brave new metropolis

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One of the more dubious plotlines that they seem to occasionally use for Superman is the idea that Lois Lane is somehow the only thing keeping him from trying to take over the world, with her death being the catalyst that leads him to try conquering the planet.

Possibly originating in the Superman: the Animated Series episode Brave New Metropolis, the story involved regular universe Lois Lane getting teleported to another dimension where she was dead, and Superman had formed a pact with Lex Luthor to take over, in the very least, Metropolis.

But while that episode had BNM-Superman realising he’d made a mistake and working to fix things come Lois’ departure for her home dimension, Superman from the Injustice video game/comics starts off wanting to keep the world “safe“ following the Joker tricking him into killing her, and quickly descends into wanton supervillainy. Such as destroying bridges with civilians still on it, paralysing an Australian superhero for speaking out against his regime, and burning a hole through Billy Batson’s head for talking out of line.

The most recent version of this plot idea is seen in the Knightmare Sequence in Batman v Superman, where Lois’ death is implied to have lead to Superman uniting with Darkseid to conquer the planet. The Flash even comes back in time to, implictly, warn Batman that keeping Lois alive is the key to preventing this Bad Future happening.

There are evil versions of Superman where Lois is still alive though, with Justice Lords Superman becoming a tyrant due to coming to the conclusion that a strict regime is the only way to keep the population safe from harm. This includes trapping Lois in her apartment under “house arrest“ for “her own good“, even though it’s clear by this point that any spark between them has long since died.

Conversely, in the iconic Elseworlds story Kingdom Come Lois, along with the rest of the Daily Planet staff, is killed by the Joker in a gas attack, only for him to get killed by Magog, a Cable-ish critique on 1990s superheroes. The death of Lois, his friends, and the public’s gleeful embracing of the new lethal generation of superheroes causes Superman to retire to Kansas to be a depressed farmer.

Lois Lane in “Brave New Metropolis” (September 1997)
Superman: The Animated Series

Dana Delany voiced Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, and her tough, snarky take on the character made her one of the most iconic incarnations of Lois ever. Nothing fazed this Lois, not even an episode with a surprise trip to an alternate dimension where Lex Luthor and Superman had teamed up to rule the world with a pair of iron fists. Lois quickly got her bearings, fought through a bunch of guards, joined rebel fighters, and soon helped overthrow the tyrants. I mean, she was already there, so why not?

**Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet’s Ace Reporter is on sale March 1, 2016**

The Definition of True Science Fiction

When trying to define a genre, I typically think of what the genre does better than any other. For instance, a comedy should make you laugh. Not that laughs-per-minute is the sole component – usually you hope for great characters, a good story, et cetera. Still, the only thing a film needs to do to be a great comedy, is to make you laugh. An adventure film should be exciting, and a horror film should be scary. 

However, one of my favorite genres has been almost completely ignored the past few decades, science fiction. But wait! There’s been no shortage of movies about aliens, robots, and space travel in the past few years. In fact, one might argue that the majority of high grossing films each year are sci-fi films. The problem is… they’re not science fiction… not really.

So what is science fiction? Well, I think we should ask ourselves what this genre can do better than any other. Science fiction can explore deep and thoughtful subjects, in a way that is very unique. It can show us glimpses into the future, allowing us to ask questions about who we are, and where we are going. Or it can be a mirror of our current lives, providing intriguing commentary and igniting complex discussions. In short, science fiction can make us think. 

Great works of fictions such as “The Time Machine”, “Brave New World”, “1984”, “Metropolis”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Star Trek”, and “The Twilight Zone” all famously asked large philosophical questions, and used the medium to explore interesting ideas and commentaries. This is something that sadly the genre has lost. In stead, we have action films parading has science fiction. Despite the fact that “Transformers” has large robots that come from outer space, it has nothing to do with the genre. Instead, it’s a mindless action film.

I had the pleasure of seeing “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” today, and I have to say, it was a refreshing change of pace. Yes it had great special effects, and exciting action scenes, but  Matt Reeves’ film also has the strongest commentary on society we’ve seen from this series since the original 1968 film. It’s easy to see why critics love it. It’s entertaining, and action packed, but it also has something intelligent to say. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is a true work of science fiction, and that is all to rare these days.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with other genres borrowing from science fiction. Even “Star Wars" (a film I love) structurally has more in common with westerns and samurai films, than it does with science fiction. But there should be more books and films that make us use our heads. There’s room for more philosophical works of fiction, and hopefully we’ll see more of that in the coming years.

- Joshua McQuilkin

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Superman the Animated Series: Brave New Metropolis

Episode 25

Lois Lane gets sent to an alternate world, where Superman and Lex Luthor have joined forces to take control over Metropolis. Encountering bleak versions of  her friends, Lois is taken to Luthor by Mercy Graves.  Luthor tries to have her killed, but Lois is able to escape and is soon found by the tyrant Superman of this world. Upon discovering that her death caused Superman’s dark path, Lois and Superman work together to overthrow Luthor and send Lois home.

What an awesome episode! This is Tyrant-Superman done right. Literally everything about this episode is done perfectly. The bleak Metropolis with rebel leader Jimmy Olsen, to Superman working with Luthor to enforce a police state. It’s all great stuff.

Using Lois as the focus character is also a brilliant move, especially because she was the cause of the change in Superman. There are also tons of great Supermen/Lois Lane moments here. When she slaps him, tells him he could’ve said something, kisses him goodbye, and then asks out her own Superman. It’s great stuff!

Overall, It’s an incredible episode. Go watch it now! Rating: A+