Does it bleed? It will.
Supermansion is kind of a spiritual successor to Hulu’s short-lived series “The Awesomes” (which is weird because they were briefly on at the same time). Besides the VERY obvious similarities in premises and casts, it provides a comedic take on superheroes when superheroes are EVERYWHERE in media. To date this review a bit, just like how the recent release of “Venom” felt like it would’ve best come out in the mid-2000’s, Supermansion also reminds me of the really niche cult following cartoons like Drawn Together or Code Monkeys that would air on Comedy Central or G4. In the present day, it feels a bit stale as both an idea and in execution, but it still gives me a feeling of sneakily watching those kinds of shows as a kid and not telling my parents, so it’s very much a part of its charm.
This season put the show even with The Awesomes for a number of seasons and surpassed for episodes, but this doesn’t quite mean things are looking up. The release schedule for this year has been the strangest so far, with six episodes aired between May and June, a special in August, and then releasing the entire back half in October (hence why we’re doing the Season Review now without reviewing any of the new episodes individually). Given recent troubles with Crackle, this might be the first rumblings of cancellation, but it’s hard to say. For now, let’s look back on these past twelve episodes of plot and deal with the fate of the show when we come to it.
With the addition of the former Injustice Club to their ranks, the League of Freedom went through a lot of changes this season in a short amount of time. First they had to adjust to having double the roster, then sending them off to their own division, then meeting their alternate future selves, and then getting replaced as the main hero team by aforementioned former villains. As such, the story felt almost like they were cramming at least a few seasons worth of plots into this just in case. I was initially fine with thinking it would only be the first six since we were given a workable cliffhanger to work off when the team lands in the future, and the second half definitely feels like the start of a new season with a finale that doesn’t really resolve much of what it set up. So, ironically, the mid-season finale felt like a proper finale and the actual finale felt like a halfway point.
But we still had time for little standalone episodes that check up on minor stuff from previous seasons or just give supporting characters a little more focus. Some of it involved showing the reactions some super-individuals’ reactions to the expansion of the League, others helped to give other characters a way to learn more about themselves, and others were just meant to poke and nudge at nerd culture. Just generally unremarkable stuff, but never really below what’s expected. What really goes above would be the characters. Well, SOME of them, at least.
Titanium Rex might be the show’s equivalent of the big blue Boy Scout, but he’s no Superman (cue Scrubs theme). I’m surprised they’ve managed to give him character arcs each season that feel distinct from each other and don’t retread old ground while still being consistent to his established traits. In Season One, it’s about keeping himself relevant, and the League of Freedom by proxy. Season Two gave him less time to build on it, but it showed him facing his past while making a future with getting to know his daughter Lex. Season Three adds to this, though mainly in his complicated relationship with his former friend turned former archenemy, Dr. Devizo, which only becomes more complicated when they are back on the same team. Even worse, he is still struggling to relate to Lex, who is undergoing changes he can’t understand.
Rex’s most prominent character flaw is that he refuses to acknowledge the problems he causes others and simply wants to move on instead of admitting fault. In the premiere, he tries to get a law undone he got made regarding redeemed supervillains just to get to Devizo, and does this by trying to get destroy the life of a former villain that helped him win WW2. Later, in “My Cousin Kitty”, we learn that he basically stole Cooch from her owner when she first evolved. Once that owner emerges and sues him for her back, even though it’s clearly just for the money and not for Cooch’s benefit, his attitude about the situation is telling. In “Comicarnage” (a rather reductive look at comic conventions and nerds that even the Cleveland Show did better), he is confronted by a 90’s version of the League that he abandoned and are unable to make a living off their identities without his help. They lend a hand in a fight later in the episode and that’s what convinces him to help them, but it’s still a sign of how easy it is for Rex to mentally leave someone behind despite him causing them.
This comes to a head in “Optimo Rex”, where the team returns from the alternate future to find Devizo’s team has taken their place and Amanda Waller’d a new, calmer Rex to replace him specifically. Completely broken, Rex then clones Devizo to attack the new League, only for Devizo to point out that their roles as hero and villain have no been reversed. Once he realizes this, Rex commits to having his League work hard to properly reclaim their status, though the rest of the season proves that will be no easy task and ends with them still a pretty bad place, but it’s at least a sign he’s still a hero at heart. This is again tested in the finale, when the source of his and Devizo’s hatred emerges: Debbie, his former lover and Devizo’s ex-wife resurfaces to take revenge on Devizo for trapping her on an island of supervillains when he learned of the affair, and Rex initially plans to leave Devizo to die once he learns his hand in things (again neglecting to admit that he shouldn’t have had an affair in the first place). He still decides to protect him in the end, meaning Rex’s sense of justice still rises even at the worst of times.
