The DC Showcase Animated Shorts release Constantine: The House of Mystery is similar to the franchise’s Batman: Death in the Family release in which an all-new titular short is matched with a number of previously released ones. In this case, consumers get a total of four cartoons.
Constantine: The House of Mystery (27 min) takes place after the events of the Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Constantine (Matt Ryan reprising the role he’s played on TV and other animated fare) decides the aftermath of the war against Darkseid is too much for the survivors so he guides the Flash back in time to make sure the war never happens. I don’t know if the Flashpoint storyline ever occurred in this timeline or if the characters just choose to ignore the outcome, but those familiar with it know this is a bad idea. Constantine is next seen in a hallway of the House of Mystery, unsure why he’s there. He experiences his own version of Groundhog Day where gruesome encounters result with him appearing back in the same hallway he first appeared, good as new. The reason this is happening is explained, though if one had the ability to deliver this type of punishment, one wonders why the “crime” would be allowed to occur in the first place. The plot concludes a couple a good twists as Constantine outsmarts his captor, although that isn’t as positive as it sounds and the story ends on a cliffhanger for the character.
Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! (18 min) is a bonus feature on Justice Society: World War II . In a post-apocalyptic world, a human boy interacts with talking animals, such as Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Kingdom, and has to survive a series of tests by a gorilla cult. Based on a comic created by Jack Kirby, whose drawing style is used for the look of the cartoon, the story is very good. I hope it leads to a series because I would watch it.
The Losers (16 min) is a bonus feature on Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One. A ragtag group of WWII soldiers working with Chinese agent Fan Long land on an uncharted island where dinosaurs still roam. It’s a fun adventure that brings to mind the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It feels like it’s part of a larger story, although where it concludes is anybody’s guess. I hope this continues as well.
Blue Beetle (15 min) is a bonus feature on Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two. Riffing on the old Filmation DC animated shorts, the Blue Beetle teams up with Captain Atom, the Question, and Nightshade against the supervillain Doctor Spectro. Intended to be a comedy, this short wasn’t as funny as it should have been. There are some nice meta gags, such as quality control issues with the look of a character, but those unfamiliar with the old cartoons might see them simply as mistakes.
All the shorts are presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In all four cartoons, the colors pop in vibrant hues across the spectrum. Blacks are inky, and whites are accurate, leading to a strong contrast. The texture details are as the animators intended. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue is clear. The track has good dynamic range with a loud sounds booming during the battles. Some sounds are positioned about the system. Scene ambiance can be heard in the surrounds as can the scores.
There is one extra. DC Showcase: One Story at a Time (16 min) – A look at the stories collected and the approaches that were taken.
Constantine: The House of Mystery shows that the DC Comics universe is broader than just costumed superheroes. Personally, I enjoyed Justice Society and The Long Halloween, along with two of their shorts, more than The House of Mystery so I would recommend buying those three releases. Not sure if there will be a stand-alone release of the main feature in the future, but if you are a Constantine fan, you might appreciate this adventure and want to add it to your collection.