"Where There's Smoke" is the first episode of the third season of Superman: The Animated Series, and the 42nd of the overall series. It depicts the appearance of Volcana, a woman possessing massive, pyrokinetic capabilities. At first she seeks only to steal things for money but it's soon revealed that a rogue government agent seeks to capture her for his own ambition. Now Superman must fight to save his newest enemy.
A special private event is being held at Metropolis Harbor and a large group of people are trying to get in. However, the guard is good at his job and won't allow anyone. Just then, a woman comes in and flirts with him. The guard allows her in.
Inside the ship, Jimmy and Clark are covering the event: the sale of rare nautical memorabilia. Jimmy sees the woman and starts to take her picture. She touches the camera and leaves him. When Jimmy tries to use the camera again, he finds that the film has melted.
Now inside the kitchen, the woman removes her disguise and throws flames from her hands into the ventilation system of the ship. A fire is started and the people panic. Clark starts to lead Jimmy out of the boat but retreats into the smoke to make the change into Superman.
Superman easily manages to open new escape routes and rescue the people. He sees Volcana but when he tries to save her she attacks him with a jet of flame powerful enough to send him out of the building. Superman puts out the fire by using a propeller to hurl water at the building.
Later, Clark tries to enter into the building but is stopped by a guard who lies about the reasons for why the place is closed. Clark leaves but then finds he's being followed by a man with a long, scruffy beard and horn-rimmed glasses. He ducks into an alley and his stalker finds he has disappeared. The stalker then goes to a phone booth and disappears in a flash. Superman witnesses this and makes note that the building is the Metropolis Federal Building. Clark believes that there may be government involvement and dryly comments to himself "My tax dollars at work". Safely inside the government building, the man who was surveying Clark removes his glasses and false beard.
Back in her hideout, Volcana calls up her fence and offers him the stolen goods but he turns it down on the basis there is no market for nautical memorabilia and that he has no room in his warehouse. Volcana tells him that she needs to get out of town but he still will not buy the stolen items. She then sees something in the newspaper that interests her. Donnie agrees to meet her in the "usual place" but as soon as the phone call is over, he is confronted by a few men in suits who ask where the "usual place" is.
Clark continues his investigations by going to an institute for children with paranormal abilities. Here, they help children with special mental powers both to deal with their abilities and develop them. When Clark asks how the school is financed, the headmaster says there is alumni support and donations, but admits that there is also government support because private fundraisers would be difficult. However, when Clark asks about anyone having pyrokinetic abilities, the headmaster becomes pensive and leaves. He goes to his office but finds men in suits waiting for him. They force him out claiming that they'll take him to a safe house but he's afraid. The tires blow on their car and he makes his escape. He then runs into Clark who offers to take him somewhere safe in exchange for information. The doctor tells Clark that the government had kidnapped a teenage girl, Claire Selton, who had massive pyrokinetic potential. They gave her the codename "Volcana" and tried to turn her into the perfect weapon, but she escaped.
With this new information, Superman confronts Volcana and attempts to offer help in exchange for her agreement to stop stealing, but she attacks him. After a brief fight, Volcana is able to escape by distracting Superman with a flame silhouette of her shape. She then goes to see her fence but runs into one of the dark-suited men named Kurt. He reveals he was the one who kidnapped her. Before Volcana can react, she is doused with a powerful flame retardant and captured.
At the Daily Planet, Clark overhears Jimmy telling Lois about a hotel room that was covered in fire retardant foam but without any signs of fire. Superman heads to the hotel, where he finds some government agents and demands to know where Volcana is. One of the agents takes out a powerful weapon, but Superman moves and crushes it before he even finishes explaining its capabilities. Holding the other agent out a window, he repeats his question.
Later, in an underground facility, Volcana is kept in a tank of inert gas, being siphoned oxygen sufficient only to keep breathing, which would in essence kill her should she use her powers to attempt escape. Volcana wonders why she is has been abducted, and guesses they want to reactivate her as an assassin. Kurt says that is incorrect; her assassinations were too messy and hard to cover up; rather she is to be sold to whichever government is the highest bidder to do what they want with her, but most likely to kill her through vivisection in order to do genetic surgery on her to determine the source of her pyrokinesis. Superman arrives and points out that Kurt is doing this for personal reasons, as Project Firestorm lost funding years ago, to which Kurt immediately agrees. However, Kurt was also prepared for Superman's arrival, as his men attack Superman with weapons powerful enough to hurt even him. During the fight, Volcana's tank is ruptured and she manages to break free. She then starts to wreak havoc on the facility, seeking out Kurt to repay him. However, her mad rampage ruptures tanks of flammable gas, and Superman tries to get her to control herself. Volcana refuses to listen, thinking that all her life she misplaced her trust in her family and the U.S. government, and Superman is likely another government stooge. Superman finally gets her to see reason by warning that she is probably going to kill herself as well with the destruction.
Superman takes Volcana to a deserted island where she is effectively imprisoned and couldn't harm anyone, but has made it into a makeshift tropical resort. Superman recently went food shopping and is flying to the island to resupply Volcana's new home, and as he returns home she blows him a "hot kiss" in thanks.
- The events of the episode are later recalled by General Hardcastle in Justice League Unlimited "Fearful Symmetry".
- The episode was preceded by "Little Girl Lost". In a later episode Volcana has somehow escaped Superman's island and is shown attacking Supergirl.
Home video releases
- Superman: A Little Piece of Home (DVD)
- Superman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DVD)
- Superman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Superman and Friends (DVD)
- When Volcana is throwing fireballs at Superman in the parking garage, she hits a car and as it blows up, there's an explosion featuring splinters flying about. This is footage from the Batman Beyond episode "Splicers", specifically the scene where Carmine's Taxidermy Studio explodes.
- When Superman gets hit by a laser in Kurt's lab and crashes with a machine, the resulting explosion is reused footage from the gas canisters that Superman ignites in "The Way of All Flesh".
- The rogue government agents in this story appear to be based on prominent members of S.H.I.E.L.D., a super-spy group appearing in Marvel Comics; Nick Fury (leader with eye patch), Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan (bowler hat and handlebar mustache), Gabriel Jones (Agent #1), and Jasper Sitwell (blonde crew-cut and glasses). Furthermore, the uniforms worn by workers at the underground facility greatly resemble that worn by agents of AIM, a longtime SHIELD enemy.
|Tim Daly||Superman/Clark Kent|
|Dana Delany||Lois Lane|
|William H. Macy||Director|
|Dennis Haysbert||Agent #1|
|David Kaufman||Jimmy Olsen|
|Gregg Berger||Agent #2|
|John Mariano||Agent #3|
|Debi Mae West||Billy|
Woman: (After seeing guard let Volcana in) Hey! What has she got that I haven't got?!
Volcana: I hope you'll think of me, especially on those cold Metropolis nights.