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My thoughts on ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ part 3: The Extras

A “bonus” feature (as far as I can tell, included with the barebones DVD, the special edition DVD, and the BluRay) is an animated short starring The Spectre.

This is a bit of an unusual piece to me–I’ve really only known the character as the primal/cosmic/universal force-of-naturehe’s been for the last 10 1/2 years. This short focuses on the character with Jim Corrigan as his “host,” where Corrigan grounds the Spirit of Vengeance a bit.

This short delves into some dark, disturbing territory…whether intentionally going there or taking advantage of less restriction due to being packaged with a PG-13 animated film, I’m not sure.

Not being particularly familiar with a down-to-Earth Spectre, I found it to be less interesting than I’d prefer in and of itself…but it’s still fairly interesting being exposed to this version of the character.

There’s also a preview of the next DC Universe project…Batman: Under the Red Hood, which is based on the 2003/2004 Under the Hood arc in the Batman comics.

While I have never bought into the “Return of Jason Todd” and everything that’s been done with that character for more than half a decade…as an animated project, it looks like this one has potential…at the least, this preview/”First Look” sold me on the concept. A large part of that, I think, is that it looks like the film will include material taken from A Death in the Family, which will more closely tie the Under the Hood story to that prior one, making it work as a unified whole in the film where it still has not for me as a comic story that essentially undid a key story in the Batman history.

Finally, there’s a short documentary that looks at the recent history of DC Comics, with brief interviews with the likes of Paul Levitz, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, and others discussing Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis, and a lot about how the stories were crafted and made to build toward one another. The interviewees also discussed what got them into comics, and their influences…and in general, made for a very enjoyable piece.

Of course, it was also interesting to see several of their roles/titles, given changes announced last week for the organization at DC.

I’m a sucker for such documentaries/interview pieces…I enjoyed the Death of Superman retrospective, the Green Lantern/Blackest Night piece on the Green Lantern: First Flight release, and of course this one.

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My thoughts on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
part 1: What Came Before
part 2: The Movie Itself

My thoughts on ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ part 2: The Movie Itself

Now we have the second Justice League movie. Though it is the second under the Justice League header, it’s really no sequel to New Frontier. This one is based on some classic Justice League stories known to me under their contemporary heading of Crisis on Multiple Earths.  These comics–as I understand my comics history–were largely regular team-ups between the Justice League and the Justice Society…then situated on different Earths in DC‘s multiverse.

Though the multiverse has long since perished and recently been reborn, those stories still hold quite a bit of weight.

And so we have this movie, in which a Luthor crosses from his Earth to that of “our Earth”–that is, the Earth in which we find the DC super-heroes–and reveals this multiverse. He convinces the Justice League to help him on his world, to “free” it from the evil that terrorizes it. Whereas on our Earth, the most powrful beings are heroes, on Luthor’s Earth, they’re villains.

There’s a LOT to like about this movie.  The animation is nice and clean–plenty of detail for what it is, without being overly detailed or trying to be some sort of “animated live-action.” The visual style doesn’t seem to imitate silver age comics that I’m aware of, nor does it exactly imitate contemporary comics. There’s something to it that reminds me very much of the Batman, Superman, and Justice League animated series–probably in part that Bruce Timm is heavily involved in this movie as he was with those series.

I was initially disappointed that we had more new voices for familiar characters…but as the movie kicked into gear, I didn’t really even think about it, other than to note that the characters all sounded perfectly fine and no one seemed out of place…I heard the characters, and not the actors…which for me is an important thing for any animated project.

To me, The Flash had several of the greatest moments–a comment about Luthor’s state when they meet him; a Star Wars reference, and a nice play on things when rushing out of the Crime Syndicate’s place after his teammates. Owlman had a great Harrison Ford moment, which I’m not sure was intentional, though it almost seems it had to have been. And toward the end, Wonder Woman’s “spoils of war” is just about my favorite silver age reference ever–legitimizing a concept I always saw as ludicrous.

The “meat” of the movie was solid stuff, as well. Granted, with a team movie, there’s not a lot of room for character development, especially in the relatively limited timespan for these animated movies. The only thing that really felt forced to me involved a romantic interest for the Martian Manhunter (even if there was a bit of payoff in his final comment on the matter).

This isn’t a character study on any single character…it’s an action/adventure pitting many familiar characters against many similar/opposite characters. There seems to be plenty drawn from the original 1960s comics…and yet, a strong dose of contemporary story-telling.

These DC Universe dvd movies just keep getting better and better, and though I haven’t yet digested this one long enough to decide if it surpasses the previous ones…it certainly keeps up with the best of ’em.

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My thoughts on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
part 1: What Came Before
part 3: The Extras

My thoughts on ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ part 1: What Came Before

While in many ways, an animated/movie adaptation of ‘The Death of Superman REALLY gets to my core as a comic person–it was largely that story that fully submerged me long-term into the world of comics, and so it has a special place in my memories–that first movie from DC Universe is probably my least-favorite. To this day, several years after-the-fact, I tend to hold that its only redeeming quality is the retrospective documentary on the Death of Superman in the comics. (It doesn’t help that they LATER released a special edition, while subsequent movies have had simultaneous “bare bones” dvd release and a Special Edition release).

