Featured Screen Shot
Synopsis "Brave New Metropolis"
At STAR Labs, Metropolis Professor Hamilton demonstrates his latest invention to Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Hamilton explains that they’ve used Kryptonian technology from the Phantom Zone Projector to create a machine, a gateway, through which they can peer into other universes. However, the only signal they’ve managed to get is the equivalent of static. Hamilton demonstrates it to Lane and Olsen, but all they see is pink lightning, sparks, and a bit of smoke. It’s Lois who notices that the gateway is actually working, but they’re looking into a nearly identical laboratory. She points this out to Hamilton, but as she does so she gets too close to the gateway and is pulled through into the other universe.
Lois finds herself in another STAR Labs, but this one appears to have been abandoned for some time. She makes her way back into Metropolis, but the streets deserted. She finds a statue dedicated to both Superman and Lex Luthor with the inscription “The Men Who Saved Metropolis.” An announcement proclaims “It’s ten o’clock, curfew time. Superman wishes you all a pleasant evening.” Lois is then challenged by a police officer, this universe’s Dan Turpin, for her paperwork. He’s about to arrest her when he runs off to investigate a nearby explosion. A group of thieves are attacking Lexcorp Research. Turpin radios for backup before getting into a gun fight with them. Their leader runs off with their prize, but he’s winged by Turpin and collides with Lois.
Lois is shocked to see that the thieves’ leader is actually a long-haired Jimmy Olsen, but he’s more surprised to see her. Before they can talk, this universe’s Superman arrives. He’s wearing a black, almost militaristic uniform, and shows little gentility when dealing with the other thieves. Jimmy pulls Lois with him and explains that she should be dead. She was working on an Intergang expose when they put a bomb under her car. In her universe Superman saved her, but in this universe Superman was a split second too late. Jimmy explains that that is when everything changed. Superman started wearing the black costume, and then he teamed up with Lex Luthor saying he wanted to make the city safe again.
Superman and Lex Luthor turned Metropolis into a police state. Jimmy and the thieves are actually members of a Resistance against them. Their raid stole a chunk of kryptonite to use against Superman. However, their own base is raided by the police minutes after Jimmy and Lois return. The police are led by Commander Graves (the parallel of Mercy Graves, Luthor’s lieutenant). She orders the adults detained and the children sent to the Lexcorp Orphanage. Like Jimmy, Mercy is surprised to find Lois alive and orders her brought to Lexcorp. Luthor cannot risk how Superman will react to news that Lois is alive so he orders Mercy to take her somewhere else and kill her. When Mercy is distracted Lois grabs her gun and escapes. Lois runs into a nearby monument, a colossal statue of Luthor and Superman stood back-to-back. A desperate and injured Lois is forced higher and higher until she reaches the very top. She almost falls before the black-clad Superman arrives. He’s amazed to see her and flies her back to his own offices.
The parallel Superman bandages a scrape on Lois’s leg as she explains to him that while she is Lois Lane she not the one he knew. She claims that her Superman “is no tyrant”, but the parallel Superman explains that he “had to take control”. Lois’s death hardened his attitude and turned him towards a partnership with Luthor – the only person with the organisation and technology that could bring about the crime free society he wanted. Lois is surprised that Superman felt so strongly about her and slaps the parallel across the face for not saying anything. She reveals that Luthor ordered Mercy to kill her. She then shows the parallel-Superman Luthor’s holding cells and prisons. The prisoners jeer at them and Jimmy even throws a brick at the parallel-Superman.
Superman storms into Lex Luthor’s penthouse telling him, “I’m having problems with your job performance!” He tries to dissolve their partnership, but Luthor has the kryptonite. Luthor tells Superman that he’ll kill him and then pose as the people’s savior – the man who killed their tyrant. However, Lois and Superman did not come alone. Superman freed Jimmy and the Resistance and they have come to help shut Luthor down. Luthor escapes and leaves Mercy to the mob’s justice. Superman eventually catches up with Luthor’s jet. He pulls the canopy off the jet, but Luthor uses the kryptonite to force him back. A weakened Superman falls away, but he manges to rip the tail plane off the jet as he falls. The uncontrollable-jet catches fire and plunges into the Luthor/Superman monument, demolishing it, and killing Luthor.
Afterwards, the parallel Superman takes Lois back to STAR Labs. He doesn’t know if the people will ever trust him again, but resolves to re-earn their trust. Suddenly the dimensional portal sparks into life and Lois’s Superman calls to her. Hamilton’s repaired the gateway, but it will not hold for long. She kisses the parallel Superman after he admits that loosing her a second time will be hard, but this time he won’t enforce his grief upon Metropolis. Lois then takes her Superman’s hand and acrosses back into her own universe. As Superman flies her back to her apartment Lois says offers to explain her adventure to him over dinner.
Lois on top the Luthor/Superman Monument – her desperation and collapse may be a little melodramatic, but it’s wonderfully handled.
Lois on top the Luthor/Superman Monument – just how does Lois manage to climb a smooth stone monument in high-heals.
What amazes me is that the writers managed to squeeze what feels like a movie-script into a 22-minute cartoon. The result is absolutely amazing. This feels like an old movie from the classic era of Citizen Kane or 1984. The parallel Metropolis isn’t just the original at night, it is an entirely different city with fantastic new designs and a real sense of being somewhere else.
This storyline pre-figures the Justice Lords storyline in Justice League. That was a world where the Flash’s death caused the Justice League to become the fascist overlords. In that case Superman was far more active in his world, but in “Brave New Metropolis” you get the feeling that Superman is more passive. It feels like he’s stepped aside and allowed Luthor to create this police state in his name and is not actively involved in the real management of it. He still serves as its enforcer, but there is a necessary distance that allows the character to stay a hero by renouncing it.
There are a few places where cartoon-logic is required. For example, we’re expected to believe that Superman had no knowledge of what Luthor was up to and that everything will be all happy and bright now the parallel Luthor is dead. However, these concerns are minor
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- 28-Jan-2010 – Corrected the author of 1984 from HG Wells to George Orwell (Ming’s comment).