Lex begins the season as part of the former Injustice Club, though obviously accepted easier into the main group because she’s Rex’s daughter. While she is eager for her bio-dad, Rex, and the dad who raised her, Devizo, to get along, she’s also trying to live her own unique life. This is stalled somewhat when she suddenly finds her mantis genes from her mother’s side emerging in weird ways. This began last season’s finale with her bug looking fist cannon, but has now grown into having bug pheromones that drive away potential dates (besides Max Penalizer, apparently), having a sonic shriek (which I have heard is common in mantises), and supposedly shapeshifting in the future.
The future is not all good news, as the trip there shows Lex learning that she is likely to be overtaken by her powers and overthrow the government in the form of American Ranger. She tries going through meditation with Robobot to suppress this and even asks American Ranger to kill her if she loses control, but the fight with Debbie forces her to go all out. Seemingly this does not force her to become evil, but this is probably not the last we’re meant to see of this journey. Though personally, I’ve always found it kinda lazy when a character blames their power is the reason they turn evil. I was waiting for someone to tell her that powers are just a tool, and not something inherently good or bad. Just because Lex’s mother was a Nazi doesn’t mean that being a Nazi is genetic, and simply being part insect seems like a bit of a leap to get to take over the world. I guess we’ll have to wait and see where this path goes, but the lesson seems rather obvious.
Black Saturn/The Groaner:
These two are kinda joined at the hip in terms of development, and even though Saturn is around more, his story is really all about his relationship with Groaner. Continuing from the Halloween Special where they accidentally shared a kiss, the two find themselves in an odd place like Rex and Devizo that ends up being the most dynamic…well, dynamic in the season. Saturn is initially thrilled to make Groaner his nemesis again, but Groaner’s heart isn’t in it (on top of them being on the same team now), but jealousy of Saturn’s sidekick Courtney drives him to reclaim the enemy role…until he overhears Saturn saying really heartfelt things about him and just can’t bring himself to hate the guy. Right after that, the two are separated again when the teams split up, making things even more complicated.
Once Saturn goes with the team to the future, he learns the two of them have married, something that was also true in the previous version of the future he visited last season. He’s initially unable to process this, but finally realizes his obsession with the Groaner has been one of love, not conflict. Sadly, he arrives with a heartfelt confession only to find his love has found another…and that’s kind it for that plot. There are mentions here or there, but, like most everything else, it’s not really resolved just yet. And like the Lex thing, this strikes a pet peeve of mine, specifically about love interests and time travel. Finding out a couple is married in the future really takes free will out of the game, besides trying to avoid it just to say you have a choice, in which case you’re still letting knowing that outcome impact your choice. I didn’t care for it in Justice League Unlimited (which someone in the writing staff seemed to really like) or Heroes, and this bugs me just as much, but I do hope these crazy costumed kids work things out. This relationship seems almost to be coming from a “if Batman and the Joker hate each other so much why don’t they just bang” mentality, but it really has become one of the best things about this show.
Devizo, or Donald as we learn, gets the most added dimension this season than he has in the previous two, partly because his role and place of power seem to shift so much that even he can’t properly plan around it. He has Lex lie about saving Rex from dying in the previous finale’s fight in order to get his former villain team in the League under a law Rex designed, then gets Rex to help make that team their own hero in order to sabotage Rex’s reputation, but Rex’s team’s disappearance throws a wrench in things. Suddenly the hero turned villain is now a true blue hero again, and the top dog at that. While his villainous temptations scratch at him from time to time, he never falls back on them based on his own sense of honor, which he feels he needs to stick to once he sees Rex almost become a villain himself.
But the impetus of his turn to evil comes back to haunt him in the finale, “Debbie Does Devizo”. Despite all the good he’s done in the six months the real League were gone, learning of his worst past crimes makes even his own team, OTHER FORMER VILLAINS, hesitant to protect him from the punishment he most likely deserves ten times over. They still do it in the end, a true test of honor for them all, and Devizo remains the leader without having to lose anything once Debbie is relocated to not, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last time he’s hoisted by his own petard OR his last chance at redemption.
Supermansion wraps another year, really pushing the line between parody and regular superhero cartoon (even though the stop-motion style makes it hard to take seriously when they probably want us to), and hopefully, this won’t be its last. Not just because it didn’t really have an ending, but because these characters have really come into their own as themselves and not just twisted takes on established ones. Here’s hoping the next future they see is a bright one, but the mansion doors now close once again.