Marc Alan Fishman: It Was Good While It Lasted…
Last year I wrote an article about the wave of amazing comic-book related cartooning that was going on. Well, here we are now and I’m sitting on the stoop with an Old English tipped towards the curb. Ounce after putrid smelling ounce of malt liquor spatters on the pavement. The yeasty brew gurgles and slushes into an adjacent drain.
Both Young Justice and Green Lantern have slowly grown into their skin, delivering stories that are equally entertaining and sophisticated without losing any action beats for those just looking for the boom-boom-pow. Both series combined with a pair of schizophrenically wonderful animated shorts, have grown into the only block of programming I go out of my way to DVR and watch commercial free, every week. And much like a few other DC shows that came and went before their time (Batman Beyond, Legion of Super Heroes, and Teen Titans – to an extent), I yearn for what could have been.
To its credit, Green Lantern won me over. The pilot wasn’t much to write home about. Much of the first season had to spend time universe-building. But to their credit, once this was done, the show really took off. And contrary to every gripe and groan I’ve ever sputtered in my columns, GL:TAS did something I truly thought was impossible; it made me like Hal Jordan. It was as if the writers realized that a plucky cocksure pilot with a strong moral compass was cool enough as-is to place as a POV character amidst a crazy universe! Add in a strong sidekick in Kilowog, and the non-comic-originating Razor and Aya… and you end up with a great main cast with enough personal drive (beyond the major season-long arcs) to carry the series for a good long while. At the end of season one, the series had properly introduced us to Mogo, Red and Blue lanterns, the Star Sapphires, and a handful of solid DC cosmic villains.
Come to the second season, and I’ve been truly blown away at the trajectory the stories were moving towards. I honestly figured we’d have continual expansion on the Red Lanterns and maybe an attempt to ignite a yellow or orange corps story. But nay. They unearthed the Anti-Monitor. And with him has come a season that has upped the drama without becoming mopey. Ring-slinging, internal conflict with the Guardians (who aren’t the silly one-dimensional mustache twirlers Geoff Johns wants you to hate…), cameos by Guy Gardner, Sinestro, Tomar Re, and even Ch’p… simply put: GL:TAS was properly creating the mythos that real GL fans has yearned for since the teasers were announced.
Young Justice, much like Green Lantern, started very slow for me. A series built on the angtsy teenage trope wasn’t high on my “new dad” radar. But over time, I realized what the show was doing. Rather than retread old storylines, the first season was all about pushing the idea that this elseworldsesque universe was a smart and slick dressing down of the bloated DCnU. And much like GL:TAS, the second season turned everything on its ear.
The series jumped five years into the future, smeared the Justice League and introduced no less than four major cosmic alien races to the show. In addition, the roster of YJ soon grew to an unlimited level, allowing for each episode to really explore old and new faces. This shot in the arm forced the angsty characters of season one to mature, and with it came a sophisticated serialized structure that dare I say… is smarter and better pulled off than any comic book DC is putting out right now.
As I’m sure you’ve all read Mike’s article this week, you know that in place of these two series will be new DC Nation fodder: a new take on Batman, and Teen Titans: Go! When these series were first announced, I admit I’d built up a fan-boner for the potential two-hour block of DC programming. Alas, what we are left with feels… safe. And I hate safe.
Dusting off the Titans isn’t such a bad idea – their series became damn near brilliant towards the end of its run – but giving over a half hour series to a comedy-tinged romp of SD Titans just oozes “Hey Ultimate Spider-Man, we can be funny too!” Never mind the fact that Ultimate-Spider Man really stinks (and before you flame me, go watch Sensation Spider-Man and shut your mouth).
And I’ll leave well-enough alone: Mike hit the nail on the head with Batman.
Well, it looks like my last drops of booze are bounding towards oblivion. I’ll enjoy the remaining episodes of Young Justice and Green Lantern as I have with all other quality DC animated shows. A tear in my eye, a pile of less-than-stellar comics at my feet, and a finger hovering over an Amazon cart page, awaiting the eventual release of the DVDs. While I hold very little hope for the next wave of DC toons… if nothing else can be learned from my ranting above… a good show (cartoons included) take time to find sea legs. Unlucky for all of us… the second these shows find them? The powers-that-be cap them off at the knee.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander Types!