Superman is fighting Intergang, who has access to Apokoliptic weaponry, only for a warrior from New Genesis to arrive. His name is Orion, and he brings terrible news: Darkseid has begun his invasion of Earth, with Metropolis as ground zero.
- Badass Normal: Dan Turpin, fullstop.
- Big Damn Heroes: The forces of New Genesis swoop in during the climax.
- Bittersweet Ending: Earth is saved, but Turpin dies.
- Burying a Substitute: Despite being vaporized by Darkseid's Omega Beams, Dan Turpin gets a full funeral, with a casket and a gravestone.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Darkseid against Superman.
- Darkest Hour: The nuclear explosion was part of a plan to turn Earth into another Apokolips. Worse, the explosion fried the signal device that Orion gave Superman, so they won't be able to call for help.
- Defiant to the End: Darkseid is stunned that humanity continues to resist in the face of certain death.Superman: People on Earth aren't like your slaves on Apokolips. They don't take kindly to dictators.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Turpin is defiant to Darkseid's face, and shouts taunts as the forces of Apokolips leave. It gets him killed in excellent example of not played for laughs spite.
- Early-Bird Cameo:
- Granny Goodness appears during Part 1's flashback, but she'll return in a larger role in the next two-parter.
- There's also Mister Miracle as the traded baby, though this isn't confirmed onscreen in the DCAU until years later on JLU. Mister Miracle also makes a cameo as his adult self in Part 2.
- Evil Is Petty: Darkseid kills Dan Turpin after having already lost to make sure it wasn't a total victory for Superman and New Genesis.
- Exact Words:
- Darkseid told Bruno Mannheim that he would become "a king" as payment for helping his scheme. When he abandoned Mannheim at the site of an overloading reactor, he proclaimed him "a king of fools".
- In Part 2, Darkseid tells Superman that he will either be his knight or his pawn. This will come up later.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Captain Maggie Sawyer, an open lesbian in the comics since 1988, is hospitalized after an attack by Intergang, and is visited in the hospital by a woman who comforts her and holds her hand. However, this woman is never identified, nor is their relationship explained. The credits and DVD Commentary reveal her as Toby Raines, Maggie's long-time partner in the comics, and the producers explain that her inclusion in the hospital scene was their way of acknowledging the relationship in the comics, which could never be spoken aloud in the series.
- Knight of Cerebus: Darkseid is the main reason these two episodes are some of the most serious in the series.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In Part 2's original airing, Expies of the Fantastic Four could be seen at Turpin's funeral as part of the episode's dedication to Jack Kirby. These are removed in subsequent reruns.
- Mythology Gag: Perhaps referencing how Darkseid's first animated appearance came by way of Super Friends, Superman can be seen battling Parademons in front of a building with a heavy resemblance to the Hall of Justice.
- Pyrrhic Victory: "Savor your moment of triumph, Superman, but remember, victory has its price."
- The Real Heroes: Dan Turpin leads the people of Metropolis against Darkseid's forces, and personally frees Superman. In recognition of this, his tombstone reads "Earth's Greatest Hero"Superman: In the end, the world didn't really need a super man. Just a brave one.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Darkseid leaves Mannheim to die at the reactor.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!/Defiant Stone Throw: Dan Turpin's reaction to Darkseid's speech.Darkseid: People of Earth, I am Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips! Here is your savior, cowed and broken. I have crushed him as easily as I have crushed all who have dared to oppose me throughout the cosmos. I am power unlike any you have ever known: absolute, infinite, and unrelenting. You have no choice but to prepare for a long dark future as my subjects and my slaves.
Turpin: In a pig's eye!
- So Proud of You: Darkseid is glad that being raised by the Highfather hasn't diminished Orion's warrior spirit.
- Uncertain Doom: The boat Mannheim is fleeing in gets swamped, but not destroyed, by the explosion, leaving his fate unclear (although it's generally believed that he died).
- Unstoppable Rage: Superman is outraged after Turpin is killed. Since Darkseid escapes, Superman takes his frustration out on his vehicle.
- Vocal Evolution: Darkseids voice has become less deep since his previous appearances. He sticks with it for the rest of the DCAU.
- We Can Rule Together: Darkseid delivers one of these to a weakened Superman. It even plays out at the top of a tall mountain, paralleling the Biblical temptation of Jesus.
- Worthy Opponent: Darkseid admits he's impressed with the resistance Superman has put up.