Tagged: Young Justice

Marc Alan Fishman: How to (Re)Become a DC Fan (Again)

young justice

Last week I tore DC Entertainment a new bum-port over their recent efforts to entertain the masses. If you didn’t read it, let me sum it up for you.

I was, and I still am, butthurt over how terrible Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Martha as well as Justice League: War! Huh! Good-God. What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing! But I digress.

As I’d been buried in freelance work this past week, I’ve found that firing up Netflix on my second screen helps me focus. Headphone blaring quality programming on demand whilst I graphic design my way out of the hole I dug has been very fruitful as of late. I was able to binge-lance my way through season 4 of House of Cards, rewatch the first season of Better Caul Saul, rewatch the entirety of Breaking Bad (because, how could I not?), and watch the entirety of Orange is the New Black. With basically all the greats consumed, I flick-panned down the categories suggested to me by the ancient and powerful mystic algorithms of metadata and ended up on a gem I’d honestly forgotten about: Young Justice.

Oh, DC… why can’t I quit you?

I just completed my consuming the epically long first season. Upon revisiting the show – once a staple of appointment-TV in my home some six years ago when it debuted – I’d come to remember how insanely amazing it was. And presented against a still fresh pair of donkey turds DC delivered to me merely a week or two ago… YJ is a bloomed rosebud poking out of nuclear soil.

Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman delivered an animated epic that proved you could have an action-focused plot bolstered by naturally angtsy protagonists and not end up decimating whole cities, crying, in the pouring rain. Instead, they chose to remember the lore and continuity that exists over decades of comic books, and be inspired to give us thinking heroes who understand that you can’t save the day by just punching harder. Hell, they even dedicated an entire subplot about that very point with Superboy!

When the first season reached it’s emotional climax – where each subtlety crafted sub-plot was unraveled at the feet of the titular team? We got no kicking, screaming, crying, or pouting. Instead we got three-dimensional characters willing to hear one another out before the punching, and we got catharsis, reciprocity, and a commitment to camaraderie. Somehow after all that gooey, hard-to-handle plotting? They delivered with an astounding third act of pure action without batting an eye. In contact, David Goyer and Zach Snyder just bashed their action figures against each other while a team of overworked CG animators called home to tell their loved ones they wouldn’t be released until they’d figured out a way to add hate to the blood spatter effects.

And remember… one of these pieces of media was meant to be marketed to children. The other has seemingly been adopted by petulant children. Natch.

I titled my ramblings this week “How to (Re)Become a DC Fan (Again)” as Young Justice doused the fire that torched my love of the company and characters a week ago. It reminded me that beyond the now-obvious battle plan to simply angst their way to financial success, DC once allowed creators who truly love their deep bench of heroes and villains… and allowed them near free-reign to tell great stories. Young Justice, Teen Titans, and Legion of Super Heroes, did just that. Taken in stride alongside Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, and Batman Beyond (with an honorable mention to Batman: Brave and the Bold) I am assured that even if the next decade is drowned in dreck, I am not far removed from happier times.

Oh sweet baby Jesus. I’ve just become that old guy who says “They don’t make them like they used to, damnit!”

Joe Corallo: Netflix Is Our Friend

Pee Wee Herman

Last week, fellow columnist Molly Jackson and I had a conversation about binge watching on Netflix. Specifically about Young Justice, which she wrote about here. The reason it came up was because people have been encouraged to binge watch Young Justice in order to convince Netflix to pick up the show to give it another season. Young Justice is far from the only example of this at the most popular streaming service around.

Netflix has been breaking new ground lately by not breaking any new ground at all. By that I mean they’ve been at the forefront of offering people a whole hell of a lot of what we already know we like, but, technically, it’s new now! Even when they give us something “new” it’s almost always a vehicle for an already well established, accomplished actor, comedian, or creator with a long resume. I understand that this is an arguable point, but it’s the point I’m making.

They’ve been giving us exactly what we want: copious amounts of the entertainment equivalent of junk food, forgivingly referred to as nostalgia. However, unlike high fructose corn syrup and trans fats we can act like entertainment junk food is perfectly healthy to binge on without the societal pushback. We even use the word binge to describe this behavior without any of the negative connotation. Probably because people can’t necessarily make broad generalizations about your physical appearance or your worth as a human being based on what you watch.

Nostalgia is the junkies’ quick fix. It feels good, don’t get me wrong, but it will never compare to that feeling of falling in love with a TV show, movie, book, or play the first time around. Maybe it’s partly an age thing. Maybe it’s partly an experience thing. Either way, nostalgia is merely a substitute for the original. It’s a hollow smile at the realization that you aren’t alone in the world. It’s a cup of coffee with an ex long after the fall out that doesn’t quite go anywhere, but gives you fuzzy feelings of the old times. Okay, this is getting dark now so let’s move on.

Everyone’s nostalgia is different too. We all had different experiences growing up. I got the chance to see New Order at Radio City Music Hall on March 10th and when they played Bizarre Love Triangle I thought of being a kid in the car with my aunt when she first played it for me. Other people have different songs from New Order that mean a hell of a lot more to them than Bizarre Love Triangle. Some people don’t care about New Order at all. Hopefully no one I know.

