I’ve always enjoyed the Legion of Super-Heroes. Superheroes from the future—what’s not to love? They don’t get talked about often enough, in my opinion, so I tend to get excited whenever they show up somewhere. And I was very excited to review this new movie. Although it didn’t quite measure up to my expectations, it’s still plenty entertaining.
“A group of major historical figures from the late 19th and/or early 20th centuries teams up to fight something fantastical” is a surprisingly common premise in comics. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’ve reviewed several titles in that vein over the years, such as Real Science Adventures Volume 1 and the always fun Boston Metaphysical Society series. I’d happily read a hundred other comics with that premise, as well. There are so many different historical figures to choose from and so many different directions a story like that can go. Of course, it helps when the comic in question is compelling and well-written— which The InSpectres certainly is.
If you read my reviews, you know by now how much I love time-travel stories. (And if you don’t read my reviews, then I’ll tell you how much I love time-travel stories: quite a lot.) Just from the description of Vicious Circle, I knew it would be a lot of fun, and, indeed, it did not disappoint. It’s pure, mind-bending, era-hopping temporal shenanigans at their finest.
What if a comic book creator were recruited as a spy, and his traveling around the world to different conventions was just a cover for espionage work? An interesting premise for a comic, certainly, but fairly far-fetched, right? Not entirely. While the story is, for the most part, fictional, it’s inspired by the real-life experiences of creator David Mack who spent a couple of years working for the State Department, traveling all around the world.
There have been a few DC Universe Animated films that feature Batman’s son, Damian Wayne, in a key role, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen Superman’s son be given the spotlight. It’s an interesting concept: What’s it like growing up the child of a world-famous superhero and the various ways of dealing with it. Exploring that concept is just one of the things that makes Battle of the Super Sons fun to watch.
It’s been nearly two years since I reviewed the first volume of Adventureman. While I remember the basic story, I was a bit fuzzy on some of the details. So, before embarking on this new graphic novel, I took it upon myself to reread the first volume and be sure I was up to speed. No easy task, to be sure, but I did it for you, dear reader. I made that sacrifice for you. (Truth be told, I probably could have just jumped right into the new volume and been fine, but it was as good an excuse as any to reread one of the most fun comics I’ve read in a long time.)
Did you know that there’s an official, DC-sanctioned, Batman audio drama series? It’s been out for a whole year, but nobody is talking about it, and I can’t understand why. Not only has it got a stellar cast with a whole bunch of big names, it’s also some of the best Batman content I’ve ever seen/heard. And the only way I found it was by accident, combing through the copious DC-related content on HBO Max. So, let me introduce you to Batman: The Audio Adventures. Because you need this show in your life.
I was a little wary at first when I saw the runtime of this movie: 168 minutes, or nearly three hours. I fully expected to end up splitting it up into two different viewings. But honestly, it doesn’t feel like a long movie. It rarely drags, and it kept me engaged throughout. And before I knew it, I’d spent three hours in front of the television. How did that happen?
This comic makes it clear very early on that anything goes. Within the first few pages, we get a flying shark who battles a herd of laser dinosaurs. There’s a knight, a barbarian, a werewolf, a time traveler, and much more. It’s a free-for-all of superhero tropes combined with whatever other crazy, random things the writer could dream up. It’s glorious.
This movie is a perfect example of what I love about the DC Animated Universe. That may come as a surprise, considering the films I’ve reviewed lately. I tend to be more critical of the darker, more serious ones (e.g., Injustice or Deathstroke) and instead rave about the broader, more fantastical ones (e.g., Batman: Soul of the Dragon or the recent DC Showcase). But believe it or not, the darker films were the ones that drew me to the DC Animated Universe in the first place. When done well, they’re an opportunity to explore deeper, more complex themes in a more mature way. Beware My Power does it very well.