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.
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.)