DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures (DVD)

After many years without an official release, Filmation’s adaptation of DC’s greatest superheroes is finally on DVD with a pristine two disc edition featuring some of the most entertaining adventures of DC’s top tier and second tier characters. Primarily consisting of episodes from the Superman/Aquaman Hour, “DC Superheroes” is broken down in to numerous segment clusters that are comprised of episodes spotlighting the likes of The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, the Teen Titans and Hawkman, sadly with Superman only a glaring footnote in the compilation.

Sad as I am to see Superman barely featured, “DC Superheroes” is an entertaining sixties tie-in with the company featuring non-violent occasionally corny episodes with our heroes battling menaces that are always anything but human beings. Of course with the censors preventing superheroes from battling villains who looked human for fear of children imitating the fist fights, the heroes here are demoted to averting disasters with their powers, or fighting giant monsters and bugs. The Atom must fight Beetle men, while The Flash has to stop a giant bug from burrowing in to the center of the Earth. And even when a hero finally confronts a humanoid villain (Green Lantern and Sirena, Empress of Evil), there’s no real suggestion of violence to be had as the writers actively avoid any fisticuffs or bodily harm.

Not that I’m complaining, that’s just how children’s shows were, but when you watch you’ll see how obvious it can become. Most of the time, we’re subjected to over the top narration explaining every move the hero makes while the costumed crime fighter shoots pun after pun during the fight that ensues, which may not appeal to everyone who happens across this DVD collection. In spite of the awfully antiquated storytelling format, Scheimer’s animation is still rather dazzling with most of the segments capturing the spirit of the DC comic books we grew up with.

As for the DVD, we’re given “Animation Maverick: The Lou Scheimer Story,” a forty minute biography of the pioneer animator and the humble origins of Filmation Studios. While it’s not the greatest animated versions of the DC Superheroes, it’s still a lot of fun to sit through if you approach it with an open mind, and the Wonder Twins are nowhere to be found, so there’s an automatic plus.