By Peter Jurewicz
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of comic book characters in animation. Batman, X-Men, Superman and Spider-Man were the cant miss cartoons of my childhood. They raised the bar for animation quality, voice acting and story telling. So much so that even to this day I still pop in the DVDs to enjoy! So it should be no surprise that when Superman/Batman Apocalypse was released on DVD right around my birthday, I begged and pleaded for my wife to get it for me. I was ecstatic to find that not only had she bought it for me, but it would be my first viewing of an animated feature on Blu-Ray disc.
I had always avoided spilling the extra cash for animated Blu-Rays because I always believed that in reality you can’t make a cartoon look THAT much better in high definition can you? And surprisingly the jury may still be out on that one. But whether you watch your cartoons in HD or in standard definition, one thing is for sure that Bruce Timm and company will not let you down with this latest presentation. For their most recent ventures, DC animation has been presenting retellings of some of their best books as opposed to continuing on in the DCAU. (That’s the DC Animated Universe populated by the Animated Series versions of Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League for you non-geeks that may be reading.)
Apocalypse is a sequel to Superman/Batman Public Enemies, though don’t feel you have to rush out and see Public Enemies first. While the voice actors and overall universe carry over, it’s really not necessary to view the first to be able to follow the story presented in Apocalypse. Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy return as Superman and Batman respectively. When you give two actors roles they are so positively familiar with, you can always expect a great performance and Daly and Conroy both deliver. Other DCAU alumni returning in Apocalypse is Susan Eisenberg who as always personifies the strength of character that Wonder Woman stands for and Ed Asner returns for his always off-putting performance as Granny Goodness.
Having (grudgingly) never read the book I had little background on the story going in and really only had the expectations of a good show that DC always seems to put on in the animated projects. As usual, the action seems both fresh and new which must be a challenge to avoid the same curb stomping, mountain dropping action scenes that this team has been working on for years now. My only complains with the vocal crew was that Andre Braugher (TNT’s Men of a Certain Age, Glory and Frequency) doesn’t seem to have the vocal weight to quite pull off Darkseid. He has the intelligence behind the character, but the menace just seems to be lacking. But then again, I’m spoiled with Michael Ironside’s performance from Superman and Justice League.
I can’t compare the story to the book, since I admittingly have not yet picked it up. But I can say I was pleased with how it progressed. The inclusion of Big Barda was especially nice and unexpected, as well as the usage of the Harbinger character. Without spoiling any endings, I will say I was originally put off by the ending of the movie, but as it progressed to the finish I was quite glad it happened. On a final note, The Green Arrow short itself is almost worth the price of the DVD alone, along with the great documentary material on The New Gods and Supergirl. As usual, the DC team delivers on Superman/Batman Apocalypse!