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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Superman The Animated Series: "A Fish Story"

Season Three, Episode Nine: A Fish Story
Written by: Alan Burnett, Hilary Bader & Rich Fogel
Directed by: Shin'ichi Tsuji
Original Air Date: May 8, 1999

This is part of my "Aquaman in Hollywood" series, where I play catch-up with Aquaman's various animated and live action appearances.

Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen go out for a day trip on their friend Bibbo's boat. Lately, there's been rumors of boats being attacked, but of course Lois doesn't believe any of it.

That is, until Bibbo's boat starts being attacked by two killer whales, knocking the boat almost completely over. Jimmy sets off his Signal Watch, calling...Superman!
Supes arrives, and fights off the whales just enough to save the ship and everyone on it. Later, Back in Metropolis, Jimmy and Lois visit the Metropolis Sea World, and its top researcher, Dr. Cardy (nice), says all the strange behavior exhibited by the sea life is due to a mating instinct.

Lois doesn't buy this either, and she has good reason to: we see that Cardy is under the thumb of Lex Luthor, who talk of some mysterious experiment going on.

Lois sneaks her way behind a locked door, and she's shocked by what she sees: a large, water-filled cylinder, and inside it is...a trapped Aquaman!
Lois calls Jimmy and tells her what she's found. But Dr. Cardy--brandishing a gun--gets the drop on her, and forces her and Aquaman into a tanker truck.

Lois asks Aquaman--who she always thought was an urban legend--what's going on. Aquaman says that "her people" are about to cause the death of millions, and he's trying to stop it. Turns out LexCorps has been setting off explosions under the sea, close to Atlantis, causing extensive damage.

Aquaman investigated, and his "peaceful overtures" were met with violence. When Lois asks what's next if Aquaman can't get LexCorp to stop, he grimly says, "War."
Some of Luthor's goons bring Aquaman and Lois to the beach, where they intend to shoot them both to keep them quiet--for good.

But before they can fire off a shot, a flock of seagulls (the real ones, not the band) swoop down and attack! One of them grabs the set of handcuff keys, dropping them in Aquaman's hands:

Aquaman frees himself, and then busts some heads:
Aquaman and Lois escape by jumping on a nearby motorcycle, and tear off down Metropolis' version of the PCH. Some of Luthor's henchmen give chase, firing bullets at them.

When Lois sees they've run out of road, Aquaman assures her to keep driving--right off a cliff, into the ocean!

Trying to escape the hail of bullets, Lois swims further out to sea, but is seemingly attacked by a Great White shark!

Luthor's henchmen assume Lois is dead, but they have another problem--Superman! He makes quick work of them, and then searches for Lois. Turns out, of course, the shark was doing Aquaman's bidding, and was saving Lois, not attacking.

Superman scoops Lois out of the water, and Aquaman is silently carried away by his shark pals:
Superman busts into an aircraft carrier that Luthor is aboard, about to set off another round of experimental explosions. Lois demands Luthor cease the explosions, but of course Luthor will do no such thing: he's in international waters, and is within his legal rights to conduct the experiment.

Under the surface, Aquaman tries to deactivate Luthor's latest bomb, but is grabbed by giant metal pincers, manned by some more of Luthor's goons. He commands some electric eels to zap the ship, which they do, freeing him, just as Superman arrives.

Another set of henchmen let loose a rock slide under water, momentarily trapping Superman. Meanwhile, Luthor orders the explosive to be detonated, not even caring some of his own men are still down there! He also has Lois thrown overboard.

Just as he's about to set off the bomb, a trident comes hurtling onto the deck, pinning Luthor's hand to the wall. They look outside and see...Aquaman!
Behind Aquaman, the waves begin to part, and out of the water rises an Atlantean warship, bigger than a city block. Several smaller ships and cannons arise from it, ready to fire:
The Atlanteans are ready to fire, waiting for their king's command (Lois is startled to hear Aquaman is also a king!).

Superman asks Aquaman to stand down, and Aquaman is aghast he would side with "them", since they are poisoning the skies the way they are poisoning the oceans. Superman tries to explain to Aquaman that not all Surface Dwellers are like Luthor, and some are trying to help preserve the planet:
Aquaman takes this news uneasily, but heeds Superman's plea and has his men stand down. But, as he begins to walk away, one of the men on Luthor's ship becomes enraged, and fires a harpoon at Aquaman's back!

Aquaman turns around and with lightning fast reflexes, catches the harpoon:
Some of Aquaman's lieutenants, jumping the gun (literally), begin to fire on the Navy ship, blowing up parts of it.

Luthor hops in a helicopter and escapes, leaving the Navy ship he was using and its crew behind, as they jump into the water to escape their burning, crumbling vessel.

As the aircraft carrier sinks into the ocean, Aquaman warns Superman that he has given the Surface Dwellers one last chance. In the meantime, he'll be watching:
...the end!

Wow, kind of a grim, tough ending for a cartoon, but its a perfect, somewhat mysterious way to leave the Aquaman storyline.

Unfortunately, this was Aquaman's sole appearance on S:TAS. Too bad; I liked this take on him and would've liked to see him return, less as Angry King of the Sea and more as Aquaman, superhero. (This was also the Superman show's final season, so I guess its not surprising they didn't have room to bring Aquaman back)

Miguel Ferrer does a good job as Aquaman--he has a deep, serious voice, and it works well here as the very serious King of the Seven Seas.

Back at the 1999 San Diego Comic Con, I was lucky enough to have the chance to tell Bruce Timm directly how much I enjoyed this show, which he seemed to appreciate. You can read about that here!


David J. Cutler said...

When I was in junior high, before JLU or Batman Beyond, I used to look forward to the team-up episodes of this show more than anything else on saturday mornings. LoSH, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Aquaman... I was born too late for Super Friends so this was the first time I was seeing these characters in animated action.

Of course, this lead to disappointment most weeks when it turned out to be another Superman solo episode, but still--in the days before the internet telling me the plot of every episode of everything 6 months in advance, the surprises of catching the Flash or Batman teaming up with Superman were worth it.

Count Drunkula said...

This was one of the best episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, a personal favorite of mine because Aquaman was handled so respectfully. I wish his depiction in Justice League would have been closer to this portrayal than the Viking lord with a hook hand of Peter David's run.

Anyway, yeah, great episode. The last three minutes are classic.

Randy said...

I loved this episode too. I remember thinking, "This ain't your father's Aquaman!"

Earth 2 Chris said...

I really like this episode, but I can't help but think they mixed Aquaman with a bit of Namor for their interpretation here. Later, they used the JL Aquaman as Namor surrogate in their "Defenders" tribute with Grundy(Hulk), Dr. Fate (Namor), and Hawkgirl (Valkyrie).

It was quite a thrill to see Aquaman back on TV for the first time in over 10 years though!


IADW said...

This was not only one of the best episodes of the series for me but also one of the best ways Aquaman has ever been drawn in an animation period.

I just think they really got the classic look nailed here.

Aaron said...

I know I'm months behind commenting here, but for the record I thought Aquaman was fantastic in this episode of Superman. I loved the idea that he was an "urban legend" and that Lex Luthor kept him imprisoned in a tank at SeaWorld. For me, the only disapointment was the ending part where they made him all Sub-Mariner-y. I love Bruce Timm's work, but his penchant for Kirby sometimes spills over where it shouldn't.

Anyway, one of the best Aquamans (Aquamen?) ever on TV!

Anonymous said...

Great episode, but surley Aquaman can break out of a glass tank, or a pair of handcuffs..?