Has it really been nearly twenty years since they killed Superman?
Yep, 1992. Superman #75. The Last Son of Krypton takes on an "escapee from a cosmic insane asylum" named Doomsday, equally as strong and invulnerable as Supes but consumed by homicidal mania; the two beat each other to death in a 22 page slugfest.
Doomsday is the first in a series of direct-to-video offerings from Warner Brothers Animation and a lot of the same people responsible for Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited. Those series were well-liked by comics fans, who might be a bit put-off at first by some efforts to distance the new movies from the series. Character models have been changed and totally new voice talent with higher market recognition brought in. After the sense of unfamiliarity fades, however, one must admit the new kids - if one can truly call Adam Baldwin, Anne Heche, Ray Wise and Swoosie Kurtz "kids" - do just fine.
Anyone who's ventured past a newsstand or bookstore since '92 will also know that Superman did, indeed, come back from the dead, but will likely not realize what a long, complicated trip that was, stretching out over nearly two years of continuity. Producer/ director/writer Bruce Timm and his crew have done an admirable job of trimming that process down to a lean 75 minutes, and manage, in the process, to throw in some surprises for those of us who were around the first time this story got told. The third act is too much like the first act - there really is only so many times you can be thrilled by Superman getting punched through a building - but Doomsday remains entertaining throughout.
Next up, the same team will tackle Darwyn Cooke's Silver Age tribute, The New Frontier - another fan favorite. If Doomsday can be considered as an appetizer, this DC fan is looking forward to that entree with high anticipation.
Really, I doubt these elements ever saw a projector sprocket.
First and foremost, there is an audio commentary track by Bruce Timm, writer Duane Caprizzi, voice director Andrea Romano, executive producer Gregory Noveck, and two other animation directors who don't get credited (sorry, guys, but this review is late enough). Interesting stuff, as they explain how they made this offering more "mature" but not necessarily why. It's one of the more interesting commentaries of late.
Requiem and Rebirth: Superman Lives! is a multipart documentary, rich in interviews and contemporary video, detailing how the first comic mega-event was born and why, as well as how the aftermath was handled.
Behind the Voice is a short doc that covers the process and difficulties of acting with one's voice alone. There is a teaser reel for The New Frontier, short on actual footage. Yet another why-bother DVD "game called "Superman's Last Stand", and trailers for The Last Mimzy, I Am Legend, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, Spawn: The TV Series, Blade: House of Chthon, Smallville Season Six, and the 25th Anniversary Blade Runner.
There is also a separate CD-ROM that will play issue #75 of Superman, one page at a time. Which is a nice bonus, I suppose, until one considers that a CD-ROM could have contained the entire story arc, up to and including Supes' return. But that's a nerd and collector speaking, and if I really wanted to relive the whole thing, it would be a simple matter of breaking out the proper longbox and opening a bunch of bags.
Okay, maybe not that simple.
Dr. Freex, 2/24/2008