Review: ‘Superman: The Complete Animated Series’ on DVD
Once Batman the Animated Series became a huge success, a follow-up featuring the Man of Steel seemed inevitable. That it took until 1996, four years later, was the only crime in the process. The equally successful adaptation from the comics lasted four seasons and 54 episodes, helping set the stage for the bets adaptation yet: Justice League/JL Unlimited.
On Tuesday, Warner Home Video releases a seven-disc Superman: The Complete Animated Series
. Much like the just-released complete JLU series, this merely takes the existing season set discs and repackages them in a nice foil box along with a bonus seventh disc. The companion booklet, therefore, makes the same numbering error by not reflecting the actual discs.
All the love and attention lavished on the Dark Knight was poured into this show, which was brighter and shinier, the villains larger in scope and giving the animators a chance to bust loose. Superman works great in animation and after the lackluster efforts from Filmation, Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears, this one clearly shows the potential fulfilled.
As usual, the voice casting is fairly top-notch with Tim Daly alternating nicely between Superman and Clark Kent, sparring playfully with Dana Delany’s Lois Lane. Clancy Brown is wonderfully malevolent as Luthor and his ever-present menace is well handled, matching the reboot version launched a decade earlier.
The series winks at the fans in many, many ways which shows the love and affection they hold for the source material and their core audience. The largest change they made to the mythos was inserting Brainiac into Kal-El’s origins and it just doesn’t work for me. In fact, the use of Brainiac here may be a weak spot throughout the series, only paying off at the conclusion of the Project Cadmus arc in JLU season one.
Yes, the continuity links between the series also rewards fans and allows the production team the opportunity to plant seeds or wrap up threads they could do otherwise. It’s a shame, therefore, that the Superman appearances in Static Shock are not included here.
Wisely, the series got pretty cosmic pretty quickly and the first season ends with the introduction of Darkseid. By bringing in the Fourth World characters, the show takes on a scope befitting the World’s Greatest Super-Hero and giving him a host of new opponents that would truly tax him. The seventh disc has some trailers but the highlight is “The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman” which gathers the producers to reflect on how this really opened things up for them. The 17 minute discussion is filled with tributes to creator Jack Kirby and shows how important he became to the series.
Darkseid wasn’t the only threat and the Man of Steel’s rogues ‘ galleries is nicely introduced one at a time and then recur, varying the tone of the show. And was there any villain better suited to animation than Mr. Mxyzptlk, whose arrival always meant a nice change of pace episode was in the offing.
The stories hold up nicely, the animation fluid and the affection for the hero that started it all is clear in every frame.