing fires, hellish backgrounds, and crackling music. Darkseid is his usual brutal self, denying his biological son a second chance to prove himself... I almost feel sorry for the big gorilla. Almost. As Steppenwolf dramatically emerges from the flame, we're left wondering what this bodes for Superman.

As Superman finds out the communicator to Orion doesn't work, the tension continues to build. He's on his own, and the future of the world is at stake. At this point I was wondering why Hamilton didn't call a construction crew, fire crew, someone with many resources (such as Luthor, who wouldn't mind some positive publicity) or some other heroes other than Superman to help put out the fire. I was also wondering why Superman destroyed the communicator (even though the circuitry was fried), because Hamilton still might have been able to repair it. But if any of these solutions were dwelt upon or implemented, the episode would have lost much of its intense sense of urgency and tension buildup that contribute to making this such a cool "good vs. evil" story.

As Superman rushes to the site of the explosion, a Boom Tube opens and Steppenwolf appears with a horde of Parademons. The tension that has been built up through Part 1 and the early segment of Part 2 is finally released in a fantastic fight scene where Superman becomes the prey for a seemingly ruthless, powerful, and experienced predator. Even though its only one city that the Parademons have visited, the buildup up to this point contributes to this feeling of a huge "alien invasion", where the fate of the entire world is at stake and the "bad guys" are winning. When the safety of the world in jeopardy, its obvious that Superman isn't playing any games. He ferociously tries to tear away at the Parademons, even going so far as burning a hole in the skull of one! Eventually, Steppenwolf and the Parademons overwhelm Supes, but Dan Turpin and his men chip in again, and by beating Steppenwolf and the Parademons show that it doesn't take a person with superpowers to be a hero.

Superman quickly reaches the fire, and uses a cool stunt where he turns himself into a giant drill to put it out. The musical sequence during this scene is great, and its also nice to have another reminder that Superman has considerable intellect to go with all of the power that he carries. After he puts out the fire, he takes a few moments to rest after all of his hard work, and the viewers are filled with a feeling of relief. The feeling is short-lived, however, when a shadow looms ominously over Superman.

BAM! Suddenly Darksied has Superman at the brink of death (using the overwhelming Omega Effect), his calm but cold words offering one extraordinarily difficult decision. Superman (somewhat predictably) makes the "right" choice, reaffirming his firm moral belief system that exceeds even his super-strength. Unfortunately, this does not please Darkseid, who continued the brutal tourture of Superman.

One interesting little bit is that during the invasion when Maggie is talking to her "friend", the TV is going on in the background. It feels like a real news report, complete with the president declaring a state of national emergency. Little details like these really add to the atmosphere of the story, and this invasion feels much more straining than some other alien invasions that have been depicted in fiction *cough*justice league*cough*.

Back at Metropolis Plaza, the Parademons continue with the invasion. We see Dan Turpin and the police force fighting the Parademons, and we realize who the true heroes of Metropolis are: the men who put their lives on the line every day for the welfare of their city. The shootout progresses, but before the intense action becomes too stale Darkseid enters the Plaza in a huge tank, ripping apart anything in his path. Mounted in public view is Earth's Greatest Hero, completely battered, beaten, defeated, and helpless.

At this point, most onlookers feel completely hopeless and lost. As Darkseid drones on, most people are probably wondering "If Darkseid can take Superman down, how do we have any chance against these guys?" Darkseid hammers in the point, calling Superman Earth's "savior" and demonstrating how easily he has been crushed. In a stunning display of selflessness, Dan Turpin suicidally dissents and takes down a Parademon. He hurls its spear at one of Superman's bindings, and Superman manages to free his arms. Kalibak attacks Superman once more, and Superman attacks Kalibak with more fury than all of the angst present in the "Father's Day" episode combined.

As Superman and Darkseid are about to start duking it out, we are surprised by the entrance of Orion and other forces from New Genesis (with a really really really cool musical theme - see if you can spot cameos by Mr. Miracle, Big Barda and Lightray). After a brief exchange, we see that Darkseid concedes to withdraw, not out of fear of the wrath of New Genesis but out of respect for his son. Orion does not acknowledge the relationship between himself and his biological father, treating the situation objectively as a confrontation. This demonstrates how much he understands his father and the fact that he has come to terms with the circumstances of his birth.

As Darkseid is leaving, Superman (and the viewers) feel a taste of victory. Out of nowhere, Darkseid zaps Dan Turpin into ashes in front of everyone, leaving all onlookers and the audience completely shocked and horrified. I can't believe the censors actually allowed the writers to show a MURDER on a cartoon! The following sequences are some of the most heart-wrenching and emotional scenes of the entire show. Superman cries "Murderer!" as Darkseid coolly drifts away, and proceeds to demolish the tank in a fit of rage that we have never seen from him before, while everyone stands and watches. Orion's comforting presence and condolences transforms our anger into grief, as another great scene is carried out. At the funeral scene, a Rabbi is chanting in Hebrew (thanks to MILatino from the WF/ToonZone boards for that insight), which furthers the theme of tolerance that is central to this episode. As the heartfelt music plays on, we see Superman deliver one of the best lines of the series: "Goodbye old friend... in the end, the world didn't really need a SUPERman... just a brave one." The teary eyed Superman facing the tombstone nearly brought me to tears myself. As it faded out, the end reminded us that the story was not over, and left us hungry for more encounters between Superman and Darkseid. The episode closed with a tribute to Jack Kirby, the amazing man who (among other things) created the "Fourth World" and its characters.

This episode showcased Dan Turpin, a man who put his life on line every day for his city, and essentially risked his life (and gave it) for the security of the world. It featured fantastic performances by the voice actors, especially by Tim Daly and Michael Ironside. The story had a great sense of pacing... it didn't feel too rushed or too slow, and it also gives insight to the nature of the characters: It shows us what kind of people Dan Turpin, Superman, Darkseid, and Orion are. Although the episode is a typical "good vs. evil" story, it does not come off as clichéd or preachy, but still gets the point across. The death of Dan Turpin was probably the most emotional moment in Superman: The Animated Series for me, which is why I consider it my all time favorite Superman episode.

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