"Apokolips... Now!" is a two-parter consisting of the 25th and 26th episodes of the second season of Superman: The Animated Series, and the 38th and 39th of the overall series. It depicts Darkseid's first attempt to take Earth into his possession. Orion comes to earth to warn Superman of the impending invasion. Together he and Superman manage to turn back the first wave of attack but after Orion leaves, another attack comes and Orion can't be contacted. Now Superman and the people of Earth must fight back the might of Apokolips alone.
It's a typical Metropolis night, the SCU escorts an armored truck into a heavily guarded building. The truck's cargo is revealed to be laundered money taken by Intergang and confiscated by the SCU. Just then, criminals driving a high tech flying tank burst into the building. All attempts to stop the tank are futile. The tank lowers a tentacle and forces energy into Captain Maggie Sawyer's car causing it to explode and badly injuring her. The tank then takes the truck and makes its way out of the building.
Outside, Superman attacks the tank. At first it seems that he will succeed in defeating the tank but they fire a bomb that creates flash strong enough to disorient Superman. They then send out a device that produces a screech so loud, all glass in the city shatters and everyone who hears it is stricken with pain. Superman is also affected by the device and though he manages to destroy it, the criminals get away.
Back at Mannheim's house, he is presented with the money but a bracelet he's wearing starts beeping. He sends his men away and receives a holographic message from Darkseid, who is unhappy at Mannheim's petty use of his tank and destroys the money. He leaves Mannheim unharmed and tells him that he will soon make him a king if he serves him well.
At a press conference, Dan Turpin insists that they cannot expect Superman to save them every time and the SCU will handle it themselves. Clark notes that the tank looks alien but his claim is dismissed. Just then, a boom tube opens and a helmeted man dressed in red flies in. He approaches Clark and exclaims, "Superman!". Though it seems that his has been revealed, the stranger then says, "Must warn... Superman", and faints.
Later, at S.T.A.R. Labs the man angrily insists that he needs to see Superman. Superman arrives and the man introduces himself as Orion. Orion explains that Darkseid is coming and has his Mother Box explain the origins of Apokolips and New Genesis.
The two worlds were once one, but they split into two: one that is almost pure good, New Genesis, and the other is almost pure evil, Apokolips. The two worlds were locked in eternal war until Darkseid and Highfather exchanged their infant sons. However, Darkseid took this opportunity to search for the Anti-Life Equation and conquers other planets. Now Darkseid is after earth and human agents have Apokoliptian weapons.
Soon after hearing this, Superman and Orion are told that there are hover tanks attacking an Air Force Base. Human aircraft proves to be no match for the tanks but Superman and Orion land on the scene. Superman is captured by one the tanks and is hurt by massive surges of energy flowing through the metal tentacle but Orion saves him. While Superman saves the pilots of the tank, Orion uses his advanced technology to destroy the rest of the tanks.
Elsewhere, Darkseid talks to Mannheim about the battle. He recognizes Orion but decides it isn't important. He then says that he's ready to begin phase two of his plan and takes Mannheim to a nuclear power plant.
After the end of the Air Force battle, Orion doesn't seem happy about the battle. He knows that Darkseid will strike again because Orion is his son. He then leaves to report to New Genesis, but leaves Superman with a device to signal him for more help.
Back at the power plant, Mannheim and some parademons activate a device to take out the reactor's cooling system. Darkseid then congratulates Mannheim on his success but leaves him to die in the explosion, while dubbing him 'the King of Fools' to complete his earlier "promise". Mannheim tries to escape in a motorboat, but the explosion does claim him.
Superman witnesses the blast and realizes that the troubles are not yet over.
After the explosion, Earth's sky has turned red. Professor Hamilton explains through a computer simulation that the reactor will melt through the planet until it reaches Earth's core. This will create an explosion that will cover Earth with more burn holes, essentially making it into a second Apokolips.
On Apokolips, Kalibak congratulates Darkseid, who is sure that Superman will still resist him. Kalibak asks for another chance to kill Superman but he is refused. Darkseid instead summons Steppenwolf and sends him to Earth.
Back on Earth, Superman tries to call Orion but the explosion damaged the device so there is no hope of getting help. He heads off to stop the reactor but is intercepted by Steppenwolf, who attacks him with a laser blast from a sword. Superman easily manages to destroy it, and Steppenwolf then sends his parademons to attack. Superman manages to beat the parademons but is hit by an energy net that forces him to the ground.
