You can say what you want about Direct-to-DVD features, but Warner Bros. Animation's line of graphic novel adaptations - based on iconic DC superheroes - has been consistently brilliant in overall production quality and voice acting. The latest sees DC's most popular characters - Superman and Batman - team up for the first time since last year's feature, Public Enemies.
Acting as a sequel to Public Enemies and based on the graphic of the same name - written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated marvellously by Michael Turner - the story centres around the introduction of Superman's cousin from Krypton, Supergirl. With The Man of Steel obviously overjoyed to have a family member from his own bloodline here on Earth, The Dark Knight is naturally sceptical of the timing of the event and keeps the newest superhuman to our planet at arms length.
While undergoing adjustments to her new home, Supergirl eventually catches the attention of supreme DC evil-doer Darkseid which leads to a devastating showdown between the ruler of Apokoplis (that's the fictional planet's actual spelling, not mine for the record) and Superman.
Like many similar features produced by WB animation, the production team use the environments and support characters found in the DC universe to great effect, and do a tremendous job of bringing Turner's unique hand drawn style to life on screen. Furthermore, reminiscent of Batman: Under the Red Hood, the team realise the stories found in DC Comics aren't necessarily aimed at younger audiences.
The film surprisingly contained elements which are more common in Japanese anime than what we have come to expect from the DC animated universe created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. More mature traits such as blood and minor swearing, and - without sounding like a total geek - even a touch of genuine sex appeal in the female characters.
Devoted Batman fans should be warned however, this is definitely more a Superman story especially when you consider the family ties. Nevertheless the Caped Crusader does have his role to play in the tale, and often gets the best lines and some rather impressive action pieces. Plus it's good to know, although Batman won't kill a fellow human, he seemingly has no problem at all with blowing up aliens from another world - I'm just putting that out there.
The voice acting was a pleasure as always, fans of the 90s Batman/Superman animated series' and Justice League cartoons will be delighted to see Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly reprising their signature roles once again.
It was also great to see Susan Eisenberg reprising her role as Wonder Woman. More surprising was the classy inclusion of Edward Asner (Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's Up) returning as the sinister Granny Goodness (shame the same can't be said about the character's name...). The stand-out geeky addition to the cast however, was the lovely Summer Glau - of Firefly/Serenity fame - as Supergirl.
It may fail to hit the amazing heights of Under The Red Hood, but Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is still a faithful adaptation and executed with enough precision to keep fans at bay for a little while longer until both characters make their much-anticipated returns to the bigger screen in a live action setting. Just a shame the story felt more like a well produced episode of Justice League Unlimited than a grander adventure worthy of a feature length release. I'd still watch it again mind...
See This If You Liked...
Batman: Under the Red Hood, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Justice League Unlimited
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray from September 28th 2010