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Reign of the Supermen Weaker Follow-Up to Death of Superman

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of CriticalBlast.com or its management.

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Reign of the Supermen Blu Ray DVD

With THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN, the DC Animated Universe gave us a story that was emotionally impacting, as it developed the budding romance between Superman (JERRY O'CONNELL) and Lois Lane (REBECCA ROMIJN), with the Man of Steel having recently revealed to her his secret identity of Clark Kent. And then, Doomsday came, the battle was joined, and Superman was dead.

Or was he? Because the cliffhanger ending left us with a stolen body and an empty tomb.

REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN picks up six months after the events of that story, and Metropolis finds that there are at least four superpowered beings laying claim to the title: a visor-sporting seemingly Kryptonian in the familiar blue uniform called The Eradicator (CHARLES HALFORD), a literal man of steel, Steel (CRESS WILLIAMS, BLACK LIGHTNING), a Superman with mechanical body part replacements, aka the Cyborg Superman (PATRICK FABIAN), and the young man employed by Lexcorp who bears a striking resemblance to a teenaged Clark Kent, Superboy (GOTHAM's CAMERON MONAGHAN).

The biggest problem with RotS is that there is so much to unpack, so much story to tell, and so little time to do it.  Which means we have 90 minutes to figure out who everyone is, what their motivations are, force interactions between them, resurrect the real Superman, and bring in the machinations of Lex Luthor (RAINN WILSON) and Darkseid (TONY TODD).

The animation style doesn't seem to ascribe to the standard DCAU style, an almost throwback to the Timmverse style but with a bit more detail and stylization. The release carries a PG-13 rating, but almost entirely due to forced dialogue from characters who would not normally speak that way in the comics. The story also lacks the same emotional hooks that DoS had, perhaps because it has such a diluted focus. When these events happened in the comic books, there were four different books and each character got one of them to let their story play out in for over a year. The loss of such a luxury causes a lot of the interaction to be forced here to get a story told quickly.

There also seemed to be an odd quality to the voices. Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor is not only a play against type, but it gives Superman's arch enemy a reedy tenor that doesn't equate to Clancy Brown's rich, menacing baritone. But there's more to it than that, because Tony Todd is an absolutely perfect choice to voice Darkseid, and even he seemed to lack the celestial threat in his vocals, so perhaps what was missing to the voices was some post-production process.

On the whole, REIGN OF THE SUPERMAN does at least wrap up THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN, and answers the questions as to how his resurrection could happen without all the confusing ideas that were introduced in the comic book version. It may play better when watched back-to-back with DoS, which is exactly what I plan to do.