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A casual ‘review’ of All-Star Superman

allstarsupermanblurayMonths ago—would’ve been around the release of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse—I was rather surprised to learn that the next feature from the DC/Warner Premiere line of direct-to-home-media features would be All-Star Superman. I just didn’t see it.

The title? That was just an imprint DC was trying. Why not give it some other title to reflect the story a bit more? And being such a niche title years in the past that isn’t really affecting continuity anywhere….

But then, that’s actually the beauty of the thing. A self-contained epic. Nothing came before. Nothing comes after. Just a single, closed arc.

allstarsupermanpageoneI loved the opening. One of the things that jumped out at me initially when I’d read the first issue of the comic series back in late 2004 was the way it took just a handful of panels to sum up all you need to know about Superman’s past.

Doomed planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly couple.

It was the embodiment of something I’d read during my undergrad years when I was working on a paper; essentially about the way certain elements of key figures in our popular culture are the same through whatever reimaginings.

This film takes that opening—even maintaining the still-shots on the screen, without animation, perfectly (in my mind) capturing that simple opening of the comic…all the more for not feeling the need TO animate the sequence.

allstarsuperman001The rest of the film follows much of the comics’ path, though in far less detail. A lot of time is spent on Lois’ stint as Superwoman. We’re then moved along into Samson and Atlas’ appearance and challenges, to the Kryptonian astronauts, and ultimately back to Luthor for the big finale.

There are slight  nods to other parts of the series—I spotted Bizarro on some sort of chessboard in the Fortress, for example. And we’re given a brief scene in which Clark visits his father’s grave (though that issue when we saw the death of Jonathan was one of the most powerful issues of this series, to me, particularly in retrospect). We also did not get the Jimmy/Doomsday story. allstarsuperman006

The animation itself wasn’t anything spectacular. Watching the blu-ray didn’t make any kind of noticable difference to me. It wasn’t bad, mind you. I did like the “compromise” on the visual style. Quitely’s got a unique visual style that I often like but just as often take issue with, but I didn’t think it was a style I wanted to see mimicked for animation. (To the opposite, I greatly enjoy Ed McGuiness’ visual style used in animation, as on the first Superman/Batman dvd).

Certain touches of Quitely’s art was clearly adapted for this feature, but it was “softened” somehow, for lack of better phrasing offhand. A lot of lines were removed, so that none of the characters appeared lumpy. This made for a sorta different-looking Superman, who seemed a bit older than I’d usually picture, but not in a bad way.

allstarsuperman003The take on Lois was quite good…no complaints there. I was rather interested in how this Lois somehow visually put me in mind of “Bones,” though that comparison may simply be my limited exposure to Bones.

Other than the simplistic fact that we don’t have Tim Daly, Clancy Brown, or Dana Delany, I have no complaints with the voiceacting. In this case, I don’t think I was familiar with any of the voices involved, except perhaps Ed Asner (Perry White). This unfamiliarity allowed me to simply enjoy this for the story and characters, without distraction of visualizing actors behind the characters.

The story overall really felt like it was almost multiple “episodes” made into an overall whole. Coming from having read the comics, and seeing this as an adaptation of the comics, I didn’t mind the way things sort of jump from one to the next—though I was specifically looking for that, having been slightly “spoiled” by comments made on twitter and facebook prior to my watching this—with people expressing frustration at the story jumping and being disjointed.

I can see that, but as said…I took it in stride, and it didn’t bother me, if only for my knowing about it.

mcduffiecreditUnfortunately, especially as excited as I was to pick this up and watch it, news came through online this afternoon that writer Dwayne McDuffie died. I hadn’t even realized that he wrote the  script for this until today. It did seem sorta strange to not see a dedication to him in the end credits…but of course, his passing was so sudden and unexpected.

The package for this film isn’t anything wonderful. The cover image is rather iconic, though, and certainly gets to the heart of the overall story. I’m not at all impressed at the “extras.” I do enjoy the “teaser” shorts for whatever the next film in the line will be (in this case, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights). The Grant Morrison thing wasn’t all that thrilling—it seemed almost “phoned in,” so to speak. Never have been much a fan of commentaries, and this soon after watching, I’m not at all ready to re-watch with the commentary on, so can’t speak to that. If commentaries are you thing…well, there’s that.

I picked up the Target version, which includes a couple episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. One episode was one I’d just watched from the actual Superman: The Animated Series dvd set in the last couple days; and I’m not interested in the other, as I assume that comes later, and plan to watch the series in order.

