All-Star Superman (Blu-ray and DVD)

DC/Warner's newest animated home video is an adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's epic "All-Star Superman". I can't imagine how hard this story must have been to adapt, given the time constraints, but the late Dwayne McDuffie did a fine job. Basically the Lois Lane and Lex Luthor threads of the story are retained, and the Jimmy Olsen, future Superman, and Bizarro scenes are cut. (I wish he had been able to include my favorite scene, pictured at right.) It's still remarkably faithful, opening with Morrison's minimalist origin ("Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple. Superman.") and ending with Luthor's realization of why Superman is who he is. McDuffie made two changes to the scenes that he did use: one, about the disposition of Solaris the Tyrant Sun, that I disagree with and the second, about how Superman's genetic code is preserved, that I like very much. The film is not a substitute for reading the book, but it is very well done. The animation is as close to Quitely's art style as is probably possible, and James Denton voices Superman with the calm warmth and rationality that made Morrison's book such a joy to read. The other voices are terrific too, particularly Anthony LaPaglia as Lex Luthor.

The Blu-ray opens with trailers for the new Harry Potter and DC Universe Online that cannot be bypassed. Which is fine the first time you put the disc in, but subsequent plays should be grounds for justifiable homicide. (Preferably of someone responsible for can't-be-skipped trailers, not a random bystander.) There's also a Grant Morrison mini-feature and a commentary track by Morrison and Bruce Timm. (Knowing what we know now, it's a shame McDuffie was not included.) The film is aimed at teens and older viewers, but there's not much in it that's not suitable for an interested kid except for Luthor's "execution" which is pretty graphic.

I'm not prepared to write about Dwayne McDuffie's legacy at this time. Honestly, thinking about it still leaves me too sad for words. (I've lost my fair share of people I'm actually related to, so I don't usually get too involved emotionally when strangers die. The last time I felt like this about someone I don't know was when Peter Jennings passed.) Fortunately, the Internet is full of remembrances from people who actually did know him. Tom Spurgeon has a compiled links to many of them at Comics Reporter. I found Gail Simone's words and Wil Wheaton's especially moving, and I also like Tom Brevoort's effort to recognize the living. Milestone co-founder Michael Davis says in his latest blog entry that DC is planning a Static Shock tribute book, and I hope Marvel is planning something similar. In the meantime we still have this film to enjoy, and given animation lead times I assume quite a few "Ben 10: Ultimate Alien" episodes written and/or story-edited by McDuffie are in the pipeline.

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