Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Exfanding Review: Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

I was in Best Buy this weekend, alternating between picking up a couple of Christmas gifts and aimlessly wandering around the store. At some point, I came across a big, honking DC Comics display, filled with DVDs and Blu-Rays of cartoon series, films, and documentaries about the company.

Which surprised me a bit, actually.

It was pretty cool to see such a display--with big Jim Lee illustrations of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman--so prominently featured in the store, right next to the cash registers. The movie selection was good, too, featuring classics like the original Richard Donner Superman, more recent films such as The Dark Knight and Zach Snyder's adaptation of Watchmen, and a slew of animated shows, like the entire Justice League series.

But there was also A History of Violence and V for Vendetta, movies that, I'd venture, most non-comics people may not know were comics first.

A nice selection of titles, and since several of the cubes were either empty or almost-empty, the display was obviously working and people were buying the films.

Of course, I own everything in the display already, save for one item--the recently released Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics, a nice feature-length documentary about the history of the company.

I had some time on Sunday to sit down and watch the flick, and, despite the overall meh reviews online and elsewhere, I enjoyed it. Quite a bit.

Sure, pretty much 90% of what was on the doc I already knew, but there were a few tidbits that made it worth while. Like old, never-before-released films of Superman creators Siegel and Shuster and photos of the old DC bullpen.

The interviews with Irwin Hasen are classic--he's smart, funny, and he tells it like it is.

But the real treat here is the (brief) focus on legendary DC editor Julius Schwartz and his impact not only on DC, but on the entire industry.

The interviews with Schwartz are insightful and, even though there isn't nearly enough time spent on him, his contributions to comics come across in the film.

For those few things alone, I'd suggest this DVD to any DC fan.

Where the film falls short, though, is in what it leaves out. As is the case with any big company, there are big, bad moments in the history of DC Comics. But, since DC commissioned and produced the doc, I knew there was no chance we'd see any of that stuff here.

So don't go into this film expecting the behind the curtain reveal of a hard line documentary. This is all very feel good, yay comics stuff, and as such, it excels. Secret Origin is the perfect flick to throw on while you're arranging your comics on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Check it out.

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