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Scott Pilgrim vs The World is out on Blu-ray and DVD today, and so is the complete collection of Golden Girls (whoo-hoo!).
But two DC Entertainment releases are also on the docket: Secret Origins: The Story of DC Comics and DC Showcase — and both are worth checking out.
Origins is produced by Sean Welch, who produced the documentary Spellbound, as well as by Janet Fried Eckholm and former DC Entertainment exec Gregory Noveck, and it shows how hard it can be to make a documentary about a subject that is also the one hiring you to make a documentary about itself.
Don’t get me wrong. Origins is entertaining and informative, never more so than in the first half, which tackles the beginnings of DC’s three iconic heroes — Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman — by whose prism we tend to see the ensuing 75 years.
There’s some great archival footage, including images of Supermania, which are something to behold — and some cool interviews. Neal Adams is a hoot; Mark Waid and Gerard Jones are insightful. And I wanted to hear more from people like Irwin Hasen, the 92-year old creator of Wildcat.
But there are certain omissions no serious fan can ignore — and actually leave the documentary open to criticism — especially as they grow more glaring with its progression.
Marvel is mentioned (hilariously, as in an archival interview where Julius Schwartz takes credit for being the reason why the Fantastic Four was created and saving Marvel Comics) but very briefly and early on, with no talk of company versus company battles for artists, for example, and how DC fell from its spot of top publisher.
Nor are there any mentions of the battles for credit and royalties with Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Alan Moore shows up in archival footage as during a segment on the radical shifts in the 1980s, but depiction of his angry departure is nary to be found.
The whole endeavor would have benefitted from a Ken Burns-style multi-part series that really probed the many historical periods of the comics and the different waves (and egos) of artists that worked on them, the highs and the lows.
But that editorial conundrum is the pitfall you face when you’re hired to make a documentary that not only tells the history of a 75-year old company but one that also celebrates it.
Still, Origins is a good and fun start.
On the other side is DC Showcase, a compilation of four animated shorts, three of them seen as extras in other Warner Premiere-released DC movies, one of them all-new.
The new one is Superman/Shazam!, which gives us (and Superman) an introduction to Billy Batson and his alter ego, Captain Marvel.
Jerry O’Connell voices the Captain while olde actor James Garner makes a rare foray into the field as the voice of the wizard Shazam. The other shorts feature The Spectre, Green Arrow and Jonah Hex. Superman/Shazam! and Green Arrow are action-packed, the former designed like a giant Wachowski Bros. slugfest, while the latter is more of a classic Bruce Willis actionner. Spectre is a supernatural noir and Hex is dark Western.
All have a nice manga feel to them, and actually feature better animation than some of Warner Premiere’s DC movies.
Hex is the best of the bunch, leagues above the movie that appeared earlier this year.
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