SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED
Considering the success of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, it was only a matter of time that The Man Of Steel would be re-envisioned for the animated realm. Appearing in 1996, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES provided comic book fans a television series worthy of the most famous superhero character of all time. Remaining faithful to the spirit of the character and his mythology, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES delivered entertaining stories on a regular basis and always managed to give the title character an edge, keeping Superman or his alter ego from every appearing too "goody-goody" or buffoonish.
The basic premise of SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES follows an infant Cal-El, the Last Son of Krypton, as he is launched from his dying planet, arrives on Earth and is adopted by Martha and Jonathan Kent. As the adopted Clark Kent grows into manhood, he becomes a reporter in Metropolis, which allows his alter ego Superman to use his amazing powers to save the city, as well as the planet from a series of villains, including Supermanís arch nemesis Lex Luthor. SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES features the vocal talents of Tim Daly as Clark Kent/Superman, Dana Delany as Lois Lane, Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Joseph Bologna as Lt. Dan Turpin, George Dzundza as Perry White, David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen, Mike Farrell as Jonathan Kent, Shelley Fabares as Martha Kent and Joely Fisher as Lana Lang.
SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES VOLUME ONE ($27) comes to DVD in a two-disc set that features the following eighteen episodes which were first in the seriesí production order: The Last Son Of Krypton Part One, The Last Son Of Krypton Part Two, The Last Son Of Krypton Part Three, Fun And Games, A Little Piece Of Home, Feeding Time, The Way Of All Flesh, Stolen Memories, The Main Man Part One, The Main Man Part Two, My Girl, Tools Of The Trade, Two's A Crowd, Blasts From The Past Part One, Blasts From The Past Part Two, The Prometheon and Speed Demons, Livewire.
Warner Home Video has made SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES VOLUME ONE available on DVD in a full screen format that is representative of the original television broadcasts. The initial eighteen episodes of SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES VOLUME ONE look really nice on DVD, and those familiar with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES will be struck by the fact that the caliber animation shows a budgetary increase over older series. On the DVDs, the animated image appears crisp and clean. Colors are strong and are rendered in a completely stable fashion. Blacks are solid, whites are clean and contrast is just fine for this type of animated program. Digital compression artifacts are usually very nicely concealed, even with the number of episodes allocated to a disc.
SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES VOLUME ONE comes with its episodes in two-channel Dolby Digital stereo, which effectively decodes to standard surround. There is a bit more directionality than I expected, which is a rather nice surprise. Surround usage is effective, but the forward soundstage still tends to dominate. Fidelity is generally rather good, with the music having some genuine presence and the sound effects coming across with a bit of punch. As for the spoken component, dialogue is crisp, clear and always completely understandable. French and Spanish language tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extras. Various production team members including Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, Curt Geda and Glenn Murakami are featured on audio commentaries for the following four episodes: The Last Son Of Krypton Part One, Stolen Memories, The Main Man Part Two and Tools Of The Trade. A pop up trivia track has been included on A Little Piece Of Home. Two short programs are also included in the set: Superman: Learning To Fly examines the series creation, while Building The Mythology: Supermanís Supporting Cast looks at the other players in Metropolis and beyond.
SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES VOLUME ONE is another shining example of what the animated medium is capable of producing in terms of half hour television entertainment. Not only is the show faithful to the spirit of the characters, it is entertaining and fun. As for the DVD collection, it looks and sounds pretty sweet. If you are a fan, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES VOLUME ONE is a must have. Highly recommended.
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