Adult Swim’s My Adventures with Superman Is a Delightfully Hopeful and Original Take on the Man of Steel

TV Reviews My Adventures with Superman
Adult Swim’s My Adventures with Superman Is a Delightfully Hopeful and Original Take on the Man of Steel

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s another Superman adaptation! 

It would be an understatement to say that Superman has been adapted to death. He has been the subject of numerous live-action movies (from the original Christopher Reeves films to James Gunn’s upcoming DC reboot starring our new Superman, David Corenswet), countless animated shows and movies (including his own series Superman: The Animated Series), various live-action TV shows (Smallville, Superman & Lois, and more—even Supergirl, if you consider how many Superman stories they actually used as inspiration for those early seasons), and has been appearing in dozens of ongoing series in the pages of DC comics for decades. One could argue that, just maybe, there are no more Superman stories left to tell. 

However, Adult Swim’s My Adventures with Superman is the perfect counterargument to that belief. The series, from executive producer Brendan Clogher, stars Jack Quaid as the titular Superman, also known as Clark Kent, as he begins his new internship at the Daily Planet with his best friend Jimmy Olsen (Ishmel Sahid). There, he meets a daring and plucky fellow intern Lois Lane (Alice Lee), who immediately decides that they are going to do everything in their power to break the biggest stories in Metropolis to become real reporters, and impress their boss Perry White. Meanwhile, after a boatload of mysterious and dangerous weapons and robots are turned loose on the city, Clark decides it’s time to put his powers to use and become the hero Metropolis needs. 

As noted above, Superman has been done time and time again, and while this story is yet another Superman origin, it feels strikingly original in many ways, the first being Clark’s complete cluelessness to his own origin and identity. He has all these powers (most of which he discovers throughout the course of the season), but he doesn’t know where they came from, and truly is none the wiser to his Kryptonian origins. The desire to learn more about where he came from is a driving force for Clark throughout the season, but that quest is just as paramount to him as discovering his own identity as Clark Kent; the early 20s age group they have chosen for him allows the series to expand Clark’s quest for knowledge from a simple hunt for answers to a self-discovery on-par with that of an actual 20-something’s search to find and establish their own identity.

This version of Superman is comforting and kind, both because of and in spite of his lack of knowledge around his identity—he’s layered and complex, but he still carries that classic hope and optimism in his heart. Superman has always been able to be molded into a metaphor for marginalization, alienation, and self-discovery, and My Adventures with Superman brings this larger-than-life character down to Earth in a grounded and refreshing way. 

Most notably, keeping Clark grounded is done through his blossoming relationship with Lois and his friendship with Jimmy. From the moment Lois walks into frame, the audience knows exactly where the relationship between the two of them will go (they are the OTP to end all OTPs, after all), but even in spite of its predictability, there is something so sweet and charming about the relationship forged between them. Clark is mild-mannered and shy, Lois is brassy and confident, and the dynamic created between the two of them allows them to learn and grow together, while being complimented by each other.  Their romance is also just tooth-achingly sweet, and amplified by the clear anime influence over the series. If you have ever wanted to see Clark Kent have little pink anime blushies, he seems to never lose them around Lois. And while the relationship between Lois and Clark is the heart of the series, Lois herself is a formidable character, and stands on her own; she is never once just Clark’s love interest, and the series is better for allowing her to shine. 

Jimmy, oftentimes reduced either to the nerdy sidekick or the awkward third wheel in Lois and Clark’s relationship, also gets to shine here, standing out as his own character as well. A lesser show may have bogged Jimmy down with a tired love-triangle storyline, but this series instead provides him his own goals and interests, and only deepens the friendship between himself, Lois, and Clark. One of the season’s best episodes so far (Episode 6, of seven screened for critics) follows Jimmy as he encounters a duo of mad scientists, and the examination of his character within the episode is wonderful to watch. 

While the deviation from comic canon for Clark is refreshing, sometimes the deviations in its villains can be frustrating. In the medium of animation, where some of these B-list (and lower) DC characters can be brought to life in a form other than an actor on The CW wearing a leather jacket and a bad wig, there is a hint of disappointment when this series presents a shell of those characters as well. However, even with that twinge of disappointment, the originality is still worth applauding, especially for a number of villains later in the season. Mr Mxyzptlk’s appearance in Episode 7 is the highlight of the season, and provides the same troublesome and lovable imp we all know and love, while giving him a redesign fit for this series (guys, seriously, he’s adorable). 

More than anything, My Adventures with Superman pulls the essence of Big Blue straight off the page, but molds him and his world into something compelling, original, and unique. The anime-inspiration results in some stunning animated fights, and even the simplicity and sleekness of this new Superman’s suit is a treat to see on screen. This series is perfect for anyone looking for a Superman story that does not retread tired beats, but instead elevates the character in a refreshing way. Quaid’s naturally gentle and kind voice lends itself to both Clark and Superman, and Lee and Sahid each absolutely shine in their roles as Lois and Jimmy as well.

Over 80 years since the creation of this iconic character, it is a testament to the strength and flexibility of Superman and his mythos that he is still able to be molded and shaped in new and exciting ways, and My Adventures with Superman does just that—and is a hell of a good time to boot. 

My Adventures with Superman‘s two-episode premiere airs Thursday, July 6th at midnight on Adult Swim, streaming July 7th on Max. 

Anna Govert is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For any and all thoughts about TV, film, and the wonderful insanity of Riverdale, you can follow her @annagovert.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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