TV on DVD: Superman Series

Just in time for the holidays, Warner has unleashed a trio of Superman related sets for collecting by Comic book fans and Superman buffs like yours truly. As someone that very much is a hardcore fan of the Man of Steel, these three sets deliver depending on what vision of Superman you ultimately prefer. No matter, Superman is still a fascinating and thrilling superhero, and works well with the television format. Finally after many years of being just available on DVD, Superman The Animated Series: The Complete Series is finally available on Blu-Ray, remastered and complete for the fans. While it isn’t given the deluxe royal treatment that “Batman: The Animated Series” was afforded, it’s a decent boxed set with every nook and cranny of “Superman: The Animated Series” right down to the “Batman/Superman” animated movie.

The animated series has aged just as well as its predecessor, and the animation from Bruce Timm is still about as beautiful as ever. The series is a different side of the same coin with “Batman,” presenting a vision of Superman that’s bright and hopeful, but still very action packed. It’s also dark when it wants to be, which is proven in the “Apokolips Now!” two part episode, involving Darkseid’s attempt to take over Earth. This is where Superman’s biggest ally Dan Turpin is murdered by Darkseid, sparking a strong hatred from the man of steel that would carry over in to the “Justice League” animated series. The new vision from Timm is immaculate with fantastic new visions for the characters, as well as the inclusion of new characters that would become a part of Superman canon e.g. Lex Luthor’s bodyguard and chauffeur Mercy Graves.

The voice cast is still as top notch as ever with Dana Delany and Clancy Brown providing fantastic turns as iconic Superman supporting players. Tim Daly is the quintessential animated Superman, much in the way that Kevin Conroy is the quintessential animated Batman. Daly’s injects so much of his humility and every man quality in to Superman, making the hero someone you can root for. I love this series, and I’m glad it’s finally on the format. 

The new release includes Commentaries on four episodes featuring Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Alan Burnnett, Glen Murakami and more for ‘The Last Son of Krypton – Part 1’, ‘Stolen Memories’, ‘The Main Man – Part 2′ and Mxyzpixilated’, the latter being a video commentary of the episode. Superman: Timeless Icon is a great, new short documentary on Superman’s history and the inspiration for the series. There are discussions with Daly, Dini, Timm, Brown, legendary voice director Andrea Romano and more. It delves into the old Superman serials from the 50s and other early animation up to Superman: The Animated Series.

Menaces of Metropolis is a great look at the creation of the villains featured throughout the series with Timm, Burnett and others explaining why they chose the villains they used and gave them a bit more of a power up compared to their counterparts in the comics. Building the Mythology: Superman’s Supporting Cast discusses how the production team brought Lois, Jimmy, Perry White and others to the series and how they updated them for the modern era. Superman: Learning to Fly features the production team discussing the creation and development process to the series. They talk about their reasons for limiting Superman’s abilities as well as comparing the look and feel of it to Batman: The Animated Series.

A Little Piece of Trivia is the full episode ‘A Little Piece of Home’ with pop-up trivia of Superman’s history. Finally, The Despot Darkseid is a dive into Darkseid, one of the biggest enemies of the DC Universe, most of all Superman. This looks at Darkseid and how and why the production team chose to build Darkseid up as Superman‘s most difficult and personal foe. It also looks at comic legend Jack Kirby and how he created Darkseid and the Fourth World he and his allies and enemies come from.

On a lesser note, fans get Smallville: The Complete Series 20th Anniversary Collection on Blu-Ray in its complete form with all the bells and whistles. The early aughts series took Superman in to a new era, re-imagining a lot of his adventures and featuring the young potential Man of Steel in his home town of Smallville. The series focuses primarily on Clark Kent as he deals with high school and focusing on measuring his growing gallery of super powers. “Smallville” originally promised “No Flights, No Tights” but is basically Clark’s inevitable transformation in to Superman. Despite the series’ brutally dwindling quality after season four, “Smallville” keeps up with the new vision of mythology, introducing new characters like Clark’s school friend Chloe Sullivan, along with bringing in new visions of Brainiac and Doomsday.

While the series essentially stinks and suffers from so much, when it embraces the DC Universe and launches the characters in to the classic mythology it’s pretty damn fun. Tom Welling’s turn as Clark Kent is what basically brings “Smallville” down from the first episode, as he adds little layer or depth to the role of such a unique and complex character. It also doesn’t help that Welling treats his role as Kent like a stepchild he’s ashamed of. Despite that, everyone else are top notch including Michael Rosenbaum, Kristen Kreuk who is often very good as Clark’s first love, Lana Lang. It’s shown its age and poor storytelling over the years, but it’s still giddy Superman themed silliness when it wants to be.

