Blu-ray Review: Superman: The Complete Animated Series
Directed by: Various
Written by: Various
Starring: Tim Daly, Dana Delany, Clancy Brown, Corey Burton
Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
Thanks go to WB for the free review copy.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation (WBA), the Emmy Award-winning Superman: The Animated Series was the perfect follow-up to the landmark Batman: the Animated Series.
Producers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett elevated The Man of Steel’s animated presence with an imaginative, heartfelt look at Superman’s adventures in Metropolis alongside Lois Lane and opposite the villainous likes of Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Darkseid and more.
Premiering on September 6, 1996, the series continued WBA’s dominance in Super Hero animation, once again setting new standards for storytelling, art direction and acting performances – and garnering 11 Emmy Award nominations and two Emmy Award wins, including top honors as the Outstanding Special Class Animated Program of 1998.
Following in the recent footsteps of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond when it comes to souped-up Blu-ray box sets, here comes Superman: The Complete Animated Series. I’m probably not alone in saying that the Man of Steel’s animated adventures from the 1990s were long overdue for HD treatment. But hey, we’re finally here.
To provide a little more context, 54 episodes have been painstakingly remastered and presented in the original 4:3 aspect ratio. Colors are just a brilliant as they were on the Batman: TAS and Batman Beyond Blu-rays, so those of you who were on the fence when it came to upgrading from DVD now have your incentive to do so. The sound quality is also fantastic. Maybe it’s just me, but I found that sound volume jumped a notch once episode 4 rolled around. Then again, this could vary over the course of the series.
If there’s anything that Superman: The Animated Series accomplished for its titular character was that it did for him what Batman: TAS did for the Dark Knight. In other words, it found a middle ground between putting a fresh spin on a timeless icon while also adapting comic book material in a more faithful manner than anything that came before. It’s no doubt safe to say that many lifelong Superman fans were made by watching this show, and I’m sure that tradition continues today. Parents could do worse than showing this to their kids in order to get them on the bandwagon.
I’m still amazed by how not just Kal-El was redefined by this venture, but his villains as well. These interpretations of Lex Luthor, Metallo, Brainiac, and Darkseid likely still remain the definitive portrayals in the minds of fans the world over. Additionally, this series introduced Livewire to us all, an evildoer who has since made her way to comics and live-action TV shows like Smallville and Supergirl. Oh yeah, this is also where seeds were planted for the larger DC Animated Universe, as Batman, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, the Flash, and Aquaman each put in guest appearances.
In my view, this series excelled most during its multi-part episodes. Three-parters like “The Last Son of Krypton” and “World’s Finest” are worth the price of admission alone, whereas two-parters such as “Blasts from the Past,” “Apokolips…Now!,” and “Legacy” are masterpieces in their own right.
Bonus features are plentiful, though only one, “Superman: Timeless Icon,” is new to this box set. It’s a pretty good viewing experience, though not as long or quite as informative as its counterparts we got in recent years for Batman: TAS and Batman Beyond. Other featurettes are pulled from previously released DVD sets, though I highly recommend setting aside some time to watch “The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman.”
There are no major negatives to discuss when it comes to presentation or reviewing this as an overall series. However, it could be debated that the animated movie Superman: Brainiac Attacks could have been included, but it’s important to keep in mind that while that film did retain the art style and select voice actors from Superman: TAS, it technically didn’t occupy the same continuity.
I have no good reason not to recommend Superman: The Complete Animated Series for any lover of Big Blue who may be reading this. It really is worth the extra dough, even if you’d already collected it on DVD just as I did. Now if Warner Home Entertainment would finally give The Batman starring Rino Romano a similar Blu-ray release, that would be highly appreciated.