Monday, April 23, 2012

DC Nation

            I love DC animated shows.  Batman.  Justice League.  Teen Titans.  Batman: Brave and the Bold.  Well, really, I love comic book animated shows in general.  But DC has been consistently putting out great stuff for over a decade, more often and generally better than some of the stuff they put in theaters.  And DC Nation, a programming block of two shows on Cartoon Network, is just fantastic.
             The first show, and the one I really want to push to everybody and say “WATCH THIS”, is Young Justice.  It’s about a superteam of, well, younger superheroes, with Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Miss Martian, and Artemis.  And it has consistently been impressing me.  The action is great.  The plotlines are intelligent.  It has just enough humor, and yet can also get incredibly dark at times.  Creator Greg Weisman, who also created Gargoyles and Spectacular Spider-Man, is clearly one of the forces of TV animation at this point.  If there’s any big problem, it’s part of the same reason I love it: the show frequently takes a lot of characters from the DC Universe.  Unlike Teen Titans, these characters quite clearly are interacting with the whole world instead of in some bubble with no other heroes.  The reason this becomes a problem is that, for every fanboy moment I have of “OH MY GOD, IT’S KLARION THE WITCH-BOY!”…well…be serious, how many people do you think even know who Klarion is?  The show also has a lot of major arcs going on at once.  Each episode is standalone, but there tends to be scenes of the villains going “Our plot has gone as planned!” and I’m not even sure how many major villains there are at this point.  Overall, though, the show entertains me every time I watch it.
            The other show on the block is Green Lantern, a CG-animated series.  I have to say it: it’s what the movie should’ve been.  And I’m not just talking about how much better it is, and how it’s staying the hell away from Earth (yes, Hal is the only regular hooman on the show so far).  Warner Bros wanted the Green Lantern movie to be the next Star Wars, and yet the show hits that so much better.  Of course, the CG-animation makes me immediately think of Cartoon Network’s other big CG show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  But it also has interesting alien species, plenty of action in space, and heroics.  While the CG animation is as rough and undetailed as you’d expect from a TV show, it does its job well, and the characters are stylized enough (Bruce Timm, character designer for Batman, Superman and Justice League, also worked on this show) that it doesn’t matter too much.  My biggest problem is pretty much the opposite of Young Justice: I’m not fanboying enough.  The Red Lanterns have been introduced as the major villains, but since then, nothing.  Now, original aliens are definitely nice, and I’m not complaining about that.  I just want more of the Corps, more of the different lantern colors.  I expect this will come with time.  The show’s still finding its groove, and I’m hoping that once it hits it, it won’t stop.
            The other major feature of DC Nation is that, between the shows, there are various animated shorts.  With names like Aardman and Lauren Faust doing them, and the shorts featuring Lego Batman and the Teen Titans, there’s high expectations, and they end up…amusing.  I wouldn’t say fantastic, but as far as making this a real programming block and not just two shows that are related put together, they do their job well.  They’re cute, funny, and well-animated.  That’s good enough for me.
            If you like superheroes, action, and animation, DC Nation is pretty much the best place on TV for it.  It may not quite take the sting off of Brave and the Bold being cancelled, but it’s doing a pretty good job at delivering two shows that are definitely worth watching.

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