Netflix has been trying hard to hit a wide variety of different people’s nostalgias and it seems to be effective. I don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings for Full House, but Fuller House was a hit for them despite the mixed reviews. They did get me with Pee-wee’s Big Holiday though.

Pee-wee was a big part of my childhood. I spent many hours watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse both when it came on TV and on different VHSs of the show off recorded off TV. Lucky for me, my parents endorsed my love of Pee-wee by getting me many of the toys in my younger years.

My journalistic integrity led me to calling my mom before writing this to confirm to me that she did in fact go crazy in her hunt for the Pee-wee’s Playhouse Playset over two decades ago. This included multiple trips to the Toys R Us not too far from where we lived, getting to the store when it opened on Tuesdays as that’s when they would get the new shipments, and hope that she’d be one of those privileged enough to walk out of the store with one. Her efforts required multiple visits before success. We lamented that perhaps Amazon.com would have been nice back then for that reason.

In recent years I’ve gone back to rewatch Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special. It’s served as a reminder to me of how queer Pee-wee’s Playhouse was. Yes, I get it, it’s really pretty damned obvious. Still though, there is a difference between queer innuendos and Grace Jones basically performing burlesque in your children’s Christmas special. It also reminded me how important Pee-wee was to me and countless other people.

Recently, when I heard that Netflix was going to make a new Pee-wee movie, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, and I was happy enough to hear it. I wouldn’t say excited so much as pleasantly curious. Like seeing an old friend who’s in town. You’ll always have those old memories, the stories, the good times, but you’re not the same person you were all those years ago and neither are they.

I watched Pee-wee’s Big Holiday right when I got home from work this past Friday. Similar to what some reviewers have said, while Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is by no means a bad time to be had, it isn’t the same. It feels more like empty entertainment calories than a healthy filling entertainment meal. The edginess at the time isn’t quite there. It’s not as ludicrous as Pee-wee’s Playhouse most of the time or the many shows it inspired since then. Or maybe it might be and it just all seemed more ludicrous to me as a kid. In a way, however, Pee-wee’s latest outing is more queer.

Pee-wee’s sexuality is never brought up or called into question other than the fact that he’s assumed straight by all those around him while he never really confirms or denies this. He does have arguably romantic feelings for Joe Manganiello, and Joe feels the same towards Pee-wee. As I talked about in a previous column of mine, it’s very possible for someone to be homoromantic without being homosexual. The character of Pee-wee could easily be asexual. He certainly seems to be portrayed that way for the most part. It never really dawned on me in the past that Pee-wee could be asexual and homoromantic (or that could even be a thing until only the past few years in my life), but it does make sense and seems to fit the character.

Pee-wee was an important show for me, to be able to see someone like his character being portrayed on TV. Even if I didn’t quite get it all at the time or understand why exactly it was important to me, it all eventually came together. For that I’ll always be grateful for Pee-wee. Even though Pee-wee’s Big Holiday didn’t exactly make me feel like a kid all over again, maybe it’ll help another kid feel comfortable in their own skin like it did for me. And if nothing else, this new Pee-wee outing was just the kind of entertainment junk food I was craving.

Nothing else big came out on Netflix last weekend that a comic book loving nerd like myself should be watching, did it?

Molly Jackson: Binge On!

Young Justice

This week, I was totally stumped on a topic for this column. I turned to my fellow columnist, Joe Corallo, for help and he immediately mentioned the exact thing I’ve been chatting about for the past week. Not really sure why I blanked on it because it is such a big topic right now. So let’s talk about Young Justice.

Young Justice, in case you don’t know, follows a group of young DC heroes as they learn to work as a team and find their place amongst the Justice League. As the series grows through seasons 1 and 2, we watch the young heroes change into the heroes we always wanted them to be. Sadly, it ended on a cliffhanger. It is not based on the comic of the same name but does build off the DC universe.

The DC and Warner Bros. Animation partnership has put out some of the best animated shows to date. I’m confident in stating that Batman: The Animated Series is arguably the best animated show of all time. However, Young Justice is one of the shows that always pops up when people talk animation as the gone too soon. It’s like the Firefly of animated shows.

In the past few years, Netflix has been the resurrection hotspot for a lot of TV shows.  We got the final season of The Killing, a new season of Arrested Development and even the love-or-hate Fuller House. Netflix has the capability to track well trending shows and cherry pick the best ones to revive. And for the most part, they are good at creating original shows, like their stellar partnership with Marvel or their independent creations like Orange is the New Black.

The reasoning for Young Justice being cancelled was poor toy sales. I do understand that; this show appeals more to an older audience, so they are less likely to buy basic toys and more likely to buy higher end pieces. On the other hand, Netflix only cares about streaming numbers and if there is enough interest to bring in some new subscribers. In that case, I think we can do it. There were rumors that Netflix was already considering this, but those are probably not true. However, that momentum should not be lost.

The producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti are ready to come back. Character designer Phil Bourassa sounds like he would come back. Illustrator Christopher Jones is supporting this push. Plus, a group of the voice actors have come out and said they are on board. We just need to show Netflix and the WB that it is worth it for them.

So for all you people out there who haven’t seen Young Justice, watch it. Don’t have Netflix? Find your friend that does and watch it with them. (Everyone knows someone with Netflix. Everyone.). Give this show a chance to grow again. #BingeYoungJustice