With Teen Titans eventual closure in 2006 with the airing of the final episode and the direct-to-video film Trouble in Tokyo, it’s no wonder why Warner Bros. Animation wanted to start up a new project involving superheroes. With the crew of Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited both nearing the end of the production on their respective shows, members from both teams came together on Warner Bros. Animation’s newest venture: Legion of Superheroes.
Those who have watched plenty of Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited will know who the Legion of Superheroes are. Set in the future and made up of teen heroes, the Legion of Superheroes TV show takes elements from what we were introduced to previously in their brief animated appearances and reworks them into a formula that would befit a series. Taking a cue from the comic books themselves, Legion of Superheroes travels back in time in its first episode and recruits a young Clark Kent from Smallville. Knowing full well of his future as the legendary Superman, the Legion knew to turn to him in their time of need and though he was reluctant at first to believe he would become such a man, Clark Kent eventually accepts this possible future for himself and stays in the future to help the Legion with whatever troubles they may encounter.
Rather surprisingly, given my history of covering DC’s animation shows so thoroughly on The World’s Finest, this is my first viewing of Legion of Superheroes. I’d never seen a clip from the show and my exposure to it was only through the images released by Warner Bros. It wasn’t that I had a complete lack of interest in the show; it was that I just didn’t have time to invest in it. Watching the show free of worrying about working on it is nice and I’m able to take it for what it is.
And what is it, exactly? Well, from the four episodes on this DVD release, I hesitate to call it a mere Teen Titans clone, but the formula of the show very much reflects it on occasion. Of course there are more heroes this time around and more personalities to deal with and the naïve and inexperienced Superman are fun to watch. I struggled with trying to decide what it was about the show that made it feel so different from past DC animation, even the currently running The Batman. I was getting an overly child-friendly vibe from the show, but it wasn’t the writing—it was the visuals. The show is inherently bright due, like the comic and in turn it lightens the mood considerably. Having not seen the rest of the season I can’t be sure whether this is how the entire season remains, but from what I’ve seen from the upcoming second season, which, again, is only from images, it appears to be taking a darker turn.
Regardless of how the show takes its turn, it certainly proved a lot to me in the first four episodes. There are things that are overly childish at times in terms of dialogue or story, but for the most part it’s a solid action cartoon. There is nothing that overly irks me and it’s a very easy, laid back show to watch with a ton of cool new heroes and villains that we hadn’t seen before in animation. I’m sure my initial lack of interest in the show will slowly deteriorate as I watch more of the show, but my initial hesitancy is slowly slipping away as I grow to realize that while the Legion’s previous appearances in animation have been lackluster and quite annoying (I especially didn’t like the Justice League Unlimited outing), this series is lot of fun to watch for both young and old.
I know what you’re thinking: a volume release? Seriously? Yes, this is serious. Once something I thought was a thing of the past, Warner Home Video brings out the Legion of Superheroes first DVD in a four episode, single disc format. Surprising? Maybe just a bit; considering how they’ve released past shows, I’ve no doubt that we’ll quickly switch to a season release format soon enough (The Batman suffered through two volume releases before receiving season sets).
Coming in a single disc amaray case with no inserts, Legion of Superheroes – Volume 1, Season 1 has colorful packaging that is entirely devoid of girls. Not that you’d know it from the packaging, but there are female members on the Legion and with Saturn Girl representing them as only a small octagon image on the rear cover, I wonder if this show is even pulling in the younger female category. Disc art mirrors is completely different from the cover art and even shows off two of the female cast members, while menus are static with music over the main menu.
The video and audio for this release is satisfactory. There is ghosting/interlacing but for the most part the video is clean, clear and shows little to no signs of compression. Of course the video is in 4:3, so here’s hoping future season releases are in the widescreen the show is animated in (they won’t be, though). Audio is a clear Dolby Surround Stereo mix and there are no chapter stops.
As for special features this release comes with a real one—and not some cheesy game either! “We Are Legion” features interviews with the crew on the show as well as Paul Levitz of DC Comics and the array of participants in this featurette discuss their favorite things about the show, why they wanted to do it in animation and what they hope to accomplish with it. James Tucker in particular is noticeably excited about the show and Rob Hoegee and Amy Wolfram of Teen Titans fame note how exciting it is to work on the series. Overall a cool extra, one I hope gets repeated on the eventual season set releases.
In the end this volume release is only for people who want Legion of Superheroes on DVD as soon as possible. While Warner will no doubt use this release as an indicator of demand, the larger market will gobble the DVD up so the diehard can pass on this release for now. Recommended if you’re a serious fan, otherwise Skip It.