Monday, June 17, 2013

TV Talk - Max Fleischer's Superman

How is  that even... oh yeah, Superman.

Welcome to a pretty light edition of TV Talk. Today's post is going to look at the animated Superman series from the 1940's. All I have to say about the cartoon is below, so let's get to it!

My first inkling of this version of Superman came in the form of a boxed  video set of old cartoons. My great aunt and uncle had sent us the set for Christmas. I know there were episodes of Looney Toons and Merry Melodies in there. There was a Popeye video and a Woody Woodpecker video (though I vividly remember only one Woody cartoon showing up on the video). Then, there was a video that had three 8-minute episodes of this cartoon. I had some exposure to the Man of Steel through some comics, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, the movies, and I think Superman: TAS (I think it was out at that time). Unfortunately, the video got lost or destroyed.

A few years ago, I remember that Wal-Mart had a lot of cheap DVDs that had a lot those old cartoons on there. The ones I really remember us getting were ones that had Daffy, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Betty Boop (for my sister), and Superman. I know that I watched through one of the Superman ones. Unfortunately, those DVDs aren't playable anymore. I don't know what happened to them or who scratched them up. Luckily, all of the Superman episodes are able to be viewed online, so I've decided to look at all 17 episodes over the weekend. 

Overall View 
Clark: Woman, get off my desk! I'm trying to work here!!

Instead of a likes/dislikes section, I decided to just give an overall look at the cartoon as a whole. I'm mostly doing this because there's really nothing to dislike about this short series. It's all awesome. 

First, the animation is pretty good for its time and even now. Everyone from the comics look like how they should look like. They're all well rendered. Even the background characters and villains look really good. Now you may find a few characters that look... politically incorrect, but remember that this was another time and there was another World War taking place. The movements were cool though  a little cartoonish at times. A big example would be the first episode where Superman was able to secure this swaying building. 

We even see Superman use his powers in cool ways. Mind you, it's really only the standard Golden Age stuff: super strength, super speed, flight (sort of...), x-ray vision, and punching lasers (not a real power, but it should be!). The only tricky thing is really the flight thing. In some episodes, he's leaping tall buildings and falling at times. In others especially the later episodes, he's flying. I'm guessing that's because this was that period where they started to have him fly instead of leap in the comics.

The stories were simplistic, but a little repetitive. This is how almost every episode flows: 
  • Theme song and brief blurb about Superman,
  •  something big would be going on in Metropolis or elsewhere,
  •  Lois is somehow gets herself into danger,
  •  Clark changes into Superman, 
  • Superman kicks butt and saves the day,
  • Lois gets the story, and
  • Cue Paramount Logo.
While that's how almost every episode goes, it's not a bad thing. Lois is usually put into some sort of different situation every episode. She even gets to have an awesome moment in a couple of episodes. Superman is then put through different circumstances in these episodes. In one episode, he's fighting robots. In another, he's trying to stop rampaging animals... even a lightweight Godzilla. He's also facing off crooks, evil scientists, and the Axis Powers. It's all fast paced and told in under 10 minutes. 

I guess my final thing would be about the voice acting.The voice acting as a whole is good. Everyone sounds like how they should sound. I especially like the differences in voices between Clark and Superman. 

Favorite Episodes
Finally, here are my favorite episodes of the series. While I urge you that you should check all 17 episodes out, these just have some cool and funny moments. 
  • The Mad Scientist - Superman faces a mad scientist... go figure.
  • The Mechanical Monsters - Superman not only goes up against large robots, he also has to face the awesomeness of a Vincent Price look-alike!
  • The Arctic Giant - Superman faces a lightweight Godzilla... Really.
  • The Magnetic Telescope - Superman has to stop a big comet from destroying Metropolis.
  • Terror on the Midway - Superman has to stop rampaging animals at a circus.
  • Japoteurs - Superman faces Japanese stereotypes... Yeah, welcome to the 1940's, folks!
  • Showdown - Superman has to stop a thief who's dressing up like him.
  • Eleventh Hour - Superman takes it to the Japanese again by going over to Japan and sabotaging their operations.
  • Jungle Drums - Superman kicks some Nazi's butt.
  • The Underground World - One word... BIRDMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And that ends this post. I do think you should check out this series. It's a Superman who really hasn't been seen in years (not counting Grant Morrison's 1st arc on Action Comics). Plus, it's fun, it's funny, and it's awesome. The episodes are out there on Youtube, Netflix, video stores, etc. Well, I'm out. Peace, God Bless, and don't forget to buy your war bonds!!!


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