Max Fleischer's Superman: 1941-1942 

2009

It would be easy to take the "Superman" cartoons of the 1940s for granted, given the dime-a-dozen VHS and DVD releases of dubious quality they've received over decades, thanks to the works falling into the public domain. However, Warner Bros.' new, two-disc "Max Fleischer's Superman: 1941-1942" restores them "? both literally and figuratively "? to their deserved luster.

All 17 of the theatrical shorts are included here, and to put it simply, they look amazing. These 10-minute masterpieces always had a special look about them, thanks to their rotoscoped action and bold character design, but the colors are now so vibrant, they pop to life.

Although you may have seen your favorites many times before "? such as the ever-popular "The Bulleteers," "The Mechanical Monsters" and "The Mummy Strikes" "? this is like seeing them in a whole new light "? one rich and satisfying, shining a spotlight on honest-to-goodness works of art.

Interestingly, the case notes these are "not suitable for children," which is ridiculous. I suspect that warning is there strictly for PC purposes, as "Japoteurs" engages in propaganda-style stereotyping that was typical of its time. Speaking of history, a short documentary in the bonus features details the Fleischer Studios' involvement with the "Superman" shorts.

"?Rod Lott

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