My Adventures with Superman 1×09 Review – Dads, amirite?

A season finale is a little easier to stomach when you know a second season is already deep into development. This particular finale has a couple of important reveals that will affect the show going forward along with being just a satisfying conclusion to this first season. Beware spoilers for My Adventures with Superman Episode 10, “Hearts of the Fathers.”

“Hearts of the Fathers”

My Adventures with Superman breaks the mold from other Superman stories in a couple of important ways. One is that we spend as much time in Lois’ perspective as we do in Clark’s. The other is that this story isn’t an origin story for Superman so much as it is for Clark and Kal El.

This week, the trio of besties is heading for the Kent farm for Thanksgiving dinner after finding out that all three of them have been elevated from interns at the Daily Planet to full-time employees. This is the primary reminder that this is a fantasy story–a newspaper in the modern era taking on new employees.

My Three Dads

As the name of this episode suggests, this episode is just lousy with dads. They’re everywhere. In the kitchen, in the living room, and in the Kryptonian spaceship. Each one takes part in the story in a different way. Jonathan Kent is the Daddest of the three, acting as comic relief for the episode; his focus through everything that happens is squarely on the Thanksgiving turkey, which he’s watching closely to ensure it’s done perfectly.

Sam Lane, meanwhile, is as much a main character in this episode as Clark or Lois. The story showcases Lois and Sam’s strained relationship. As a military man involved with clandestine activities, his work is both all-consuming and very secretive, taking him away from his family more than even most absentee fathers. Lois resents his lack of involvement in not just her life but in her career of choice, stating that he doesn’t even read her work as she points to the article she wrote with Jimmy and Clark, which Ma Kent has already framed and hung. Hell yeah, mom. That’s a beautiful little thing that says so much about how Martha views her son; his accomplishments as a journalist are every bit as important to her as his literally saving the entirety of Metropolis.

That also feels key to the show and to Clark’s character. For as much as it seems like some fans would rather see Clark commit to being the Man of Steel 24/7, Adventures makes a great case for how much Clark grounds him. He’s been raised to see his humanity as being every bit as important as his incredible strength and speed. His friendship with Jimmy and relationship with Lois both reinforce that. Even with the “S” emblazoned across his chest, they call him Clark. That’s bad for his secret identity but great for ensuring that he doesn’t forget that he’s a man in a suit rather than a god lording over the people.

Superman as an Immigrant

Back to Sam. He struggles to connect with Lois, but it’s clear that he wants to. This feels like a younger version of the Sam Lane played by Dylan Walsh in Superman & Lois. He still has a lot of stuff to figure out, and he doesn’t even know where to begin. The Zero Day invasion attempt and his experience on that day did a great job of laying groundwork for why he finds Superman as terrifying as he does, and why he would be willing to still point a pistol at him even after Superman singlehandedly put an end to the invasion. It makes him into a complicated, interesting character has lots of room for development but who is already easy to sympathize with.

The third Dad is Jor-El in his holographic form. Normally, Superman stories don’t seem to really deal with Clark learning Kryptonian. In Superman, of course, we had the fast-forward sequence where Jor-El’s hologram spent a full year teaching Kal-El everything he needed to know.

But this method serves to reinforce the immigrant metaphor that Superman was originally. The children of many immigrant families are often raised with little to no knowledge of their cultures or their parents’ native language due to their parents’ desire for their child to fully integrate into Western society. That’s what Superman is here, staring at his father with confusion as the eyepatch-wearing old guy talks to him in Kryptonian. They try to communicate, but Kal-El’s assumptions about Krypton interfere just as much as his inexperience with the language.

Green Rocks

When Jor-El helps Kal-El with his attack on the Kryptonian ships, it instantly becomes unclear whether we’ll ever meet this character again. It seems likely that they’ll find some way to save him–some chunk of red Kryptonite that they’ll find after the attack, or something like that.

Even Adventures‘ handling of Kryptonite is interesting. It’s still Superman’s major weakness, but it behaves a little bit differently. When Jimmy accidentally unleashes the Kryptonite on the robots, they instantly crystalize. And then when Superman goes to use it against the Kryptonian ship, the same thing begins happening to Superman. Kryptonite is so often just something that makes Superman groan in pain and little more. At most, we see green veins of the stuff crawl up his skin. But this makes the stuff look downright deadly. Instead of being a tool that would allow Lex Luthor to kill Superman, it is now the tool to kill Superman with no need to chain him or invent fantastical weapons.

Something Old, Something New

The final twists come in the form of two villains we meet during the invasion. The first is a robotic being with three dots on its forehead–Brainiac. This is one of the Superman stories where Kryptonians created or are allied with Brainiac rather than destroyed by it. We don’t get much time with Brainiac other than to see that it’s all pointy and triangular just like the Kryptonian robots. The other, though, is the armored soldier we saw in the initial invasion.

At the end of the episode, Brainiac and this being talk to each other, and they tell Brainiac that they plan to make Earth “kneel.” Superman fans will recognize what it means to hear a Kryptonian use that word in that context–this character certainly seems like General Zod. If it is, though, it’s not a traditional depiction. If you’re one of the many people who now watches everything with subtitles/captions turned on, you’ll see that this character is referred to as “Kryptonian Warrior.” In the episode’s credits, Kryptonian Warrior is voiced by Kari Wahlgren, who also voices Ma Kent. This could be a version of Lara Lor-Von, Kara Zor-El, Astra, or just a General Zod who is female or not traditionally masculine.

Adventures keeps finding ways to mix up the origin story of the best-known comic character on Earth, and they all teach us interesting things about the characters. Sam Lane’s fear and reluctance, Lois’ complicated relationship with truth, Clark’s avoidance of his Kryptonian origins–and it all makes the show feel fresh and interesting even if you’ve seen a billion Superman origin stories.