JUSTICE LEAGUE - STARCROSSED: THE MOVIE (2001) / BATMAN VS. DRACULA (2005) / SUPERMAN - THE ANIMATED SERIES, VOLUME ONE (DC COMICS CLASSIC COLLECTION) (1996)


 



 

All hyped up for some more superhero action with the impending release of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight? Then how about checking out this triple bill?

The days of Super Friends and Bat-Mite are long gone and kids have it so much better nowadays when it comes to the Saturday morning cartoon stakes. Superhero cartoons – and in particular DC Animation offerings – are so much better today. The animation is usually of high quality, the pacing fast, the writing clever and – most important – the cartoons are true to their comics counterparts. It as if these shows’ creators just knew that little kids’ dads were going to watch it with them!

Kick off with some episodes from SUPERMAN - THE ANIMATED SERIES, VOLUME ONE (DC COMICS CLASSIC COLLECTION) (* * * out of four). This show ran from 1996 to 2000 and was made by the creators of the revolutionary Batman – The Animated Series. The first three episodes retells the whole Superman origin story from scratch in a way that is both fresh and new, but still true to the source material.

Superman is set in a modern setting, and while his superpowers have been scaled down from the impossibly powerful Superman of the 1970s comics, it never messes with the character by giving him a mullet or new electrical superpowers or anything like that; stuff which desperate comic publishers did at one point. The series is fast-paced and well-written. If you like Superman, then check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

JUSTICE LEAGUE - STARCROSSED: THE MOVIE (* * *) may be billed as a “feature-length movie from the animated series” but it is actually three episodes telling a single storyline put together. If you’re a completist you’d rather be checking out one of the complete box sets. However this movie is still loads of fun.

Thanagarians – the race of winged aliens to which JLA member Hawkgirl belongs – wants to destroy Earth to make way for a hyperspace byway. No seriously. This animated television series, which ran from 2001 to 2004 on Cartoon Network, went to the trouble of actually investing some time in its characters and their interpersonal relations, making it more emotionally involving than your average superhero slugfest.

It might be a good idea to send the young ‘uns to bed before slotting BATMAN VS. DRACULA (* * ½) into the DVD player. This 2005 animated movie based on the recent The Batman series (not to be confused with the 1990s show) is much darker in tone than the original show and is probably too scary and intense for small children. Take our word: Batman vs. Dracula may not be scary to adults, but it will give your six-year-old nightmares.

The Penguin inadvertently brings Dracula (the one and only – accept no substitutes) to life from his undead slumber in Gotham cemetery of all places. As Dracula slowly builds up an army of the undead, Batman is blamed by dim-witted Gothamites for a spate of mysterious disappearances in the city. The tone is broody, but some elements don’t always mesh. Bruce Wayne looks too much like a loveable doofus to be convincing for instance. But it’s still pretty decent and worth checking out.
 

 


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