This collection of fully restored, 1930s animated shorts from the legendary Max Fleischer are a real treat. For anyone who has grown up associating the Superman character with different phases of art direction in Superman comic books over the last 50 years, or best remembers the look of the Christopher Reeve films or the old television show, these 'toons will be a mini-revelation. Expanding on cues from the first generation of Superman comics, Fleischer immerses the man from Krypton in a marvelous blend of art deco, William Cameron Menzies-inspired sets, and edgy compositions that can't help but remind one of Fritz Lang-ian paranoia. Everything is oversized, blocky but rounded, ferociously modernist, and all too vulnerable. Superman's very function as a character in these highly dramatic and richly colored fables is both defending the overbearing, urban progressiveness and capital excesses of a young 20th century while also reassuring us that progress is not as indomitable as a man--at least a Superman. The DVD includes a bonus Fleischer short, "Play Safe," plus information about the restoration process, three choices of sound, complete history, synopsis, and credits. --Tom Keogh
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