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Comic Book / The Superman Adventures

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A Superman comic book series (1996-2002) in the universe and style of Superman: The Animated Series, and counterpart to The Batman Adventures. Like that book, it featured mostly done-in-one, tightly focused and exciting Superman stories that stayed away from the grimmer Dark Age tone, endless crossovers and Continuity Lockout of the main Superman series.

Writers on the series included Paul Dini, Scott McCloud, Mark Millar, Mark Evanier, and Ty Templeton. It ran 66 issues, including some specials and annuals.

This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Acquitted Too Late: Averted in "Superman's Busy Day". The Man of Steel just barely manages to get to the gas chamber in time to liberate the innocent man and show the proof of his innocence to the bystanders.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Livewire. Not only does she start out as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but she later makes a Heel–Face Turn and becomes one of Superman's allies, and even makes a Heroic Sacrifice (though she gets better). This is in stark contrast to the cartoons where this never happens and she has no real motive for her actions besides For the Evulz.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Zod is Argonian here, instead of Kryptonian.
  • Alternate Continuity: In the cartoon, Argonians are as vulnerable to kryptonite as Kryptonians are. In the comic, Argonians don't have that weakness.
  • Anticlimax: the ending of "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid" (see also Covers Always Lie). Seconds after Jimmy breaks Superman out of Desaad's bindings and reverses the body swap, the lord of Apocalips himself shows up. The two heroes brace themselves for a battle, only for Darkseid to tell them he doesn't want to fight Superman now and let them go home.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In Issue #53, upon realizing Granny Goodness is behind the trap for him, Mister Miracle says "Ask a silly question, get a silly villain!".
  • Back for the Finale: Livewire performs a Heroic Sacrifice in #23, and is left in a coma. She doesn't recover until the 2-part finale in #65-66.
  • Bad Boss: According to #14, Intergang has one-stop death as penalty for failure hanging over its operatives' heads (and has a policy of Resignations Not Accepted).
  • Bad Future: Mxy convinces the teenaged Superman that he'll become a Knight Templar if he takes up the superhero path. Instead, the world goes down the tubes because he doesn't.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: An aversion becomes a plot point. Superman deals with Krypto, gone berserk because he can't handle the stimulation, by briefly spacing him, knocking him unconscious.
  • Beware the Superman:
    • "Family Reunion" sees Superman travel to an alternate reality where a Kryptonian city has come to Earth, but Lara and others now intend to conquer the planet with the aid of a brainwashed Superman and Supergirl, forcing Superman to join forces with Jor-El and some of his enemies in this world to drive the Kryptonians back to their city so Jor-El can stop them for good.
    • On another note, "Old Wounds" shows why having a dog with Superman's powers would be a bad idea.
  • BFG: Maggie Sawyer and the S.C.U. carry big guns for use against Metropolis' supervillains.
  • Big "NO!": Luthor yells "No!" in Issue #52 once he sees that Superman no longer has to do what he wants to save Supergirl.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: "Family Reunion" sees Superman sent to an alternate world where a Kryptonian city whose inhabitants include Jor-El and Lara has reached Earth, only to find that Lara has brainwashed the local Superman and Supergirl to turn them against Earth. Superman tries to shock them back to normal by revealing that Lara killed the Kents, but the conditioning is too advanced for them to properly react to this revelation.
  • Break the Haughty: A Played for Laughs example; "Superman's Pal's Pal" is one long string of difficulties and embarrassments for Jimmy, who's been getting a bit too cocky.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: The Mad Hatter takes Bruce Wayne hostage and demands Batman's cowl in exchange.
