Super Best Friends Forever short!

The short Super Best Friends Forever, featuring Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Girl, just premiered on DC Nation (DC’s new programming block on Cartoon Network). This is the first of five SBFF shorts–very, very short, the first clocking in at 75 seconds–all animated by Lauren Faust, animator for Cats Don’t Dance, Iron Giant and writer for Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Check out the whole thing below!

Supergirl and Batgirl try to convince Wonder Girl to take her older sister’s Invisible Jet out for a spin, because of, you know, big priorities–like TPing Lex Luthor’s secret lair and stopping in Mexico for burritos.

For the short minute or so that it was, SBFF is light, cute and frolicking, giggling fun, though it didn’t throw itself off the goofy deep end like, say, a reincarnation of PowerPuff Girls. The animation is beautiful yet minimalistic (Wonder Girl reminds me of Samurai Jack, it’s the eye shape, I think)–bright, vibrant, and a wonderful combination of Faust’s style and the DC heroines.

And hey, look–the women actually look normal! WG’s a little thin but Supergirl is curvy! She’s not a twig! And boy does it look good on her!

Batgirl is spunky, endlessly cartwheeling–a gymnast  just like her origin story–and her bouncing enthusiasm is honestly a whole lot more like Stephanie Brown than Barbara Gordon, which is a good thing to channel for a series like this.

Wonder Girl rounds out the team well, obviously the most mature of the three. She’s got an interesting accent going on, it sounds either Latin or Greek, regardless playing into the exotic origins of Themyscira as well as WW’s Greek mythology roots.

A superhero something airing on TV about girls just having fun, and not feeling like they have to be serious or say something about the “situation” of women in comics/society? It’s about FREAKING TIME. Now let’s have a full TV show already.

Kudos, Laura Faust, and can’t wait for number two!

And, um, Babs? Save me a burrito.

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Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is the most recent DC animated film, and also an adaptation of Jeph Loeb’s graphic novel, called “Supergirl.” The story follows the origin of Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), a Kryptonian and Superman’s cousin, who has crash-landed on Earth with little memory of how she got there. Batman distrusts her, but Superman, overjoyed with his newfound family member, adopts his long-lost cousin; Wonder Woman trains her on Themyscera, teaching her to control her powers, but Darkseid, ruler of Apocalypse, plots to abduct and brainwash her for his own evil uses.

The voice performances are hands down the strongest elements of the movie. Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy reprise their roles as Superman and Batman respectively, and Susan Eisenberg, who voiced Wonder Woman in the Justice League show, returns. The three veterans are positively flawless and I love the sense of continuity that comes with hearing their voices. The newcomers, not so much: Andre Braugher was fine as Darkseid, but rather monotonous; and I’m far from a Summer Glau fan, so this is probably biased, but she’s utterly unforgettable as Supergirl.

The art was great too, modeled after Michael Turner’s gorgeous art in the graphic novel. Instead of the boxy, simplistic animation from Public Enemies, the visuals in Apocalypse are sleek, and more mature than the first film. I especially liked how Batman and Wonder Woman were rendered.

 

Seriously? *sigh* I'm not even going to go there.

Even though the story follows Supergirl’s origin, it really isn’t about her. We never see her when she’s alone, nor does she make her own decisions; she’s constantly surrounded by Bats, Supes, Wonder Woman, or Darkseid, all of whom have such gigantic personalities that they automatically overshadow her. And then she gets brainwashed, showing no strength of will. Kara becomes Supergirl right at the end, but I am unconvinced that she truly is a hero in her own right.

Woot! Who cares about Supergirl when you can watch a Barda and Diana teamup?

Supergirl’s character is so shallow, thankfully we have Wonder Woman and Barda to balance it out. I’m so glad to see Barda, such a minor and often overlooked heroine, in a prominent role, with all the stubbornness and warriorness that makes her character so much fun. The fight scene with her and Diana against the Furies was my favorite part of the film; it was beautifully animated and exciting, less big-explosion oriented than the battle between Supes and Darkseid.

And yet, Barda doesn’t even mention her husband Scott (Mr. Miracle), especially when Scott met Barda at Apocalypse and the two escaped together! You see his costume for a moment, but that doesn’t explain his absence. One line of dialogue was all we needed. Or, gasp, you deviate from the book.

And after Lex Luthor’s villainy in the first movie, Darkseid is kind lame. I’m not a Darkseid fan, and though I liked Andre Braugher’s performance, he captures Supergirl for no real reason than to move the plot along, and he is never fully developed as a villain. Granny Goodness (Ed Asner, I know right?) lightens up the mood but not by much.

If you liked the previous Supes/Bats movie, or superheroes in general, give it a try. The movie has the same flaws as the book, but if anything it’s an hour of good animated superhero entertainment. Which is good enough for most people.

Check out my review of DC Showcase: Green Arrow here.

Apocalypse Preview

In the next DC animated film, dynamic duo Batman and Superman meet Superman’s cousin, Kara, who crash-lands on Earth. But Darkseid, galactic villain and ruler of the planet Apocalypse, has other plans for the fledgling Kryptonian. The story is based on the second volume in the Superman/Batman series, Supergirl, written by Jeph Loeb–the sequel to Public Enemies.

Apocalypse looks like another high-quality, fast paced animated film that will set a high bar just as the last movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood, is–and when someone like Darkseid is involved, the stakes will be high and the explosions will be big. I’m thrilled to see the return of Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Susan Eisenberg, who will be reprising their roles once again as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman respectively. (It’s about time we got to hear Eisenberg again! She’s the best Wonder Woman voice actress hands down.) Also, there’s an exclusive short Green Arrow film in the special edition package, a treat for us Emerald Archer fans who want a full-length movie someday.

During the Apocalypse featurette on the Hood DVD, Jeph Loeb claims that this film is going to be the defining Supergirl story for this generation. Okay, I buy into that; not many people know Kara’s backstory, plus she’ll have the first DC heroine spotlight since Wonder Woman’s flick. But wait– if this is Supergirl’s origin story, why is the movie called Superman/Batman: Apocalypse? Fine, roll your eyes at me, but if this story is about Supergirl, shouldn’t it at least have her name in the title? I realize that Superman/Batman: Supergirl might be a bit confusing, and Supergirl herself might not sell as much as the big DC heroes, but come on. It’s like calling a Wonder Woman film The Amazons.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse releases September 28 on Blu-ray and DVD.

Are you ready for Superman/Batman: Apocalypse?