Synopsis: Inspired by Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Death is produced & directed by Sam Liu (Superman: Red Son, The Death of Superman) and written by J.M. DeMatteis (Batman: Bad Blood). In the story, Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons, meets a mysterious girl who helps him come to terms with his creative legacy ... and eventual death. Leonard Nam (Westworld) provides the voice of Vincent, and Jamie Chung (The Gifted, Big Hero 6) is the voice of Death. The cast also includes Darin De Paul, Keith Szarabajka and Kari Wahlgren.
Runtime: Appr. 19 minutes
Animation Studio: Studio Mir
A genuine surprise, and quite possibly one of the best DC Comics-based animated projects to date, the DC Showcase: Death animated short is a stirring, devastating look at the toll of being an artist. It's a story that we likely couldn't get anywhere else and, knowing the history of the creative team working on it - and the countless projects they've all worked on (if you're a fan of DC Comics' animated works, you undoubtedly already know other efforts by this short's creative team) - makes this story feel especially personal. Everything here feels honest, which just amps up this tale's emotional rollcoaster.
Please note this mini-review will be as light on spoilers as possible.
Poignant and bittersweet, writer J.M. DeMatteis and director Sam Liu really bring out Death's emotional core as we follow a tortured artist, named Vincent Omata, as he's taken on a journey to rediscover the joy in creating pure artwork. It's such a different project than we're used to from DC Comics, a risky one, too, but the gamble pays off. It just sucks you in and doesn't let you go (fitting, given the subject matter and characters), all aided by incredible vocal performances aross the board. This short could easily be described as, simply, "beautiful."
Given the story here, there is some content that definitely might be difficult for some viewers to watch, but nothing here ever feels excessive in any fashion. It's very much a mature, adult tale made for adults. It's also possibly one of the most relatable stories ever to come from DC Comics' animated output. Despite the fantastical nature, it's a very grounded story, using real human emotion to push it along, and it hits hard (maybe harder than one might expect). Absolutely award-worthy, DC Showcase: Death is a somber look at the difficulties in being a creative talent and having the obstacles, self-doubt and frustrations that come with. It all builds to this incredible moment which, partially thanks to a surprise cameo, might leave you with a tear or two. Must Watch!