Jimmy and Lois arrive and though Lois tries to help Superman, the parademons get to him. They start to pile onto their prey but Superman manages to fight them off. Just then, a missile strikes Steppenwolf's vehicle. Turpin arrives in a helicopter and orders the pilot to fire again. The vehicle is destroyed and Steppenwolf is forced to dive into the ocean. More members of the SCU arrive and fight off the rest of the Parademons. Superman thanks Turpin and heads off to the power plant.
Upon arriving at the power plant, Superman drills holes into the ocean floor and fills in an underground cave. When the reactor reaches the water-filled cave, it cools and the threat is defeated.
Tired out from his efforts, Superman goes to a cliff to rest. Darkseid approaches Superman and offers him a chance to join him. Superman refuses, and Darkseid hits him with his Omega Beams.
In Metropolis Plaza, members of the SCU work hard to fight off the endless waves of parademons. Jimmy is nearly killed by a parademon but Turpin saves him. Lois is also in the area but she remains safe until a huge tank-like vehicle drives in. The tank has an interesting headpiece: Superman, broken and restrained. All fighting ceases and Darkseid makes a speech of subjugation to the people of Earth.
When Darkseid is done, Turpin and the people oppose him. They start attacking again and Turpin manages to free Superman. Kalibak attacks Superman but is easily defeated. Superman attempts to fight Darkseid but before they can start, another boom tube opens and several soldiers of New Genesis arrive. Orion tells Darkseid that Earth is now under the protection of Highfather and any attack will be a breach of their treaty. Darkseid begins to retreat after a few words, and Turpin mocks him. Stating how no victory comes easily, Darkseid fires his Omega Beams at Turpin, killing him, then disappears into a boom tube. Superman, mad with grief, destroys Darkseid's tank. Orion then offers his condolences.
A funeral is held for Turpin where all of Metropolis attends and a Rabbi sings for him. Superman sadly stands over Turpin's tombstone and says goodbye. He then places his hand on the tombstone and reads the inscription dubbing Turpin "Earth's Greatest Hero".
- This episode follows the events of "Tools of the Trade" and "Father's Day" wherein Darkseid's forces arrived on Earth, prompting Superman to thwart their various schemes and have his first unpleasant meeting with Darkseid himself.
- Darkseid warns Superman that if he won't serve him willingly as his "knight", Superman will become his "pawn" later occurs in "Legacy" where Darkseid keeps his promise and brainwashes Superman.
- Highfather's son given up to Darkseid later makes a cameo appearance in the Batman Beyond episode "The Call" and as a central character in the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Ties That Bind".
- Superman and Darkseid officially begin their war as of this episode. Their feud evolves into a major saga within the DCAU. After "Legacy", their story continued into the Justice League episode "Twilight", was a big part of the Cadmus story arc that played out during Justice League Unlimited, and everything ultimately came to a head in the Justice League Unlimited two-part series finale "Alive!" and "Destroyer".
Home video releases
- Superman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DVD)
- Superman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Superman: Doomsday (2DVD, Blu-ray only)
- Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (Blu-ray only)
- DC Comics Super-Villains: Superman - Worlds at War! (DVD)
- Part II is dedicated to Jack Kirby, who created the concept and characters of Apokolips and co-created Dan Turpin.
- When the SCU jet blows up in part I, the ensuing explosion is reused footage from a scene of "My Girl", in which Mr. Eelan blows a vat of hot lead off its support. This is used again later when Dan Turpin fires a missile at one parademon.
- Likewise, when Turpin throws a spear to free Superman, the collision emits a flash that is reused footage from the gas canisters explosion that Superman ignites in "The Way of All Flesh".
- According to the episode commentary, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini intended to have Ma and Pa Kent killed, but DC Comics said they would have to bring them back, so they opted for another character.
- In the episode's original broadcast, Dan Turpin's funeral featured cameos of several production crew and a number of salutes to Jack Kirby. This included a cameo for Stan Lee and numerous Jack Kirby creations and co-creations, some of them characters from Marvel Comics. These characters and persons were removed and the scene and soundtrack re-edited for subsequent airings and its release on DVD.
- Production staff included in the original scene: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Mark Evanier, Glen Murakami, Dan Riba, Alex Ross and his father Norman Ross, and Bruce Timm,
- DC characters included: Kamandi and Goody Rickles.
