Evil Superman has been a focus in popular culture for about the past decade. From the video game series Injustice which features a Superman who goes all fascist after Lois dies to Homelander on The Boys who is a Superman-like character gone terribly wrong. People are obsessed with turning wholesome good boy Superman into a complete sociopath. I get why someone would be inclined to tell that story. Superman has the powers of a god. What would happen if instead of giving a kid his hat that fell off Superman instead ocular blasted people to death?
Warning: this review contains full spoilers for Superman & Lois: Season 1, Episode 2!
Superman & Lois has decided to swim in the Evil Superman storytelling pool by revealing Captain Luthor is from an alternate universe where, for an unexplained reason, Superman has gone full Injustice on that world. This creative choice gives me mixed feelings. It does give Captain Luthor a compelling reason to want to kill Superman, but it also feels creatively lazy. We’ve seen Evil Superman be done to death. At this point, it just feels like every writer that does it is just like “Tee hee. I’m going to write Superman as a merciless killer! Isn’t that subversive? He’s supposed to be good, but now he’s bad! I’m clever and edgy! Applaud now!”
To be fair to the show, they could be doing this to contrast this show’s Superman with all the creatively bankrupt Superman goes bad stories. If they use this to really critique those stories and show the true heart of Superman and why he could never be like that, that would be refreshing. What makes Superman such a compelling character is that he always wants to do the right thing even when it is hard. That’s why many fans like me get frustrated with Evil Superman stories. They are everywhere and it feels like people who write those stories think Superman is boring. I don’t think this show is in the “Superman is boring” category, but hopefully this story has a larger point. Otherwise, it is going to be lazy and I’m going to be very disappointed.
Let’s move onto the real star of this episode: Lois. In my review for the pilot, I said I wanted her to have more of a point of view. This episode delivered that. She is on a mission to expose billionaire Morgan Edge. Morgan has a history of whispering sweet nothings to small towns and then leaving once he’s done pumping them for all the labor, they are worth. Lois points this out, but the town of Smallville collectively goes “La la la. We can’t hear you! Use us, Daddy Morgan! We’re cheap and desperate! You can put it anywhere. And by anywhere, we mean Smallville has several locations that would be conducive to your business interests!”
Morgan rewriting Lois’ piece on him is the final straw for her. In the best scene of the episode, she marches in and quits. Elizabeth Tulloch had that confident and brazen energy down perfectly. Journalism is integral to Lois. She’s a wife and mother, but being a reporter is her mission in life. For Morgan to attack her on that front is a declaration of war and Lois is ready for it. So ready she’s now working at the Smallville Gazette, a one-woman operation run by Chrissy Beppo.
It is a down step for the world’s most famous journalist to work at such a small paper, but it makes sense. The Smallville Gazette does not have corporate overlords who might be afraid of Morgan, so Lois can protect her journalistic integrity. It is conveniently located. And she’s Lois freaking Lane. She can make it work for her. As Chrissy said: “You don’t go to the news. The news goes to you.” I hope this continues because Lois felt like a supporting character in the pilot and this episode she felt like a lead and it was beautiful to see.
On the teen front, Jordan got to explore his Kryptonian heritage with a visit to the Fortress of Solitude where Hologram Jor-El is like “This floppy haired teen is basic! He’ll never be you! I’m your Dead Space Daddy and I know!” Obviously, this is incorrect. They just haven’t realized Jordan has only exhibited powers around Jonathan and when he’s in danger. I think they’ll make that connection sooner rather than later.
I love the dynamic between the twins. Jonathan is obviously resentful of having to move to Smallville for his brother’s sake and for him getting to fly around with dad. Jonathan is not popular at Smallville High which is a new experience for him. Even with all that, they love each other. I was a bit worried before the series it would just be a hate dynamic and I’m so glad it isn’t. That would have been too easy and predictable. If you have a sibling, you know even when you are justifiably annoyed with them, you still love them and have their back. That’s the Kent twins and it makes me so happy.
“Heritage” was another strong outing that fleshed out stories started in the pilot. I have big reservations about Evil Superman, but I’m going to try to have an open mind even if it makes my brain scream “Why?! I have to see Evil Superman in every other medium and here too?! Leave sweet cinnamon roll Clark alone!” If it actually has a narrative point like turning General Lane against his son-in-law like Captain Luthor tried to do, it might be worth the distaste I have for that type of Superman story trope. I love drama more than I hate sociopath Superman stories.
Random thoughts about “Heritage”:
- Shouldn’t have Jonathan also gotten a “Superman, help me!” sound beeper? He could get into trouble too! It feels rude.
- Dan Romer is doing a great job with the score. It sounds epic and I like that it isn’t trying to mimic the John Williams score. I feel like too many composers working on Superman content try to go for that sound. It is iconic, but you can try new things.
- I know it is only the second episode, but Lana is so irrelevant to the narrative. She could drop dead, and it wouldn’t hurt one story. New character Kyle is more relevant than her which is just sad.
- The Fortress of Solitude set for Superman & Lois looks way different than the set for Supergirl. It is my head canon now that Clark set up a different room for her in the back. It is also where he stores on the giant statues of his parents.
- They brought back the Elseworlds black suit for Evil Superman. Good for them for being thrifty. Why waste money on a new suit when you have a perfectly good suit in storage?
- Clark is unemployed and Lois is working at a podunk newspaper. I hope this show doesn’t go too far with financial troubles. I do not want to be having flashbacks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer season six when she was working at the Doublemeat Palace. Like I don’t want to see Clark working at Smallville’s one Burger King.