- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004

The comic book permeates all levels of popular culture.This sporadic feature reviews some recent examples from the world of digital video discs (compatible with DVD-ROM enabled computers and home entertainment centers) and also includes a recommended sequential-art reading list to extend the multimedia adventures.

Hellboy: Director’s Cut

(Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, $34.99)

Never have I seen a more passionate DVD release of a director’s vision as Guillermo del Toro not only gives lovers of a certain red demon paranormal investigator an extended version of his film, but an absolute saturation of extras that clearly define the roots of the comic book hero star and a deconstruction of the entire cinematic project.

Those who bought the mere two-disc special edition should have waited (I told you so). This three-disc extravaganza adds another 15 minutes to the film (bringing it up to a whopping 132 minutes), a new commentary track from the director, and the ability to read the entire script book and screenplay while watching the movie (PC required) through a really slick viewer. It even throws in a tutorial by sequential art scholar Scott McCloud, who offers a quick guide to understanding comics.

Of course, the director’s cut set still includes all the features from the last release. Among theses are the branching Hellboy illustrations by Mike Mignola, a 2½ hour documentary, side-by-side comparisons to scenes and animated storyboards, and a 3-D maquettes character sculpture video gallery.

Additionally, the creator of Hellboy, Mike Mignola, designed the Diary of Grigori Rasputin, so owners of the package get a scaled down replica. The replica has faux-parchment paper filled with imaginary symbols and illustrations that magicians will find enjoyable.

If I gush anymore, I’ll have to change shirts. Suffice it to say that Hellboy has been given first class treatment by Hollywood’s digital video revolution.

Read all about it: Dark Horse Comics has brought creator Mike Mignola’s frightening team to pulp pages for the past decade, and new fans need only absorb the 200-page Art of Hellboy ($29.95) coffee table book to understand the colorful origins behind Mr. Mignola’s sequential art legend.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Seven Collection

(Fox Home Entertainment, $59.98)

The last 22 episodes of Sunnydale’s famed vampire killer get a fitting DVD final tribute via a six-disc-set.

As viewers watched the reopening of the high school, saw Spike’s potential descent into madness, enjoyed WIllow’s return and appreciated an ultimate confrontation with slayers and the First, their experience gets embellished by multiple commentary tracks from cast and producers — including current X-Men scribe and series creator Joss Whedon, featurettes and wrap party footage.

The most distinctive feature to the set can be found on the first disc. When placed into either a PC or Macintosh DVD drive, it offers Willow’s Demon Database. This indispensable resource for hunters of the unholy breaks down Buffy’s foes and friends by name, classification and season episodes in which they appeared. Nuggets of other vital info — as well as their current status and morphing pictures — accompany most of the entries.

Read all about it: #Dark Horse Comics did a masterful job of turning the Buffy legend into sequential art adventures between 1998 and 2003 through a monthly book along with numerous miniseries. Trade paperbacks also abound. These include Haunted, compiling the four-issue 2002 miniseries ($12.95) and Note From the Underground, compiling writer Scott Lobdell’s first story arc for Buffy in issues Nos. 47 to 50 ($12.95).

Teen Titans: Vol. 1, Divide and Conquer

(Warner Home Video, $19.99)

Cartoon Network and WB Kids have created an awesome cartoon series peppering a bit of Tex Avery with Astro Boy, based on the 1980s version of DC Comics’ famed teenager superhero team. Finally, a DVD has been released compiling the first six episodes of the show.

Viewers get introduced to the humorous and action-packed exploits of Robin, Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg as they battle Slade, Cinderblock, flying alien drones, H.I.V.E. (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination), Dr. Light and each other as the Japanese inspired, Murakanime (a homage to producer Glen Murakami) animation colors the screen.

Additionally, bonus features include a music video of Puffy Ami Yumi’s catchy theme song, and a set-top memory challenge. Also featured is a 22-minute documentary on how producers of the show worked with the original New Teen Titans comic book team (of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez) to maintain the creators’ vision of the characters while still developing a truly slick and original program.

Read all about it: DC Comics offers a monthly book based on the Cartoon Network’s show. Teen Titans Go ($2.25 each) perfectly mimics the fun and quirky art style of the series and offers children a great reason to start reading sequential art.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016, fax 202/269-1853, e-mail [email protected] or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

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