  • Canon Character All Along: The new "superhero" who showed up to replace Superman in Issue #27 is revealed to be a brainwashed Metallo.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: "Roughnecks", being somewhat connected to "Superman's Pal", continues this theme. The story begins with Jimmy getting grabbed again by a random guy in a robot suit who wants to fight Superman and it continues from there to the more mundane issue that Jimmy feels overshadowed by his relationship to the Man of Steel, which leads to him getting involved in the titular group as a way to become independent.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Superman naturally has trouble setting limits on his heroic activity and always thinks of what he can do for the world rather than what he should be doing for himself. This becomes a plot point in "It's a Super Life", when Superman has to deal with so many catastrophes in one day that Clark Kent has trouble getting a story in to Perry on time. He even contemplates whether he should have a secret identity. However, his parents point out that Superman isn't the only important or relied-upon part of himself, which gets underlined when it's research as Clark Kent that winds up saving two trains scheduled to go over a poorly built bridge.
  • Clark Kenting: Of course. This comic has an interesting take on it — Lois certainly notices Clark vanishing during a crisis, but she's convinced he does it because he's in the midst of trying to scoop her on a story. As far as she's concerned, he's one of the shrewdest in the business.
  • Composite Character: In issue #33, the Jerk Jock Brad Wilson (from Superman: The Movie and Superman II, who himself is based on Brad "Bash" Bashford from the Superbboy comics) is combined with rival Kenny Braverman from the comics, who figures out Clark is Superman and is stalking him. Since Braverman has appeared in "New Kids in Town", that would also make him a Decomposite Character.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In one comic, Superman delivers the following line: "Of all the cub reporters to kidnap, you had to pick my pal with the signal watch!" Both the watch and Jimmy's title as "Superman's Pal" go back to the animated series episode of the same name.
    • When Superman thanks Batman for impersonating him to protect his secret identity, Batman says he owed Superman for back when the Mad Hatter held Bruce Wayne hostage. That happened in a previous story.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid" shows Jimmy pulling open his shirt to reveal the S-shield. In the comic, the scene never happens and Jimmy doesn't get superpowers as the cover implies; he just spends most of the story stuck in Superman's body and using the hero's power set.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: "Old Wounds" shows what would happen if there really was such a thing as an Animal Superhero — Krypto has Superman's powers, but none of his intellect to help control them or deal with all the excess sensory stimulation. This results in mass destruction.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In one of the one-page stories featured in Issue #41, Mxyzptlk tries to get around the saying his name backwards issue by pulling Superman into his dimension instead of going into Superman's. Superman simply says "Namrepus" twice and goes back home. Mxy's girlfriend even comments that he's "really got to start thinking these plans out better".
  • Disaster Dominoes: In a story titled "Seonimod", or "Dominoes" backwards, a kid's baseball rolling into the street leads to all of Metropolis being devastated by an errant missile. The twist is that we start with the city being destroyed, and then Mxyzptlk shows up to rewind time, allowing Superman to work out the chain of events and prevent it from happening.
  • The Dreaded: Brad Wilson gives up on trying to expose Superman's secret identity once he's tricked into thinking Superman is Lex Luthor.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Superman's Busy Day", a man who committed a murder and let his brother take the blame for it jumps off a building.
  • Enemy Mine: When Supergirl becomes deathly ill, Superman is forced to go to Lex Luthor to help her.
  • Epic Hail: Jimmy Olsen's signal watch. An odd twist in the 28th comic when Superman has to use it to get Jimmy's attention.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: As Lex Luthor points out in Issue #27, those trying to kill Superman only need to be lucky once.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In issue 12, Lois writes in her journal that she's observing a missile outside the plane window heading in the plane's direction and is shocked when she realizes what she's describing.
  • Exploding Closet: In one short story, Supergirl is forbidden from leaving her room until she cleans it. However, she sneaks out anyway to help a farmer. Upon her return, she finds Superman standing in the (completely clean) room. He warns her not to open her closet.
  • Eye Twitch: Superman's eye twitches in "Roughnecks" after Jimmy gives him an Armor-Piercing Response.
  • Facepalm: Lois Lane puts a hand to her face in "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid" in response to some of Jimmy's behavior.
