"You are everything I ever wanted in a son. This... this is everything I ever wanted in a life... But I've got responsibilities Van, and I... have to go now."
-Written by J.M. Dematteis
Batman and Wonder Woman are flying in the polar ice caps to Superman's Fortress of Solitude in Wonder Woman's invisible plane. They banter about the fact that it's Superman's birthday, and ask each other what they got him. Wonder Woman is mum on the subject, but Batman remarks "What do you get for the man who has everything?
" Wonder Woman takes this to mean that Batman got him a gift certificate. Actually, it's just cash.
They arrive at his fortress' interior to find Superman standing in one spot, a curiously eerie expression on his face, and huge black-and-purple plant attached to his chest. Batman examines him and notes that he appears to be in a comatose trance. Wonder Woman wonders
aloud who got this for him and why, before wandering
off to find anything to help take the thing off of Superman's chest.
Speak of the devil, for Mongul steps out of the shadows with an evil grin on his face and an unconscious Wonder Woman in his hands, and explains that he
sent the Black Mercy to Superman. The Black Mercy is a plant that feeds its victims a vision based on the innermost desires of its victim's heart while it slowly feeds on the body — the perfect distraction for Mongul to take advantage of in order to subjugate Earth's inferior species. Wonder Woman, who was merely playing possum, chooses that moment to wake up and give him a kick under the chin. Fisticuffs begin to occur between Wonder Woman and Mongul while Batman tries to get the plant off of Superman.*BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!*
Kal-El wakes up in his bed, having had a non-restful sleep. Brainiac hovers next to Kal-El's bed, where he and his wife Loana are blearily getting to their feet, and gives him the daily weather report on Krypton while also reminding him that he and his son Van-El have an appointment with Kal-El's father Jor-El later that afternoon. Kal-El tries to start moving around the house to prepare, but he steps in something, and begins to chastise Van about Krypto leaving behind presents inside. Suddenly, the house begins to shake, but no one really notices anything except Kal-El, who is confused. He looks at Brainiac, who simply says that Krypton's Seismic Institute had predicted that minor and completely harmless tremor. Loana manages to pin the distracted Kal-El down and proceeds to give him a kiss...
This episode contains examples of:
- All Justa Dream
- Casting Gag: The mugger who shoots the Waynes (theoretically Joe Chill) is voiced by Kevin Conroy, who is the voice of Batman.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Superman leaves his dream world because of his belief in his responsibilities as a hero.
- Composite Character: Superman's ideal wife, Loana is a composite of his love interests Lois Lane and Lana Lang in name, appearance, etc.
- Continuity Cameo: Krypto and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to "little Zod".
- Curse Cut Short: Wonder Woman's "Go to hell!" is cut off by her firing the BFG.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Mongul speculates that the Black Mercy is showing Superman as ruler of the universe; in reality, Superman's having a dream of living a peaceful, quiet life with loving family in Krypton.
- Fate Worse than Death: Mongul is trapped by the Black Mercy.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Mongul is defeated by the very plant he used to immobilize Superman.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The Black Mercy, a telepathic parasitic plant, subdues victims by showing them a perfect mental simulation of their greatest desires.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Unlike the comic version, we never actually get to see what it is that Mongul sees in his fantasy. And yet, it is so much worse...
- Playing Possum: Wonder Woman.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Alan Moore's For the Man Who Has Everything. They took out some of the darker aspects which gave it its own unique effect while sticking to the overall idea. Notably, this is the only adaptation of his work that Moore actually likes.
- Scream Discretion Shot: After Mongul's mind gets trapped in the Black Mercy plant, Wonder Woman wonders what he's dreaming about. The camera then zooms in on his smiling face — to the sounds of horrific screaming.
- Self-Serving Memory: Amusingly, Mongul tries to accuse Superman of that:
Mongul: I suppose Superman told you about our previous encounter.
Batman: You mean how he humiliated you?
Mongul: A... jaundiced account.
- Sociopathic Hero: Batman's greatest desire is to watch his father, beating the crap out of a mugger, for the rest of eternity.
- Not just any mugger but the very one that took his family from him at the age of 8.
- Title Drop: This is Batman's explanation for giving Superman cash.
Batman: What do you get for the man who has everything?
- Took a Level in Badass: Mongul comes across as far more menacing and dangerous than his first appearance.
- Word of God: J.M. Dematteis:
I don't think he'd be happier on Krypton. It's just that Superman never really knew Krypton and had a profound longing to experience that part of his history. Krypton is part of him but Earth, I think, is a bigger part.