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So with the release of the 2-disc and Bluray versions of “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths,” came something new; the first DC Showcase animated short. For those not in the comic loop, DC Showcase was a line of comics that featured unknown or forgotten characters, sometimes alongside major heroes, sometimes on their own. It’s in this tradition the animated shorts were named after the comics. The first to be released is “The Spectre,” starring the voice talents of Gary Cole as Jim Corrigan/The Spectre, and Alyssa Milano as Aimee Brenner. DC set the bar high with this little 11 minute and 30 second gem. I mean real high.
A crash course for those who only know Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and a refresher for the rest of us; The Spectre is Jim Corrigan, a hardboiled detective murdered on the job. His soul is rejected (or chosen) by the afterlife and charged with dispensing supernatural vengeance on those that would most likely slip through the cracks. In the 70’s the character got an ongoing series that harkened back to the film noir feel of the original appearances of the character and was violent, and ironic in its sense of vengeance. This animated film, written by Steve Niles, creator of the “30 Days of Night” franchise pays homage to that series. It’s even set in the 70’s and boy was I glad that it was. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (“Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Justice League/JLU,” and “G.I.Joe: Resolute”) this animated short could’ve been a great feature length film, but as it is its just phenomenal.
From the opening credits with authentic sounding 70’s music by Benjamin Wynn and Jeremy Zuckerman, and grainy film feel, it really feels like it came out of the 70’s. Not since “Black Dynamite” have I seen a commitment to not only the look of the characters, sets, and time period, but the feel of the film itself. From Gary Cole’s narration, which invokes a little bit of Humphrey Bogart, to the cars, clothes and glam of Hollywood life at the time, it’s like a time machine. And that’s the icing on the cake. Once the character of Corrigan is established we jump right into the mystery. But in this sense it’s not much of a mystery, as we don’t have time for red herrings and such. Nope each suspect is guilty, but its how they pay for their crime (the murder of a well known film director) that makes the movie interesting and fun. Sure you’ll see it coming, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. As I said irony plays a big part in all the criminals’ deaths, two of which are a SFX guru, and a stunt driver. That’s all you’re getting out of me as to say anymore would really ruin it.
This really was a delight to watch, and is actually in my mind better than the feature and a reason to get the 2-disc set in and of itself. That said the feature is pretty good too, and I loved every minute of it. However “The Spectre” definitely adds to the overall worth. If they can keep this momentum going with their next DC Showcase short, which I believe is to star Green Arrow (YES!!) then I can live without making of featurettes. Bring on The Showcase.