Batman: Gotham Knight was an interesting piece, giving a taste of Batman with the anime style…I actually enjoyed it for the most part, and while that is not a style I’d care for long-term for Batman, it definitely worked.

Justice League: A New Frontier became an instant favorite for me. There was something to its story–and perhaps the fact that I had not read the comics first (and yet, had had them repeatedly recommended to me). I read a one-shot DC put out around the time of the movie’s release and enjoyed it, and shortly after bought the TPBs of the comics, and greatly enjoyed those, such that as a whole, the New Frontier is a definite DC classic to me.

A combination of things led to my NOT picking up the Wonder Woman movie, though I Netflixed it, enjoyed it, and numerous times now would have bought it, if any stores would stock the “Special Edition” WITH the stupid cardboard box/slipcase thing. (Petty, sure…but that’s a story for another time).

Green Lantern: First Flight sorta crept up on me, but with Blackest Night then just barely kicked off, I was on a Green Lantern high, and was very excited for the movie. Though it was kinda strange in its depiction of Abin Sur and others, in and of itself I recall really enjoying it–especially the use of Sinestro, AND his Sinestro Corps costume…as well as the way it was left open for “sequels.” That it came with an exclusive Hal Jordan DC Infinite Heroes figure (well, if one bought the boxed version at Best Buy, anyway) was an added bonus. I’ll also always remember buying a new DVD player the same day in order to watch the movie, as the old DVD player my roommate and I had been using refused to recognize the new disc.

A little over two months later we got Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, and in anticipation of that one, I re-read the original comics, and thus both enjoyed and yet nitpicked it a bit more than I may have otherwise. I particularly enjoyed the voice casting, getting the “original” actors from the Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series to voice Superman, Batman, and Luthor. That the art was so similar to the original made it even more of a treat.

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My thoughts on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
part 2: The Movie Itself
part 3: The Extras

The Rest of the Stack #3 – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

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Last week, I was able to redeem some “reward points” from Best Buy which I then applied to a purchase of the “Special Edition” of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. That made for a darned good price…even though I had to go to TWO Best Buys to find the edition that came with the Batman figurine. I must admit to some disappointment that this Batman is NOT part of the Infinite Heroes line…unlike the Green Lantern figurine that came with Green Lantern: First Flight this past July.

I was really looking forward to this new animated movie…particularly for the fact that the characters–Superman, Batman, and Lex Luthor–would be voiced by their “classic” voices from the Batman, Superman, and Justice League/Unlimited animated series.

In anticipation of the movie, I read the graphic novel the day before it came out, which was both blessing and curse. It was a blessing in that I got a real kick out of things that were taken word-for-word from the source material…but it made changes and omissions that much more glaring, having the original so fresh in memory.

The basic plot of the movie is that Lex Luthor has been elected president (he ran on a promise of change/improvement to horrible economic conditions throughout the country). As president, he’s brought meta-humans under government supervision…and those that refuse to work FOR him personally (such as Superman and Batman) are outlaws. Luthor is then made aware of a huge kryptonite meteor heading toward earth, and seeks to manipulate things to set Superman and Batman in poor light while raising his own status in the public eye to even higher levels. When he puts a bounty on Superman’s head, the super-powered baddies come outta the woodwork, including villains not normally fitting in a story such as this.

The thing I noticed immediately with this film was the animation itself. It seemed really simplistic, with a lot of static backgrounds, and limited movement in the foreground as I watched. Something about it throughout the film seemed to be of lesser quality than the Green Lantern film from earlier this summer.

At the same time, I really dug the visual style of the characters–I liked their visualization, based on Ed McGuiness’ art from the source material. This combined with the classic voices is enough to almost overcome the animation limitations…at the least, I’m willing to let it go for my enjoyment of the visual design and the voices.

There are some minor omissions–the future-Superman doesn’t show up, and there’s no sign of nor mention of Green Lantern. The change that bothered me the most, though, was the ending…especially with a character’s role being swapped, when the character swapped out actually appears in this same movie (it’s not like it had to be changed because the character wasn’t used!). I get that the change was made presumably to keep this as much more of a “buddy flick” rather than the first arc of an ongoing series…but to me, the original ending would still have been perfectly valid here.

All in all, I was thoroughly entertained by this film, even though it’s incredibly short. I get that it takes time to create animation, and so an animated film will be shorter than live-action…but I’d rather wait a bit longer to get a film with a bit more to it.

The extras with the special edition make the package worth far more as a whole than just the film itself. There’s a Blackest Night documentary looking at the opening of the story–I’m pretty sure this is recycled from the Green Lantern: First Flight DVD. There’s also a nice documentary looking at the history of Superman and Batman as a team. This was quite interesting, and I tend to enjoy analyses of the characters, so this was right up my alley. It also allowed me to put a couple more faces with names I’m familiar with.

There are some other extras that–honestly–I haven’t gotten to yet.

Overall, I’m very glad I picked this up. It’s not quite up there with Green Lantern: First Flight and Justice League: New Frontier…but I enjoyed this more than Wonder Woman…and CERTAINLY far, far moreso than I did the Superman: Doomsday film (I hold to this day that the only worthwhile bit of having bought that one was the retrospective documentary about the original Death of Superman comics).

Even if you aren’t into buying dvds…this is well worth renting to just watch it once. It’s nothing deep, but makes for a little over an hour’s good entertainment.

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