- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2009

With the comic book permeating all levels of popular culture, this sporadic feature reviews some recent examples from the world of digital video discs (compatible with Blu-ray and DVD-ROM-enabled computers and home entertainment centers) and includes a sequential-art reading list to extend the multimedia adventures.

Devil May Cry: The Complete Series (Funimation Entertainment, not rated, $39.98). The star of Capcom’s popular video game franchise, demon hunter Dante got his own anime cartoon series in 2007. The complete 12-episode run is available in a two disc Blu-ray set to give fans an eye-popping look at the too-cool hero.

The curmudgeonly Dante is quite the character. Speaking in the vocal cadence of a younger Clint Eastwood and with a penchant for eating pizza (hold the olives) and strawberry sundaes, playing drums, and always up to shoot a game of pool, he’s my kind of guy.

He’s also broke and relies on a lame manager to bring clients bothered by monsters to his fledgling Devil May Cry agency. Packing a pair of pistols and very large sword to dispatch trouble-making demons invading the earthly realm, this mercenary slaughters without remorse.

Gamers will appreciate the appearance of fellow hunters Trish and Lady while viewers will get a kick out of Dante’s reluctantly adopted young friend Patty.

Devil May Cry” does not carry much of a story, but the action never disappoints: Brutal demon killings always bleed explosively all over the screen. It’s not for the kiddies.

More episodic than grand epic, the series could have used some dramatic twists or deeper plotlines to flesh out Dante’s life. Anime fans looking for a paranormal fix will find “Bleach” much more satisfying.

Best Extras: The pickings are slim here, with only a five-minute interview from Japanese voice over-actor Toshiyuki Morikawa (Dante) offering any background to the series. Slightly better are the dozen or so CGI clips from the games highlighting the absolute beauty of Capcom’s Devil May Cry universe, which really isn’t brought out in the anime.

Read all about it: TokyoPop offers a three-volume sequential art adaptation of the video game Devil May Cry 3 ($9.99 each). DC Comics’ imprint Wildstorm officially has the rights to produce a Devil May Cry comic book series. No word yet on a launch date.

Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season (Warner Home Video, Not Rated, $79.98) - Superman fans get a healthy dose of Clark Kent and his angst-ridden younger years through a four-disc Blu-ray set compiling the season’s 22 episodes.

Clark still has plenty of growing up to do before he dons the Man of Steel’s cape, and this season focused on his exploits as the Red-Blue Blur in Metropolis and his struggles against a Kryptonian monster named Doomsday.

Lois Lane, another monster in Clark’s life, also gets some big-time puppy dog eyes around him in multiple episodes, especially during Chloe Sullivan and Jimmy Olsen’s wedding.

Comic-book fans will find plenty of geek moments to relish among the episodes. They include more action with Supergirl, a visit from the Legion of Superheroes (Cosmic Boy, Saturn and Lightning Lad, to be specific), a story devoted to magician Zatanna and the further solidification of the Justice League featuring Bart (Impulse) Allen, Diane (Black Canary) Lance, Arthur (Aquaman) Curry and Oliver (Green Arrow) Quinn. Oliver is a major character, seen in most episodes.

Furthermore, Chloe is now communications manager of the Justice League as she begins turning a high-tech loft into the Watchtower (aka the JLA official headquarters in comics).

Doomsday, the misunderstood villain throughout, won’t thrill Superman fans. He never blossoms into a hero-murdering beast, but is more of a man-monster named Davis Bloome whose serial-killing, Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation will keep the “Smallville” fan entertained.

Clark eventually does face the monster part of Bloome’s Doomsday, who looks like a condensed version of the spiky, rocklike behemoth seen in comics, but the short battle obviously is hampered by budgetary constraints.

Best extras: Besides the spectacular Blu-ray presentation, the extra worth a mention is “Smallville’s Doomsday: The Making of a Monster” a 15-minute look behind bringing the powerful villain to television screens.

The creators turn Doomsday into a much more complicated, Incredible Hulk-style character. Comic-book writer Geoff Johns, who appears to be the official spokesperson for DC Comics these days, adds his approval.

Read all about it: DC Comics pretty much has abandoned adapting “Smallville” as sequential art since 2005. Eleven issues of the series exist, with a trade paperback ($9.95) compiling the first four issues also circulating through online bookstores.

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