After countless gritty Superman stories as of late, it’s nice to have a fresh take on the Man of Steel who once again has a heart of gold. My Adventures with Superman, a Max original animated series, reimagines the origins of Clark Kent aka Superman, and his first meeting with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen as interns at The Daily Planet. The series is whimsical, humorous, and heartwarming, but also action-packed and unexpected in delightful ways. This series sets up familiar and greatly desired traditional beats. It also shakes the table with some unexpected twists and turns and changing relationship dynamics.
As a disclaimer, there will be SPOILERS for the entirety of the first season of My Adventures with Superman. There will also be some spoilers from other Superman-related content: the DCEU (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League/Justice League: The Snyder Cut, etc.), the Injustice franchise, Smallville, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, the DCAU (Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited), and various comics of Superman himself and characters based on him.
Familiar Faces with New Shades and Other Qualifying Characteristics
The show introduced some new takes on key characters’ backgrounds and appearances. Lois is now East Asian and more of a tomboy, and Jimmy, much like his Supergirl TV series counterpart, is now Black. We also have Livewire and other villains with different ethnicities, and others being gender-bent, like Heat Wave. Some fans weren’t thrilled.
Well, they can choke. The little issues that exist have nothing to do with the way any of these characters look. These characters, for the most part, all maintain the same spirit of the versions we are accustomed to. They feel like the same people, with some minor exceptions, but we’ll get to that later.
Lois, Clark, and Clois
Clark is once again the big, tall, very handsome, mild-mannered, and well-meaning small-town boy. Lois remains the beautiful, driven, intrepid reporter (well, intern) hungry for a story. The show manages to keep their respective beloved qualities but amp them up to eleven. Now Clark seems even sweeter, almost to the point of being gooey. Lois is much more impulsive and anxious to break stories and make a name for herself. She, along with Clark and Jimmy, are unproven. They are at the bottom, working out of the mailroom, and they need big stories to become respected top reporters. Lois’ drive is the largest of the trio when it comes to reporting.
As for the budding relationship between Lois and Clark, this time around we see more chemistry and sparks flying right away, though it still takes some time for them to admit feelings for one another. Their traditional banter is downplayed, likely in part because they both start out in humble beginnings. Traditionally, Lois is already established as a seasoned reporter (and some versions already with at least one Pulitzer) when she gets saddled with newbie reporter Clark Kent from bum-fuck-nowhere. She snaps at him, calls him ‘Smallville’, and tells him not to get in her way.
Here, Lois understands that she needs Jimmy and Clark to break the big stories and is much more willing to work as a team, as they are all in the same boat. It is nice, however, that Perry (also Black, like his DCEU counterpart) established right away that Lois has been an intern for a year, while Clark and Jimmy are brand new, so she still has a little seniority over them. Either way, the friendship dynamic between the three feels natural, as does the inevitable love connection between Lois and Clark.
Black Jimmy 2.0: Is He Better Than the First Model?
In a word, yes. In two, hell yes. Nice for the latest version of the character. Sad for Mechad Brooks and fans of that world and his character. James Olsen of the DC CW was treated horribly. James was stripped of almost anything resembling Jimmy Olsen as a longstanding comic character. Many fans felt Mechad was cast and written to be a hunk to win Supergirl’s affection. And when the show moved from NBC to the CW, he abruptly ceased that function too. Instead, he became a boss with little to do, relationships no one cared about, a superhero arc that was derided by the title character, and then put on a bus to nowhere.
Meanwhile, this new animated Jimmy feels like Jimmy, but like Lois, he is amped up. Still a goober and goofy as hell, geeky, and a little annoying (let’s face it, most traditional Jimmy Olsen’s are), Jimmy here is also a massive conspiracy theorist. A believer in aliens and bigfoot, among other things, Jimmy is definitely the member of the trio with the most open mind. Sadly because he is also the third wheel, he is also often the odd man out. He rightfully feels betrayed when his friends literally fail to show up for him. Aside from his own usefulness as a photographer and reporter, the show did a wonderful twist with the reveal that Jimmy already knew Clark had powers even before the first episode. Hungry for more clicks on his Flamebird channel, he could have easily exposed Clark for clicks but didn’t. That’s loyalty.
