Running Time: 61 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR, but likely a family-friendly G
Format: Standard 4:3
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Region: 1
MSRP: $14.98

Own It!
Superman: The Last Son of Krypton (1996)

In 1996, coming off the huge success of their work on Batman: The Animated Series, the production team of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini decided to tackle DC Comics' other flagship character, Superman, with an all-new network television animated series. While the end result didn't turn out to be as popular as B:TAS, aside from the classic Fleischer Bros. shorts of the 1940s, this is one of the better adaptations of the Man of Steel to the animated medium.

Adhering to what is now referred to as "the DC Animated" style (which originated in B:TAS, and is heavily influenced by the aforementioned works of the Fleischers), this half-hour show presented an "iconic" vision of the character, amalgamating the majority of the good points from the various incarnations of the mythology from different media (live-action, previous animated adventures, and the all-important comic book source material) into a palatable whole.

This disc contains the pilot episode, "Last Son of Krypton", a decent recap on the now-familiar destruction of Krypton story that seems fresh and not too repetitive, allowing for a set-up of a major villian that would appear later in the series, Brainiac, tweaking his origin to tie him even more closely to Kal-El (I personally have always found this animated version of Brainiac to be incredibly creepy). We then get a peek at Clark's arrival on Earth and a dose of his teen years, all leading into his early adventures in Metropolis.

Tim Daly (of Wingsfame) and Dana Delaney (China Beach, Exit to Eden) provide vocal talent for Clark Kent and Lois Lane, with Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai) voicing billionaire Lex Luthor, and the casting could not have been better. Listen for Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) as an industrial spy who runs afoul of the Man of Tomorrow.

Presented in the Standard Full-Screen format as originally broadcast. Side note: I'm glad that Warner Bros. decided to dump the faux Widescreen cropping that they employed on early broadcasts of the first season of their JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series, which continues the "DC Animated" style. I dreaded that someday it might pop up on discs like this one.

Superman: Family and Foes - An animated montage of scenes from throughout the Superman animated show's run, each segment highlighting a member of Clatk Kent's supporting cast and rogue's gallery, set to a snippet of the show's score.

Portrait of a Hero: How to Draw Superman - A quick how-to video segment on how to draw the Man of Steel (specifically his head) hosted by James Tucker, one of the character designers for the show. It's not "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way", but interesting enough for the chance to hear the insights of a fan who now works with the character.

Escape From Planet Krypton game - Clever little DVD player game in which you must "hack" into supercomputer Brainiac by playing a game similiar to "Simon", then escape via sky bike through a barrage of laser beams. Fun at first, but becomes incredibly irritating real quick.

Trailers - One for the direct-to-video release Batman: Mystery of Batwoman and another blanket ad for several of Warner's various DC animated releases.

One of Warner Bros. better animated adaptations of a DC Comics hero, but sadly under-rated when held in comparison with the various Batman animated projects by fans.

Anthony Conn, aka The Hong Kong Cavalier, 5/19/2004