04 May 2013

DVD Set Review: "Superman: The Animated Series": Volume Two

Rated: TV-PG (US) / PG (Canadian Home Video Rating)
Starring: Tim Daly, Dana Delany, and Clancy Brown
Released: September-November 1997 (TV) / December 6, 2005 (DVD)
Synopsis: Superman, aka Clark Kent, may be a staple of Metropolis by now, but his troubles are far from over! Between new foes such as Mr. Mxyzpltk and Lord Karkull, as well as old enemies ranging from the ever-present Lex Luthor to the prison escapee LiveWire, not to mention his love interest Lois Lane and keeping his double identity a secret, things get crazy for the Man of Steel!

Plots: 4/5
As you'd expect, most of these are your typical superhero-versus-supervillain battles that have been in comic books for ages.  However, some of them take a different tack: "The Late Mr. Kent" involves a man on death row for a crime he didn't commit; Clark Kent gets involved in the mess when he decides to report on the case.  Also, "Mxyzpixelated" featured a wise-cracking, unusually dumb villain who can only be sent back to his own dimension if he says his own name backwards.  Plot-wise, and in other ways, the worst episode was "The Hand of Fate", which would keep this from getting a perfect score no matter how the rest of the set was.

Production Values: 4/5
The voice work is great, as is the music.  All of the action sequences are well-done.  Where it lost me a bit was the animation which was mostly great, but some scenes were not as polished as they could have been.

Moral Content: 11+
I'm going to categorize this:
  • Sex: A couple of winks and mild innuendos.
  • Nudity: Shirtless men, as well as immodestly dressed women, are seen infrequently, though, thanks to the style of the animation, it's not as sultry as it would be in a live-action film or with highly-detailed CG.
  • Violence: Plenty of booms, crashes, hits and kicks.  Low death count, though, because Superman cannot kill.  Probably the most violent scene is when the Man of Steel gets slashed in the chest.
  • Drugs: Some drinks in wine goblets, though no mention is made of what exactly they are.
  • Language: A few misuses of God's name, and right much name-calling.
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Several of the villains are scary-looking; some innocent people, including Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, get turned into monsters in "The Hand of Fate"; Superman is seen suffering a few times; in "The Late Mr. Kent," one man nearly gets executed in a gas chamber, and it is implied that another man is killed in the same way.
  • Other: Superman can be slightly smart-aleck at times; "The Hand of Fate" has allusions to Wicca and the usage of spells.
Conclusion: As a longtime superhero fan, I find that DC or Marvel cartoons are usually right up my alley.  This one wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it proved to be enthralling and involving for the most part.  I felt that the three-parter "World's Finest," which also featured Batman, Harley-Quinn, and the Joker, was where the set really shined.  On the other side of the coin, "The Hand of Fate" has to be one of the worst animated superhero shows or movies I've seen in a long time.  Still, one episode does not define a set; anyone who enjoyed the previous Superman: The Animated Series set will find plenty to like about this one, too.

Score: 4/5

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