There are Deleted Scenes w Commentary for the “Pilot” and “Metamorphosis” (Featuring Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and David Nutter) along with Pilot Storyboard to Screen, and the Original Extended Broadcast Pilot with optional Commentary. There are audio commentaries with cast and crew for “Red” including over three minutes of Deleted Scenes, as well as audio commentary for “Rosetta” also featuring the original cast and crew, as well as Deleted Scenes. There’s the ten minute tribute to Christopher Reeve entitled “Christopher Reeve: The Man of Steel,” along with “Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The VFX of Smallville.” There’s also Volumes 1 and 2 of the limited web series “The Chloe Chronicles” starring Clark’s gal pal Chloe Sullivan, as well as Gag Reel, and even more Deleted Scenes.

There are more Deleted Scenes and optional commentaries with (most of) the cast and crew for episodes including “Exile,” “Truth,” “Memoria,” “Crusade,” “Transference” “Spell,” “Thirst,” “Splinter,” “Siren,” “Identity,” “Legion,” “Kandor,” “Idol,” “Lazarus,” and “Dominion.” There’s the twenty two minutes “Producing Smallville: The Heroes Behind The Camera.” Along with the gag reels, there’s the ten minutes “Being Lois Lane,” “Behind Closed Doors – Inside the Writer’s Room,” the thirty minutes “Smallville’s 100th Episode: The Making of a Milestone,” a portion of the great documentary “Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman,” a short doc about Green Arrow entitled “Green Arrow; The Legend of the Emerald Archer,” and “Smallville: Big Fans” which looks at the fans of the series.

There’s the three part “The Making of Smallville Legends” focusing on pre-production, the animation process, there’s the five parts “Justice and Doom,” and finally the six part “The Oliver Queen Chronicles” focusing on Smallville’s iteration of Green Arrow. There’s the seventeen minutes “Supergirl The Lost Daughter of Krypton,” as well as the six chapter “Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton.” There’s the nineteen minutes “In the Director’s Chair,” along with “Smallville’s Doomsday” focusing on Smallville’s version of Doomsday, as well as the fifteen minutes “Kneel Before Zod,” “Absolute Justice: From Script to Screen,” “Back in the Jacket: A Smallville Homecoming,” “The Son Becomes the Father” and the music video “How Do We Do” from Swank.

The Bonus DVD’s includes “A Decade of Comic Con,” a look at Paley Fest 2004, the original 1961 pilot for Superboy, the ill fated pilot for the “Aquaman” series, Making of a Milestone, and the focus on the Pre, Prod, and Post Prod for “a Milestone.” The second Bonus DVD includes “Secret Origin: The American Story of DC Comics,” along with ten featurettes (ranging from seven to twenty five minutes) looking over the entire series season by season. 

Now on Blu-Ray, Superman & Lois: The Complete First Season comes to stores for fans of the series. The long awaited spin off of “Supergirl” stars Tyler Hoechlin as the iconic Man of Steel. This time he’s a family man who is the father of two teen sons alongside his wife Lois Lane. Superman/Clark Kent has become something of a guardian and loyal father who has placed being Superman as something of a less priority over his sons. But events collide when a new menace threatens Earth while Superman and Lois’ sons begin to realize they may have inherited their father’s abilities.

“Superman & Lois” is a great take off from “Supergirl” where Tyler Hoechlin is able to play Superman brilliantly, offering a new take on the character that’s also Superman right down to his core. You wouldn’t think the introduction of his sons would improve upon the series, but the family dynamic works, and we’re given a great look in to his dynamic with Lois and how they commit to their family through the good and bad. “Superman & Lois” is the series I’ve been anxiously awaiting since Hoechlin first appeared on “Supergirl,” and I hope we get to see this vision of the character further realized in the future. 

The Blu-Ray comes with a Digital Copy. There’s the eighteen minutes Superman and Lois – Legacy of Hope with interviews including Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Tulloch and Hoechlin, all of whom discuss why Superman is such an inspiring and enduring character, and how his life changes when he becomes a father. There’s the twenty seven minutes DC FanDome Panel: Superman & Lois with Jim Lee leading the virtual conversation with executive producer Todd Helbing, Hoechlin and Tulloch previewing the first season. Lee also teaches them how to draw the S-shield.

The panel was done during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s a great conversation. Superman: Alien Spirit is a nine minutes look at how Superman is the great immigrant story and a global citizen, while Never Alone: Heroes and Allies is a twenty one minutes feature looking at friendships, sidekicks and partners of Superman and the various other heroes from the Berlanti Arrowverse.

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