Monday, January 5, 2009

The Chronological DC Animated Universe.

Ah, the first blog post on Animation. This one isn't going to be a novel like my last post, but it will require a bit of a flashback to this summer.

For whatever reason, I decided to add every available set of DVDs from the DC Animated Universe (or Timmverse or Diniverse or whatever you like to call it) to my Netflix queue and watch them, over the summer, in chronological order. The funny thing is, it's taken longer to plow through the DCAU than to watch and review every animated Disney film I could find. (As an aside, that's probably the best feature on my Semi-Obligatory "I Started This Back In College Now It Looks Odd To Me" Geocities Website. I'm still debating whether it ought to be the last feature.) I'm still at it now, months later. My thoughts, thus far:

Mid-Summer: "Batman the Animated Series"
I'm not going to get too detailed here as more, and better, has been written about this series. I consider it the best adaptation of anything, ever, from one medium to another. The first few episodes are a bit slow, not as good as I'd remembered. But the show becomes a thing of beauty once we get to Mr. Freeze's debut episode, Harvey Dent's character arc, potentially jokey characters (Baby Dahl, Scarface) given tragic, satisfying episodes, Harley Quinn, Rhas Al'Ghul, "Almost Got 'im"... oh, dammit, I'm gushing. I promised I wouldn't gush.
Point is, this entire project would have been totally worth it if I had stopped with the final episode of this one series. But I didn't...

Late Summer: "Superman!"
Uh... Yeah...
The first season of this show was like an endurance test for me. I know this is almost unpatriotic to say (it shames me as an America Pants-kateer) but I... I reeeeeally find it hard to give a pair of fetid dingo kidneys about Superman.
Now, now wait a minute. I liked the first two Richard Donner films, I got unapologetically weepy at the teaser trailer for "Superman Returns" (especially the longer version included on some of these season sets) and enjoyed the film - up to a point. I really like the old Fleisher animated shorts, and I love "Justice League" (as you'll see). I suppose my point is that a little Superman goes a very long way, and he's a hard character to sustain an entire series with. That said, season two is decent, at least the crazy Jack Kirby inspired episodes with Darkseid.

Autumn: "Batman Beyond"
Now, this series was terrific. I actually had fond memories of it from it's original run and was glad to see all the episodes in order. Most of them were actually better than I remembered. I think the producers hit their stride here. There's a terrific sense of continuity here (technology from one-off "Batman" episodes are treated as a fact of life in future Gotham for example), and they weren't afraid to come up with some serious downer episodes ("Earthmover"). There are some disappointments ("Curse of Kobra" has got the single stupidest payoff to an otherwise promising two-part episode ever), but the series as a whole is fantastic and a worthy companion to "BTAS".

There's more, but in the interest of fairness, I'll post my thoughts later. Until then, Sketch of the Inconsistant Amount of Time:

1.4.09 Dragon head

1 comment:

Zachary said...

I don't especially care for the Superman character. He's at his strongest when confronted with moral grey areas. Otherwise, he just punches everything into oblivion, which gets old quickly.

And "Superman Returns" should have been called "Superman Lifts."

The Batman Animated Series is my favorite treatment of the character, and probably my favorite TV show of all time.