|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.
Born as Kal-El on the doomed planet Krypton, Superman was sent by his father, Jor-El, to the stars in a rocket ship bound for Earth. The crash-landed craft was found by Ma and Pa Kent, residents of Smallville, USA, who took the boy in and raised him as little Clark Kent. Young Clark soon realized he wasn’t like other boys-the ones who didn’t have super strength, heat vision, freezing breath, nigh-invulnerability, X-ray vision, and the ability to fly-but the soon-to-be Superman tried to keep his powers hidden in order to fit in. As an adult, the mild-mannered, glasses-wearing Clark moved to the big city of Metropolis and got a job as a reporter at the newspaper Daily Planet. There, he could stay aware of breaking news and rush to the rescue if necessary. He worked alongside sassy reporter Lois Lane, for whom he carried a torch, as well as the eager Jimmy Olsen and tough editor Perry White.
But when crime reared its ugly head, the glasses came off, the shirt was ripped open, and the red cape came out, usually in the confines of a telephone booth. Ruby-Spears’ Superman followed the superheroic action formula of earlier Superman adventures, throwing the Man of Steel into combat against Lex Luthor (now a billionaire industrialist) and other supervillains. Post-Star Wars baddies like The Defendroids and Cybron also showed up to menace Metropolis, and one villainess was so nasty, Supe had to team up with fellow Justice League of America member Wonder Woman to handle her.
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.
Superman had been around since 1938’s Action Comics #1, and he would be around for many years more, but this animated series lasted only 13 episodes. Superman rebounded, however, landing another animated series in 1997, The New Superman Adventures.