Developed by Jake Wyatt (DuckTales (2017), Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus), My Adventures with Superman is the first animated Superman show in 23 years after the end of Superman: The Animated Series. Although there have been plenty of animated projects featuring Superman, and even a couple of live-action series starring the hero of Metropolis, the DC comics icon hasn’t seen the same silver-screen popularity as his world’s finest counterpart, Batman.
As far as Superman stories go, the plotline of this first season of My Adventures with Superman is pretty basic. It’s a 22-minute episode, 10-episode origin story season detailing how Kal-El/Clark Kent (Jack Quaid) chooses to become Superman, the self-discovery that comes with such a decision, and how his superhero life intersects with his relationships with love interest Lois Lane (Alice Lee) and roommate Jimmy Olsen (Ishmel Sahid) as interns at the Daily Planet. Each episode comes loaded with a classic villain-of-the-week, all hinting towards a larger over-arching plotline regarding a looming conspiracy involving “the good guys” who don’t seem so good. Front and center, reflecting the title, is the budding relationship between Clark and Lois. It’s a romance as much as anything else.
Based on the first 7 episodes, My Adventures with Superman is everything it appears to be from the onset – short, sweet, and cute. It’s nearly identical in tone and execution as She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a series in which co-producer Josie Campbell was also a staff writer. The humor is accessible to all age groups, though it skews younger, and the main trio is younger than their typical iterations, interns at the Daily Planet rather than newly-hired journalists. My Adventures with Superman is more willing to lean into the romance than typical animated superhero shows and it has a clear female skew in its perspective, intentionally based on the first-person perspective of the title aligning with Lois. This doesn’t just encompass the romance, but her agency and presence as a character as well.
As really fun as My Adventures with Superman is to sit through, it’s often difficult to imagine who this series was made for. Warner Bros. Discovery decided to drop the project on Adult Swim, yet it clearly would’ve been just as aptly placed on Cartoon Network. This may seem like a bizarre decision at first, however, it makes slightly more sense when considering the show’s target audience – young people (or dare I say, primarily young women).
Within the last few years, there have been animated television shows created to appeal to children but then gained an almost cult following of young women and other “Tumblrites.” Most of the time, this is inadvertent, like with the popularity of Young Justice among older audiences (yet it is far more grounded in tone than My Adventures with Superman). Perhaps the most topical is Voltron: Legendary Defender, which has an animation style aggressively similar to My Adventures with Superman, so much so that it’s impossible for casual viewers not to compare them; Lois easily resembles a female Lance, and Clark seems to be a re-vamped Shiro.
Voltron: Legendary Defender had an infamous fanbase and its popularity was spurred on, in part, by obsessive fan shipping of a gay pairing that never came to be (I will not utter its name). She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, while not having a following anywhere near as toxic, still appealed to a large number of animation fans who were interested in Voltron. However, She-Ra was a canonically gay show with multiple major gay characters. There are no reoccurring gay characters in the first seven episodes of My Adventures with Superman – possibly hindering its traction with its target audience.
What’s more, this doesn’t really feel like a show made for Superman fans or fans of the DC continuity in general. There’s nothing sacrilicious about the depiction of any of the characters or the places they go, but even with the slightest knowledge of Superman’s history (Krypton exploding, etc.), it’s easy to predict how My Adventures with Superman will unfurl all the major reveals it hints at. The series doesn’t cut very deep into the Superman mythos or explore any of the thematics around the Man of Steel in a new way.
When targeting a show towards adults, there is no reason to necessarily depict mature content matter, like with the DCAU, but it would be nice to reach deeper than the same aesthetics we get from every Superman television series. A major reason for this could be the runtime of My Adventures with Superman, with only 10 short episodes. It’s a show that needs more meat on its bones. Though audiences who are fans of Superman have seen this story before – from Smallville to Superman & Lois – the angle is new since it’s explored through a fresh lens, Lois’ eyes.
Ignoring its place within a larger canon, My Adventures with Superman shines as something breezy. Jack Quaid’s young Clark paired with Alice Lee’s Lois is a delight. It’s a romance where both characters are fully defined characters with their own goals and ambitions who intersect in the best way. The animation is heavily inspired by anime, more than any other Western animated series currently backed by a major streamer. It works perfectly for the tone and story, lighthearted, fun, and able to exaggerate cute or intense elements, but still grounded enough for the action sequences to hold weight. The 22-minute episodes are executed with excellent precision, completing their arcs and propelling the story forward economically while lending the feeling of more happening in the episode than what actually did.
My Adventures with Superman is a TV show reaching maximum Clark Kent pookie-ification levels. It’s for the girlies who support girls. It’s for animation fans on Tumblr. It’s specifically for me (a female Superman fan in her mid-20s who watched both Young Justice and She-Ra upon their respective releases but gave up on Voltron after the first season because it wasn’t that great). If you like Superman, give it a shot. Maybe if you even like romance animes, give it a shot. The Clois goes crazy. This Superman adaptation is a fun breath of fresh air within the DC sphere, whimsical and enjoyable while still accessible to older audiences. If only it were longer.