Here’s a selection of top gift ideas for superhero watchers in the family.
Justice League Unlimited: The Complete Series (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, $35.99) — A trio of Blu-ray discs offer fans of DC Comics famed superhero team all 39 episodes of their adventures seen on Cartoon Network for three seasons between 2004 to 2006.
Joining the founding members of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, J’onn J’onzz, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl as they battle the Legion of Doom are a cavalcade of heroic guest stars including Supergirl, Booster Gold, Jonah Hex, Huntress, Atom and Zatanna.
Comic book lovers will appreciate episodes such as “For the Man Who Has Everything” (based on the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons story in “Superman Annual” No. 11) and “Patriot Act” starring an homage to the 1940s superhero team Seven Soldiers of Victory.
Extras include a pair of optional commentary tracks featuring Bruce Timm (“This Little Piggy” and “The Return”); Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) leading a roundtable with other creators tied to the episodic story arc “Cadmus Exposed”; and a 33-minute overview of the series with more words from Mr. Timm on many of the characters and episodes.
Ant Man (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $32.99) — An elder statesman from the Marvel Comics’ universe got his chance to shine in a live-action movie earlier this year. His story’s arrival to Blu-ray offers the perfect gift for the multimedia pop-art fan in the family looking for a laugh and a dose of superhero shenanigans.
When a burglar named Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) steals a high-tech miniaturization suit from former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Dr. Henry Pym (Michael Douglas), he ends up on a mission to stop one of Mr. Pym’s former proteges from creating an army of miniaturized soldiers that could threaten the world.
The screen-filling (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation and high-definition highlight some fantastic shrinking special effects especially when Mr. Lang bonds with an assortment of ant species.
With a fairly decent adaptation of Ant Man’s comic book reimagined origins from 1979, the appearance by multiple characters from the Avengers universe, as well as revealing the origins of the Wasp, the result is a movie that should become a comic book-themed classic.
The extras cement the gift potential and include an optional commentary track from Mr. Rudd and director Peyton Reed; a selection of deleted scenes; and about 30 minutes of interviews with cast and crew highlighting the film’s production.
DC Comics Book and DVD Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $145.99) — Animation-loving teens and adults who also appreciate the beauty of sequential art will truly appreciate this massive, slipcased set offering six of DC Entertainment’s PG-13, high-definition cartoons and the comic-book collections that influenced them.
First, read the compiled comics, each in hardbound editions before pulling out from the back cover either the DVD or Blu-ray disc or redeeming a digital code to watch of the full-length, animated efforts.
The set includes “Batman: Year One” (with “Batman: Year One” movie); “Batman Black and White” (with “Batman: Gotham Knight” movie, best of the bunch for this fan); “The Death Of Superman” (with “Superman: Doomsday” movie); “JLA Earth 2” (with “Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths” movie); “Justice League Origin” (with “Justice League: War” movie); and “Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals” (with “Wonder Woman” movie).
Fans will find a smorgasbord of sequential-art masterpieces, going back almost 30 years, and featuring legendary creators such as Neil Gaiman, Joe Kubert, Frank Miller, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Len Wein, Dan Jurgens, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, George Perez and Scott Williams.
The films boast mixed animation styles and voice-over talent such as Bryan Cranston, Anne Heche, Adam Baldwin, Katee Sackhoff, Sean Astin, Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Mark Harmon and James Woods.
Now, for as amazing of a gift idea as this is, and it’s pretty impressive for the price, I do offer a cautionary note. In some cases, the animated films are very different from their graphic novel counterparts in both visual style, often leaving off major swaths of plotline and even characters. That may upset DC Comics’ purists who fell in love with the often-beautiful source material.