Superman on Television
DVD Review - "Superman: The Animated Series Volume Two"Reviewed by Barry M. Freiman
Box Art - 3: Like all the DC superhero season sets before it, the box features a wallpaper background of different images from the show with a puffed out overlay of larger color images of the hero(es), in this case Superman. This box is a marked improvement over the one for the first volume. The use of a blue background for the title is far more effective than the red background on the last set. I also like that Superman is in an action pose rather than in the midst of the Clark Kent to Man of Steel switch as he was on volume one.
But things aren't all rosy on the box - because the only villains who get front-of-the-box billing are Jax-Ur and Mala who don't even appear in this volume!
Only other nitpicks - where's Lois? Or, at a minimum, a credit somewhere on the outside of the box for Tim Daly (Superman), Dana Delany (Lois), and Clancy Brown (Lex)?
Disc Art - 1: The set comes with one single sided disc with a pretty generic Superman label and one double-sided disc with no label on either side. Either all the discs in a set should be double-sided or none of the discs should be double-sided. That the two discs comprising the set look different is just dumb.
Content - 4: This series got better as it went along. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm needed to get their "sea legs" after spending so much time on "BTAS" in a much darker "Gotham City" and with a much more obvious and already defined rogue's gallery.
This set includes 18 strong episodes - including the three-part "World's Finest" team-up with the Batman; the hilarious animated debut of Mr. Mxyzptlk; Titano sans Kryptonite vision; Bizarro and more Bizarro; a Father's Day visit from Ma and Pa Kent, and Kalibak; Dr. Fate; and Steel.
One of my favorites on the set is "The Late Mr. Kent". This is an awesome noir mystery that starts with Clark Kent's funeral and ends with the bad guy figuring out Clark Kent is Superman just as the "state" administers the ultimate punishment. Heavy stuff.
Special Features - 3: The set includes one excellent commentary track (on part one of "World's Finest"), one so-so commentary track (on "Brave New Metropolis" where the commentators even admit to not having much to talk about), and a video commentary where Bruce Timm and company are sitting together watching "Mxyzpixilated". The video component to the commentary track adds nothing and in fact distracts the viewer and seemed to distract the commentators as well.
There's also an interesting feature devoted to Superman's adversaries ("Menaces of Metropolis: Behind the Villains of Superman") that mixes creator interviews with scenes of the bad guys in question. Well done.
Features on the comic book roots of guest-stars Dr. Fate and Steel would have been nice, but with the greater number of DCU guest stars set to appear in the last volume, maybe the next set will include a feature on Superman's super allies.
Sound 4: My DVD player and surround sound system hardly qualify me to render an audiophile's conclusion on the sound. Nonetheless, while watching the DVD, at one point I did think to myself "This sounds better than regular TV." That's good enough for me.
But Wait, There's More: The same day that WHV released this set, they also released "Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Four". Supergirl shows up in this release in "Girls Night Out". In this episode, Kara teams up with Batgirl to take down Livewire, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. Initially, this satisfied my Supergirl fix, but ultimately left me anticipating the final "STAS" DVD set, which includes not only Supergirl, but guest appearances galore by Batman, Robin, the Legion of Super Heroes, the New Gods, Green Lantern, and Aquaman.
While on the subject of the remaining "STAS" episodes to get DVD treatment, it'd be a nice bonus to see the last set include "Toys in the Hood", the Superman/Static Shock team-up on the latter hero's WB 'toon (and a sort-of sequel to "Obsession", set to appear on the final volume). And if you think that there's no chance WHV would include a bonus episode for nothing, consider who provides the voice of "Darcy", the Toyman's cybernetic squeeze, in the "Static Shock" episode: "Desperate Housewives" super-star Nicollette Sheridan. If you're like me and a fan of "STAS", "Desperate Housewives", and Sheridan's old series "Knots Landing" to boot, well there'd be no passing up that next set, would there?
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