Superman’s legend is constantly being re-invented for a new generation and it’s always retrofitted for a new sensibility and new crowd of potential comic book buffs. Thankfully while DC has rebooted Superman a few times in their animated universe they’ve managed to stick to what makes the man and the myth so exciting and awe inspiring. Even in the rare misfires, Superman is almost always Superman and it’s great to see him return yet again in this re-invention of the character’s lore.
Like most elseworlds tales involving Superman and most DC superheroes, “Red Son” examines what the world would look like with a small alteration in mythology. And it’s also a look in to what would happen if Superman was on a different side of history. It’s a history in the controversial albeit acclaimed graphic novel where America loses the Cold War, Russia is the dominant force and Superman is a being whose own personal hell was paved with good intentions. The problem is that with “Red Son,” we’ve basically seen it all before.
For folks that loved the original 2009 “Wonder Woman” animated DC movie, Warner and DC have rebooted “Wonder Woman” in to the New 52 mold with a refresher on her origin and a twist on her relationship with Steve Trevor. I can’t say that I liked “Bloodlines” as much as I did “Wonder Woman,” but it’s a pretty good piece of action filler until the live action sequel arrives in theaters very soon. “Bloodlines” is interested in expanding on Wonder Woman’s world and that’s what it excels in, most of the time.
After the polarizing “adaptation” from 2007, DC and Warner take another crack at the taking one of the most controversial and news making comic book storylines of the nineties and bring it to the big screen. With a little tweaks, of course. The whole of “The Death and Return of Superman” is compact, but it takes a good effort in streamlining the entire arc for a movie. The whole epic storyline spanned a ton of DC titles from Supergirl, Green Lantern, and Justice League, so Jake Castorena and Sam Liu have to squeeze it in to two whole movies, and they do a pretty great job of it, save for glaring flaws here and there.
After years of delivering a new style of animation for a new generation of DC and Warner fans, the DC animation department is going back to the well and reviving the classic Bruce Timm animation style for some brand new films. While they all haven’t been slam dunks, “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is a fine return to form for a part of DC Comics Entertainment that almost always delivers. It’s certainly better than the junky 2017 “Batman and Harley Quinn” movie, and even takes the time out to delve in to important overtones about PTSD, Mental illness, and overcoming our fears.
After what’s been a mixed bag of titles in the DC Universe animation library, DC and Warner has suddenly decided to re-visit the classic Bruce Timm animation universe they retired so long ago. Not that I’m complaining, as it’s been a pretty awesome experience re-visiting the style that helped usher in much of what we know from DC Animation from the nineties in to pop culture. “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” is thankfully a fun re-visit to this property that works as a semi-sequel to the “Justice League” animated series that also seems to be testing the platform for “The Legion of Superheroes,” again.
One of most controversial and divisive story arcs of the nineties is brought to the small screen in an epic fashion, and DC and Warner manage to adapt the final half of the “Death of Superman” storyline for a broader audience. While nineties kids will love to see the whole mystery of the Four Supermen once again, DC works within the limitations of the characters they’re allowed to use, and re-imagines most of the storyline of the Reign of the Supermen, right down the primary antagonist working behind the scenes.
Adapting the entirety of the arc of the Death, Reign and Return of Superman was always a heavy ambition for DC and it’s a shame that they never quite get it just right when it comes to putting it on the small screen. I loved “The Death of Superman.” And while I thought “Reign of the Supermen” was a pretty damn good movie all in all, it suffers from a lot of the major flaws most DC animated movies do. It rushes through so much important exposition, and doesn’t give its four main characters enough screen time to warrant caring a lot about them, or even rooting for them for that matter. When all is said and done, “Reign of the Supermen” is a very good follow up to “The Death of Superman” with some great action set pieces, and wonderful animation.