Ruby-Spears Superman (2009) Review
(More customer reviews)Premiering on CBS in 1988 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Superman, this Joseph Ruby and Kenneth Spears (Ruby-Spears) produced cartoon series marked the first time that elements of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and the post-Crisis Superman were combined onscreen. Veteran comic book writer Marv Wolfman acted as the lead story editor for the series and helped transform Lex Luthor from the mad scientist featured in the Superfriends cartoons to the billionaire industrialist found in the 1986 John Byrne penned Man of Steel revamp. Each episode consisted of a lead 18-minute Superman story, followed by a 4-minute flashback story that was part of the 'Superman's Family Album' segment, which chronicled Superman's life from his adoption by the Kents to his first appearance in costume. With character designs by the legendary artist Gil Kane, this series featured some of the finest animation that Superman had seen in decades, despite having lasted for only one season. The tone of the stories were also slightly more mature than what had been previously seen of Superman on the Saturday morning landscape, save for the underrated Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians cartoon series. The title sequence for each episode started off with the music cue from the John Williams Superman theme and quickly transitioned into the series' original theme music by Ron Jones, accompanied by the familiar "faster than a speeding bullet" narration made famous by the Fleischer Superman cartoons and the George Reeves Adventures of Superman TV series. Here are the episodes on this set;
1. DESTROY THE DEFENDROIDS- Superman must stop Lex Luthor's super-police force, the Defendroids.
THE ADOPTION- Baby Kal-El causes trouble at the adoption agency until the Kents finally decide to adopt him.
2. FUGITIVE FROM SPACE- An alien cop is hunting an escaped fugitive and Superman is caught in the middle.
THE SUPERMARKET- Little Clark makes a trip to the supermarket into an adventure for Ma Kent.
3. BY THE SKIN OF THE DRAGON'S TEETH- Superman unwittingly aids Luthor find a treasure in China.
AT THE BABYSITTER'S- The babysitter has her hands full with young Clark's super powered mischievous behavior.
4. CYBRON STRIKES- Superman does battle with a seemingly unstoppable cyborg from the future.
THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL- Clark tries to fit in at school while keeping his powers a secret.
5. THE BIG SCOOP- Lex Luthor learns that Clark is really Superman via a futuristic machine.
OVERNIGHT WITH THE SCOUTS- Clark's camping trip turns into a search for a legendary monster.
6. TRIPLE PLAY- The Prankster forces Superman to play in a rigged game of baseball for the lives of his friends.
THE CIRCUS- Clark no longer feels like an outsider when he accidentally joins a traveling circus.
7. THE HUNTER- Superman battles Phantom Zone villains including Zod and a shapeshifter called the Hunter.
LITTLE RUNAWAY- Clark runs away from home only to realize things were not that bad at home.
8. SUPERMAN & WONDER WOMAN VS. THE SORCERESS OF TIME- Our heroes must stop a threat to Paradise Island.
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY- Young Clark's birthday party is filled with surprises for Ma and Pa Kent.
9. BONECHILL- Superman battles a sorcerer with a magic talisman that can create monsters.
THE DRIVER'S LICENSE- Clark is nervous about passing his driving test with an instructor.
10. THE BEAST BENEATH THESE STREETS- Lois is kidnapped by a scientist turned monster.
FIRST DATE- Teenage Clark's first date with Lana Lang leads to several unforeseen problems.
11. WILDSHARK- Superman confronts an overzealous villain deep in the Bermuda Triangle.
TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY- Clark discovers that he cannot use his powers to play football.
12. NIGHT OF THE LIVING SHADOWS- Luthor develops a suit that can turn the wearer into a shadow.
GRADUATION- A series of catastrophes threatens to keep Clark from going to his highschool graduation.
13. THE LAST TIME I SAW EARTH- An alien seizes a space shuttle with Lois and Jimmy onboard.
IT'S SUPERMAN- Clark arrives in Metropolis and makes his first appearance as Superman.
The sole bonus feature for this set is the 'Corruption of the Corrupt: The Rise of Lexcorp' featurette, which examines Luthor's transition into the head of a greedy, corporate conglomerate. While the inclusion of series-specific extras would have been a welcome addition, most fans are probably just grateful to finally have this long overlooked series on DVD. With many of Superman's screen adaptations now available to own commercially, one can only hope that it is simply a matter of time before WB revisits the remaining Superboy seasons, as well. As for the exceptionally well-crafted Ruby-Spears series, it served as the perfect bridge between the kid-friendly cartoons of the 80s and the animated series phenomena of the 90s. Now, over two decades later, fans can once again enjoy these lesser-seen adventures in Superman's never ending battle!
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As 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.
The final four minutes of each Superman episode were devoted to a brief snapshot from the Superman Family Album. These biographical segments showed the kids at home what it was like to grow up as the most powerful boy in Smallville. Unfortunately, super powers only made awkward childhood and adolescent situations even more awkward, as young Clark was forced to deal with his first day at school, an overnight scouting campout, getting a driver's license, his first date, and more.