  • Fake Better Alternate Timeline: Issues #30-31 featured the storyline "Family Reunion", in which Superman, after disposing of an exploding antimatter engine in space, returns to Earth and discovers that a whole year has passed since he was last seen. In this new world, Ma and Pa Kent, sadly, have died in a house fire, and Lois is in a new relationship. Also, Lex Luthor, in the absence of Superman, has figured out new, effective ways to psychologically reprogram supervillains and is hailed as a hero; while this makes Clark question whether or not he was of any real help when he was around, it at least has a bright side in that his supervillains have been rendered harmless. Returning to the Fortress of Solitude, Superman discovers that his Kryptonian mother, Lara, is alive, as is his father, Jor-El, who managed to save one of Krypton's cities, Kryptonopolis, from the destruction of the planet. When this seems to be a silver lining to the new circumstances, this turns out to be another dimension, into which Superman was knocked by the antimatter explosion. Unfortunately, the destruction of Krypton turns out to have made Lara hellbent on conquering Earth, having already brainwashed this dimension's equivalents of Kal-El and Kara Zor-El into fighting for this plan. She also reveals that she had them kill Ma and Pa Kent, masking it with the house fire.
  • Fanservice: It is not at all uncommon to find Lois in a slinky dress here or there.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Jimmy-as-Superman forgets that he's invulnerable and therefore it won't matter if he has a problem with flying until Lois reminds him mid-flight.
  • For Want of a Nail: in "Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow", Superman himself. When Mxy convinces his younger self to exile himself to the moon, what results is a horrible world where Lex Luthor is the richest, most powerful man in the world and Lois Lane was killed.
  • Frame-Up: "Clark Kent, Public Enemy".
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Jimmy Olsen and Superman become trapped in each others' bodies as the result of Jimmy fouling up Kalibak's body-swapping scheme in "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid".
  • Future Me Scares Me: Mxy employs the fear of becoming a Knight Templar to get Superman's teenage self to exile himself to the moon.
  • Handshake Refusal: When Superman shows up at the Roughnecks' gym, the leader immediately tries to shake hands, declaring that Superman would be even better for the gang's training methods than "the Mountain". Supes, who disapproves of the group's methods and manners, just turns his back.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: In "Old Wounds", Superman has a lot of fun having Krypto around (thanks to one of Mxy's tricks) before the dog's superpowers emerge.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The first time to stop Brainiac from releasing all the world's nuclear weapons. Livewire ends up using all her power and the effort leaves her pretty much pretty much brain dead. Star Labs can only barely manage to keep her alive.
    • The second time is after Luthor uses Apokolips tech to revive Livewire in order to sell her to Apokolips. Superman intervenes but ends up getting himself and Leslie sent to Apokolips itself, where they find out Darkseid plans to use Livewire to power a doomsday weapon. Leslie and Superman manage to foil the plan and Leslie, fully powered by the planet, itself starts to wreak havoc. Realizing that she will go nuclear soon, she tells Superman to run. Being Supes, he refuses and races Leslie back to earth where he flies her to a clearing to explode. Luckily for her, it doesn't hurt her, but it kills Superman, Leslie uses the last of her power to restart his heart, which reverts her back to normal. Later she gets struck by lightning again and returns to being Livewire, but now as a hero.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: Clark Kent shouts, "Stop the presses!" Perry snaps that nobody tells the presses to stop but him. A few seconds later, after Clark has explained, he repeats the order.
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: A variant appears in one comic. Superman's superheroics have become rarer and less impressive. Many people, including Lois, have been tearing into him for it, and Jimmy tells Perry he doesn't understand. Perry explains that it's the nature of media to cycle between building things up and tearing them down.
  • Hypocritical Humor: While she and Jimmy are covering one of Superman's battles, Lois remarks that the populace is treating it "like a cheap prize fight" only to murmur, "Ooh, good one" with the next punch.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: In "Roughnecks", Jimmy becomes (temporarily) bitter when he comes to think that the only reason anyone notices him is his status as "Superman's Pal". He becomes involved with the titular group as a way to establish that he can take care of himself. Unfortunately, Roughnecks encourages a combatative manner, much to Clark/Superman's dismay.
