Monday, March 5, 2012

Thursday Video Reviews: Justice League: Doom

I'm mixing things up a little this week with my first dvd/blu-ray review.

I have been excited for this video for a while now. I first heard about Justice League: Doom last year when my roommate picked up the animated adaptation of Batman: Year One. Justice League: Doom came out on the 28th and I didn't waste much time in picking up the blu-ray, which at Hastings cost the same as the plain dvd. As far as package deals go, Doom is pretty inclusive. The edition comes the blu-ray, the dvd, and the Ultraviolet digital copy. The disk itself includes the film, three featurettes made up of interviews, two commentaries, and a digital comic of "Justice League: Tower of Babel", the arc Doom is based on.

While in the past I haven't looked at or cared about special features, the three featurettes were all very interesting. The first was about the history of Cyborg. While he has been a fairly prominent hero since the 80's, he has recently been moved into the new52 Justice League title and is one of the more famous black comic book heroes. His role in the Justice League has greatly increased due to everyday increase in computer technology, and it was interesting to see how both the creator and other comic professionals felt about his character.

The next featurette follows a similar format, but regards Batman's role on the Justice league. Since Doom is based on the "Tower of Babel" arc, in which the Justice League appears to be defeated by Batman's contingency plans, a conversation about Batman's role as equalizer is fitting. Of those interviewed, several pointed out that Batman's main role on the Justice League, since he sticks mainly to Gotham, is to protect Earth from the Justice League. I enjoyed this featurette more than Cyborg's, if only because it was a fairly serious conversation about Batman.

The third, and noticeably more solemn featurette, was about the life and work of Dwayne McDuffie. Sadly, the featurette both informed me of the importance and brilliance of his work, as well as his death last year. McDuffie founded Milestone comics, created the character Static, and wrote for several shows and animated films I enjoyed, including "Static Shock", "Justice League Unlimited" and "All-Star Superman". The featurette surmised McDuffie's quality and staggering quantity of work in his career, and informed me of a creator I never fully appreciated when he was alive.

Aside from the collection of special features, this set actually came with film! Justice League: Doom is a very solid animated feature and effectively represents the high quality being put out by DC animated. The premise is simple, what if Batman's failsafe plans against the Justice League were stolen? Vandal Savage enlists some of the Justice League's most prominent villains to neutralize the heroes in an attempt to throw the world into chaos. As anybody familiar with Batman should know, if Batman plans it, it will probably work. This predicament leaves the JL to battle not only villains, but their own weaknesses.

While not a particularly silly movie, Doom does make obvious reference to the wonderfully campy "Superfriends" show from the 1970s. Savage constructs the Hall of Doom in the middle of a swamp, and it even rises and sinks into the murky water. This evil lair is an interesting throwback to the megalomaniacal villains who do evil for evil's sake. The movie also includes a solid supporting role from Cyborg, who has come up to the big leagues of comics recently.

Given the price of the set, it was only $19 at Hastings for the Blu-Ray, I would suggest it to any fan of the old Justice League show from ten years ago.

-Peter