All in all, HIGHLY disappointed in the “extras,” given how many extra shorts and features and such have been jam-packed into other recent releases—the discrepency between the “special edition” dvd and blu-ray editions with those is what mainly motivated me to go for the blu-ray this time, when I really should have simply stuck to the DVD.

I’d recommend a purchase for the die-hard fans that’ll watch this a few times. For the casual viewer, I recommend a rental. I think if I was going to give this a hard ‘n fast rating, it’s got a good 6.5 or 7 of 10 from me, primarily penalized by the (lack of) extras.

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Justice League of America #28 [Review]

Welcome to Sundown Town Chapter 2: Shadow and Act

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Jose Luis
Inks: JP Mayer
Color: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ed Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

I wasn’t gonna pick this up. I was gonna content myself with waiting for a collected volume, or just waiting for the Milestone characters to pop up in other books. But curiosity got the better of me, and so I picked this up after all.

There’s not much of a plot here–the bulk of the issue is a lengthy fight scene between the League and the Shadow Cabinet. However, toward the end of the issue theres a slight bit of a twist that both bucks cliche and yet manages to play right in familiar old cliche none the less.

I find myself much more interested in finding out more about the Milestone characters than I am about the Justice League, and so am possibly more disappointed in this issue than I should be. I would gladly (and with enthusiasm) picked up a mini-series re-introducing these characters that guest-starred members of the Justice League; as it is, the Milestone characters don’t get enough focus-time in this issue (though they get far more than in the previous one). I’m also quite interested in the Icon/Superman interaction(s).

The art here–while not Benes–is quite good, and similar enough to Benes’ work that I thought nothing of the art until I looked at the credits, and realized that sure enough, this wasn’t Benes. I was particularly impressed with the final page–which also has me sufficiently hooked as to pick up the next issue more than likely.

All in all, not a bad issue. Worth getting if you want to see the Milestone characters that are appearing in this arc.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Justice League of America #27 [Review]

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inkers: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund & Drew Geraci
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue shows the Shadow Cabinet in action, attempting to do their thing without bringing down the wrath of the Justice League…unfortunately for them, their acting with (the female) Dr. Light doesn’t go smoothly, and the Justice League is pulled into things. Meanwhile, other interactions are going on between certain characters, apparently moving their stories forward; particularly an awkward moment between Red Arrow and Hawkgirl, as well as Black Canary confronting the “Big Three” about their upper-level clique compared to the rest of the League.

I really can’t complain about the art. Benes has a certain style that really works for me, with plenty of detail and not too much in the way of being ‘stylistic’–the visuals are straight-forward and clear, easy to follow and nice to look at (though there’s a bit of gratuitousness I could definitey do without). Visually, this is a high-quality book.

I’m fairly mixed on the story. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read an issue of this title, so I’m understanably outta the loop–there are things going on here that either pass me by or just come outta the blue, I’m sure, given my not being “up” on the book. I really don’t get a sense who any of these Shadow Cabinet characters are, though. I know that this is apparently their introduction into the DCU and that the Milestone characters are being integrated as if they’ve always been present–all that meta-textual stuff I’m clear on. I just don’t feel that in-story there was much of anything to give a good sense of the characters’ individuality; for all I’d otherwise know, they’re generic charcters made up to throw some conflict at the Justice League. At the same time, this is an issue that’s gotta focus on the title characters–the existing members of the Justice League involved in the ongoing story arcs; we’re also introduced to the members (I count seven) of the Shadow Cabinet…making for a huge cast of characters.

I bought this issue for the Milestone characters. I remember picking up some of the Milestone books back in the day, particularly the Worlds Collide crossover with the Superman books at the time (I don’t recall if they crossed with other DC books or not). My expectations are probably higher than could really be reasonably delivered by a standard-sized single issue; I was excited, though, to learn this past summer that the Milestone characters would be returning, integrated as part of the DCU, and have looked forward to this since.

Not having followed this title, I can’t speak to the issue in context of the overarching ongoing stuff; but I was definitely left underwhelmed having picked this up to see the Milestone characters interacting with the DC characters–looks like that’ll come next issue, with this more as a bit of setup.

Worthwhile if you’re following the title, but if you’re picking this up for the Milestone stuff, it looks like you’d be better off waiting til issue 28 to really see the characters interact.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7/10

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