Watching the downfall of any superhero will always be an endurance test for the viewers. But watching Clark’s mental and public decline in “Zero Day: Part One” is devastating, even if we know it won’t be long-lived. Still, My Adventures with Superman Episode 8 is a beautiful culmination of all we’ve learned of the hero and this world, as it comes to a head as Superman must face down all of the enemies he’s made while running on fumes.
In the opening scene, we watch as Clark learns of one of his powers, his super hearing. What might be a benefit to another, more seasoned version of this character, turns out to be more of a hindrance. Able to hear the cries of someone trapped in a burning building to a cat caught in a tree, he hasn’t slept in days by the time Jimmy returns home after visiting his parents, having spent every moment of his time off saving anyone he can hear who is in trouble. And, as Clark tells Jimmy, “They have problems.”
Jack Quaid’s performance in the episode is a particular standout as he captures the frenzied fatigue of the character, his delivery aiding in the visualization of his exhaustion from the gag of him pounding coffee to the literal shadows in his eyes. My Adventures with Superman has done a consistent, excellent job at humanizing this character whose alien linage and super strength have elsewhere been used to creat a god like figure. “Zero Day: Part One” further expands on this and the results are as poignant as they are because they’ve put in the work to make sure that know that, despite his powers, Clark as Superman is vulnerable, even bullets ricochet off of him.
On top of using the super hearing to help those in trouble, he’s also using it to try and find the General which leads him down the troublesome path he finds himself on. His intent is pure, but there’s no denying that the state that he’s in is interfering with his ambitions. From falling from the sky to the point where he causes physical damage, to causing a car wreck while trying to capture an invisible member of the Intergang, without knowing his motives or being able to see the person he’s in pursuit of, the citizens around him grow fearful. It’s becoming his worst nightmare, to be seen as someone to be feared, rather than someone who can offer hope and a sense of safety.
This is doubled down on, later, when he meets Lois and Jimmy who have seen the videos of him around the city. They’re also coming off of a day having trailed reporter Vicky Vale, who has arrived to write a guest column for The Daily Planet about Superman. She doesn’t believe that Superman can be trusted, unable to wrap her head around why someone would do good for no personal gain. Her thoughts are doubled down on when they speak to Alex, Ivo’s former assistant, who states that “he’s not normal like you or me.”
All of this builds to Lois and Jimmy speaking with Clark, Lois suggesting that he lay low, rest a little, to “just be normal” for a little while. It’s less that she’s having a crisis of faith in him but she’s seen the footage of what happens when Superman isn’t “good,” and understands Alex’s words about how someone with this type of power is just “one bad day” away from becoming a god of destruction. Her skepticism is inherent to her nature but here it’s wounding, as Clark flies off, his worries further affirm that he can’t blend in, can’t be normal, even in the eyes of those he holds closest.
It’s bad timing for him to go up against the General and the rest of the villains he’s enlisted to help him in his fight against Superman. Everyone from the Intergang, Livewire, Ivo, and Slade Wilson are in on the fight, which initially takes to the sky before coming crashing to earth, as his Superman is physically and emotionally pummeled.
The animation throughout the episode is top-notch and some of the best of the series. My Adventures with Superman Episode 8 understands the necessity of giving weight to battle, no matter how overpowered the main character is. The punches are visceral, and the landings brutal as his power and the force of the blows force him to cause craterous damage. But it’s not just the scenes of combat that demonstrate the animation’s artistry, but subtle thematic shifts such as the blue skies darkening throughout the episode, and grays coming in overhead as Clark’s mental state deteriorates.
Ending on a cliffhanger and a dour note for the series (there are no photos that clutter the ending montage this week), “Zero Day Part 1” is the series’ best episode yet. It’s not just that Superman has, for the time being, lost, as he’s taken away by the General. It’s that Clark too has had all his fears confirmed. Both parts of the hero and how they intersect with one another have blurred.
My Adventures with Superman Episode 8 is an emotional, action-packed installment that understands the tolls of being a hero and how physical strength are just one factor in being able to save the day. Exhausted, defeated, and thinking less of himself by the moment, Clark’s journey to being the Superman we know best is still in its early stages, as he continues to reckon what he knows of himself with all that he doesn’t, his fear of being seen as different almost as poisonous as actual kryptonite.
My Adventures With Superman Episode 8 is available to stream on Max, with new episodes airing every Thursday at midnight on Adult Swim.
My Adventures with Superman Episode 8
My Adventures with Superman Episode 8 is an emotional, action-packed installment that understands the tolls of being a hero and how physical strength are just one factor in being able to save the day.