Actor Liev Schreiber hosts and narrates the three part documentary mini-series from PBS, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, about the rise of superheroes in our popular culture from the creation of the first Superman comic book in the late 1930s, to superhero videogames of the present. The series follows the humble beginnings of superheroes as dime pulp publications influenced by the pulp detective novels, to their growing maturation and eventual breakaway from the self-governing Comics Code Authority to tackle subjects like racism, drug abuse, and violence head on.
Veteran comic writers and artists such as Stan Lee, Joe Simon, and Jerry Robinson sit for hours of interviews alongside contemporary creators such as Mark Waid and Grant Morrison. The series also interviews such iconic “superhero” actors as Lynda Carter and Adam West while giving us plenty of glimpses at the evolution of our favorite heroes throughout the years. Pans across the comics of Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Captain America, as well as clips from many of the blockbuster films based on these characters show how much (or how little) they have changed over the years.
Superheroes are like our modern mythology in may ways – the gods we have created to help explain our surroundings and the events of the day. For fans of comic books, the films based on them, or the videogames that contain the characters, this is a wonderful overview of our new Western mythos.
It’s always tricky judging a documentary culled from so many different sources. This AVC/MPEG-4 1080i/60 transfer to Blu-ray is one of those. With film, photo, and video footage stretching all the back to the 1930s, plus many clips taken from Hollywood blockbusters and videogames, the video quality varies tremendously. Where it really shines are the high definition pans across some of the comic book artwork that really pops with beautiful colors and detail. Some of the recent, high definition interview segments also look really clean and detailed as well. On the other hand, some older film and video clips aren’t up to the same standards. The transfer itself just keeps out of the way, however, and presents the mini-series very well.
A LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kHGz/16-bit) and Dolby Digital 5.1 track are included. There’s very little difference between the two other than the lossy 5.1 mix has more distinct dialogue from the center channel, a little bit of ambience in the surround channels and just a hint of boosted low end via the LFE. Either one will suffice for the material. English SDH subtitles are also included.
We get a lot of extra interview footage from the mini-series included on disc.
Bonus Features (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:39:15):
- Lynda Carter on Superheroes
- Jules Feiffer on Pensky’s Candy Store
- Eddy Friedfeld on Superman’s Powers
- Stan Lee on the Birth of Spier-Man
- Joe Simon on His Partner Jack Kirby
- Jack Ubont Marvel Super Heroes Songs
- Michael Uslan on Comic Book Conventions
- Adam West on Violence in Movies
The Definitive Word
Our history of superheroes is laid out in a fun and somewhat in-depth way in this three-part series from PBS. Live Schreiber gives a sympathetic narration and having so many interviews from the creators themselves, young, old, and in-between, makes it all the more interesting. A definite must for geeks.
Additional Screen Captures