And here we go. Before we start I want to make sure people who don’t read more than the first paragraph (or sometimes the headline so they may not even see this far) are aware I know these are only images and that we don’t know what the show will be like. However…the point of promotional material is to get people excited for some new show, movie, comic, game, or other product. Also, we aren’t judging the quality of the final product, we are judging what they think will excite us for the show and the quality of the adaptation (again…there…is…a…difference). So telling me it’s not out yet is missing the whole point of the promotional material and this article. If what they’re showing us is doing the opposite of its job then as a critic I must point that out.
And that’s exactly what’s going on with this announcement.
DC Entertainment (the part of DC that forgets the comics that spawned it) announced two new cartoons to appear on HBO Max and Cartoon Network…which means I could actually watch one of the if not for how Cartoon Network treats action cartoons. If they have them they bury them. Then again, that may explain what we’re seeing of the new Superman but I’ll get back to that. Also mentioned is a new Batman series, Batman: Caped Crusader. Bruce Timm is supposed to be returning and while that used to be amazing he lost my respect when he decided to shoehorn yet another Bruce/Barbara affair into his adaptation of The Killing Joke. It could still hold promise but then there are the other two involved. J.J. Abrams turned Star Trek into Star Wars and Star Wars into a less enjoyable repeat that only got worse when he left and had to fight the idiots in charge when he was begged back. The other producer is Matt Reeves, whose take on Batman has been questionable thus far. I’m not looking forward to it but I kind of have to watch this if Cartoon Network actually promotes and airs the darn thing.
Of course what we’re here for is My Adventures With Superman, the new cartoon that will give us an early-years take on Superman, Lois, and Jimmy by turning them all into twenty-somethings. If that was the only thing they were turning into I would have a few issues already with the presentation we’re shown, and you’d be amazed how much information one picture can give when the art is done well, and that’s the only compliment I can give it. It’s a more modern art style but I do see some good things about it and it’s not bad necessarily. It’s just they got the characters wrong right at the start, which is a rather amazing feat.
The logo is fine, but let’s get a close up look at the teaser image.
The first thing I’m noticing is the first thing I’m sure you noticed too so let’s start with the obvious: why does Lois look like the girl from The Own House grew up? She doesn’t look quite as Latino but look at her body language, her hair, and her face. It looks like Luz at age 20. Lois is an Army brat (at least in since the post-Crisis DC reboot) and she brings some of that toughness into her character but she was never a tomboy. She’s also not this expressive a character. She’s tough, often in your face as an investigative journalist should, but she looks a bit too bouncy here. Is this what they think twenty-somethings are? Well, according to the press release they hired people who think that.
Actors Jack Quaid (The Boys) and Alice Lee (Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist) will lead the My Adventures with Superman voice cast as Clark Kent and Lois Lane, respectively. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation with Register (Teen Titans Go!) serving as executive producer. Jake Wyatt (Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus) and Brendan Clogher (Voltron: Legendary Defender) are on board as co-executive producers and Josie Campbell (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power) as co-producer.
Yep, the person who helped make Coran into a goofball and Allura into a stuck-up with a temper is joining forces with one of the people who did similar alterations to the heroes of Etheria and someone who worked on Invader Zim. I expect more wacky hijinks than dramatic action. So maybe Cartoon Network will show it after all.
Described as a serialized coming-of-age story, My Adventures with Superman will follow Clark as he builds his secret Superman identity and embraces his role as the hero of Metropolis—and perhaps the world. Lois, now growing into a star investigative journalist, takes aspiring photographer Jimmy Olsen under her wing. All the while, Clark and Lois are falling in love, sharing adventures, taking down bad guys, stumbling over secrets and discovering what it means to be Superman and Lois Lane.
Oh no, I just got Beckett Mariner vibes…and I’ve only seen one episode on my own. (I’ve heard she gets worse by people whose opinions I respect and brought evidence.) Lois was already a seasoned reporter by the time we meet her. I don’t know, this doesn’t even sound like a positive representation of people in their early twenties, never mind a good representation of actual 20 year olds or of these characters.
Also, look at Jimmy and you’ll see something else wrong: he’s the same age as Clark and Lois, or at least looks like he is. The bowtie is gone, he looks just as wide-eyed as Lois, and something else…I can’t quite put my finger on it…oh yeah, he’s not a redhead. You know, I used to be able to count on animated version of Jimmy getting this right when the live-action ones didn’t, especially the CBS/CW version of Supergirl where he was bald like Lex Luthor. Also he was black…that’s what I was noticing. They race-swapped Jimmy Olsen. You know, maybe I wasn’t harsh enough the last time I talked about the de-gingering of redhead characters in modern Hollywood productions. Red Sonja’s upcoming movie reboot will star a black girl, though she’s just light enough to pull it off with a wig or hair dye. I mean she’s called Red Sonja for a reason. Then again I said the same thing with Zendaya and we ended up replacing Mary Jane with Michelle Jones just to keep the initials. Impulse just looks ridiculous (and the photo doesn’t help; the photographer needs to rethink his career choice) as he heads to CW’s The Flash, and now even the cartoons are raceswapping redheads.
Now here’s something interesting. An artist on Instagram decided to redo this to make Lois and Jimmy look more like…Lois and Jimmy.
There’s only so much he could do. Jimmy is still the same age as Clark and Lois when he should be younger and he’s lacking a bowtie, but where the camera is you couldn’t see it anyway. Lois’s pose is better but still has a bit of the excited vibe that isn’t quite in her character. However, her hairstyle looks right and the outfit is more in line with what she would wear, and Jimmy is the right skin color because they at least gave him something resembling his personality…which Supergirl failed to do as well. Instagram apparently had a fit over this, accusing artist Trey Mykel of whitewashing Jimmy.
It should be noted that Mykel is black (or at least his avatar in the beginning of his video seen below is so I’m assuming it’s accurate) so they’re accusing a black artist of whitewashing a traditionally white character. This is why not being able to go out during the lockdowns didn’t bother me as much as other people…though even I started feeling isolated eventually. In the following video he explains his reasoning for fixing the design.
Catch more videos by Trey Mykel on his YouTube channel.
The thing is that there is already a black reporter on the Daily Planet staff. Just make Ron Troupe a bit more prominent, then when Steel and his niece Natasha are introduced there are more black characters. One of the heroes to take up the Guardian mantle is black. Black Lightning used to be from Metropolis in the comics but The CW decided to move him to a fictional town in Georgia. It’s not like you needed to blackwash Jimmy in order to have diversity in this show.
So it looks like more people who couldn’t care less about Superman will be working on Superman, going the token demographic marketing nonsense with no knowledge of the other characters in the comics or even caring about the ones they do. Maybe they have time to course correct a few things or better clarify others but as it stands right now this doesn’t look like to be a fair Superman adaptation. The point of the early promo announcement is to show the tone and direction they’re going for and to get people excited early for a new production. Based on these character models, the history of the people involved, and the history of the entertainment industry in general as Warner Brothers animation seems to be following their TV and movie divisions rather than the comics I really don’t see a good adaptation coming our way with My Adventures With Superman. If Cartoon Network actually puts this where I can see it and I have advanced notice I may check this out and hope things improve but thus far the only thing they show me is that they really don’t care about Superman and his characters, characters who have existed for so long that you’d think they know better. Maybe Bruce Timm should have been working on this one, too.