When you get right down to it, there are John Lennon people and there are Paul McCartney people. The same can be said for Batman and Superman. Some people prefer the Caped Crusader, while others prefer the Man of Steel.
Even though I know I'm a Batman person, I'd never really given it much thought. That's to say I'd never given it much thought as to why I prefer Batman over Superman. And then I sat down and watched Superman – The Animated Series, Volume 2.
The thing that always made Batman so cool was that he was just some crazy guy who put on a weird suit and beat the crap out of bad guys. He didn't have any super powers. Batman wasn't faster than a speeding bullet. He couldn't leap tall buildings in a single bound, bend steel in his bare hands, or change the course of mighty rivers. Batman was just really determined, and did things his own.
Superman, by contrast, was from another planet, and only had his superpowers because of the effect the Earth's sun had on him. So when you really think about it, Superman didn't really have super powers, at least not on his home planet. On Krypton he probably would have just been another guy. But that's not what kept me from liking Superman. It was just that he was always kind of boring. He always played by the rules, like some sort of overgrown boy scout.
All of this was what was running through my head as I watched the 18 episodes that comprise the two-disc collection of Superman – The Animated Series, Volume 2. When push comes to shove, I just don't care that much for Superman. Now don't get me wrong, because that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the shows, I just kept thinking what a dork Superman is.
Coming on the heels of the wildly successful Batman animated series, the Superman series utilized much of same creative team that made the earlier show a hit. And these shows are great, with great writing and animation in every episode. Highlights from this second volume include the episodes "Identitiy Crisis" which introduces Bizarro and "Heavy Metal" which introduces fellow superhero Steel, who teams up with Superman to battle Metalo. "World's Finest" is a three-part episode that teams Superman with Batman for the first time as they both take on their respective arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor and the Joker. Other episodes feature appearances by a variety of villains and guest heroes – Dr. Fate shows up in "The Hand of Fate" – but the best episode of the collection has no guest appearance by a crime fighter or a super villain. "The Late Mr. Kent" is perhaps the most complex and best written of the 18 episodes in this volume – and perhaps the entire series. The story revolves around Clark Kent's attempts to clear a man on death row before he is executed. For his troubles, someone tries to kill the intrepid reporter, and most people believe he is dead, leaving Superman alone, without his alter ego to rely upon. For a show that clocks in at less than thirty minutes, it offers some complex insights into the relationship between mild-mannered Clark Kent and his crime-fighting counterpart Superman.
Superman – The Animated Series, Volume 2 is presented full frame on two discs, one of which is two-sided. The colors are exceptionally vibrant, and the picture quality is crisp. At the same time, there are glitches in the image quality, as tiny specks appear sporadically throughout various episodes.
The audio for Superman – The Animated Series, Volume 2 is presented in Dolby Digital stereo. The sound mix and levels are consistent, with no audible drop out.
There are audio commentaries for three of the episodes in this collection. Each commentary features as many as five members of the creative team responsible for the show. While there are interesting points raised, it becomes confusing as to who is talking, and often times things get a bit insiderish. The too short documentary featurette "Menaces of Metropolis: The Villains of Superman" looks at the key villains that appear Superman – The Animated Series, and how they were translated from the comic page to television.
Superman – The Animated Series, Volume 2 is a must have for fans of Superman, and is highly recommended for anyone who loves comic books. Of course the Batman animated series is a better show with a cooler crime fighter, so I would advise buying any one of those collections over this one. But this at least warrants renting (for the casual fan), and purchase for those that will want to repeatedly thrill to the adventures of Krypton's last son.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]