When Warner Archive finally made Superboy Season 2 available, fans rejoiced. After having no hope of ever getting the rest of the series on DVD after the first season release Superman fans had hope. The only question we had was whether or not the last two seasons would get the Warner Archive treatment and they did!
This series got the official title change to The Adventures of Superboy in season three, but that’s not the only change! Superboy is a strange series considering how many times they switched premises. After season one the show switched the actors of Superboy and Lex Luthor and also changed the location from Smallville to Schuster college. When season 3 opens up, Clark Kent is now interning at the Buero for Paranormal Research (more on that in a minute). Superboy’s pal Andy McCalister (played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith most famous for being part of the teen duo in Weird Science) is no longer a regular cast member in season 3, which is a shame. He grew on me as season 2 progressed. He does show up for one last episode in “Special Effects”, which is nice, but makes me realize how he would have been a great regular addition to season 3.
Let’s think about these new locations for a moment. Superboy is already living in the city, working as a reporter and flying around in the familiar blue and red outfit. His psydo-girlfriend is also working at the same place. In three seasons Superboy essentially became a Superman show. Let’s contrast that with Smallville where it took Clark five? seasons to make it to a city and 10 seasons to get into the damned suit.
Superboy and Lana are portrayed by the same actors Gerard Christopher and Stacy Haiduk respectively. Gerard really nails Superboy this season. He’s just great. Also returning is Sherman Howard’s maniacal Lex Luthor who is always a welcome addition to any episode he shows up in.
The first thing I noticed when watching Season 3 of the Adventures of Superboy was that it is much darker compared to the previous two seasons. I had heard that it was and I had taken that with a grain of salt, because it doesn’t take much to go from Superboy reffing a basketball game in Season 1 to get much darker. But wow, they really did take it up a notch. Aside from heavier content, there’s A lot of the series now takes place at night and the interior lighting and can be described as film noir.
My favorite Superman stories are ones in which he is placed in alternate realities, so it makes total sense that the two parter “Roads Not Taken” are my favorite of the bunch. In these episodes Lex goes through a portal that can send you into an alternate reality. Lex goes through and Superboy goes in to retrieve him. He encounters a couple of realities that are pretty distrubing for Superboy, one here he killed Lex Luthor and is a pariah and another where he was raised by someone other than the Kents and was basically taught Nazism. In the end of that one Lana takes out the evil Superboy in a really unexpected way. Seriously, you have to see it. It’s craze-balls.
The series is still fun and cheesy despite the darker tone though. A bunch of Superboy’s rouge’s gallery returns including Lex Luthor (who is still essentially a mad scientist) and Bizarro, along with some new enemies. One of these new enemies is Neila a warrior woman with superpowers to rival Superboy’s and the ability to wear a terrible wig. Her episode is pretty ho-hum with a standard story of a warrior woman looking for a mate in Superboy, but when she shows up later there’s a lot more drama involved and it’s actually really good.
The most notable cameo in Season 3 is when Lex Luger shows up. Wrestling fans will recognize him and everyone else will just think he’s some buff dude with one of the worst mullets of all time. Seriously, just look at that thing. This marks the second time where WCW wrestlers crossed over with geek icons…
With 4 discs worth of episodes you’re not going to get all winners. There’s some real dumper episodes, but most of them are so bad that they’re fun. “The Sons of Icarus” is about a group of African slave descendants that can fly, but flying basically is like floating up like a balloon. They talk about how it’s this amazing power, but none of them must have ever seen Superboy zipping around, because it’s one of the lamest abilities I’ve ever seen. There’s a few others, but basically almost all of them have some sort of entertainment value if your a fan of Superman and bad late 80s TV.
Fans that want the whole series are definitely going to get this, but if you’re a more casual Superman or comic book fan you might want to check out Season 3. The darker and more serious tone makes for better episodes, but it also has that fun cheesy quality from earlier seasons.