How Does This Lois Stack Up to Other Iconic Lois’s
Some Great Lanes
Dana Delany remains the very best voice for Lois Lane of all time. Teri Hatcher was the perfect marriage between Silver Age Lois the reporter and Lois Lane the modern woman. Amy Adams was a very strong Lois Lane (though saddled with some unsavory choices, like giving up her job when Clark died). Erica Durance was the perfect Pre-52 modern Lois, the fighter and army brat as well as reporter.
This New Lane
Our new Lois has shades of some of these other Lois’s and perhaps even more. Like Smallville‘s Lois, she is more tomboyish. She is also very driven and determined like all Lois’s and a very hard worker, hungry for a big story. She also learns who Superman is very early on a lot like the DCEU version. The main difference here is that we still had some time for Lois to meet and interact with Clark beforehand. This gave traditionalist fans some comfort in that familiar dynamic.
However, it is still refreshing to see her figure it out with her reporter skills. In the very next episode, she grills Jimmy for Clark’s whereabouts coinciding with Superman’s activities. It very much gave Silver Age Lois Lane where Lois would try to prove Clark is Superman. Ultimately, much like Chloe Sullivan from Smallville and Jimmy on this show, Lois decided not to tell Clark she knew until he was ready to tell her himself.
The new Lois is just that, new. So time will tell if she too will become as iconic as other Lois’s. So far, it’s looking pretty good.
It is interesting as a concept that most of the villains with any sort of powers come from alien tech. Smallville was famous for having their villains of the week owing their powers to kryptonite exposure. Most of the villains are enjoyable, though some just feel like basic adaptations with little more than similar names and abilities. Livewire, for example, is named Leslie Willis and uses electricity, but there is little known about her. Was she ever fame-hungry? She doesn’t necessarily need to be a radio personality or podcaster, but her desire for notoriety and power are core elements of her traditional personality. Her attire suggests she might be military or ex-military. What if she wanted to be the top cadet or soldier? What if she wanted the most medals of honor and got carried away in that pursuit? We should explore.
Others are fine, but I would like more variety with power sources. Silver Banshee is a literal demon in the comics. Her power comes from magic. Superman doesn’t do well against magic. Her being just another tech villain is a missed opportunity to demonstrate this fact.
Otherwise, the General, and maybe Ivo remain some of the better villains. The others work fine and have their moments, but I just don’t know enough about them to feel connected.
My One Real Concern. Please, God… NO MORE EVIL SUPERMAN!
One of the later episodes of the season of this show revealed to Lois and the audience that Superman isn’t always good. There are worlds in which he is evil and the world’s biggest threat. Humanity is a cornerstone of Superman’s character, and humanity comes with darkness. Even the best versions of the character have been tempted or corrupted (if not by red kryptonite, then a spell, mind control, or deception) by the dark side. This is not a bad thing. No one can be all good or all bad all the time. There needs to be nuance.
Evil Superman stories can be fascinating if handled well. Some of the examples above are handled very well. However, these stories are simply being done to death at this point. Some of them are still ongoing! The main appeal of My Adventures with Superman is that it is very light and an enjoyable, easy watch. Bringing back dark, doom and gloom DC, yet again… is not an easy watch. Sometimes it’s fine to let Batman have the darkness and Superman have the light. It’s also okay to remember that Wonder Woman is a warrior and that she, not Clark, makes the most narrative sense to snap a neck as a last resort. But that’s another article for another day.
This show is a lot of fun. All of the talent involved do a great job and the show is easy to enjoy. It provides the kind of whimsy that is absent in a lot of DC content not aimed directly at kids. It is also edgy enough to satisfy fans who need a little spice with their sweet. The key characters ring true, and while some of the villains feel one-note, that can hopefully change down the line.
If you like the relationship between Superman and Lois, try this show. If you like funny, a little silly, and a little serious mixed up, check it out. If you like tall, well-built men who are kind and obliviously sexy (Clark is shirtless at one point and his body is lovingly illustrated), give it a whirl. If you like Superman, it will most likely strike your fancy.
Check out My Adventures with Superman on Max. Let me know what you think about it in the comments.