Monday, June 18, 2012

Back in… er, Black? And, Mini-DVD Review!

No, this post does not refer to AC/DC, though I’ve been a fan for years! 

There’s a scale of how likely certain things are to occur.  We all have our own criteria, but it often boils down to something like this: 

  • I’ve Just Come Up With TEN New Words for “Certain”! 

  • Reserve Mine Now!

  • Sure Thing / Can’t Miss!

  • Likely.

  • Probable.

  • Maybe.

  • Maybe Not.

  • Probably Not.

  • Unlikely.

  • No Way!

  • Snowball’s Chance!

  • Your Grandchildren’s Descendents Will Never See This!

Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – in the universe, and all that could possibly be conceived, falls somewhere on that scale. 

Over two decades ago, when DuckTales was still a “hot show”, I made the discovery of a Flintheart Glomgold PVC figure, among the dozens of Scrooges and various nephews! 

To my knowledge, this was the first and only piece of Flintheart Glomgold merchandise ever to exist outside of comic books (…at least in the United States)!  “Flinty” still stands in a small knick-knack cubby near the ceiling of my living room, among other such Disney, Warner Bros., and DC Comics curios. 

Until that fateful day, a Flintheart Glomgold figure would have fallen somewhere between the “No Way!” and the “Snowball’s Chance!” categories. 

…On June 12, 2012, something finally TOPPED THAT! 

Best Buy released its Special Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack of the DC Comics Direct-to-DVD release of “Superman vs. The Elite”, based on the early 2001 comic book story appearing in ACTION COMICS # 775

…with a bonus enclosed PVC figure of Manchester Black! 

I’ll pause to allow you to add a few more Exclamation Points!  (! ! ! ! !) 

Manchester Black?!  REALLY?!  …Wow!!! 

I now have a PVC figure of the British punker leader of The Elite – the remorseless, ultra-violent group of would-be heroes, based on the then-popular comic book THE AUTHORITY, who kill in the name of justice – and whom Superman ultimately (and thankfully) – takes to school in a refreshing affirmation of “Truth, Justice, and The American Way”! 

If Flintheart Glomgold was a “Snowball’s Chance!”, then Manchester Black might have ranked below even “Your Grandchildren’s Descendents Will Never See This!”

Yet, they’re BOTH in the same knick-knack cubby!  Though I have Black posed next to a figure of Superman… who’s about to give him what-for! 

To the film… it is EXCELLENT!  I’d go as far as to call it the best of the Superman Direct-to-DVDs. 

Unlike “All Star Superman”, it does not feel rushed, as it adapts a SINGLE ISSUE story, rather then a 12-part epic, into its allotted 1 hour and 14 minutes

Manchester Black does not constantly smoke, as he did in the comic, but instead keeps a matchstick in his mouth. 

BUT, in contrast, there might actually be more violence – including on-camera deaths of civilians, and off-camera deaths of a few heads of state (!) – than in the comic.  Language also makes it PG-13. 

The other members of The Elite: Menagerie, Coldcast, and The Hat (Below Left to Right) are accurately portrayed.  Lois and Clark are married, as they were at the time of this comic. 

The DCU countries of Bialya and Pokolostan are used over Lybia and Japan from the comic.  Atomic Skull is smartly inserted into this story for added heinous villainy, and there is a brief cameo by Doctor Light.  And, note to Chris Barat… Dirk Armstrong (Anyone else remember him?) even appears in cameo as (guess what?) a conservative radio commentator.  BTW, he is not necessarily played for laughs, but is more used as a device to illustrate the public’s shifting views of both Superman (down) and The Elite (up).  …And he ends up in considerably better shape than his liberal counterpart.  (Poor devil!)

George Newbern, who voiced Supes in the JUSTICE LEAGUE Animated Series plays him here.  He’s not Tim Daly, but he’s clearly the next best thing!  David Kaufman, from the 1996 WB Animated Series (…and “Dexter Douglas” of FREAKAZOID!), returns as Jimmy Olsen!  He sounds exactly the same! 

Robin Atkin Downes is excellent as Manchester Black.  I don’t think a more perfect voice could be found! The Elite’s backstory is expanded upon well beyond the confines of the comic – and it all fits quite nicely. 

Among the many extras is a commentary track by the writer and editor of the original comic book story -- Joe Kelly and Eddie Berganza. This may be exclusive to the Blu-ray release.

If you enjoyed the “Eddie Beganza run” of the Superman comics of the late ‘90s – early 2000’s (and I did), you will really enjoy this. 

But, if possible, get the package with the Manchester Black figure… You (and your grandchildren’s descendants) will probably never see the likes of it again! 


ramapith said...

You never thought you'd see Manchester Black merchandise; I never thought I'd hear the Joker actually sing "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" (...till he did, one fine day in the 1990s)!

Joe Torcivia said...

Animation and comics-wise, there were a lot of “fine days” in the nineties, weren’t there?

Overall, I’d say, the only decade to rival my sainted sixties!

I’d also have figured that The Joker was the one who MADE UP the lyrics to “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”… in one of his more clownish, and less murderous phases, of course!

And, knowing that rascal Manchester Black, he’s probably out there singing “Jingle Bucks, Superman…” Well, you know!

Bruce Kanin said...


Bought this a month ago and finally watched it!

It was every bit as good as I had hoped. Loved the SuperBots and seeing Kandor at the Fortress.

They did a masterful job of evolving Supe's relationship with The Elite.

The art was fair - nothing to write home about - but not terrible.

All told - they were faithful to the grand comic book story, and then some.



Joe Torcivia said...


Even without the figure, this was a great set! As are most all the DC Direct-to-DVDs!

Can’t wait for the upcoming adaptation of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”