  • Identity Impersonator: In Issue #33, Batman impersonates Superman to trick Brad Wilson.
  • Impossible Pickle Jar: One short comic has Clark Kent apparently struggling with a stubborn jar, leading to light teasing from the Planet's other employees. Finally, Lois takes the jar and opens it herself. Clark yells the stereotypical assertion that he loosened it at her retreating back.
  • Insistent Terminology: Granny Goodness says Scott Free didn't "escape" her orphanage.
    He just hasn't been here since then.
  • Instant Ultimatum Denial: Brainiac captures Lois and demands the globe containing Krypton's memories. Superman responds with his own demand — let Lois go or he smashes the ball. Superman won.
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: Superman says a variant of this at the end of "Men of Steel": "Today, you thought you saw me at the limit of my power. Sorry, Luthor...I was only at the limit of yours!"
  • Is The Answer To This Question "Yes"?:
    • In the Superman vs. Lobo special, an alien asks Lobo if he wants a fortune after he is intimidated by the Main Man and pleads to have his life spared in exchange for revealing the fortune's location. Lobo answers "Does a black hole suck?"
    • In Issue #53, the preview for the next issue ends with two questions: Think he's [Luthor's] got another plan? Think water is wet?
  • It Was with You All Along: In Issue #52, Superman needs an element that doesn't exist on Earth to save Supergirl's life. Once he eventually loses all hope, he sheds a tear and it's shown to contain the element. One of his friends even comments "You've been carrying element x around all the time!".
  • Look Behind You: In "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid" Jimmy (in Superman's body) gets Kalibak to turn around during a fight by pretending to see Darkseid over his shoulder.
    Jimmy: Darkseid? You mean the oversized loser behind you with a look like he just ate a bucketful of angry wasps?
    Kalibak: [turns around] Master...
    Jimmy: [tackling him] Hah! Made ya look!
  • Make an Example of Them: According to an Intergang assassin's thoughts in #14, Intergang likes making its kills big for anyone who's listening, which justifies the fact that he has a big, flashy way of doing things... and plays into his telling a target saying to take him and only him, not his wife who was running with him, that that's not the way it works.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: Jimmy mistakes Lois' cousin, Tim, for a potential new intern.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • During one short comic, Professor Hamilton is engaged in a secret experiment, the success of which he insists on judging personally. When he downs the formula, the other scientists almost call 911... until Hamilton reveals that the experiment was adding mint flavor to the office coffee.
    • Another short comic has a number of people being asked what they'd do with Superman's powers. One girl says that she'd use his Super Speed to get her homework done fast.
    • One short story also implies Superman used to use his superpowers to "clean his room".
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Krypto the Superdog makes an appearance in "Old Wounds".
    • Jimmy's nickname "Mr. Action" shows up in more than one piece.
    • In another short piece, the old "It's a bird! It's a plane!" line shows up.
    • In "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid", the cover shows Jimmy ripping open his shirt to reveal the S-shield, ala Clark Kent in some older works.
    • One story features Superman describing Clark Kent as "mild-mannered".
    • Another story has Jimmy appear in an outfit purposely reminiscent of his famous Silver Age design.
    • An animatronic toy-seller resembles one of Toyman's old designs, rather than the Creepy Monotone mannequin face of the man himself in the rest of the series.
    • Superman, who's becoming very frustrated with Lex's schemes, asks why Luthor dedicates so much of his life to trying to destroy him, and references the original root of the feud with, "Is it the powers? Is it because I have hair?" (He gets more serious about it at the end.)
  • Never Trust a Title: "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid". Jimmy does not wind up fighting Darkseid, though he does take out Kalibak and Desaad during his quest to rescue Superman and reverse their body swap.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: In "Eye to Eye", Jimmy thinks that Perry was calling him a coward during his latest chewing-out, and he is not pleased. Later, he puts himself in danger to get a good shot, something Perry said was essential for a good newsman.
