Official Synopsis: The creative team behind the Emmy
Award-winning "Batman: The Animated Series" chronicles the
adventures of Superman, the legendary superhero, as he battles
the forces of villainy and continues his quest for "truth,
justice and the American way."
Please note that this
is a re-packaging of the previous Superman: The Animated
Series volumes (1 - 3). A bonus disc will be included with
a new extra. Further details will be added here when the product
release date comes closer.
By James Harvey
If you’ve been putting off buying Superman: The Animated Series on DVD, you now officially have no reason to wait any longer. If you want to see the real Superman in action, then look no further. It’s all here for you to experience! Arguably the best interpretation of Superman in any medium, this series got to the core of what it meant to not only be Superman, but Clark Kent as well. Revitalizing Superman’s noticeably weak villain roster, Superman: The Animated Series improved on the mythos in countless ways, giving us the best the Man of Steel had to offer while leaving the junk in the rear-view mirror.
Like my reviews of the Batman: The Complete Animated Series and Justice League: The Complete Series releases, my overview of Superman: The Animated Series will be brief. I’m sure fans are more interested in the DVD release itself, so I’ll wrap up this segment of the review as quickly as possible so readers can get on to what they really want to see – the collection itself.
From start to finish, Superman: The Animated Series is probably one of the most consistent and pleasing DC toons to date. Ending on a stunning turnabout, Superman: The Animated Series follows the remarkable journey of the Man of Steel. We see just about everything. His first “day on the job,” his first team-up, his first major loss, all of it. And pretty much every installment is as gripping as the last. True, some episodes do stumble here and there, but you can’t deny the overall top quality of this animated series.
While Batman: The Animated Series struggled to find itself early on in its run, but thankfully able to calm those rough waters quickly, Superman: The Animated Series was able to benefit from leading off with a strong note. And, if you think about it, that’s incredibly difficult to do with a character such as Superman. Given that he and Metropolis lack the grim and gritty coolness of Batman and Gotham City, I completely understand why Timm and his crew took so many element of Superman back to the drawing board for this series. Sure, they kept many of his core values in tack, but had to adapt many different things to give the show (and character) that much needed boost. Villains were beefed up, Metropolis was given a futuristic deco remake, and, more importantly, Superman became more than just a one-note boy scout. In fact, outside of this series and a handful of comics, I can’t remember a Superman with more personality, character, and intriguing strengths and weaknesses than the Superman: The Animated Series rendition.
And a lot of what made this show so good had to do with the talent behind the camera, coming up with such truly great gems like “Legacy” and “Apokolips…Now,” and some of the most inspired casting hands down. While he may never reach the pinnacle of perfect casting like Kevin Conroy to Batman, Tim Daly’s Superman here is pitch-perfect. Able to make Superman sound warm but authoritative, he gives Superman radiating sense of goodness to him. Dana Delaney as Lois Lane is also perfectly cast, both as a great foil to Clark and love interest to Superman. I could ramble on and on about how perfectly casted this show was, but, for the sake of this review, I’ll keep it short. Other notables include Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor and Michael Ironside as the devious Darkseid.
What I find most interesting about this series, something that happened completely by accident according to the creative team on the show, is how the show had somewhat of a true beginning and end. We lived through Superman’s traumatic origin and then saw what many could consider his final true battle as Earth’s champion. Then again, the final story-line for Superman: The Animated Series could be considered more of a cliffhanger that wasn’t resolved until Justice League, but you have to agree it was quite the game-changer for the series. It really did change everything for the series, and was a gutsy note to end Superman: The Animated Series on. Then again, the show ended before its time as the creative team was shuffled onto other projects, effectively ending the show earlier than planned, denying us at least one more season spinning out of the events of the now series finale. Still, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms that can be effectively dealt and answered with thanks to a quick jaunt through The World’s Finest. Let’s spin this back onto what we get included here with Superman: The Complete Animated Series.
Superman: The Animated Series is just, hands down, probably the best interpretation of the Man of Steel to date. Surpassing the comics and movies, it nails all the key elements of the Superman mythos and improving on some of the lower-quality aspects of it. And, with the holidays around the corner, I definitely recommend the Superman: The Complete Animated Series release. It just nails Superman to a ‘t,’ and we see it all here. Much like what Batman: The Animated Series did for The Dark Knight, this show does the same for the Man of Steel. Sure, it may not be as critically hailed as Batman: The Animated Series or some of Timm’s other related efforts, but you can’t deny how this show excelled on nearly every level. It had some duds, like I already said, but the overall quality here is just unparalleled.
On to the release itself, well...could be better. Much like the Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League: The Complete Series, consumers have a lot to consider before opting to pick up the seven-disc Superman: The Complete Animated Series collection, especially if any happen to own the previously released Superman: The Animated Series DVD volume releases. However, for the content and price, this new collection may be hard to pass up.
To be blunt, and to get it out of the way, these are the exact same discs from the previous Superman: The Animated Series volume releases, just repackaged in a new double-wide Amaray case (identical to the cases used for the Batman: The Complete Animated Series and Justice League: The Complete Series collection releases), which itself is placed inside a foil-reflective cardboard slipcase. Sadly, this means that we are again stuck with the same double-sided discs that damage so easily. While I held out hope Warner Home Video would repress these discs for this collection, providing us with proper single-sided discs all around, here we have the exact same discs as before (some discs even featuring the old DC Bullet logo) in new packaging. To provide a rundown, here we get three single-sides discs and three double-sides discs, along with an additional bonus disc. That being said, the disc holders are sturdy and reliable, but given how prone the double-sided discs are to scratching, you still have to remain careful when using them.
Now, I won’t go through the repeated bonus content in detail. If you have picked up the previous release, be prepared to enjoy a very nice amount of commentaries and featurettes, and a plethora of trailers. Personally, even after sitting through all this content again, I still wish there was more. More commentaries, more featurettes, all of it. And, thankfully, that’s where this new bonus disc comes in.
Like Batman and Justice League before it, Superman: The Animated Series comes with an additional disc with new content. And, much like those previous release, the new content adds up to a 16 minute featurette called “The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman” and a host of trailers. The new featurette looks at Jack Kirby’s creation and how it impacted the series, effectively giving Superman: The Animated Series its “big bad” that pummeled our hero on a physical and mental level. The featurette serves as both a nice look at the villain’s creation and a serviceable look back on the series itself. It definitely could have been longer, but the product we have here is nothing to scoff at. And, oddly enough, the insert included with this release also features a couple images from the recent Legion of Super Heroes cartoon. A bit of an embarrassing snafu if you ask me.
While not as grandiose as the epic Batman: The Complete Animated Series collection, or as well-packaged as the Justice League: The Complete Series, Superman: The Complete Animated Series is still worth taking a gander at, especially if you have yet to purchase any of the previous Superman: The Animated Series volume releases. While those double-dipping may want to question the idea of essentially buying this release for a new featurette and nice, compact packaging, newcomers should jump on the opportunity to pick this up. Superman: The Animated Series is probably the best representation of Superman across any medium, and this collection perfectly exclaims just how underrated and ultimately finely-crafted this show was. While the series endured the odd dud episode, no different than any other television program, the strong one stand-out head and shoulder as some of the most beautifully animated and compelling stories to air on television. I dare you not to shudder at “Apokolips…Now!,” weep for the loss of Krypton in “Last Son of Krypton,” or sweat bullets when the world is turned upside down in “Legacy.” And these tales, and so many more, are all included here in Superman: The Complete Animated Series, a collection that I can’t help but cite as highly recommended.