SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES THE LATE MR KENT (1997)
Tim Daly, Dana Delany, Eddie Barth, Paul Colbert
Written by: Stan Berkowitz Directed by: Kenji Hachizaki
Superman - "But I am Clark. I need to be Clark. I'd go crazy if I had to be Superman all the time."
DEATH IS ALWAYS...
...a tricky subject, especially when dealing with a cartoon that appeals to children. It's also something that is not always associated with stories concerning The Man of Steel. Sure, he quite famously snuffed it in the comics during the 90s, but as he's practicaly invulnerable, it's not something that he worries about.
The Late Mr Kent, dealt with two deaths in fact and although one was only temporary, the other wasn't. The first death was that of Clark Kent who was presumed dead after a car-bomb destroyed his vehicle. When the bomb exploded Clark became Superman and escaped the situation, but as time passed he found it increasingly difficult to explain how Clark could have survived the explosion and so it looked as if Clark's dual identity was over. Without the Clark side of his life, he faced a future where he would have to constantly be Superman and it scared him as he needed Kent to balance out his life. He had friends at the Daily Planet that he wouldn't be able to interact with in the same way and even though Clark wasn't really dead, Superman was faced with the prospect that for all intents and purposes, he was. Clark's apparent death also gave the story the opportunity for Lois to admit to Superman that she respected her colleague, because in Superman: TAS Lane and Kent didn't have the romantic relationship they had in a show such as 'Lois & Clark'.
The second death in the story, was that of Detective Bowman after it was revealed that he framed Ernest Walker, a man on death row throughout the episode. Yep, the episode even had a man on death row!!!!! Bowman was the man responsible for Kent's apparent death, but when Lois and Superman realised Bowman was the one behind all the problems, Walker went free, Kent reappeared and Bowman took Walker's place in the gas chamber. The episode opened with Kent's funeral and closed with Bowmans death, which gave two shocking situations to book-end the episode and it was surprising how far Bowman's death scene was taken. The actual act itself wasn't shown, but the fact that the story moved to that conclusion was possibly just as shocking. As Bowman sat in his prison cell waiting for the time to come, the guards arrived and escorted him to the chamber. People sat and watched him as he was placed behind the perspex of the chamber and his final thoughts were of Clark. He wasn't concerned with his rapidly approaching death, he was more perplexed over the way in which Kent survived a car-bomb. In a moment of clarity Bowman reached the conclusion that Clark was Superman, but it was the last thought that he ever had. The next shot was of the executioner pushing the lever forward and the sound of the gas being released as the episode faded out. The episode handled death in two different ways, yet both of them were dealt with care and attention. Clark's death looked at what that meant to Superman's life whilst Bowman's death was a logical conclusion to his criminal activity. It was strange that a villain was on death row considering how many times a criminal like Lex Luthor had been up to no good, but it was an important chapter in Superman:TAS and highlighted that death was not a subject that was off limits...even for Superman.
*Tim Daly voiced Superman in Superman: TAS but was unable to voice the character when Justice League went into production so George Newbern took over the role. Daly did however return to voice the character in the DREADFUL Superman: Brainiac Attacks (2006) which re-used the animation style and some of the voice actors from Superman:TAS but doesnt fit into the DC Animated Universe continuity.
*In the Lois & Clark episode, 'That Old Gang of Mine', Superman faced loosing his Clark identity when Kent was shot and apparently killed in front of Lois. Not surprisingly he got out of that tricky situation as well!