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DC Super Heroes: The Filmation
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 8/12/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/14/2008
With the onslaught of movie based on comic book heroes that we've seen over the past few years, there are probably those who think that this is the first time that the costumed crusaders have appeared outside of their original medium. Truth be told, comic book characters have been appearing in movies, serials, and TV shows since at least the late 1930s. The simple fact is that these things go in cycles and every few years we see a resurgence of superheroes. The late 60s saw an interest in animated comic book, and we got entries like DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures, which are now available on DVD.
The two-disc DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures DVD set contains 18 episodes from the 1967 series, each of which run about 7 minutes. The shorts are broken down into six categories, which offer three episodes devoted to different subjects. Four bring us individual heroes, while the other two deliver super hero teams. The episodes are as follows:
The Atom (voiced by Pat Harrington, Jr.) has the ability to change his size at will and has super-strength. He gained his powers through "...magic alchemy..." (I don't see that flying in the Bible Belt). The Atom is the alias of scientist Professor Ray Palmer.
-- Invasion of the Beetle-Men: Atom must stop creepy
looking alien bugs, who can also change their size, from sabotaging a nuclear
-- The Plant Master: The Atom and a group of scientist travel to a mysterious island where a madman uses plants to do his bidding.
-- The House of Doom: While investigating a concrete bunker, Palmer and his colleagues are taken hostage by an evil scientist named Rokar who takes order from some green alien dude.
The Flash (voiced by Ray Owens) works as a "police scientist" under the name Barry Allen. He has the power of super speed and he can vibrate his molecules fast enough to pass through objects. He is often aided by Wally West, also known as Kid Flash (voiced by Tommy Cook), who has similar powers.
-- The Chemo-Creature: An overdose of radiation turns a bug into a giant monster and The Flash must stop it.
-- Take a Giant Step: When evil scientist Professor Crag attacks the city in a flying exo-skeleton that has tank treads, Flash and Kid Flash must use their speedy skills to intercept it.
-- To Catch a Blue Bolt: Evil alien Blue Bolt, who also has super-speed, comes to Earth and begins to wreak havoc in Europe and Egypt, so Flash and Kid Flash must stop him.
Green Lantern (voiced by Gerald Mohr) is test pilot Hal Jordan who was granted super powers by the Guardians of the Galaxy. With his powerful ring, he can fly and create object. He is helped by Kyro (sometimes spelled Kairo).
-- Evil is as Evil Does: Evil Star, the interplanetary lord of crime, comes to Earth and begins an attack. Green Lantern and his sidekick (?) Kyro, retaliate. Green Lantern's green beam challenges Evil Star's power beam, and follows the villian to the planet Oa.
-- The Vanishing World: Org, a fugitive interplanetary raider, captures Kyro. Org takes Kyro to a prison asteroid which only appears in our dimension for an hour. Can Green Lantern rescue him in time?
-- Sirena, Empress of Evil: Green Lantern and Kyro are drawn to the Sargasso planet, where they are attacked by Sirena and her bat-like henchman. She had set a trap hoping to lure Green Lantern to her planet in order to destroy him.
Hawkman (voiced by Vic Perrin) is an alien who works under the name Carter Hall. With his ability to fly and his spaceship, he protects Earth from otherworldly invaders.
-- Peril from Pluto: A destructive beam from the planet Pluto sets its sights on Earth. Hawkman and his bird, Skreel, travel to Pluto to confront the aliens.
-- A Visit to Venus: An experimental spacecraft is sent to Venus, where it is attacked by flying saucers. Hawkman and Skreel must travel beneath the surface of Venus in order to save the astronauts.
-- The Twenty-Third Dimension: Two aliens from Jupiter, who appear to be wearing powdered wigs, attack Earth, using a ray to send objects into another dimension. Trapped in another dimension, Hawkman must find his way back to our world.
Justice League of America is comprised of Superman (voiced by Bud Collyer), Aquaman (voiced by Marvin Miller), Atom, The Flash, Hawkman, and Green Lantern. They join forces to fight evil where ever needed.
-- Between Two Armies: A battle between the Rock Men and the Crystal Men places the Earth in jeopardy. The Justic League must intervene in order to set things right.
-- Target Earth: When a space armada is poised to attack Earth, a lone dissenter warns the Justice League, who are able to intercept the threat. Yet, the invaders attack anyway and the heroes must race around the globe to stop them.
-- Bad Day on Black Mountain: Superman, Green Lantern, The Atom, Hawkman, and The Flash are lured to Black Mountain by The Mastermind, who knows their secret identities. He plans to keep them there while he uses missiles to attack major cities.
Teen Titans is a superhero team made up of Kid Flash, Wonder Girl (voiced by Diana Maddox) who is apparently a junior Wonder Woman, Speedy (voiced by Pat Harrington Jr.) who looks like a young Green Arrow, and Aqualad (voiced by Jerry Dexter).
-- The Monster Machine: A giant mechanical monster arises from the ocean and begins to run amok. The Teen Titans get word of this and race to stop the behemoth. But, the metal monster offers a great challenge.
-- The Space Beast Round-up: A passing spaceship jettisons a group of alien creatues on Earth. It's up to the Teen Titans to capture the beasts before they hurt anyone.
-- Operation: Rescue: Speedy and Aqualad spot a boy being chased by a flying monster. After they rescue him, they learn that they must save the boy's father from horned mutant men.
Despite the fact that these shows are only a few years before my time, I had never seen any of them until now. They obviously didn't play in syndication in my area. (We did get the 1966 Marvel Super Heroes show with Captain American, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, and Sub-Mariner. Perhaps that's why I prefer Marvel?) The overall consensus here is fairly simple; Fans of Silver Age comics should really get a kick out of this show, as it shows classic, squeaky clean heroes in action. All others will probably find this pretty cheesy. One thing is for sure, this series is one which doesn't benefit from the back-to-back viewing available on this DVD, as this reveals the redundancy of the episodes with the heroes constantly fighting generic creatures from outer space. Things like this are often only as good as the villains and DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures could have benefited from some appearances of the familiar bad guys from the comics.
DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures flies onto DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The shows offered here are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The image is somewhat clear, but the digital transfer reveals a world of scratches and specks on the image. (One can assume that the source materials were cleaned as well as possible.) Despite this, the colors are still good and only some scenes look washed out. The DVD has a Dolby Digital mono audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects, but the audio is very flat.
The lone extra on the DVD set is "Animation Maverick: The Lou Scheimer Story" (40 minutes) which profiles the founder of Filmation. This piece features an interview with Scheimer and his daughter. He discusses his background and his life. From there, we learn about Scheimer teaming up with Hal Sutherland, who directed most of Filmation's shows. This detailed documentary also features comments from artist who worked at Filmation. The amount of information here makes this one of the better special features that I've seen recently.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long