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DC Nation Block – Week 1

I have been looking forward to DC Nation for over a year and I can tell you, while the promos promised a fun filled hour of superhero action, I was and to quote Robin from Young Justice whelmed. If you do not catch the reference, rewatch the pilot. So why was I whelmed at one of the biggest moves DC has made in the TV animation department? For starters, they launched the power hour with a rerun of Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The pilot episode for this series originally aired a few months earlier in November as a feature movie combining the first two episodes. The movie was exciting and entertaining with much promise for the new show, but I did not want to wait any longer for the continuation. The second half-hour was a new episode of Young Justice, which could have aired at anytime during the past few months. I was glad to see that show hadn’t been canceled yet, but it didn’t bring anything new to the block.

The shorts, though, were extremely fun. Before I start on those, however, let me write more extensive reviews on the meat of DC Nation.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series is an exciting new series done in well-rendered CGI. Hal Jordan and Kilowag are called head to “frontier space” to investigate the mysterious Green Lantern deaths in the area. It’s too bad they have to go against the High Council and steal…ahem…”borrow” a prototype spaceship dubbed Aya to fly them to the outskirts of the galaxy. The culprits are the Red Lanterns, superbeings akin to Green Lanterns except their rings are fueled by rage. The Red Lanterns are killing all the frontier space Green Lanterns to coincide with a diabolical plan to overthrow Oa, universal domination, revenge, etc. Hal and Kilowag team up with Shyir Rev, the local GL, to help battle the bad guys.

Sounds like a great start, right? It was, when I previewed the movie in November. I’m not happy that I have to let another week pass to see the continuation, but good things come to those wait. The series, itself, proves to be another strong notch in the DC Animated line. The CGI is way above the cheap stuff churned out for mass production children’s TV shows and a few levels below movie theater quality. Texture and other layered details were given strict attention and the characters move fluidly across the screen. The story and characters follow the same line of quality. Unlike other DC series that start from the beginning and introduce the characters one by one with introductions, Green Lantern: The Animated Series dives right into another GL adventure with the expectations viewers will already be familiar with the characters and the Green Lanterns’ mission. You won’t have to be able to recite the Green Lantern Oath, but here it is just for kicks:

“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power…Green Lantern’s light!”

Green Lantern: The Animated Series will be an exciting start to each DC Nation hour; once the official premiere reruns are done.

Young Justice returned to the Cartoon Network airwaves after a four month break. The series did not end on a cliffhanger, so there was not any of the pent up excitement you feel when a series returns from a long hiatus. The new episode was entitled “Misplaced” and focused on the magical aspects of the DC universe. Zatanna is considering joining the Young Justice team, but her father, the all-powerful magician Zatara is hesitant to let his only child venture into the world of crime fighting. Meanwhile, Klarion the Witch Boy and his allies cast a spell that makes all adults on Earth disappear to a parallel dimension (a similar plotline was used in a Justice League episode; the main DC heroes were transformed into children to fight Morgan Le Fey’s son Mordred, who banished all adults). Captain Marvel makes use of his secret identity as Billy Bastion to travel between dimensions. Zatanna comes more into her powers, but in the end she dons on Dr. Fate’s helmet to defeat Klarion.

The young heroes have been relying on that helmet way too much to solve their problems. They paid the price in this episode, however, when Zatara volunteers to be the helmet’s official wearer, leaving the girl magician an orphan. While this series continues to prove to be a strong addition to the DC Animated Universe, many of their plots are predictable and have been done in previous DC series. Young Justice’s saving grace are the characters. The teenage heroes are a diverse cast free of the cookie cutter molds personified by other mainstream cartoons, though Artemis does fall into the “tough girl” category and Superboy is a tad emo. Nobody’s perfect. We’re still in the middle of season one and sometimes TV shows drag on that point with filer episodes, but the action will pick up again.

The DC Nation Shorts are small animated segments that pop up between commercials and the feature presentations. Warners Brothers Animation produced the shorts in various styles with well-known superheroes from previous DC shows and others who have never been in a moving picture before. The premiere DC Nation short called “Aardman #2” was animated by the Wallace and Gromit folks. The normally serious superheroes are given children’s voices and joke about themselves. Batman shows off his “powers” to the Boy Wonder, Catwoman demonstrates her jumping prowess, the Joker confesses he doesn’t like to play jokes, and Superman wonders why Robin is called “Robin.” It’s cute and will bring a smile, but the best part about this short is the comical view it takes on superheroes. Most comics and superhero shows leave the jokes to the teenage heroes, but here our favorite good guys/bad guys make fun of themselves. “Plastic Man in…Superhero Sketch Artist” shows how the malleable man can use his powers to recreate the face of a purse thief. He replicates the man so well he is arrested in his place. It is a simple, humorous short that plays on bad puns and the multiple definitions of words in the English language. The animation modeled after early comic book art with a modern twist, it reminded me of the Nick Toons The Might B and Ren and Stimpy.The other short featured a test drive of Green Arrow’s boxing glove arrow. It was a live action clip demonstrating how an accurately built boxing glove arrow fired by a professional archer can really do some damage. It’s interesting, but not funny and it comes with the warning not to try the stunt at home. Cool, but forgettable.
DC Nation is a brilliant block and team-up for Cartoon Network and Warner Brothers Animation. Its premiere week was slow with the shorts being the bright spots in the entire hour, but once the reruns and rehashed storylines are done it will be the highlight of Sunday morning TV.


DC Nation-Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Cartoon Network
March 3, 2012
30 minutes
Rated TV-PG
Directed by Sam Liu and Rick Morales

DC Nation-Young Justice
Cartoon Network
March 3, 2012
30 minutes
Rated TV-PG
Directed by Jay Olivia




 


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