s a 50th
anniversary gift, DC Comics' legendary Man of Steel got a
brand-new Saturday morning cartoon. Produced by Ruby-Spears,
this new Superman series brought back a few familiar foes,
along with new unfriendly faces, for weekly battles and a peek
into the private life of the man with the "S" on his chest.
Born as Kal-El on the doomed planet Krypton, Superman was
sent by his father, Jor-El, to the stars in a rocket ship
bound for Earth. The crash-landed craft was found by Ma and Pa
Kent, residents of Smallville, USA, who took the boy in and
raised him as little Clark Kent. Young Clark soon realized he
wasn't like other boys - the ones who didn't have super
strength, heat vision, freezing breath, nigh-invulnerability,
X-ray vision, and the ability to fly - but the soon-to-be
Superman tried to keep his powers hidden in order to fit in.
As an adult, the mild-mannered, glasses-wearing Clark moved to
the big city of Metropolis and got a job as a reporter at the
newspaper Daily Planet. There, he could stay aware of breaking
news and rush to the rescue if necessary. He worked alongside
sassy reporter Lois Lane, for whom he carried a torch, as well
as the eager Jimmy Olsen and tough editor Perry White.
But when crime reared its ugly head, the glasses came off,
the shirt was ripped open, and the red cape came out, usually
in the confines of a telephone booth. Ruby-Spears' Superman
followed the superheroic action formula of earlier Superman
adventures, throwing the Man of Steel into combat against Lex
Luthor (now a billionaire industrialist) and other
supervillains. Post-Star Wars baddies like The Defendroids and
Cybron also showed up to menace Metropolis, and one villainess
was so nasty, Supe had to team up with fellow Justice League
of America member Wonder Woman to handle her.
The final four minutes of each Superman episode were
devoted to a brief snapshot from "Superman's Family Album."
These biographical segments showed the kids at home what it
was like to grow up as the most powerful boy in Smallville.
Superman had been around since 1938's Action Comics #1, and
he would be around for many years more, but this animated
series lasted only 13 episodes. Superman rebounded, however,
landing another animated series in 1996, The New Superman