DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures
August 20, 2008

Review by KC Carlson

Subtitled DC Comics Classic Collection, this two-disc set gathers the 18 cartoons starring the “other” DC Comics heroes that were originally featured on the 1967 Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Three cartoons each of The Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom, Hawkman, Teen Titans (Speedy, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl) and the Justice League of America (Aquaman, Atom, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Superman) were produced, and all of them are neatly collected on this set.

DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures cover
DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures
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It’s hard to believe, after years of watching the amazing current DC animation being produced by Warners, that these cartoons were once state-of-the art, at least as far as animation for television went. Lots of shortcuts, such as massive use of stock footage, were used in producing these cartoons “quick and cheap” by Filmation, but despite this, the shorts still have a great deal of charm — especially the unforgettable intro sequences!

Besides the nostalgia factor that this release is trying to tap into, there are also two important historical reasons to snag this collection: First, with the exception of Superman, this is the first time ever that these DC heroes were depicted in animation, and second, these episodes, along with the 1966 New Adventures of Superman program, were among the package that became the first regular TV series work for the legendary Filmation animation studio. They were later acclaimed for producing the Star Trek animated series, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, He-Man, She-Ra, and more versions of Archie and Sabrina than you can imagine.

The special feature documentary “Animation Maverick: The Lou Scheimer Story” goes a long way in explaining how special Filmation was as an animation house. They famously didn’t outsource the vast majority of their animation to other countries, and so they served as a crucial training ground for an entire generation of animators. Unfortunately, the documentary makers went overboard in their desire to evoke (and surpass) melodrama in the opening minutes, leading to this viewer thinking that the subject of the doc, founder Lou Scheimer, was dead. (He isn’t! But not for lack of trying on the filmmakers’ part and the sad, sad, sad piano music.) What is it with Warners and their over-the-top documentaries, anyway?

The set is not perfect. Many of the prints are dirty and scratched (they are 40-some-years-old, after all), and I suspect that there was a lot of behind-the-scenes machinations just to get these cartoons looking this good. But there is no excuse for the depiction of a flying Flash on the back cover (uh, he runs at super-speed), and the bizarre substitution of Birdman (later Harvey Birdman) for Hawkman on the DVD menus — a character that was never a DC character, and produced by a totally different animation company (Hanna-Barbera) altogether. Although having worked at DC and had the experience of watching other divisions of Warners constantly and routinely screwing up the DC characters, I’m not surprised. Sloppy work, folks. But the compilers do get extra credit for including the end credit sequence of the Aquaman show, so that those responsible for producing these cartoons get proper credit. And it should be noted that DC stalwarts George Kashdan and Bob Haney were the credited writers of most of the episodes on this collection.

All in all, this is a fun set, especially for those of us old enough to remember these cartoons from our childhood. And it’s the “missing link” collection to complement The New Adventures of Superman and The Adventures of Aquaman – The Complete Collection. Excellent for kids of ALL ages! (A complimentary copy of this DVD was provided by the studio.)

7 Responses  
Dave Rose writes:  

My wife and I were watching this DVD the other night. She’s not into comics and couldn’t belive I was enjoying watching these cartoons – they were too cheesy!

I explained the “cheesy” factor was part of what made these cartoons so much fun for me. I also enjoyed seeing some of these characters in their own cartoons – most for the only time.

It was fun seeing the differences from the comics.

There’s a Venusian friend for Green Lantern instead of Pieface. I’m sure Pieface was acknowledged as a slight toward oriental people – not a good idea, especially during the Vietnam war. Surely, a Venusian wasn’t likely to offend anyone – and this partner saved Green Lantern nearly as often as Green Lantern saved him.

Also, Kid Flash’s uniform was totally off – hard on the eyes now, but it was all I knew then.

When these cartoons originally aired, I was 5 years old. I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch them as they were the first cartoons in our Saturday morning line-up.

I didn’t read the comics until I was much older, so these were my first exposure to these characters. Despite their (and my) age. I still think they’re extremely fun shows.

Anthony writes:  

Well, there’s still one more “missing link” to the Filmation DC cartoons—the Superboy cartoons that were removed from being released with the Superman set, thanks to the ongoing dispute/lawsuits over the rights to the Boy of Steel. Hmph… I liked watching the Superboy segments as a kid…

Dave Rose writes:  

I had forgotten about the Superboy cartoons and the reason for their omission from these DVD releases.

Thanks Anthony for refreshing my memory.

I also loved those cartoons. Krypto was a favorite and has been ever since.

Peanuts: Deluxe Holiday Collection » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] assembled with the same care that Warners extends to its Warner Bros., Popeye, Hanna-Barbara, and DC Comics animation packages. The picture and sound quality is fantastic! I look forward to many more Peanuts […]

Andrew writes:  

I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD, all the cheesiness and all! lol!

Credit Filmation for introducing the DC JLAers into the Saturday morning cartoons. If you’re a true fan of Filmation cartoons, please check out and join the group I created in Facebook. Here is the link…


John writes:  

Blew me away when I found this set. I’d been looking for it for some time. I was giddy when I put it on. This was a huge part of my childhood. Shame about Superboy though, I hope they sort it out soon.

Michael writes:  

As a kid growing up in the 70’s these shows were in reruns by then, but I still loved all of them. Just like to know when are they going to release the Batman ones from the same era….


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