For The Man Who Has Everything
Original Airdate - 08/07/04
week I mentioned that given the format of the show and the
time constraints, JLU would become a show for the
hardcore comic fans. This week follows up on that motif
by updating a classic DC comic for a new generation.
1985, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created "For the Man Who
has Everything." In it, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin all
visit Superman on his birthday. They have all brought him
presents but remark how difficult it is to shop for Superman.
Once inside Superman's Fortress of Solitude, they discover
that Superman has already received a gift from his enemy,
Attached to Superman's paralyzed body is
a plant called the Black Mercy. The plant is telepathic
and puts the host in a dreaming coma where they are fully
convinced they are living out their greatest desire. In
the comic, Superman dreams of living on Krypton with his
Mother, Father, wife and son.
JLU version of the story is similar but updated
and streamlined a bit to make it all fit into 22 minutes.
Wonder Woman and Batman fly to Superman's Fortress of Solitude
in the Invisible Jet (yes, it's back despite the fact we
saw the JLU using transporter technology last week). Mongul
wants to take over Earth and can now do it because Superman
is out of the way.
Wonder Woman tries in vain to fight Mongul, Batman tries
to snap Superman out of his dreaming state. In Superman's
dreams, he is living on Krypton with his wife Loana (brilliantly
voiced by Dana Delany, who voiced Lois Lane in Superman:
The Animated Series) and his son Van-El (which sounds
like a type of fake wood).
Superman's greatest desire is to live on a farm on Krypton,
spend time cuddling with his wife and teach his son how
important it is to clean up dog poo.
Alan Moore's original premise for the story
holds up very nicely even if the comic itself shows quite
a bit of age. Bruce Timm and his team dropped the more (Moore?)
silly aspects of the comic but given the time constraints
were not able to add enough details to make the story seem
like more than a watered down version of the original.
Since I'll be reviewing all the episodes
this year and they will probably all be 30 minutes, let
me mention again, for the last time, that I really hate
the format. Just assume I have that same problem with all
the episodes unless otherwise noted.
who appeared in the Justice League episode "Warworld,"
is again voiced nicely by Eric Roberts. His powers have
been cranked way up for this episode, as he pretty much
spends most of it kicking Wonder Woman around like a tin
can. He even holds his own against Superman in the finale
far better than he did last time we saw him.
little changes the writing team made all worked for me.
Wonder Woman gives Superman the Krypton flower, not Batman
(makes more sense that way since modern day Batman doesn't
seem like the flower giving type). The episode also addressed
Superman's anger over having had his heart's desire and
then losing it. Much like when Buffy was pulled out of heaven,
Superman was understandably pissed off about it. Alan Moore
only covered it with two lines of dialogue, but comics in
the 80s were a different animal.
don't recall Dave Gibbons drawing Wonder Woman using wrestling
moves on Mongul either, but a lot can happen between panels.
in all, a fair episode. I liked it better than last week's
having read "For the Man Who Has Everything" yesterday in
preparation, it felt like a watered down episode in comparison.
Two other off topic notes that struck me
as odd. One was the opening credits. They were different
from last week as they showed clips from the episode we
were about to watch. The only JL members shown were Superman,
Batman and Wonder Woman. How very, very odd.
Mike Farrell was credited as voicing Pa Kent in the episode,
but Pa Kent made no appearance in the show. Again, odd.
Derek's Continuity Corner
As fans of the original story are probably well aware, in
Moore's version Robin saved the day by using special powered-up
gloves to remove the Black Mercy. Even more shockingly,
that version of Robin would be Jason Todd. Yes, the one
everybody excoriates now as an incompetent, black mark on
Batman's record once saved Superman's life. But that was
pre-Crisis, and things were very different then, in that
Jason was a perfect duplicate of Dick Grayson, almost right
down to the origin. If fans didn't like him, it was just
because he didn't really stand out, instead of the later
reason, when he was rewritten as a complete jerk.
In fact, a lot of the changes in this episode should be
chalked up to their dealing with a pre-Crisis story. The
Superman Moore originally wrote about was one very much
in touch with his Kryptonian heritage, and so powerful he
was practically a god. Moore was one of the few that managed
to find a way to emphasize Superman's humanity. Bruce Timm
and company have cherrypicked the best of every version
of Superman for the animated one, and it's a nice touch
for Supes to still dream of being a farmboy.
As for Mongul, both the animated episode
and original comic book story would seem to close the book
on him, but after a couple of continuity shifts, he returned.
Though he was not responsible for Doomsday coming to Earth
and killing Superman, Mongul certainly took advantage of
the event, allying himself with another Superman enemy (quiet
for many years now), the Cyborg. Together they destroyed
Coast City in order to build a world-pushing engine. Mongul
wanted to turn Earth into a new Warworld. Instead, he drove
Hal Jordan insane and created Parallax. DC is just now finishing
up their undoing of all of that. Thanks, Geoff Johns.
If you want to read the original story,
it has been reprinted by DC in a collection of Alan Moore
stories called Across The Universe, which we've helpfully
linked to on Amazon.
Cue the music: The more you know…