Twenty-five years ago, SyFy announced it was developing a Superman prequel series…I kid but it has been a long time since the first ComicCon announcement and a long time passed between that and the only official trailers we got. So when I saw that a friend of mine had seen an advance copy last week I promptly forgot how much they hate DC and asked how it was. They replied: “If you had told me yesterday that I was going to place Kal El in House Stark I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s all I’m going to say.”
Needless to say this got a very confused *mew* out of me but I waited until last night…and I can see what he meant.
Before we go into spoilers let’s get an idea of the characters involved. First off forget every Kryptonian name you know except one (but not the one you expect). We’re dealing with Superman’s Grandfather and the people around him. Seg-El is played by Cameron Cuffe as something of a rebel in search of a cause who we first truly meet in a bar fight for profit arranged by his fixer friend Kern played with an unassuming air by Rasmus Hardiker. The House of Zod (you can stop kneeling now) is represented by the statuesque and frankly intimidating Ann Ogbomo as the Captain of the guard, Alura Zod, and Georgina Campbell as her daughter, Lyta. Lyta’s fiancé (no really) Dev Em is played by Aaron Pierre and…is pretty much a non-entity in the pilot. Our primary Kryptonian antagonist is Quex Ul played by Gordon Alexander subsisting on a diet of pure scenery. The one place this cast really falters is in our every-man character of Adam Strange who Shaun Sipos presents as a Rip Hunter type, nebbish without the charisma.
This cast of (largely) obscure names is married with an art direction you rarely see on a small screen or without paying for a streaming service. The sets are massive and dynamically lit. The colours are all so saturated you forget that Batman Versus Superman ever tried washing over your eyes.
Without spoiling anything the story involves court intrigue, religious fanaticism, terrorism, redemption, and Brainiac.
Is this worth watching even for continuity nerds feeling abandoned by Arrow? In a word YES!
—-WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD—-
Still here? Good. Let’s get started.
We start with Seg’s grandfather on trial for heresy against the newly emerged religious figure, The Voice of Rao. Grandfather’s idea? Krypton isn’t alone in the universe, a position those faithful to Rao cannot abide. He refuses to recant and is executed with the house of El stripped of their titles and holdings. You’re probably feeling a bit of whiplash…get used to it.
Flash forward about two decades and Seg is with his parents eking out their survival in the under city of Kandor as best they can. Enter Adam Strange who hands Seg a mcGuffin object and a warning that Seg must “find the fortress”.
Seg then, via the magic of “plot convenience theatre”, saves the Voice from a terrorist attack from Black Zero which I’m not sure bears any real resemblance to the group in the comics, thus being given the chance to join the house of Ul by the Kryptonian who served as prosecutor to Seg’s grandfather, one Quex. Confused yet? Neither was I and that’s a nice surprise. But now you see why my friend described this show as “Superman via Game of Thrones”.
I’m not going to run down the entire plot but I will leave you with this from my friend’s synopsis, “The B plot [is that] Brainiac is on the loose and if he attacks Krypton Superman will never be born”. To be honest I got so wrapped up in everything else that I almost missed that. Am I pleased with this non-Arrowverse entry? Yes. Am I happy that you don’t need a separate streaming service for it? Over the moon! It’s definitely worth checking out.
MalKontent Blizzard signing off