DVD Review: Superman: The Complete Animated Series

Let me tell you a little story…

In 1992, at a science fiction convention in Denver, Colorado, I had my first glimpse of Batman: The Animated Series. That night we watched footage from “On Leathery Wings,” which focused on a battle between Batman and the Man-Bat in Gotham City. From that point on, I was addicted to the DC Animated Universe as produced by Warner Brothers Animation. Over the next few years, I watched Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.

Each of these series proved not only that a cartoon could be more adult in nature and still appeal to kids, but that it could deal with more serious themes of love and loss, dedication, sacrifice, and justice. No longer were these kiddie cartoons, but something deeper.

So when Superman: The Complete Animated Series was released in November 2009, I was very excited to see it – spread across a 7-disc collection, all 54 episodes plus commentaries, making-of features, trivia, and more. Not only could I see these episodes again, but I could show them to my daughters and share these great stories with a new generation of animation lovers.

Starting with the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El’s parents sending their only child to an unknown life on a distant planet, the series begins with a bang. I hadn’t seen the original three episodes (“The Last Son of Krypton” parts 1-3) in many years and was happy to find that they were still emotionally relevant and packed a punch to start the series right.

Some of my favorite villains of all time are in these episodes – Lex Luthor, Braniac, Lobo, Darkseid, Bizarro, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and many many more. You even encounter many of the heroes like the Flash, Batman, Supergirl, Green Arrow, etc.

It’s also interesting after all these years to go back and listen to the many different voice talents involved in production. Tim Daly (Wings, Private Practice) as Superman, Clark Kent, and Bizarro… Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Lex Luthor… Dana Delany (China Beach, Desperate Housewives) as Lois Lane… Michael Ironside, Gilbert Gottfried, Lisa Edelstein, Joely Fisher, Ron Perlman, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Dorn, Lori Petty, Brad Garrett, William H. Macy… the list goes on forever. It reads a virtual “Who’s Who” of actors and actresses from then and now.

Since all of these series stopped airing new episodes, I have to say that the number of animated shows I still catch regularly has dropped dramatically. The style of Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series and all the rest hearkens back to the Max Fleischer Superman series from the 1940s mixed with modern techniques for the time. There’s something about the style that WB Animation used for all of them that can’t be matched by more modern, CGI or mixed media animation these days.

Fifty four episodes aired over the course of a bit more than three years between September 1996 and February 2000. And though they may have run out of stories from the original comic books, I probably would have continued to watch!

In addition to the episodes themselves, which I really enjoyed watching again, there are a number of extras scattered through the seven discs that really make the collection worthwhile. Creator commentaries, making-of featurettes, trivia tracks, and more are distributed across the main six discs.

For me, the feature on Disc 7 – “The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman” – really shows the difficulties faced by writers trying to come up with viable villains for the hero. Darkseid is definitely a worthy villain from outside the normal Superman universe. The writers and directors involved in the animated series talk at length about Jack Kirby and the contributions he made to comic books. Darkseid brings a true evil, fascist dictator – almost an Anti-Superman – with great strength and intellect to the DC Universe. Suddenly Superman could be hurt and the whole world is in peril.

If you were a fan of Superman: The Animated Series when it originally aired in the late 1990s or have been catching it on Toon Disney, I think Superman: The Complete Animated Series is an amazing collection. Having all of these episodes in one place makes it entirely too easy to fall back into the habit of watching them after schoolwork!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Superman: The Complete Animated Series and other awesome animated titles from Amazon below:

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Awesome Green Lantern: First Flight Trailer from DC Animated

Hey all…

I’m a comic geek, but I came very late to the party. My parents didn’t allow me to buy comic books as a kid (though I spent a lot of time going through my Uncle’s Golden Age comics in a box at my Grandparents’ house). That said, I’ve been making up for lost time by enjoying the various animated and live action comic book movies over the last 20 years.

DC Comics
Image via Wikipedia

DC Animation has done a great job with their last couple of offerings – Wonder Woman was fun, as was Justice League: The New Frontier. Green Lantern: First Flight, which comes out this summer, looks just as good as Wonder Woman. We got a brief taste of GL in the Justice League movie… but now he gets a movie all his own.

Check it out below. It’s worth it. I want to see it now. :)

–Fitz

p.s. If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman or Justice League: The New Frontier be sure to pick them up  at Amazon:

 

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Movie Review: Justice League: The New Frontier

Hey there…

In an age where super heroes are being recycled fast and furious and we have a mix of good and bad cartoons, it’s great to find an animated supers movie that has a theme of hope. I look at the Next Avengers, the latest in the Marvel series of animated movies that has included such fun movies as Ultimate Avengers, Iron Man, and Dr. Strange, and then they put out this kid version of the Avengers as Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow

Rating: ★★★★

Well, earlier in the year there was an eagerly anticipated movie called Justice League: The New Frontier.

It wasn’t the animation style (which was great, kind of the old style Superman/Batman cartoon style from the 1980s/1990s). It wasn’t the voices, though it was interesting to hear the voices for some of these iconic characters change from what we’re used to in the cartoons. It was the story.

And this isn’t part of the DC story arc that we’ve been watching for years. This was based on an Award-winning comic book limited series of six issues drawn by Darwyn Cooke and published by DC between 2003 and 2004. Set after WWII and at the tail end of the Korean conflict, we see a generation of heroes trying to find their way in an uncertain political climate and an unstable world. It all builds to the end when dozens of DC characters from the 1940s-60s team up to beat a major alien threat.

Hal Jordan was at the center of it all. First as a pilot in Korea. Then as a test pilot. And finally becoming the Green Lantern in the last act.

It was gripping. I wanted to know what was coming next. I never read a lot of comics as a kid, but was fascinated by their TV and movie counterparts. This just proves that great stories transcend the medium they are created in and be just as great in other formats.

It does have an all star cast:

  • David Boreanaz (Bones/Angel/Buffy) was Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
  • Miguel Ferrer (Bionic Woman/Crossing Jordan) was J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter
  • Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser M.D./How I Met Your Mother/Dr. Horrible) was Barry Allen/The Flash
  • Lucy Lawless (Xena/Battlestar Galactica) was Wonder Woman
  • Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks/Desperate Housewives) was Superman
  • Kyra Sedgwick was Lois Lane
  • Brooke Shields was Carol Ferris
  • Jeremy SIsto was Batman

The list goes on and on…

As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the finest animated movies I’ve seen in a long time. I give it a sold 4 out of 4. It’s going on my DVD “wish list” very soon. :)

We need more hope in the world. This gave me a little.

–Fitz

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