  • NOT!: In issue six, Mr. Mxyzptlk makes this kind of remark.
    Superman: Whatever distracted that man must be pretty serious. Maybe the explosion wasn't the only tragedy in this chain of dominoes.
    Mr. Mxyzptlk: Ooh! Brilliant deduction, Watson. Not!
  • Not Me This Time: One story features toy-based crimes and Toyman is the first suspect in spite of being in prison. It turns out one of his thugs revealed the toys to Vito Mannheim, who was behind the robberies and didn't fear retaliation. Subverted because the thug was a "toy" who did it to lure Mannheim out of hiding so Toyman could go after him.
  • Ordered Apology: In "Roughnecks", Jimmy gets taken hostage again by a supervillain wannabe in a robot suit. After beating him in the ensuing fight, Superman drags him back over to Jimmy, commenting that he needs to say something. The "something" was that he's very sorry for messing with him. Unfortunately, Jimmy has already been feeling as though he's utterly dependent on Superman to fight for him and having Superman force the villain to apologize like a parent mediating between two children doesn't help.
  • Pet the Dog: Mxy feeling sorry for the effects of his meddling with the timeline and setting out to fix it.
  • Pitiful Worms: The seventh issue has an enlarged Jax-Ur refer to the people below him as fleas.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Jimmy has a mild case in "Jimmy Olsen vs. Darkseid" when Superman's x-ray vision comes on by accident. Unlike many cases where a person cannot control his powers, nothing catastrophic occurs.
    • The short comic "Superman's Power Trip" shows the hero losing control of his powers, covering his face to restrain his Eye Beams while yelling at the bystanders to run. Luckily, he quickly manages to find the crooks responsible and the machine they were using to induce the effect.
  • Reality Warper: Parasite, in "If I Ruled the World". He absorbed Mxy's powers.
  • Recurring Character: Numerous people from the animated series, such as Parasite, Brainiac, Mxyzptlk, Metallo, Maggie Sawyer, and Angela Chen make return appearances.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Said of Intergang in #14. "He usually plans a 'retirement party' for them — and they don't even get a gold watch-!"
  • Secretly Dying: In the 11th issue, Superman's superheroic feats become rarer and less competent, and a lot of people, including Lois, criticize him. Then Professor Hamilton lets slip that Superman caught a Kryptonian virus from an artifact. He has been progressively weakening as his life drains away, but he didn't want anyone to know about his impending death. Now aware of the truth, Lois scrambles to obtain a potential cure from a war zone.
  • Sensory Overload: In Krypto's appearance, he goes berserk because he can't handle his Super Senses.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Mxy, of all people, has to fix a messed-up timeline on "Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow".
  • Shooting Superman: As usual, crooks attempt to shoot the Man of Steel even though it's been consistently proven that bullets can't harm him.
  • Shoot the Dog: Maggie Sawyer, seeing the havoc Krypto has been creating, decides she needs to put him down before he destroys Metropolis. Superman blocks the shot, not wanting a survivor from Krypton to die, but he does understand that someone needs to make Krypto stop, and so he spaces the dog, knocking him unconscious.
  • Shoot the Television: In the aftermath of another failed scheme to destroy Superman, Lex Luthor skims over how much it cost in favor of how "a creature of no obvious intelligence" beat him again or how he "[maintains] this pretense", then yells and chucks a bust of Albert Einstein into a big-screen monitor depicting his nemesis. Shortly, a team Mercy addresses as "cleaners" file in, looking like this isn't even the first time, to fix the screen and get a new bust.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stock Phrases: Clark Kent shouts, "Stop the presses!" in one comic.
  • Straw Feminist: Livewire, at least at times.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: Supergirl contracts an Argoian illness. One of the ingredient is Element X, a unknown element — while saying good-bye to Supergirl, Superman cries. It turns out Kryptonians' tears contain Kryptonian salt.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Mxy, of all people, reacts with sympathy in "Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow" when he sees how miserable everyone would be without his nemesis.
