29 October 2015 | redryan64
Hit The Heights, But Fizzled Quickly
FOLLOWING THE PREVIOUS animated television THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN by about 22 tears, this 1988 presentation was obviously influenced by the topical changes that are inevitable in any on-going character's feature with the passing of time. All things considered, the production team did a fine job in maintaining the spirit and true characterization of the SUPERMAN feature.
AS WE COUNT them, this is the 3rd cartoon series to be produced under license from the publisher/copyright owner; being known variously as Detective Comics, Inc., National Comics/National Periodical Publications and (finally) DC Comics. That would include the two television productions and the outstanding 1940's theatrically released SUPERMAN Series from Max Fleischer/Famous Studios & Paramount Pictures Corporation.
ALTHOUGH THIS SERIES was produced by the American company, Ruby-Spears Productions, the animation was farmed-out to one Toei Animation Services, LTD, a Japanese contracting full service studio. And a finer job they did with the series, indeed. Although the animation done was certainly not up to the level of a FANTASIA or to the outstanding work of the Fleisher Brothers (being Max & brother Dave), it was certainly in the very upper echelon of TV cartoon work and appears to have been a major force in raising the bar, pushing the envelope, improving the product, cookin' the soup, (enter your favourite cliché right here).
THE REALLY FINE and truly comic book look of the artwork was no mere accident. We see that the production design was in the capable hands of veteran comics illustrator, Gil Kane. Virtuoso Kane was a longtime regular at DC Comics and was the original artist on the Silver Age (Hal Jordan) GREEN LANTERN. Although we cannot recall his ever working on the SUPERMAN Feature, he was more than vaguely familiar with it and how it should be rendered for the animation screen. His was surely the influence in giving Lois Lane a very appealing look, even more so than usual.
IN ADDITION TO the physical appearance, this Ruby-Spears SUPERMAN had input from the Superman creative team of Jerry Siegel (writer) & Ioe Shuster (artist), who are credited with several of the episodes. Another writer we see credited is one Marvin Wolfman; who was a longtime comics fan and cut his teeth on the "joke-books" as a member of the "Boomer" generation in the 1950's & '60's. (We recall seeing his name on letters sent to the various publications during that period. Congrats on following a dream and getting in to the business, Marv!
AS SORT OF a change of pace back-up and measure of comic relief, a SUPERMAN FAMILY TREE feature took up the final third of this Ruby-Spears production. It involved the unusual and mainly light-hearted situations that the Kents encountered in raising the Super-baby.
FOR WHATEVER REASON, the series lasted only one season, which is such a pity, for it had so much of the SUPERMAN Saga to impart on the young kids; even to using the by then familiar theme from SUPERMAN THE MOVIE (1978)!