- Marvel characters included: Nick Fury, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Johnny Storm.
- The original sketches for this scene were reproduced in Michael Eury's book The Krypton Companion (ISBN 1-893905-61-6), which revealed that Captain America, and Tony Stark were also planned for the scene.
- On March 17, 2021, Superman: The Animated Series was made available in High Definition on the streaming service HBO Max. They used the original broadcast version of this episode, reinstating the original mourners at Dan Turpin's funeral.
- Part I of this episode has a "hidden" commentary on the DVD. This can only be accessed by clicking on Superman's "S" logo in the special features section.
- In the commentary, the writers compare Darkseid's attempt to tempt Superman into joining him to "Lucifer tempting Jesus on the mountain" from Matthew 4:1-11.
- Darkseid's line about Mannheim being "A king of fools!" was originally supposed to be "And so you are... the King of Hell!". However, the censors wouldn't allow this line, and it was changed.
- Emil Hamilton's hair is miscolored gray.
- Black Racer disappears from the ranks of New Genesis' soldiers after the first shot.
- Dan Turpin is the only major character to be killed off in the show.
- Darkseid's voice has been altered slightly since his appearances in "Tools of the Trade" and "Father's Day". It is now less deep and more gravely.
- Bruno Mannheim doesn't return after this episode, suggesting that he was killed in the explosion. In a hidden Easter Egg commentary on the Superman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DVD), the writers confirm that he did in fact die.
- Police officers Giacoia, Royer and Colletta are all named after Jack Kirby's inkers, as are the Ayers Island Nuclear Power Plant and Sinnott Air Base.
- The rabbi who says the Kaddish for Turpin at his funeral is voiced by real-life Rabbi Joseph Gole.
- The rabbi recites the first half of the Half Kaddish, omitting line four. This is customary in the Ashkenazi tradition. The full text (transliterated into western type) is:
|Yitgaddal veyitqaddash shmeh rabba||May His great name be exalted and sanctified is God's great name.|
|Be'alma di vra khir'uteh||in the world which He created according to His will|
|veyamlikh malkhuteh||May He establish His kingdom|
|behayekhon uvyomekhon||during your lifetime and during your days|
|uvkhaye dekhol bet yisrael||and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel,|
|be'agala uvizman qariv ve'imru amen||speedily and very soon! And say, Amen.|
- The woman at Sawyer's bedside is her partner Toby Raynes. In the DVD commentary for this episode and "Tools of the Trade", Superman producers explain that it made sense for Raynes to be with Sawyer during the episode, touching on their relationship from the comics.
- The title of the episode is a clear reference to Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now.
- Darkseid's forces altering Earth to become like Apokolips was also the plot of the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode "The Seeds of Doom", but an extraterrestrial plant was used instead of an explosion.
Orion: (approaching Clark and Lois) Superman!... Must warn... Superman.
Orion: Mother Box can explain it better than I. She is a living computer connected to the Source.
Orion: I'm here to offer my assistance in the coming battle.
Darkseid: You're a magnificent opponent, Superman, but even you must realize it's hopeless.
Darkseid: I could easily destroy you now, and once you're gone, the pathetic beings of this planet won't have the will to resist me. The few who survive, that is.
Darkseid: Think of it, Superman. The power you have now, it's nothing compared with what I'm offering you.
Darkseid: People of Earth, I am Darkseid, lord of Apokolips. Here is your savior, cowed and broken. I have crushed him as easily as I have crushed all who have dared to oppose me throughout the cosmos. I am power unlike any you have ever known: absolute, infinite, and unrelenting. You have no choice but to prepare as a long dark future as my subjects and my slaves.
Darkseid: (being opposed) They know this is suicide.
Turpin: I don't care how many crummy planets you've conqured! You ain't getting this one!
Darkseid: It is good to see you after all these years, my son. I've observed your boldness and ferocity for some time. Not without undue pride. Though you're misguided in your loyalty, I won't quibble over this insignificant speck in the universe. I would hate to spoil our reunion with bloodshed. (to his troops) Return.
Turpin: (Last words) Go on, ya mangy buzzards, and don't come back!
Darkseid: Savor your moment of triumph, Superman, but remember, victory has its price.
Superman: Good-bye, old friend. In the end, the world didn't really need a super man. Just a brave one.