  • Taking the Bullet: Superman blocks the shot when Maggie Sawyer tries to gun down Krypto to protect Metropolis. Instead, he spaces the dog to knock him unconscious and nonlethally prevent him from using his powers.
  • 30 Minutes, or It's Free!: In Issue #53, when an Intergang member disguised as a pizza delivery kid is stopped, Jimmy jokes that "It's the Intergang guarantee— If your target isn't dead in thirty minutes, you don't pay!".
  • Villain Respect: When Lobo recognizes a good move, like his old partner spending his money on weapons that can threaten him ("Oooo, good one!") or Superman tricking him into helping to destroy a dangerous artifact that he had wanted for himself, he recognizes it.
    "Ya knew we couldn't catch it all along, didn't ya? Ya tricked me! Used me ta get close enough ta blow my fortune inta space dust. Ya sneaky, low-life, friend-fraggin' SONOVA— say, ya sure we ain't brothers?"
  • Visual Pun: In a short comic starring Professor Hamilton, two onlookers panic and almost call 911 when the professor tests his latest experiment on himself. When he triumphantly announces he successfully added mint flavor to the office coffee, they think of a lollipop (or in other words, "sucker").
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: The series ran a comic with the name "Be Careful What You Wish For", about the Man of Steel's interactions with a girl who wishes she could meet him and her life would be more exciting. Both of these wishes are answered when the media declared her "Superman's girlfriend" and she gets kidnapped by Metallo. (Sound familiar?)
  • What Is One Man's Life In Comparison?: Lois pulls a rather interesting version of this in "Distant Fires". Having caught Lois, Brainiac demands the ball containing Krypton's memories - last seen in "Stolen Memories". Superman counters with his own ultimatum - let Lois go or he smashes the ball. Lois protests that she is only one woman against the remnants of an entire civilization. Three guesses how the Boy Scout responded to that.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: As usual, Superman has no problem using tactics on Brainiac that he wouldn't on a human supervillain. Then again, Brainiac seems to always have a backup...
  • What You Are in the Dark: The two-part story "The War Within" has a doctor tend to Superman when he's infected with a Kryptonian virus, but is being manipulated by Luthor and Mercy Graves to not give the proper cure and instead kill Superman or else he'll be exposed for a past case of malpractice. The ailing Superman informs the doctor how much he trusts him, which persuades the doctor to defy Luthor's orders and give Superman the real antidote.
  • Wing Ding Eyes: The X-for-dead variation appears in "While You Were Sleeping", in which Luthor is dreaming of finally killing Superman.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: When Luthor's latest, more-personal-than-ever plan comes close to killing them both, Superman snaps at him. (In the page that follows, Mercy Graves, who was also in danger when it went wrong, noticeably doesn't seem to disagree, and is startled when her boss just angrily doubles down.)
    Superman: You two okay?
    Lex Luthor: [straightening his tie, trying to look in control] Why shouldn't we be? Everything was under my absolute control, Superman.
    Superman: "Absolute control"? I saw a man so consumed by his own madness that he almost killed himself this time! How many fiendish plots and death-rays are there going to be, Luthor? How many billions of dollars are you going to waste? You were blessed with a brilliant mind. You could make the world such a wonderful place. [flies away] Stop wasting your life trying to destroy it.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Lampshaded and subverted at the beginning of "Roughnecks". When a guy in a robot suit interrupts a basketball game and takes Jimmy hostage, the teen tells him he made a poor choice of victims given who he's friends with. The guy retorts that he knows; he wouldn't have come to the neighborhood if he weren't trying to get Superman's attention by threatening Jimmy.
  • You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses: a villain pulls out a pair and explicitly asks Superman this question. Superman responds, "Wouldn't dream of it... Ms. Lane, however..."
    • In Issue #37, Clark (Multi-Face in disguise) asks "You wouldn't shoot a guy with glasses, would you?".