The following Blu-ray was provided to me by Warner Brothers for review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
I remember back in the mid-90s the comic book cross over gimmicks. One of the biggest was the Death of Superman. I like every collector read the entire storyline throughout that entire summer. Shocking in one sense but simplistic in the others it was a good story that captivated the entire world. Elements of the story have been changed recently for film constraints. We most recently saw a version of this in Superman v Batman. Where that was a jumbled mess DC animated like always has presented a far superior telling. We have had two separate releases over the last year, those being the Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. Now Warner Brothers has packaged this together as one massive animated film with extra footage, and a sweet limited edition Steel Action Figure.
The Death of Superman focuses on primarily on Superman's relationship with Lois Lane. Lois who comes across to me as a very meddling girlfriend and incompetent reporter keeps urging Superman to share more of his personal life and background with the world. Like any normal superhero he is reluctant to do so out of common Sense wanting to keeping his identity a secret. But as Lois will never shut up he decides to share with Metropolis the vessel he came to our planet on. Enter Lex Luthor, he still hates Superman and sees this vessel as an opportunity to destroy him. Luthor has samples of the Kryptonian DNA from the vessel stolen and combines it with the mother boxes of Apocalypse. This results in the creation of Doomsday, an emotionless killing machine fueled by pure hatred. It's only goal is to kill Superman.
This begins the tale as we watch Doomsday decimate member after Member of the Justice League. Cutting a field of death and destruction on his way to Metropolis with his last battle against Superman himself. Lex Luthor sees this as an opportunity to stop Doomsday himself and become a hero to the citizens of Metropolis. Things do not go as planned however as Doomsday lays waste to everyone and everything.
I don't think I am spoiling anything by saying that Doomsday and Superman end up killing each other. I mean this is called the Death of Superman. The film takes an overly long comic book arc and condenses into a tight crisp film. The film flashes forward after the funeral to a few months later. During this time a group of new Supermen have appeared to try and fill the void. The Eradicator, Steel, Cyborg Superman, and Superboy. As they all possess certain traits and aspects of Superman Some people are beginning to question if in fact Superman has come back to life as one of these heroes. You do find out early on, (so this is not really a spoiler) that Superboy was created by Lex Luther. Using a part of Superman’s DNA Superboy is actually a clone of the Man of Steel. Lois Lane actually uncovers this, and that begins to set off a turn of events that prove catastrophic.
Of course if you follow the comics and know the story you know what happens. If you have not read the arc it turns out that one of the Supermen is evil. In fact this one is actually working with Darkseid to start an invasion of earth from Apokolips. I won’t tell you who that one is, but I will tell you that yes Superman does return and teams with the other 3 to put a stop to this invasion. And yes, much like in the comic arc no one was smart enough to figure out that when Superman was dead and Clark Kent was missing for 6 months, but when he returns so does Clark Kent.
The addition of the Justice League to the film was great. You get to see Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. They were left out of the comic arc but there addition to these stories is done perfectly to continue the set up for the big blow off animated film. DC has been able to do with their animated films the same thing Marvel has done with their live action franchise. They are creating a universe, and in my opinion they are doing it better. The continuity and story’s DC Animated films have are second to none.
The voice acting in this like all DC animated films is superb. You can hear the emotions come out in each character, better than the acting in any live action film. I have said it before and will say again DC along with Warner Brothers are light years ahead of any studio in terms of animated films. I am not just saying their animated films are better than Marvel's. Their better than Dreamworks and Pixar as well. Any student or aspiring animated director should focus on the DC films as they are a thing of beauty.
Warner Brothers has done an outstanding job on this Blu-ray. The colors are crisper than any graphic novel and the sound will echo throughout your surround sound. This is one of their best drawn films to date.
I really enjoy how the collector’s edition comes packaged with a figure. If you were a fan of the comic book storyline or a super hero fan in general you should pick this up. Even if you have the other two separate releases this is still a version to get. In addition to the action figure you get the following special features
Long Live Superman (Featurette) – Superman is a symbol for hope across the world. Hear the story of how the Man of Tomorrow will always be the hero we need today. Long Live Superman!
The Death of Superman: The Brawl That Topped Them All (Featurette) – Experience the battle between Superman and Doomsday like never before as creators of the iconic comic and the new film explore the nuances of “The Greatest Fight” with the help of a martial arts expert.
Lex Luthor: The Greatest Nemesis (Featurette) – Evil Genius. Archenemy of Superman. Misunderstood hero? This documentary will look at one of the most renowned villains in literature and debate his ethics and motivations throughout his publication history and as the calculated anti-hero of Reign of the Supermen. We’ll also explore how Lex Luthor is emblematic of technology without limit, often demonstrating what effect unbridled power, resources, and influence can have on humanity. We’ll discuss the affinity for storytellers to associate Lex Luthor and with the field of science as they challenge our morals and integrity with real world issues such as cloning and what can happen if science fiction became science reality.
From the DC Vault: Legion of Superheroes, “Dark Victory: Part 1”
From the DC Vault: Legion of Superheroes, “Dark Victory: Part 2”
From the DC Vault: Superman: The Animated Series, “Heavy Metal”
From the DC Vault: Justice League Unlimited, “Panic in the Sky”
Do yourself a favor and pick this one up right away. It’s a must have set.
Overall 4out of 5 Stars!