Product Review: DC Universe.
Warner Brothers and DC Comics offer up classic and original superhero content for fans on their own streaming platform.
After a disappointing dally with the Teen Titans GO! movie, I found out about DC’s new live action version of the young super team. Titans, which began airing earlier this year, is a grittier, Netflix‘ Defenders-style show. It is also exclusive to WB and DC’s new streaming platform, DC Universe. Since I needed to sign up to that service to review the new show, I decided to kick the tires on DC’s service and see if it should vie for a place on your VOD roster.
DC Universe offers a one-stop collection of DC related materials such as digital comic books, superhero merchandise, films, and original series. The service announced in 2017 and launched in September of 2018. While it can be considered a touch narrow due to focusing on just DC superheroes, it does have quite a wide selection within that sphere. Two original series are currently on offer and four more have been announced in differing stages of completion.
This platform is available on the web and mobile web. Additionally, it can be added to Roku, Android TV and Apple TV. Subscription to the platform gives you access to the service on two devices simultaneously per account. That way you can stream Superman III on your smart TV while someone else catches up on the backlog of DC Rebirth comics on a separate device.
A subscription to DC Universe runs 7.99 USD per month. An annual pass tallies up at 74.99 USD, saving you just under 21 dollars or nearly three months free. If you want to put the service through its paces, you can sign up for a 7 day pass, but you’ll need to put down a credit card and select which option (monthly or annual) you want to convert the pass to before getting access to comics or most streaming media. For lurkers, you can still view the store, the forums, the encyclopedia of DC’s comic worlds, and what’s in the library without paying or signing up.
DC Universe’s content is surprisingly rich for such a narrow focus. Yes, it is all centered on DC comics and superheroes. If you’re not a fan already, there’s not much else to get excited about. For fans, this place is fantastic. There’s a ton of digital comics, including big events and milestones. You can see the first appearance of Superman in Action comics #1 from 1938, or witness Batman getting his back broken by Bane in 1993. Not every issue is available (no Death of Superman) but there is a ton of variety, from Jeff Lemire’s crazy Animal Man to Swamp Thing’s debut in House of Secrets (1971). You can read them panel by panel or page by page, though the former tends to stutter at the end of each page and the lettering is a bit small for the latter.
The film and TV library is small but growing. You have the first four Batman and Superman movies (even the execrable Batman & Robin!) plus a decent selection of DC’s animated films. The TV selections go all the way back to Superman’s first serial in 1948, to icons like 1975’s Wonder Woman, 1990’s Lois & Clark, and short-lived non-caped fare such as Constantine or Human Target. The Originals for now are the live-action Titans and the animated Young Justice. A Superman prequel series called Metropolis is in the works, as are other live-action shows like Stargirl and Doom Patrol. Just this week casting notes came out for Stargirl, so hopefully the content will keep rolling out steadily.
A weekly news show, an exhaustive interactive encyclopedia, a store (currently offering holiday sales!) and a users forum round out the experience. The site seems to be pretty active with articles, show synopsis write-ups, and interviews.
Do you like DC superheroes? If so, are you the kind of person who enjoys digital comics over the paper-pulp alternative? The TV and film content for DC Universe is intriguing but not quite expansive enough to warrant adding the service just for streaming. I found plenty that interested me, but I could easily see being done by the end of my 7 day trial. The stuff that is going to keep you hooked in is the comic library and lore. If you had the itch to plow through 80 years of Action Comics or wanted to figure out all the ins and outs of the latest big cross-over event, this is a solid deal. If not, you’re probably going to wind up binge watching the few series that grab you and unsubscribing.
It will be really interesting to see where this service is in 2019. Do they acquire marquee movies like Wonder Woman or cult classics like Keanu Reeves’ Constantine? Do the new shows attract a following like Arrow and Gotham have? Hell, do they work out a deal to stream existing shows like Gotham and Arrow!? Time will tell, but for now this service lean more towards die hard fans than new converts.