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DVD REVIEW:
Max Fleischer's SUPERMAN, 1941-1942

Author: Jett
April 18, 2009

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SYNOPSIS: The Superman animated cartoons, commonly known as the "Fleischer Superman Cartoons" were a series of seventeen animated Technicolor short films, which were based upon the comic book character Superman. These groundbreaking theatrical shorts are the very first animated DC Comics Superman cartoons and the first cartoon entitled "Superman" to be nominated for an Academy Award® (Short Film - Animated).

I don't recall when I first saw an episode of the Max Fleischer animated SUPERMAN. But I do remember being tremendously impressed by it even though I was very young at the time. I also recall thinking things like “Why is Superman jumping around and not flying?” and “Why does the 'S' look funny?” Anyway...

I recently received a copy of the newly released Max Fleischer's SUPERMAN, 1941-1942 that features the 17 shorts on 2 DVD discs for reviewing purposes. As I ran through all the episodes, I remembered exactly why I was so impressed all those years ago: They're damn good!

From a Batman POV, you can see how much the Fleischer shorts influenced BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. That speaks volumes about the huge impact these 17 shorts had on the animation we've seen over the last two decades.

Now if you've never seen the Fleischer SUPERMAN, you'll be amazed how good the animation is for something that is nearly 70 years old. On the other hand, be prepared for how dated the material is. The Superman here is not the “Last Son of Krypton” that I'm pretty sure that most folks are familiar with. But this Superman is on par with the original incarnation of the character. Also, be prepared from some very politically incorrect material. Remember, this stuff came out during World War II, so there is some racist and propaganda-driven imagry within some of the episodes.

Nonetheless, I found Max Fleischer's SUPERMAN, 1941-1942 fun to watch – and I'm not a big Superman fan. So I'd certainly recommend this DVD set to those casual Superman fans like me. On the other hand, this is a must-have for those who do love The Man of Steel.

EXTRAS

Not all that much really. There is a 10 minute preview of the upcoming animated GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT film. It's cool, but it has absolutely nothing to do with this release.

There are two featurettes: “First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series” (13 minutes) and “The Man, The Myth, Superman” (also 13 minutes). The former takes a look at the historical aspects of SUPERMAN, while the latter is basically an overveiw of the Superman mythos.

EPISODES

All 17 Fleischer shorts are here: Superman, The Mechanical Monster, Billion Dollar Limited, The Arctic Giant, The Bulleteers, The Magnetic Telescope, Electric Earthquake, Volcano, Terror on the Midway, The Japoteurs, Showdown, Eleventh Hour, Destruction Inc., The Mummy Strikes, Jungle Drums, The Underground World and Secret Agent.



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